Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Advice on how to support my mother post-hospital release

Hi everyone. I’ll try to resume our situation as best as I can, please if you could take some time to read and hopefully offer any advice, it would mean the world to me.

My mother has always battled with her mental health, mostly undiagnosed. She was very successful and financially independent, which I believe contributed to the delay in noticing something wasn’t right. My mother always went to private practices and if she didn’t like what she heard, she’d just move on to the next one.

Long story short, in the mid 00s she truly began to unravel. I often wonder if the shock of me moving out as a teenager caused it, but deep down I know I left because she was already too difficult, I just didn’t know why. In 2010 came her first hospitalization, but she wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia, just that she suffered a psychotic episode. By then her business was in shambles and coupled with the financial crisis, it folded in 2011, when she was 50. She’s never worked since.

After many twists and turns, we finally managed to get her hospitalised this year in a better, specialised hospital. She’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, has been released and is currently attending the hospital daily, where they do exercise, gardening, CBT, etc. She’s enjoying it. She’ll also be having injections from now on and if she doesn’t show up, they’ll pick her up.

The problem: my mother is in a homeless shelter. She refuses to go back to our hometown and wants to stay where she is, but I can’t afford to buy or rent a flat there. It’s an expensive city. The social worker in this current city says that without any income or family to take her in (my brother lives there but refuses), her future there will be the homeless shelter and later on, a nursing home. I live in the UK, away from everyone.

My question is, I don’t know what to do. I was thinking maybe I can pay for a bedsit there, but what will happen once she inevitably starts creating problems with neighbours? Not to mention the financial strain it will place on me. My brother wants her back in our hometown because it’s small and safe, but I fear this is just putting a strain on her mental health even more, it’s rural, she has no friends left and she’s aware she’s been mistreating people when she’s ill. In a big city at least she has plenty of activities/volunteering places and won’t carry that deep shame she feels. My mother is only 60, I truly feel we’re watching her slip away from us. I fear she’ll end on the streets or die.

I don’t know, I’m so lost. I’ve been crying every day for the past month, I can’t see any viable solution. We can’t afford private residential care and my brother refuses to buy her a place anywhere but my hometown.

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Hi @nokia3310. I am fairly new here myself, but welcome you here. There is a huge amount of information available by reading through other people’s stories and a lot of support here as well.

I must say that I find your brother is being unreasonable. If your mother is comfortable in the city where she is at, there is no reason to think she will do better someplace else. I have heard some people with SZ say that they prefer a big city environment over a more rural one. Having MI does not mean people do not have preferences and we can’t assume somehow we know better. What is the harm in facilitating your mother’s stay in the shelter for the moment? She is getting the medication she needs, plus a lot of other care, so that is a lot of things that are going right. Just getting people onto treatment is a huge struggle that currently you do not have. I don’t believe there is a permanent solution to anything and certainly not to MI, and when you get a number of things “right”, you don’t want to toss them under the bus hoping to get everything “right”.

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@Steadfast That’s what I think (that he’s being unreasonable), but he’s adamant on it. I feel like he just doesn’t understand her side. My brother has been very ‘‘tough love’’ about this, but I don’t think he grasps that there’s no amount of ‘‘tough love’’ that will fix this, it’s just her illness.

I’m currently supporting her as best as I can on the shelter (I call her often, send her money, etc), but she’s okay now that she has things to do every day (the hospital). In about a couple months those daily hospital sessions will cease and she’ll have to be outside from 9 am til 6 pm every day, that’s why it’s imperative we find her a place to stay.

Personally, I support her staying in the city she’s currently in, the only issue is financing it. I left that city myself because it’s so expensive. I tried to bring it up with my brother several times (if he can buy a house in a small town, he might as well buy a studio in a big city) but it isn’t working, sadly.

I’m worried about what she’ll do if she suddenly has to stay outside so many hours, especially when it’s winter and bad weather. I fear her health can’t take it, she’s only 60 but she’s looking very fragile.

Perhaps it will all work out well with the neighbors as your mom will be on “forced” injection meds? Is your mom in the United States? If she is, has the social worker suggested filing for disability for your mom? The disability money would help pay for her rent. Or, if your mom is A a citizen of the USA, she could start receiving social security at age 62, that would help also.

@hope she’s in the EU. She hasn’t been receiving any welfare or retirement because she refuses, but now she’s signalled and has an assigned social worker who will sort that out for her. I think she views retirement as a permanent situation and can’t cope with the idea of never working again, but the truth is… it’s been a decade. We’ve been supporting her financially, but I truly think receiving her own retirement would do well for her and give her a sense of her own money instead of feeling like she’s absolutely dependant on us.

The doctors said she’ll inevitably create issues and it will be cyclical, but I still think she’s better off in a big city where there’s less judgement and more activities. I just don’t know how to convince my brother, as I can’t cope financially on my own. It’s the second most expensive city in the country.

I’d be willing to move back home and have her live with me, but I have a child that I can’t uproot. Our life is in the UK.

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@nokia3310, I do understand what you are saying about thinking the bigger city is better for your mom. My son does much better in a city environment than he ever did here at home in a rural location. He moves to a different apartment every couple of years. The move seems to reset him and he will do better for a long time after he has moved into a new place.

Maybe soon the social worker will have some real numbers regarding what your mom can expect to receive monthly and your brother will be more willing to listen when you have financial details.

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I would work some on educating your brother. Somehow he needs to understand that the stability you are currently enjoying is hard won. Maybe try to understand his motives for wanting to move her and work from there. Also, how does the hospital think she is going to get on if suddenly she no longer has access to the services? I would go to them and explain the situation, maybe there are other services available once the hospital is no longer involved. Just tossing some ideas out there. It would be a tragedy to sacrifice all that has been put in place just because of the stubbornness of someone who isn’t even the patient.

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@Steadfast she would still have access to services, but in a very small town. There’s no specific associations for people with schizophrenia, for example. It’s just general day centres for activities and the senior university.

My brother’s arguments are that she’s safer there because everyone knows her, so even when her paranoia starts spinning out and lashing out at people, no one will do anything to hurt her. It’s also smaller so she’ll never need public transport and she’ll have a house with her own garden and outdoors space.

My arguments are that in a big city she feels less observed because no one knows her. My mom doesn’t have amnesia, she’s aware her health has taken a dive and she feels self conscious when seeing people from my hometown who remember her when she was extremely successful. In a big city she won’t have that pressure because people won’t have a “before” comparison to judge her on and quite frankly, are in general more open.

Yes, it will be slightly more expensive, but once she’s retired she’ll have access to other benefits, like a public transport pass for free. And I can just hop on a plane and go visit for the odd weekend. To go to my hometown I’d have to add 3 more hours each way.

@hope i think you’re right, I’m going to wait and review it when we have numbers. It won’t be much, but it will be something we can work from.