Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Asking for suggestions with an issue

My son lives in a house I provide for him, paying rent with his SSI. I go over most days to check in and fix a dinner for him.

Generally, this arrangement is working for us. I get a little tired of the routine sometimes, but… you know.

My son has developed a real anxiety about other people coming into the house. It has to do with his delusions and paranoia about being under surveillance - he takes his meds, but these persist.

I would like to have some things repaired at the house, but he doesn’t want anyone to come in.

Does anyone have suggestions about ways to approach this? I have been able to get things repaired in the past, but his resistance has become stronger.

Hi Vallpen,

While I’m not sure what the best way to approach this would be, here is what I would try: I would sit him down and explain that one thing in particular needs to be fixed at the house. Say for example it is a leaky sink. Tell him you do not have the expertise to repair it and neither does he. You will give him two choices, to either be present when the handyman comes over to observe the process or to leave the house while the handyman is there so that your son won’t have to be present and can go do something fun (as a reward for being agreeable) while the repair is being made. Tell him he has to choose one scenario and then the decision will be his and he will have control over what happens in his house.

If he is very paranoid, he might think about these two choices and decide to stay and watch the handyman so he can monitor what is being done to the house. If the first repair goes well, try the same tactic with the second one, stressing how well the first encounter went.

I would give my husband choices like this when he was being paranoid or difficult. About half the time it would work, but then some times he would bring it up later and say I had forced him to choose from two options he didn’t agree with. Hopefully your son is not as much into blaming as my husband is. Good luck!

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Is there any chance your socially isolated son knows anyone who does these type of repairs, someone he trusts, as much as trust is possible with these symptoms?

Also, maybe he could youtube or wikihow some of the super basic repairs and you could get supplies for him or you two could work on them together, which might make him more interested in hiring someone.

If he can see, feel, witness tangibly what is wrong with the house it might help him start thinking about the house as something that needs to be maintained.

The reason I mention this is I was finally able to do some laundry for my family member because they could see lots of actual dirt on the fabric. Baby steps. Lots of dirty laundry I am still not allowed to wash (Wow! Good metaphoric communication from family member.).

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Thanks for those suggestions. My son doesn’t know anybody who could do these things, I sure wish he did!

He can see what is wrong, the paranoia just makes it difficult for him to have anyone else come in. He didn’t even let his dad come in the house when he came from several states away to visit.

Glad to hear you were able to do some laundry - it is just amazing the things we have to work our way around.

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Would some sort of bribe work?

That’s always my last resort with stuff, even if he doesn’t agree right away, my son will usually take me up on it later.

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I don’t know your son, so this may or may not be a good suggestion, but would he feel better if HE were the one doing the surveillance?
Nannycams and other systems are more and more common these days, and many people have video surveillance somewhere in or around their home for casual security reasons. Maybe you & he could set up his own “surveillance” system that he could monitor himself. Ideally, that would help him feel more in control and less susceptible to paranoia. He could feel like he was the one making choices to feel safe in his home, and hopefully he could get some concrete reassurance that the people coming in to fix things are helping and not hurting. (I also know plenty of NOT mentally ill people who survey workers who come in to their home, it’s not an especially out-there idea.)
The risks of this are completely dependent on what you think your son’s responses might be. Maybe it would assuage his paranoid feelings, but if he’s especially prone to any obsessive or compulsive behaviors, it might just turn into another fixation without really being constructive. That’s a judgement call you can/have to make.

Its funny, it is part of the security system that needs repairing!

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I am thinking on what might be a good “incentive” for him to go along with a few repairs, and lay out some options in how he can handle it while it is being done.

oh no!!! a true catch-22!
I hope in hindsight it can be funny. <3

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So funny with the security system being part of the needed repair;)

I like the idea of laying out options and seeing what he thinks he could handle. My son always has to mull stuff over for a while.

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Oh my. I can see why this would be difficult because you never know how the repair person might tinker with it and use it to spy on him. Not trying to make light, but have spend some time lately in delusion land.

The really sad things about so many of the fears in delusions is they just could be real. And that small bit of reality gets really hard to move past. Hope you work it out.

My son is asking for a hammock for the front porch. I think I might try linking these together somehow. I want something, you want something…

Totally a valid tactic.
Unfortunately, bribing someone to let you make their life better is common in this crowd…

Nice and hammocks are so relaxing!