Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Convincing a Parent to See Their Primary Care Physician

Has anyone had difficulty in getting a schizophrenic parent to go see their doctor (primary care physician) and if so, has anyone succeeded in convincing them to go to the doctor?

My mom has paranoid schizophrenia. She has never liked psychiatrists, but getting her to see her primary care physician was usually not a problem. The PCP she had before for 30 years or so died a few years back but she started with a new doctor, but then he retired. The third one ordered some tests or changed her prescription regimen, which she didn’t believe was necessary or correct due to her illogical reasoning. I know this was long, but the story is even longer than what I’ve written.

My brother various times has complained about his health and especially his dental health. He’d diagnose himself, but always throw up some obstacle like cost or having to go to a very specific doctor who he’s researched online etc. My sister eventually called his bluffs and set appointments for him and drove him there etc. The shame of not coming to a set appointment seemed to motivate him for some reason, so he’d relent.

We were shocked when he finally relented to go to the dentist and they ended up pulling most of his teeth. We had assumed he was delusional about how bad his teeth were. His explanation was he was embarrassed that he let his teeth get so bad. He had some fantasy of getting all his teeth pulled and implants on a trip to Costa Rica. My sister had offered to pay for implants, but he won’t quit smoking and they won’t do them.

Generally we set everything up for him and say he’s going and that’s that. For a while he got sort of hooked on acupuncture and we’d take him periodically, but eventually that faded. The only doctor we can’t seem to get him to see is a psychiatrist— none are good enough or competent enough for his unique and special brain chemistry, blah blah blah blah… He has bipolar disorder, but the behavior is fairly typical. I have SZA, and have had similar anxiety seeing doctors and such, but had a psychiatrist who wouldn’t see me if I didn’t see a doctor regularly, so I got in the habit.

My advice would be to play off of fears, delusions, vanities, duties or shame to coerce her to go. Straightforward logic will likely not work, I think you are better off with an emotional argument. This is not a rational matter, so don’t treat it that way. Good luck!

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Thanks for the advice. I’ve tried those things so many times. She got sick (flu, cold, whatever) and while at the urgent care center, they found what I knew was wrong: high blood pressure - dangerously high 242/147. They told her the couldn’t treat her because her blood pressure was too high and so according to protocol, she’d have to go to the emergency room. They begged her to go to the ER and then called me in thinking I’d have the right words to convince her. Well, my mom is particularly stubborn, and even when shown the numbers, she dismissed it because she thought it was because she didn’t sleep well. I do not have the luxury of having a car and public trans is not what it should be here. I am also on SSI disability, for major depression and PTSD. They offered a taxi or an ambulance but she refused, and only became more feisty as we cajoled and implored her to go to the ER. I’ve been going around and around with her like this since 1996. I also have zero people to help me with this. We live in one room in a motel together to boot. I guess I just have to wait until she strokes out and hope she lives after that and/or I die before her.

I’d say blood pressure this high comes under the heading of a danger to herself or others, although I don’t think even if she’s put on a psychiatric hold that they can force medical treatment. I’m not too up on the legalities, but I understand in certain states under certain circumstances you can gain legal right to direct medical decisions for people under your care. There are also certain circumstances in various states where court ordered psychiatric care is available.

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Bribery has always been my best bet.

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One time I enlisted the help of a friend to get my son somewhere. He didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of that person, so he went.

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