Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Living With Untreated Person , How To Cope?

Hi , I am currently living in the house with my aunt who is Schizophrenic. Although she is diagnosed, she is not treated. Living in Louisiana with the type of insurance she has and a failing healthcare system for mental health , she has been dealing with this for years and still does not believe she is schizophrenic.

Back in 2013 , she began to expressing odd behaviors and saying odd things and when it began to become dangerous we had her evaluated ( going to coroners office, having her committed, picked up by sheriffs) but she was sent off to a facility hours away from our home. It was our first time dealing with hers as well so we shared her fear and cut her visit short there because she promised to come home and seek help-- which never happened. Over the years we’ve had to send her back plenty of times because she began to become a harm to herself an others and she stays for 9 days and is sent back because they believe nothing is wrong with her.

I’m guessing my questions is , how am I supposed to coexist. I don’t understand what she is going through and I have no one to explain it to me since she has a fear of doctors. She completely isolated herself from the world, got rid of all electronics in her home, lost an interest in her self, her appearance , housework, music, television --anything that was remotely “her”.

I try not to get angry because I know that everything she experiences is very real to her, but I always have to interject because she is doing harmful things. She rubs gasoline on her body from time to time has candles lit all over the home (inside the wall, stove, dryer, hot water heater) , forces foreign substances into electrical sockets, and a plethora of other things-- all because she says these things make her feel “comfortable” . The reason it is more of a danger is because my 84 year old grandmother lives across the street , and she somewhat “boobytraps” her home as well without her knowing half the time.

Of course we will never understand her behaviors and they will never make sense to us, but if she does not receive treatments, self medicates herself with beer daily, and continues down this path am I supposed to wait until something bad actually happens to be able to get my point across to her that I interject to help and not hurt?

I’m sorry to chatter on but I’m really just a little irritated and confused.

Can you move out? Just kidding, Living with an unmedicated Sz person is challenging, to say the least. I was married to someone with paranoid Sz for 12 years. He was on and off meds the whole time.

That said, your aunt’s behavior certainly meets the criteria to have her involuntarily hospitalized. I would contact your county’s mental health office to get advice on how to get her help. Stress that she is posing a danger to herself AND you.

If you are feeling unsafe with her at any time, don’t hesitate to call 911/the police.Stress to them that your aunt is mentally and explain to them the threatening behavoir. How did you deal with her putting gasoline on herself? Yikes!

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I was thinking the same thing, plus the candles and stuff in the electrical sockets.
That’s extremely dangerous.

How old is she? Do you think you could talk her into having a physical done? There are lots of physical things that can look like SZ too - especially if she was fairly old when the SZ started & it seems to have turned extreme fairly quickly.

You can also contact your local mental health services and see if they have any type of community treatment options for people with severe mental illnesses - that means someone could come out to the house and talk to her now & then. They do that here & they try to be very low key about it.

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Well I actually feel like if I move out then things will get worse, that’s why I’m still here. Her daughter (only child) was recently married in May and she doesn’t know how to deal with it herself, because my aunt is so stubborn when it comes to dealing with receiving treatment. I also am careful about calling police and things of that nature because at the end of the day I’m the one who has to deal with her daily and she’s pretty much untreated and I don’t know what triggers her or what doesn’t

She hasn’t been doing the gasoline things too much but there were times the house would smell like gas for days because she would rub it on the walls as well. I’m not trying to put my life on hold , but I also don’t want to leave her alone because I have a fear she will end up dying in a matter of days or weeks from her shenanigans once she knows im gone – it’s that bad.

She just made 55 a couple of weeks ago, and it started around age 51-52. She has not actually seen a doctor in years, the ones that she sees when she’s in the mental facilities for a few days don’t really check much , they talk to her and write her off as being okay.

From the last time we had her sent away there is a male nurse who comes to the home. He told me he feels like she is just seeking attention and he feels nothing is wrong with her-- he checks her vital signs and leaves. He has never been into the house to see the condition she has certain rooms in nor the candles. He would actually see these huge fires she would burn outside of the home (until someone in the neighborhood called the fire department) and he said he didn’t see anything wrong with it. He actually said he was about to discharge her within the coming days because he felt like she improved. Just this mornign she was standing in the middle of the street smoking a cigarette with her eyes closed and she obviously plugs her ears with things because she hears voices-- however, he’s never here to see any of that so why wouldn’t he think she isn’t normal.

Again, I live in Louisiana – theres not many resources here because of cuts a long time ago from the governor. That problem coupled with her insurance, leaves her low on actual decent assistance.

This won’t help you day-to-day, but if I were you, I’d start making a daily log of some of the things she does.

It might help you see some patterns or recognize what triggers her, but it would also help you make a case to get her some serious help if the opportunity presents itself.

It would also help you if you decided to see some kind of therapy for yourself. If being there doesn’t make you anxious or depressed enough to seek support, you could always talk to someone for some professional advice about how to handle it.

If you don’t have insurance to help with that, maybe you can find a support group there for families near you.

This site is great for advice, and I don’t mean no one here will help you, but sometimes there’s no substitute for physically crying on someone’s shoulder or having a live person you can call for advice.

I agree with the previous poster. Keep a journal. Then you have to research your options. Start with your county’s mental health office, Maybe Adult Protective Services? Make an appt w a social worker who is familiar w the system.

Private insurers will put limits on the length of hospital stays. My husband, w pSz, was never kept in the hospital longer than 5 days. But many posters on this site have had their loved ones hospitalized for much longer–months, even. So there must be a way.

Your Aunt probably qualifies for Medicare and Medicaid. These may pay for long-term care for her. If she isn’t signed up for either of these programs, enroll her.

Don’t worry about what that idiot nurse said. Your Aunt is sick, and needs treatment. Your current situation is untenable.

Sorry if I overwhelmed you with suggestions! It will take some time and effort on your part. But the sooner you get her hospitalized, the better life will be for both of you!

Good luck!

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I agree. Adult Protective Services might be the way to go. She obviously needs supervision and is a danger to herself and others. I certainly hope you get some assistance soon. I have a SIL who was diagnosed later in life as well although she is not as impaired as your Aunt sounds.