New here - dealing with my older sister who has SZ

I am so grateful to have found this site. I have been feeling so alone.
My sister is turning 70 this month and it seems that the last few years she spends more and more time hospitalized.
She lives in another state - 1,000 miles away. She has lived in that state since she was in her teens. She is single - and always has been. However, she lived with a wonderful couple (25+ years her senior) for most of her life. Now they are gone and I am trying to support her from a distance. She has an amazing church who watches out for her - and one of the decons actually has her Power of Attorney. I trust him and have known him for many years.
Since she wanted to stay where she lived most of her life and where all of her friends are, I rely on them to tell me what is going on. She is now in a home, run by a charity who provide meals, meds, laundry care. There are 4 ladies in a 2 bedroom apt. It seems to be going well. She moved there 3 months ago.
Last time I visited her, she was not taking care of herself hygenically. I was concerned that a psyciatrist would not say something to her. Also the church members did not talk to her about it. (showering, clothing, etc - don’t know what is considered TMI here) I felt like she looked homeless. It was extremely upsetting. That was 2 years ago.
I am planning to go see her in a month or two. I am anxious about it because the last visit was very unsettling. (mostly because of her physical state) I am uneasy with her due to her illness…I have seen her in many stages of it. From catatonic, to anxious and uneasy about the voices, or perfectly fine. I just never know what to expect.

I would really like to talk to a doctor or health care professional who could give me some idea of what to expect in the coming years. She seems to be in the hospital more and more as she ages. I do not know if this is the normal course of the illness.

Thanks for letting me vent. It is so nice to know there are others who can empathize.

Hi mysis,
Welcome to the forum. There are so many wonderful people here now and many wonderful people who have left the forum after getting advice and support. We are fortunate that everyone’s stories are archived on our threads.

Your sister is really in an amazingly excellent situation - bravo to whoever is overseeing her care, they are doing a great job. My first thought, having heard the past stories of people getting involved with family members who are in a workable situation, is to leave her there. I’m not saying you were considering doing otherwise, but many have come on the forum who want to improve the situation of their family members, later they regret their actions to change their family member’s situation.

On your visit, just go with the flow of wherever she is on those days. Schizophrenia’s neurodiverse presentation can be somewhat like dementia which is quite free flowing and everchanging. Enjoy who she is in that moment and be a friendly face.

As to the future, like all people in their 70’s, her health will decline. She may look homeless, I know my son often does as he chooses his own clothing and wears favorite clothing until they are threadbare. Bathing and hygiene can become issues for many people as they age. Long distance people need to present variety and happy times on their visits. I think its best to leave the care details to the folks handling your sister’s care day to day.

I know its hard to see our family members in their various moments. Its so important to leave them with good memories of our time with them.

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Thank you for your thoughts. I don’t want to swoop in and say change this, change that. It is what I may WANT to do, but it is not necessarily the best thing to do. She has chosen to stay in her home state - with her life long friends. Thank you for reminding me that it is not up to me to oversee her care. I can go and visit and just make the best of it.

One other thing I am concerned about is that a visit could send her into an episode. Usually it is stressful situations that do this - but I wonder if a visit from me could also trigger an episode. I guess you just never know what can set someone off. I should just go with the flow and cross that bridge if it happens.

Thank you again.

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