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Elderly mom seeking attention or in trouble?

scottcooks

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Jul 7, 2005
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My mom lives on the east coast, and called me tonight to report her home had been burglarized. This is really weird. She lives on a 3rd floor apartment of a senior progressive living facility in a huge huge (acres upon acres) complex of retirees. Every staff person goes through an extensive background check, and most have been working there for many years.

My brother lives in the same town and has done 90% of her care and tending. Not 'caregiving' in the traditional sense, but in putting up with her repeated goofy calls.

Her call to me tonight was to report that a family heirloom chair had been taken from her bedroom (though she couldn't exactly notice just when it had disappeared), a footstool in a similar style with an embroidered top from the living room, two unusual garments: a red kilt-like plaid pleated wool skirt, and a black wool satin-lined "opera coat" (I imagine like a Little Red Riding Hood thing), and a figurine from her collection in her living room were gone.

She had already called my brother, and the insurance company. He told her to call me. I told her to call the police and file a report - tomorrow morning. So my brother gets a call from the police about 2 hours ago -- she called them on a 911 line tonight -though I told her to call a non-emergency number in the morning- and my brother is worried that a social worker will be called into this next, then someone appointed to go see her once a day.

Her entire income is based on a government stipend plus income from some stocks--while she can live comfortably, her long term care insurance will need to kick in to supplement if she needs more TLC than current.

Here's the weird part: My brother goes to see her once a week, and says the artwork that has been there for 6 years, is suddenly all gone - replaced with thrift store whatnot.

I'm not sure how she hung the thrift store paintings - my brother hung everything that is in there, save a piece I hung on a recent visit.

My wife says my mom needs a project, and doesn't have one - so she is creating this drama around herself. I'm thinking - what, did she toss the wool stuff down the garbage chute and try to get $$ from the insurance company?

It's all just weird... Some drug nut isn't going to rummage through a 80yo woman's closet and take 2 pieces of clothing and some furniture???!

So - my dear praying friends, pray for my mom to find peace and an appropriate passion for her energy- her name is Shirley. There is diagnosed bipolar disorder and a history of irresponsible behavior, so we're just scratching heads. Her docs have been adjusting her meds - and I can hear in the tone of her voice, that it isn't quite right. Pray for my brother and his family(He is off on a weeklong business trip tomorrow morning) and for me and my family. Peace.
 

raebates

Legend Member
Staff member
Dec 6, 2005
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Shirley will be in my prayers, as well as you, your brother, and your families.
 

ChefBeckyD

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Gold Member
Sep 20, 2005
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Scott, not to alarm you, or to make you worry - but just to make you aware...

Before my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, we would get strange phone calls, and strange things that would happen at her home. She still seemed healthy and "normal", but all of these odd things "just kept happening". She was sure everyone was stealing stuff from her, including my young niece and nephew, and she kept having stuff disappear from her house. She would sometimes call me SURE that someone had just been in the house, or she couldn't find her keys, which she knew were on the kitchen table...so someone must have been there and taken them...etc....

It took us a while to start putting everything together, and to realize that there were bigger issues going on. It wasn't Mom just acting strange.

Again, I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but I wanted you to know my experience, in case it might help you as you are seeking help for your Mom.
 

legacypc46

Senior Member
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Oct 9, 2006
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Here's the weird part: My brother goes to see her once a week, and says the artwork that has been there for 6 years, is suddenly all gone - replaced with thrift store whatnot.

I'm not sure how she hung the thrift store paintings - my brother hung everything that is in there, save a piece I hung on a recent visit.

It sounds like there are two issues; the first being what happened to the missing items. Given the professional standards of her retirement facility, chances are you or your brother could get some answers from them. Could she have gotten those items down by herself? My mom lives in a very nice independent living complex. Whenever she needs something done, she simply calls engineering or housekeeping for help...they subsequently log all their calls and the work they do. It might not be the best to hear, but maybe someone there will say, "Oh yeah, she called us on the 20th and asked we switch out the items on her wall."

Since your Mom has filed a police report, I suspect the facility management would like to understand what happened as well. If they do have a staff member who takes advantage of lonely or slightly disoriented residents, then it's in their interests to know about it.

As for the issue of whether she is looking for attention; Do you know if her facility has a psychologist who visits routinely. Again, that is something available at my mom's residence, so it's what I'm familiar with. A few months ago, we went thru something similar her. I have no idea what later transpired between her and the psychologist, but wow, what a huge difference it made.

Lastly, the 911 call may not be indicative of mental incapacitation, just a combination of living in the moment and confusion over how things are now. I've noticed with my mom (and her friends) that there is no waiting...once she decides on something, that's it, move forward, make it happen. The challenge is when she applies outdated understanding to things. For example, it took me a couple hours to convince her that AT&T wasn't the only phone provider for international calls and that she could get a better deal with another carrier.

I will definitely add you and your family to my prayers. Please feel free to PM me anytime.

P.S. I just read Becky's post and that is great advice.
 

Sheila

Legend Member
Gold Member
Mar 26, 2008
5,425
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(((hugs))) I used to get phone calls that my Grandmother was being held captive by a man that she didn't know (her husband, she just didn't recognize him) in a house that she didn't know (her own home, again ... she was just confused). She believed that she was really in another place with a stranger & would be terrified. Not fun for them or for the family trying to help.

Having confirmed that items are really missing leads me to believe that she's either giving them away to someone that lives in her building and doesn't remember doing it ... or a friend who has access to her apartment is truely stealing from her. It doesn't have to be a young person, it could very well be another elderly person committing thefts. I'd definitely let the police investigate. If it turns out that your mother is getting worse mentally then it's good to find out now & not later. ;)
 

Sheila

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Mar 26, 2008
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I just saw Legacy's post about people who call 911. I'm a retired Police Dispatcher. I couldn't even count the number of people who dial 911 when it's not a true emergency. People dial 911 for the weirdest things! It's annoying when there is a true emergency in progress. You can't let another 911 line ring. In smaller agencies, the dispatcher would be forced to stop what she's doing to assess the ringing 911 line. Unfortunately, it's part of the job and the dispatcher's know that.

There was actually an elementary school in Dallas doing an awareness program with all the kids ... they instructed all of the children attending this program (1st-5th grade) to go home & dial 911 so that they would know how to do it in the event of an emergency. Dallas PD was bombarded with incoming 911 calls about 15 min's after school let out!!! The person who instructed the children to do that had good intentions, but didn't understand the consequences that could have occurred from telling so many children to all dial 911 as soon as they got home. CRAZY!!! What if that had occurred in NY on 9/11 right as all the calls were being received that a plane had just crashed into the tower? People just don't stop and think sometimes. It's people like the one at that school who get under the skin of a 911 dispatcher ... and the dozens of people who all call at the same time about a power outage in their neighborhood (we are NOT the electric company and can not tell you why your power is out or put in a work order for repair). The occasional call here & there from someone who doesn't understand that there's a non-emergency number isn't such a big deal. ;) Now if your mother starts calling 911 every day, then they will start to get annoyed.
 

cwinter474

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Apr 8, 2006
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Noticed that Scott was online, was hoping for an update here. Does anyone know how his mom is?
 

scottcooks

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Jul 7, 2005
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Thanks all for your continued prayers. She is in good spirits and her meds seem to have evened-out; her demeanor is good. All in all, mom seems fine. She kind of needs a project.


"Other Life" intervened this week. In fact she was been hospitalized with an encroaching infection - stemming from her toe on her right foot. About 1/4 of the toe was amputated. They tried to fight it with a topical approach, then an IV drip, then chose surgery. She insists the redness of the infeciton is gone from her foot and leg (it was halfway up to her calf when I saw it in June). She thought it was gout / then a doc diagnosed ?cellulitis? Anyway, problem is literally gone now!

No other mental health issues - but as my wife says, it is because she is the center of attention, between docs and a daily nurse check until Friday of this week. These other things come up when we are in 'normal mode' where I speak with her about once a week. Thanks again for your continued prayers. I'll look into the 36 hour day book. -Scott
 
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