What do I do when Mama refuses to see a doctor and my sister isn't helping?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mama will not go to the doctor and the fear of the unknown is taking its toll on me! She has classic dementia/Alzheimer's symptoms, as well as other medical issues. She has ben extremely irrational, unreasonable, and combative at times.

My sister and I do not agree, considering it's all about what would be best for her. She just dismiises Mama and her wishes, and this angers me very much! Sis has even called Adult Services on Mama, for no REAL reason.

Any suggestions, resources?? I live 60 miles up the road, and I'm strongly considering moving down there.


Thank you, Nan

Expert Answers

Kay Paggi, GCM, LPC, CGC, MA, is in private practice as a geriatric care manager and is on the advisory board for the Emeritus Program at Richland College. She has worked with seniors for nearly 20 years as a licensed professional counselor, certified gerontological counselor, and certified geriatric care manager.

One of the symptoms of dementia is the inability of the person to see changes in their behavior or thinking. Your mother clearly has this symptom.

You have 2 basic choices at this time. One is to allow the disease to determine your mother's care, and the other is to intervene and get the care she needs. She does not see a need for change because she cannot see the changes in herself.

APS may the best option for getting your mother into an safer environment. That may sound harsh to you. Your mother is living in a world that seems increasingly crazy and mysterious to her, due to her declining mental ability. This causes her to be frightened and angry, and to act irrationally and be combative.

She needs help to cope with her new circumstances. Remember, she does not see the problem in her but in her world - the world has gone crazy, not her.

My suggestion is that you find a care community near you, and move her into it.

Community Answers

Frena answered...

actually, "extremely irrational,unreasonable and combative" sound closer to mental illness than Alzheimer's. Plus, as this expert must surely know, NO-ONE can diagnose alzheimer's or even dementia without a full medical work-up. Therefore, throwing the word Alzheimer's around so loosely without any real foundation for being able to assess this maybe natural for family members who don't know better, but for a geriatric care manager.

Plus, alas for the attitude of any family member who thinks that calling in APS is like setting wild dogs on an elder. Actually APS is exactly who should be called in when family members can't agree. APS is concerned for the health, help and welfare of elders, which alas is sometimes more than families are, especially when they won't agree on what's needed. they'll help this very divided family get it together to really help Mama instead of making things worse.

Texlas answered...

Dear Nan, and Frena, I know about the irrational and combative behavior. I tried to get help from APS, I left 20 voicemails in three weeks. Finally When I had my mother hospitalized for the second time, (irrational behavior and violence) I simply refused to take her back home. The hospital did not like that one bit. They made contact with APS in about 15min! The investigator at APS told me I could be prosecuted for neglect if I refused to take my mother home. I called her bluff. Within 2 hours they had found a place for my mothers care. When I told my attorney this story, He was in total disbelief, that the system that is set up to help care needing people has deteiorated (in my Mothers' state)to just another bureaucracy that passes the buck, instead of offering solutions to Adult care problems. I Got more help and information from The Eldercare ombudsman(most states have them.)Very good people, and Always returned my calls. By the way, Frena, Both the Neurologist, and psychiatrist that examined my mother, After her placement, Said that her behavior, violence, hallucinations etc... were absolutely indicative of Alz with agitation dementia.