I need help!

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I've been caring for my mother now since around 2009. And so far I've managed fine. But I need help.

Just recently she's become very difficult for me to cope with. She's started imagining that unreal things are happening, and when I try to explain to her that they're aren't real she refuses to listen. This causes me to get annoyed at her and I, sadly, raise my voice.

To give an example of what's going on. She got a new riser recliner chair in 2012. She'd never had one before and from the moment she got it she took a dislike to it. So she would often sit in it panicking and clinging on to the coffee table insisting that it was moving, which it wasn't. After a while to accept the chair, but the "moving" she was now saying was in the electrics of the house because our landlord had fitted a new earth cable. After several disagreements about this, she then started to say that the movement was being caused by the next door neighbours tumble dryer that she can feel through the wall, upstairs in her bedroom. And when she stops thinking it's the dryer she says it's the floorboards upstairs. And after all of that she blames the electrics again and we just go around in a circle. This has been going on for five years, and I don't know how much more I can take of it.

On top of this, I have my brother living next door. My brother has learning difficulties, so trying to explain things to him is impossible and he never listens.he's also an alcoholic and the most inconsiderate person I've ever met. He always blames me when things go wrong. Last night we had an argument because, as he is often doing, he was talking to a friend of his very loudly outside his front door past midnight. I've not had much sleep for the last few days due to my neighbour on the other side making loud noises past midnight, so you can imagine that I wasn't too impressed with my own brother keeping me awake as well. He keeps very odd hours, doesn't get up until well into the afternoon, and thinks that it's perfectly acceptable to make as much noise as he likes at ungodly hours.

When I went outside to try to explain that I would like to get some sleep, he was drunk and just wouldn't listen. So I told him to "go away sharply" and closed the door. This resulted in him banging on the door, threatening me, calling me names, blaming me for mothers condition, calling me bossy for shouting, without realising that it's frustration that makes me shout not bossiness, etc.

Basically, my mother and I don't want to live in this house anymore and don't wish to live next door to him. My mother is convinced the house is the cause of her problems and my brother is just a constant irritation. I never know when he's going to do something to upset us, when he's going to get drunk and get into an argument with me or someone else. He's more of a hindrance than a help. And at this point I think we'd all be a lot happier if we moved away from each other.

I have applied for rehousing, but we've been put onto a system called Manchester Move where we have to bid for houses, and we've not been successful. Also they only let us apply for a small number of properties, when there are other properties that would suit us if they'd open up their rules a little. I've tried to explain to the landlord, which is a housing association, that the reason we want to leave are personal and not actually due to my mothers condition, but they just won't listen.

We want to move because of the stress I get from my brother next door, and because of my mothers belief that there's something wrong with the house. Also, my father died in the house in 2006 and my mother doesn't want to stay here any longer for that reason.

Does anyone have any advice as to what I can do to get out of this situation?
Pete, that's a lot of stress to be under, and for a long time too!

I can well understand why you want to move. However, I just wanted to ask whether your mum - who clearly, for whatever reasons (see below) has mental health problems - is having any treatment for them? What does her doctor think about all these delusions she has been having? I don't know what treatment is available, but surely even something like 'tranquillisers' (or whatever they are called these days!) would help her feel less agitated and distressed?

I'm afraid there is no point 'arguing' with her about what is real and what is not. My own mother had substantial mental health problems, and like yours was 'delusional' - in her case she was genuinely convinced people were following her, spying on her, watching her through the TV etc (classic paranoia). Arguing with her 'rationally' that it was, after all 'highly unlikely!' that anyone was following her only made her angry. We were trying to 'fool' her and 'pretend it wasn't going on' - that sort of thing.

You won't convince your mum, or reassure her, by trying to get her to see that these things she is 'experiencing' are not actually real at all.....and she would only then move on to 'something else' anyway.

Personally, and do take advice from the doctor on this (preferably a psychiatrist, if your mum could be referred to one - though she may not go, of course - my mum didn't think there was anything wrong with her!) (the psychiatrist was also 'plotting against her' as well....!), I would say that neither arguing nor agreeing with her is best. How about simply adopting a habit of saying 'Oh dear!' (or similar) when she goes on about the moving chair etc etc. So you are acknowledging what she (thinks) she is experiencing, but not acutally 'colluding' with her. It's a tricky balance to get! Moving the subject on may help too a bit????

That said, do you think this is not 'mental illness' but actually dementia? You don't say how old she is, but it's possible it might be? How long have the 'delusions' been going on for? You say 'recently it's got worse' but you also say it's been going on for five years maybe?

Is it therefore that the delusions have got worse, but they started off about five years ago?

Whatever the cause, it's very distressing (and frustrating for you - I'm not surprised you are so near the edge!) - if it IS dementia, however, there won't be any treatment alas, though maybe some mild 'tranquillisers' may calm her?? Again, you do need to ask her doctor and not try and soldier on alone like this - you are very stressed and not surprising.

This is a long post, so I'l start another for the next bit!
Hi again

I can well understand why you want to move, and think it must surely be a good idea. You say it's not just because of your mum's conditions, but wouldn't it help you in your argument with Housing to stress her needs are becoming urgent, would that not move you up the list?

Also, any chance you could 'swap' housing with someone else? Though, that said, your neighbours (including your bro!) don't sound very enticing to anyone else.

Finally, for now, do consult the team of experts at Carers UK itself - it's best to email them, rather than try the (very busy) helpline. They answer emails in a day or two. They know 'the system' inside out, and how best to apply etc etc.

There's also a wealth of experience on 'the system' here in the forum members, and hopefully others may be able to make positive and helpful suggestions for you.

Whatever happens, and how, you need to be able to reduce those stress levels - if you 'break' that will do neither you, nor your mum, any good at all. Do you get on well enough with her otherwise, apart from her constant delusions?? I do hope so - but as she ages, more problems are almost inevitable medically alas (let alone if her delusions are coming from dementia) so some form of 'future plan' is going to become necessary.

Sadly, if it is dementia, at some point it is very likely she may need professional care in a residential care home - that has happened now to my mother-in-law. She needs a team of carers 24x7. It's so sad, but there it is.

Wishing you better than you have currently, kind regards, Jenny
Hi Jenny,

Thanks for the quick reply. I actually think that my mother delusions are being caused by her blood pressure tablets. She's on amlodepine. I've had a look at the side effects and they say that hearing things, hallucinations and trembling are all side effects of this drug. However, this reaction is rare and only affects 1 in 10,000 people, so trying to convince the doctor that it's possibly a side effect is proving difficult. I do know, however, that we experimented with taking her off them for a couple of days and she didn't report any problems. However, her blood pressure went very high while she was off them.

She's 73. There is no history of dementia in the family. My great grandmother was in her 90's when she died, and aside from mobility problems, her mind was pretty sharp. Just dulled a little by age. My grandmother died of cancer in 2006. At the moment I'm actually worrying about myself as I've started noticing that I'm forgetting I've done things. Like, for instance, I plug in mums riser recliner chair and then go to do it again and think "I don't remember plugging that in!". I don't know if that's stress related or down to being on "autopilot" bcause my mind is on other things, though.

Basically, the biggest thing is getting away from my brother. If I could get myself and my mother into a house where we don't have to deal with his problems on top of our own (a couple of years ago he went through a stage of getting drunk at the weekends and getting depressed and trying to hurt himself) things might be better. I don't want to sound uncaring about my brother, but he's very self centred. He gets upset and depressed that dad died in 2006. That our grandparents died a little time after. That our older brother died of a brain hemorrhage in 1999... He gets so upset and self indulgent about these things and conveniently forgets that I've been though all this as well. It's just that I accept that this is part of life and I get on with it. But it's all about HIM! Nobody else is allowed to have feelings on things or get stressed out. If I try to explain my problems to him, his problems are always much worse. Also he complains that he's depressed because he lives alone and he has no friends. He has friends. He has a regular friend who comes to his house every weekend to take him out for a drive. He talks to several people on the street. He can also come and go as he pleases. I, on the other hand, I'm a virtual prisoner to the house 24/7 and only really get out to go shopping. He could get out of his bed any time he wants and take a day trip to the Yorkshire Dales or Blackpool, or get a passport and go to Benidorm. I can't. Then he has the gall to complain that he's lonely. He accused me last night of never inviting him in because he's bored in the house on his own. But I've asked him several times to come in and watch a movie with me, to watch something on TV. We'll set a date. but more often than not he'll "forget" or he'll say he's busy. Or the time wont suit him. Mum and I like to have visitors in the day time and leave night time for watching TV (I make video games as a hobby and work on them at night), but my brother is the kind of person who calls to peoples houses at 11pm and expects a warm welcome. I'm sorry, but if people turn up on my doorstep when I;m just about to go to bed, they get told to come back tomorrow. But the biggest issue with my brother is a never know what he's going to do. Whether he's going to be quiet. Whether he's going to fly off the rails over something. Whether he's going to make a noise and disturb me at night. He really is a pain in the behind and has been a problem to me ever since we were kids. The thing is, I always feel bad about talking about him like this, in case it makes me look like I'm the one with the issues. I'll admit I don't like him very much, but only because of all the times when he's been a monumental pain in the rear. I could write a memoir of all the things he's done. But then nothing is ever his fault, it's all down to everyone else. if he was a nicer guy and I could talk to and reason with him I wouldn't have an issue with him at all.

Sorry, that paragraph got a bit long.

As for the housing thing. I'm going to call them tomorrow to arrange an appointment for my mother, myself and my sister to go down there and talk to them about the problems. My sister doesn't live with us, but she's better at getting her point across than I am. I have a problem that nobody seems to ever get my point of view on things. Maybe I;m just not very good at explaining myself simply.

Also, I'll see if getting in touch with Carers UK will help. What's the email address? I can't find it listed on the site.
Hi Pete,

the email address for the helpline is advice@carersuk.org

Thank you Melly.
Hi Pete
Its very frustrating for you and I can well understand what you are going through, my brother sees things which are not there I wonder if it is the Oxycodine liquid he takes sometimes as he does seem to take quite a lot of it. He is also on so many other tablets for various ailments and very forgetful.
I hope you get some better luck with your housing move, a letter from the GP might help as well.
Hi Pete,
Can I ask how old you, mum, and brother are? What exactly is the nature of your brother's learning difficulty. Is it regarded as being "severe" or "moderate"? Are mum and brother getting all the disability benefits that they are entitled to. Have they both had Needs Assessments from Social Services, and you a Carers Assessment?
I don't think moving is going to do any good, quite honestly, because one set of problems will inevitably be replaced by another.
I'm also concerned about the tenancy when mum dies. Normally a tenancy can only be passed on once, so if it was in dad's name, and then passed to mum, this could mean that unless you make representations to the housing association now, you might end up homeless. That needs to be sorted out asap before you go any further with the idea of moving.
My mum always thought if someone did something for her, or bought something, it would fix how frustrated she was because she was disabled and widowed, but as soon as something was bought or done, it was immediately replaced by another idea.
What time off are you getting? When did you last have a holiday? It sounds like you are being taken for granted.