This sounds like a complicated problem. It does sound like attention seeking behaviour and there is an outside chance that this is something called 'Munchausen's Syndrome' It is basically a psychological disorder whereby someone fakes an illness / symptoms or harms themselves in order to create an illness. This is a link to an NHS website which has more details on it: http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=256
That said, Munchausen's Syndrome is very rare and the most likely answer to this is that it is simply attention seeking behaviour. Have you considered having a psychological assessment done when she next in hospital? I think this would be a good first step to take but make sure you get to speak to the psychologist as well so that he/she gets a full picture. I dont think at this point it is anti-depressants that your mum needs. I get the feeling that what she needs isnt a pill but social interaction.
Post Edited (ShynSassy) : 5/14/2008 6:04:19 AM (GMT-6)
thanks all of you for your words of encouragement and suggestions, I am going to continue to "vent" and hopefully mention things I have forgotten to before, and maybe you can continur to help...
She has been pulling this stuff for many years, long before my father in law passed away, long before she was 'elderly", probably long before I knew her, from what I have heard from other relatives, she has pulled this attention getting stuff, this faking illnesses, this overexaggerating things, this deliberately saying things to hurt peoples feelings, this fear of weather stuff since she was probably in her 50's. I think they just assumed it was a character flaw or something, except that as she gets older it gets worse and worse, and as we get older and busier there are fewer of us around to deal with her. And, now that she is 83 she just expects everyone else to do everything for her. The worst part of all is, a year ago she had a "stroke" not even a full blown stroke, she only had a TIA, confirmed by MRI, no evidence of permanent damage. She has all her faculties, but she claimed weakness in her legs. The weakness in her legs was actually muscle atrophy because the woman spends all of her days sitting in a recliner doing nothing and what little walking she does is to the bathroom with a walker! So, she convinced the hospital to send her to a nursing home for 2 weeks of rehab. Then she went home afterward. Well, my sister in law is really no help in this, she bought into the whole thing at the time, and the nurses at the nursing home made all these "helpful" suggestions to her about how to make the house safer for my mother in law. So, while my mother in law was in rehab my sister in law practically made her house look like the nursing home! She put a special chair on the toilet, a seat in the shower, a bar on her bed, she even took oxygen home with her! It is ridiculous. They rearranged all the cupboards in the house to make them "accessable". They started the day care giver 4 hours a day to help her bathe and stuff. And, now I am obligated to make her dinner every night and my husband brings her a plate. Now, on nights we have other plans, she is perfectly capable of cooking for herself, I have seen her do it. She even makes a full dinner - lamb chops and all. My sister in law has gone too far, made things so convenient for her, that she practically does nothing for herself anymore - she doesnt have to! And, I think she has just decided that she doesnt want to either. We bend over backwards to invite her to come out to eat, to go places, and she always says no, and what few times we talk her into coming, she is very negative, pouting, she makes it miserable for everyone, and embarasses the kids, it's awful. I just dont know what to do anymore. Help!
thanks all for your words of encouragement, I guess I havent been strong enough in conveying my feelings here though. It has gotten to the point where none of us, not even my husband or my sister in law, even want to be around her. She is just unbarable. One minute we feel sorry for her, the next we are just disgusted with her. You cant imagine what she puts us through, it is like living with a crazy person.
My sister in law told me yesterday, they are bringing someone in to give her a psych evaluation, making it look like it is just a friend of hers coming over for a social visit, hopefully this will help, and we can get her the help she needs, and get all of us some peace. If not, maybe it is just time to move her to a nursing home, because I cant see any other way to care for her properly at this point. She really doesnt need to be at one, there really isnt anything physically limiting her to the point that she needs to be cared for that much, but she may just push it that far.
Maybe this is her way of trying to tell you she is not happy at home? Perhaps she has not been happy where she has been for a number of years (30-odd by my count) and the only way she knows how to cope with it is to have respite from it every now and again (in the form of hospital / nursing home stays). If she has been doing this for 30 years, I doubt she even has to think about it now. It probably comes second nature to her and she probably doesnt even know shes doing it since she has probably convinced herself after doing it for so long. I guess the solution is to find somewhere where she can stay on a permanent basis... Karen and Shy have given you great ideas there. I would look at assisted living first though since it is the least restrictive.