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80 yr Old Mother's Cruel Behavior

My 80 yr old woman has always had a history of depression and mood swings since I was a child. She was treated with antidepressants for years and now is on Effexor, an antidepressant.

Mother does absolutely nothing all day but sit in a chair. She has no initiative.
She is rude, critical and cruel in things she says to other people and does not seem to realize it.
She is totally self centred and does not participate in conversations for more than a very short time; her attention span is poor.
She complains constantly about physical aches and pains.
She is completely paranoid about "cancer" & is convinced she has it with any insignificant changes in her body or any test she has done. She is paranoid about this disease and was crying and sure she had cancer prior to a mammogram she had arranged for herself.
She has a very low pain tolerance.
She limps only when someone is watching, otherwise her ambulation and flexibility are excellent for her age
She wants to be sick
She has osteoarthritis, depression-treated and atrial fibrillation-treated. She is otherwise healthy.
She is very attention seeking and will "pretend" she has a "disease" in order to get attention from others. An example of this would be when my father was in ICU after having a heart attack, mother convinced the nurses she was having a diabetic reaction and they gave her breakfast. My mother does not have diabetes.
If someone is having a conversation with her, it is as if she is not involved in the conversation at all, and will suddenly say "I hurt".  
She will say anything she is thinking  to another person, regardless if it is hurtful or rude, and she cuts ties with family members often, off and on if they do not agree with her instructions on how to live their lives.
She is even miserable with young children.
She critisizes everyone.
She lives alone, does not cook meals for herself, complains about unloading the dishwasher, has a cleaning woman come in weekly and does her own laundry, and sometimes her own grocery shopping but attempts to have her children do this for her.
She still drives and appears to be sharp mentally with occasional lapses in short term memory or word finding. She is able to manage her own finances and bills.
She keeps a great deal of cash around the house and tells people, nighbours, friends, anyone around about this
Her behavior is of great concern as she is alienating friends and family.

We, her children, have tried to talk to her about this issue but it is totally impossible. A friend has suggested this is a type of dementia in the beginning stages. Mother has been this way for several years, worse in the past 10 yrs since the death of my father. Can anyone offer some guidance? Is this an illness or is she just a miserable old woman?

Thanks so much,
Dotter5
6 Responses
Avatar universal
Oh, she needs to get a complete workup by a neurologist, you and another family member have got to set this up and take her there.  If she won't go, call an ambulance to take her.  The neurologist will determine if she has beginning stages of Alzhiemers or dementia or whatever, OR NOT, and then you'll know what the situation is.  He may even prescribe tranquilizers, and/or Aricept (helps thinking), and he should CHANGE the Effexor to something else, I do believe.  Her medicines are NOT adequate.  Also, could be he'll discover when he does his office exam of her, that she has a physical component to her mental problems that he'll uncover, and that will be a good thing, too, if she REALLY doesn't feel too good.

The thing about relatives who go downhill is, it's frustrating to family members because they cannot seem to do a thing about the situation no matter how hard they try, and ALSO it's hard to listen to somebody complain all day, sort of stirs up a sense of guilt becuz the ones she loves begin to resent her.  She eventually needs to be talking to a psychologist fairly regularly for a little while, so they can perhaps help her to turn her thoughts to a more positive light, so she'll be easier to be around.  So, do not dispair!  Help is on the way, just a phone call away, altho you may have to wait a couple months to see a neuro.
Avatar universal
I might add that if she is already seeing a neurologist or has seen one, she needs to go to a DIFFERENT neurologist, preferably with a group of docs, or if you are in a small town, travel to a larger one if you have to.
Avatar universal
im no doctor i dont pretend 2 be but this sounds far fetched and im sure its wrong but this strikes a chord with me. ive been through something similar and you will not believe this but my family member who was like that was 15 and he had attention deficit disorder and was given something called rittilin just a shot in the dark dont even know if the elderly can suffer from this
535822 tn?1443980380
She could be feeling alone and unloved ....from the extreme description you give of her...
Avatar universal
I believe she has had a psych issue for all these years and it has become worse; sounds like bipolar disorder mixed with a personality disorder.  

If she is able to take care of herself then your intervention is limited.  If she becomes unsafe and/or unable to care for yourself, then you can step in.

You are in a difficult position.  
Avatar universal
Thanks so much for your comment. I don't think her psychiatric problems were ever properly diagnosed or addressed. As a result, she doesn't think she has a thing wrong with her psychiatric health except for a bit of depression. But she has multiple, ever changing physical complaints, when in fact she is very healthy for her age.

It is a difficult position. And I do appreciate your response.
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