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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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My sister is in her 80s and is very unhappy with her husband

Customer Question

My sister is in her 80's and is very unhappy with her husband and is accusing him of having sexual relations with other women and even bringing them into their house after she is asleep. Her husband and children are very upset with her and are treating her very badly. There are several girls in our family, me being the youngest, and she acts very normal around us. Her 2 daughters and 2 son have homes on the family farm where she lives. They believe everything that their Dad says and he is staying with each of them right now. They have all almost abandoned her. They are wanting her to see a doctor in order to prove she has dementia. Her husband has had affairs in the past that she knows about and she may be delusional about that but she is perfectly normal in all other ways. We have tried not to get involved but we are the only ones she has.

What kind of Doctor does she need, where do we start? Her family has made an appointment with their family medical doctor for tomorrow. Her daughter has been in the Doctor's office and told them everything that she has said and done. We feel like she is being forced to do something that may be bad for her. Please help us to decide how to help her.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 4 years ago.
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

It is true that your brother-in-law abused your sister emotionally (at least) for years by his behavior and she has become quite traumatized by it. It is possible that he did bring women into the house while she slept, in the past, if the house layout permitted it. Considering his age it is unlikely that he has been cheating on her lately, but it is not impossible and he does have a history, which is no doubt deeply burnt into her consciousness.

She may even be suffering from a form of PTSD, an anxiety disorder, that can emerge years later because of past traumas, rather than dementia or schizophrenia.

She appears rational and normal to you.

You say that you do not want to get involved, but you are her sister and have been with her longer than her husband and children. The husband has been the offending party and may be using his influence to turn the children against their mother, possibly to get her out of the home.

I believe that you should follow your instincts, support your sister, give her in-person support as much as possible, and explain to her about PTSD which is not a psychosis, but an anxiety response to real trauma from the past, perpetrated against her by her husband.

She may have dementia or delusions, but give her the benefit of the doubt, as your own eyes tell you otherwise. I am sure that you want to protect her from being railroaded into a mental health or nursing home facility, pumped up with drugs and left to live out her years in a drug-induced stupor, which could be the outcome of this in a worst-case scenario.

I applaud you for your support.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC

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