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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My 91 year old mother is living with my sister who has

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my 91 year old mother is living with my sister who has mental health symptoms, including bi-polar' Her l4 uear old daughter also lives there. My mother is the sole provider for the household. My sister has a shopping and gambling problem. Has incurred mountains of debt with no income. She constantly screams at my mother and her daughter to the point of being unbearable. To meet her anyone would thing she was the sweetest person ever so she can turn It on or off. My mother is at her limit. She is a strong and capable woman but is being abused mentally and financially. She cant leave because she worries about the granddaughter and tries to provide a normal life for her. How do you find help for a person that refuses to cooperate. We almost contacted adult protection services. Also, my mothers doctor called me one evening because he was concerned and told me to get my mother out of that house. I am very concerned for my mother and also my niece who shouldn't have to live with this. Where do we find help? My sister was diagnosed at 13 as having personality disorders but it was never addressed.
DoctorZ :

Hello I believe I can help with your concerns regarding your mother

DoctorZ :

I am sorry to hear that your mother and your niece are going through this

DoctorZ :

I definitely agree with the personality disorder diagnosis for you sister, it honestly sounds like antisocial personality disorder to me

DoctorZ :

I agree that your mother is very vulnerable for abuse (emotionally, financially, and may escalate to physical abuse or neglect). I dont think you initial idea of calling adult protective services would have been wrong in this situation

Customer:

we need professional help but don't know where to go

DoctorZ :

Are you looking for professional help for your mother to help her be safe? Or to help your sister with her psychological problems?

Customer:

help for my sister

DoctorZ :

Would she be open to psychological counseling?

Customer:

no

DoctorZ :

That is going to be tough then because unless you are court ordered you really cannot force someone to get help. She has to want to get better for there to be a positive change

Customer:

how can you get help for a person who won't cooperate? She definitely needs testing and therapy or meds.

Customer:

so there's nothing we can do for the situation?

DoctorZ :

It is tough, but not impossible

DoctorZ :

May I ask why your sister wants your mother to live with her? Is there any financial gain for your sister regarding this living arrangement?

Customer:

My mother moved in to help them thinking my sister could work and she would be home with the daughter. Plus financially she could help. there is 100% financial gain for my sister but she accuses my mother of ruining her life by moving there. She doesn't reason and won't admit that she would be destitute without her.

DoctorZ :

Wow that is a tough situation for your mother, but I can definitely see why you describe her as strong and capable.

Customer:

My mother is being bullied into supporting her spending habits and giving her spending money, or she'll use a credit card and get cash back with no concept of money.

DoctorZ :

Your mother can make a demand that she will not continue to support her spending habits if she does not seek therapy. That is one possibility.

DoctorZ :

Your sister may not respond well to it at first, but at least it is getting her leg in the front door for treatment

Customer:

and if that doesn't work, what can I do?

DoctorZ :

You can try telling her that her daughter should go to family therapy with her. This may help her feel like she is not fully to blame for her behavior

DoctorZ :

Or family therapy with you and your mother too

Customer:

she won't go to therapy. I think she's afraid.

DoctorZ :

Her being afraid is a strong possibility. When you thought about calling adult protective services, did you suspect possible abuse in the home?

Customer:

Not physical abuse but definitely mental and financial abuse

DoctorZ :

Okay, do you suspect any abuse towards your niece (emotional, verbal, or physical)?

Customer:

emotional and verbal

DoctorZ :

Alright, well here is an option and I think it should be a last option. You can always report your sister to adult protective services for possible mental and financial abuse. If it can be proven, your sister may be required to get court ordered therapy. But this may damage your relationship with her permanently, which is why I dont really recommend this option, but I will mention it to give you all the options that I can think of

Customer:

Well, this is what conclusion I usually come to, so it's that or do nothing and watch the suffering. I guess I was hoping for an answer . Thanks for your help.

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