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My mother is in what seems to be a very good NH following as serious stroke. She has pretty serious cognitive issues (mostly short term memory loss) but can still be totally "with it." She has previously told me about things that supposedly happened to her there (typically at night) which she described as "abuse." Once it was an aide who may have been a little too impatient with her, which I reported to the management (and which the NH responded to by suspending the aide for a week and making sure this particular aide was no longer assigned to my mom; they also filed a report with the state health department). Other times it was clear that what she was telling me simply could not have happened (like wild parties in her room in the middle of the night), which I did not report. This morning she called me extremely upset with a story that I find very hard to believe (that up to five aides made fun of her, took her face and pretended to have her kiss them -- either on the mouth or on their breasts, and did other "vulgar" things that she would not describe to me. She says it all started when she was trying to read their badges). Her retelling is not coherent but she clearly believes that this happened. I suspect it was either a dream or some sort of hallucination (she is on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, and the dosage is higher at night). She also is perceptive enough to recognize that I do not fully believe what she is telling me, despite my best efforts to remain neutral when she tells me this stuff. So she gets very upset with me and says I am "taking their side." I am not sure how to respond to her. I am also not sure if I should mention any of this to the management. On the one hand, they will feel legally obligated to launch an investigation, report to the dept. of health, etc. and I don't want to put them through that for what seems to be a confabulation. On the other hand, I am terrified that my mother may be being mistreated in some way and I then ignore it. What would you do?

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My mother did this. I ignored it.

I hope you still aren't considering moving your mother in with you?
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SplitSecond Jul 11, 2022
Thanks for your response. I am certainly inclined to ignore the latest tale of "abuse" but am wondering what I should say to her about it. I am a poor liar so she sees right through me when I say "I reported it and they are looking into it." Hopefully she will have forgotten about it in a day or two.

I am still struggling with whether to keep her in the NH but not really thinking of moving her in with us. I know that's not something I could handle, even with 24/7 help, and our house would require major work to make it safe for her. Her CCR informed me last week that they will not agree to have her move back into her independent living apartment, even with 24/7 care, so the only other option is to rent her an apartment somewhere near us. I know that would be very challenging, I know that it would not make her "happy," and I certainly see the pitfalls, but it is hard to come to terms with leaving her in a place where she is so desperately unhappy.

Thanks again for responding.
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It's said a thousand times on these posts - if someone has a change in personality, ask for urinary testing. Also look at the meds. Both can cause hallucinations - some really wild stories.

You should also see about installing a covert camera in her room (if there is anyone else in the room, it cannot film that other person at all. Don't toss out stories as bizarre until you do some observation on your own. Someone needs to stay with her for lengthy periods of time to see what's going on. Be there on bath days, at meal times, medicine times, etc and pay attention. Go in and out of the room so you can make some surprise entrances.

It's very possible there is a bad employee or even a wandering patient who is coming to your mom's room.
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BettyCrocker Jul 17, 2022
I like this response . A UTI can definitely cause changes in mentation.

Another idea. You mention this is happening in the evening. Is it possible she could be experiencing Sundowner’s? My mom would get highly agitated and stressed in the evening. Her elder psychiatrist prescribed her an anti-psychotic that she takes just before bedtime. It works well for her.
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This happened with my mom after her stroke. The aides were having sex in the bathroom, dead bodies were being carted around...

Mom kept telling me that she "had to pay for everything here". I reminded her that Medicare was paying (I thought this was still my oh so rational mom, sigh).

Sitting with her in the afternoon, Burse Nancy came by and gave my mom several pills, individually, explaining what each was. When mom finished, she said to me, with Nurse Nancy still there, "You see, I have to manage my medications on my own." She gave me a "look" that meant "pay attention to what I'm saying".

I asked her as neutrally as I could what she meant. She pointed to her water pitcher and gave me "the look" again.

I followed Nurse Nancy out of the room. As we walked down the hall, I fumbled for words. She said "Barbara, we think your mom has developed Vascular dementia from the stroke. It's pretty common after stroke. We've asked our geriatric psychiatrist to stop by".

Mom was on a low one of antidepressants at this point. She eventually was prescribed two different antidepressants and a low dose of anti-anxiety meds. They kept her calm.

Talk to mom's psychiatrist about what's going on.
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Lymie61 Jul 17, 2022
Barb, I thought for sure you were going to say the water pitcher or glass wasn’t full so she had to “manage” for herself! I laugh to myself because between aphasia and dementia we ran into some odd miscommunication and or interpretations on Moms part too!
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Our answer to mom when she reported "goings on" was to say, "I'll look into that, Mom". We did.

Never dismiss your mom's concerns, never try to explain to her that they can't be true, but make her feel "heard".

Talk to the folks who are treating her (docs and nurses) about whether this is a medical issue (meds/delusions) and report to administrators what she is saying.

In my previous answer, it might have seemed that we were dismissive of mom's reports. We were not. We investigated and reported to admins.
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I had a camera in my moms room (they allowed camera's and staff knew they were there). You should 100% be concerned about the stories your mother is telling you. The night shift is an inner-changing range of different people. There are an unbelievable amount of abuse cases filed against employees which are assault related in these very nice homes. My mom's facility looked like a country club. Even if your mom is having hallucinations because of her memory, you need to be sure. When a loved one experiences dementia they cannot advocate for themselves and need you. If you have a camera, and she is having hallucination issues or any other issues, you can see it and make appropriate medication decisions based on what is actually happening not what staff is reporting. The reality is that staff are busy and really do not spend much time with residents. Abuse is common among memory care/dementia residents due to their lack of recall and reporting.
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my2cents Jul 17, 2022
Exactly. What jimlindac says is truth. There are bad people who work in these jobs and some will do bad things knowing they can usually get away with it. I saw some scary things with my own two eyes. I heard things over the phone when one of them did not know my mom had dialed my number and laid the phone down on the bed. Witnessed wrong meds given to my mom 2 times, so how many time did it happen when I wasn't there? Brought it to attn of management and within minutes, the guilty party slammed open the door and got up close and personal with me. She was very nasty, rude and condescending to my mother after that. I stayed each and every day until that lady's shift was over to protect my mom. It was rehab facility only and they released my mom shortly after the complaint and several weeks prior to the original release date. I completed her rehab at home by myself - from wheelchair to walking. Sure opened my eyes as to what can happen when no one is looking. And it's criminal/abuse what some people will do.
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I’ve learned not to believe too much of the wild stories that people with dementia tell. My mother was sure that an animal was living in a silk flower arrangement in her room. She thought she was going to marry Elvis and bought a ring, believing that he was going to show up any day now. She believed her father was in the second story of her house playing the organ, and he’d been dead for 25 years, but she heard it every night for weeks. And he was there with his son, who died in WW2. A dinosaur was living on her back screen porch. The cat had kittens in her washing machine (true, but it was 50 years before) and she said Chinese people had put the cat there. Another relative heard a friend of mine speaking in his ear, saying he’d blown his brains out, which wasn’t true though my friend had died peacefully some time before. The same relative saw his own footprints leading up to his door and became convinced that someone else was hiding in his house. A friend thought that people from outside were sneaking into his memory care facility to get food and to attend the activities, which was not possible. On and on. Dementia is a vicious disease but you just can’t take the stores too seriously unless you have some sort of proof it happened, like bruises or pictures. I sure would have liked to see that dinosaur! lol
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i don't have an answer for you but i do have the same issue with my mother. back when she was at home she'd have crazy stories too, once that someone was knocking on her window and trying to get in at night. her bedroom window is on the 2nd floor and there are plenty of first-floor windows any intruder could have used rather than the one that obviously has someone inside watching tv and would require a ladder to reach, but she insisted it happened. now in memory care she has claimed a few times that someone kicked her in the butt, but the person she described doesn't actually exist there. likewise she said some big fat man was yelling at her, but we actually think the person she described is dr. phil! which the group watches every afternoon in the common room. and there is no big fat guy at the nursing home, the only men employed there are slim. she has more harmless claims like that there are two swimming pools at the nursing home (there are none) but it's always difficult when the stories involve potential abuse. i don't know how to respond either but it always brings both worry and hope that it is a dream or hallucination.
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PatsyN Jul 17, 2022
Had to laugh at Dr. Phil. 😻
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Rethink moving her in with you. She’s only going to get worse. And the hallucinations, anxiety, fear, paranoia will only be exacerbated. New surroundings could increase all of these in a heartbeat. Mom is in a residential care home (she loves it), but even here after two years the tales are getting more and more bizarre. We’ve heard stories from “that one steals from me” (mom has nothing anyone would want) to her being raped by Indians. Then there’s the little girl that comes to visit at night and she can’t go back to sleep until they find her.

There is no way I could handle the hour by hour needs and listen to all the fears and concerns that mom has. She’s on meds for depression, anxiety and pain.

Good Luck with your mom and good luck to you. This is a long, strange trip. I couldn’t do it alone.
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Install a camera in her room. If you have the legal authority over your mother to make her decisions, then it is your right to put the camera.
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SplitSecond: When my late mother was in a nursing home, she confabulated similar stories, e.g. "He (a patient) got out of his bed to assist me," "The person (a patient) went back to their hotel" and "There is a body lying in the floor of my room." Imho, most of these stories were as a result of morphine still being in her system, since she had just arrived via ambulance from the hospital.
As far as your mother telling you these rather bizarre stories, they don't hold much merit and shouldn't be followed up on. Other scenarios that seem credible should be addressed. To be certain, install a camera IF permitted.
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