Situation is that I have an 84 yr old mother living with a fifty something brother that has a history of bipolar or schizophrenia. It is hard to know what exactly the diagnosis is from my mom. They live in another state 2 doors from my sister. The brother makes irrational associations between things. For example, he went into a tirade on the phone saying that my sister's dogs and dirty (not) house are the reason the baby had to go to the ER. Not true, totally unrelated to need for visit. He will be fine for a while then starts to get more agitated and then can become verbally abusive,shouting horrible untrue bizarre things that are not related to anything real.He has always made loose connections between things. I call him on it with flat statements that those things are not related. He perseverates that my sister is some kind of bad mother & starts making wild mean statements about her health problems that she has no control over. Ok call 911 because he does not settle down. He focuses lots of negatives on my sister. He has not threatened her yet; just lots of uncontrolled anger and verbal abuse.
He lives with the 84 yr old mom who does not set limits on his behavior. She caters to his every whim. If he suddenly goes out at the start of Thanksgiving dinner when dinner is on the table she says lets wait (He went to get gas for an hour!?) Table set and he knew it was dinner time. She says wait. Now the mother is all upset that the sister will not come over due to his unpredictable behavior and irrational thoughts. He is on risperdol. My mother blames my sister for staying away because now she can't see baby. She calls and says "Woe is me" but will not set a limit so that the irrational brother has to be our of the house on a schedule so that my mom can visit with her beloved granddaughter. She thinks that since the irrational brother is once again sorry for his behavior that all is well. PROBLEM: wE GREW UP WITH AN ALCoHOLIC ABUSIVE FATHER that the my mother never left and always forgave despite physical abuse that she did not protect children from. We support my sister and say that she has the right to set limits to not repeat the cycle. So, like a movie, my mom now says we always accuse her of being a bad parent (no, we say she has options now that women in those days did not have). What do we do with a fifty something man that no one can live with and an 84 yr old woman that still lives in a weird reality where she thinks someone saying sorry removes responsibility and the cycle to abuse begins again? She is angry at me now and my sister because she would not listen to solutions on how she can still see both children and the grandchildren. She wants everyone over at Christmas but this is not the Beaver Cleaver household. It is a bizarre family that did not know what was normal when they grew up and now estrangement from the mother is happening because she protects the abuser. What do we do about the brother? How do we help the mom without making her mad every couple of months when she starts crying and saying that we blame her for being a bad mother? She turns things back to being my sister's fault. Sometimes I think that she really thinks she had a fairly normal marriage despite marital flings and physical and verbal abuse and arrests and alcoholism.("He was so bright and handsome" I could talk to him, she says" "He could fix almost anything". Meanwhile he was doing so many of the things that alcoholics do including leaving little girls in cars in bar parking lots for hours while he drank.) I feel we should just walk away from the mentally ill brother. My family has a chance at normalcy. We've worked hard on it. I got lucky. But my mom doesn't understand why we don't want to be with my irrational brother that we get scared of. What message does it send to my teenager if I just walk away from all of those bizarre family members? Where will the mentally ill brother live when she dies?


It sounds like perhaps involving social services may be needed? Neither your brother or your mother sound individually able to care for themselves and together it sounds like they may be hazardous for one another? Your brother has mental illness and that has to be recognized. You cannot expect him to behave in a different way when he is struggling with a dual dx of bipolar and schizophrenia! Either of those is hard enough, but combined they are really in need of longterm and consistent professional care. Is he getting that?

I honestly don't know what to suggest other than that you try to get professional help for them

Hi gammie - I'm sorry for all you've been through growing up and now. I understand it puts you and your sister in an awkward position. You're right about Christmas not being typical and its okay to have boundaries - maybe instead of having dinner, you can just visit in between lunch and dinner. Regarding seeing you/your sisters children - can you bring your mom over for visits - your brother is an adult and doesn't have to come.

Since your father was an alcoholic, your mom is mostly likely codependent, enabling and she's used to dysfunction. She's been a peacemaker all her life, so this is most likely why she acts like this. As Chemar said it does concern me, when she gets older and ill - will she be cared for. Does she own her own home and does your brother collect disability? When she passes one day, her estate may be a problem. Your brother could move into a group home or he may insist to living in your mom's home. Its important for you/your sister to have healthy boundaries and not feel guilty about it.