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Signs that Mom Can’t Live Alone?


I have a mother who is 84 years of age. I have taken control of her medication and she is very angry with me and telling me I had best leave it where she can get to it or I am going to hear something that I don’t want to hear. It is causing so much stress on me that it is affecting me in other areas of my life. She lives by herself in a senior living complex. Individual apartments. When it becomes evening she becomes very scared and always says she’s hearing things in the night (someone beating on door or windows). So far there is nothing that shows that. Just need some advice.


Christina, Tampa, Florida


Sounds like something prompted you to take control of your mom’s medications. If it was that you thought she might be taking them incorrectly and that this might be the cause of the behaviors you’re seeing, I want to lend support to your concerns.  Taking almost any medication incorrectly can lead to serious side effects. However, the agitation she’s experiencing at night could be the result of several things including a cognitive impairment and should be worked up by a physician.  I think it makes sense to begin with her primary care provider, or ideally, a geriatrician.

If it all possible, accompany your mom to the doctor and be sure to do the following:

1) Describe her normal behavior (in other words, give a sense of what your mom was like before these new behaviors began)

2) Describe what’s happening at night (and the findings thus far that there is no physical evidence of beating on windows and doors)

3) Provide a complete list of her medications (even bring the pills with you)

Taken together, these pieces should prompt the physician to order additional tests to determine the cause of her symptoms.  If it doesn’t, I would urge you to see another doctor.  What you’re describing isn’t normal and may be a sign that your mom can’t live alone anymore.

Lastly, lots of people write in to ask what to do when their aging parent doesn’t want them to go to the doctor with them.  In case this is true in your situation I thought I’d share my advice on this: Write your concerns out and send them to the doctor via fax before the appointment.  Include your contact number and explain upfront why you’re not at the visit.

I hope this helps.


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