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Munchausen by proxy in the elderly?

Posted In: Medical Stories 0 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • June 18, 2010
  • 09:00 PM

I'm afraid that my stepfather may be causing my elderly mother's life threatening physical ailments. My mother married her current husband six years ago, when they were, respectively, 71 and 73. Two years after the marriage, her health declined suddenly and rapidly. Declining health may not be unusual in someone her age, but these are my reasons for concern:

(1) None of her many health care providers is able to identify a cause for the decline.
(2) Her husband clearly takes too much pleasure in the praise he receives for acting as her caretaker. He revels in the role of selfless spouse and, on meeting new people, exaggerates her condition and her dependency on him (example: on meeting my aunt for the first time at a restaurant, he left his seat to squeeze in next to my mother, tied a cloth napkin around her neck, explained that he wanted to buy her a bib, then proceeded to feed her -- something she was still doing alone at home and was perfectly capable of doing herself) He was clearly displeased when the attention shifted away from him.
(3) In describing his background to me, my mother noted that "everyone admired him" for taking care of his sickly mother until she died. His first wife was an invalid for years before dying and he "had to do everything for her." When she died, the elderly woman next door fell ill and he took over her care. When the neighbor died, my mother suddenly fell ill.
(4) He rarely lets my mother out of his sight, following her even into the bathroom. Last year, for the first time, he left me to care for her because he had to go out of state to sell a vacation property they owned. Before leaving, he instructed me to give her not only prescribed medications but also something he called a "concoction" he'd created to help her with regularity. I didn't give it to her. After four days with me, she was clearly doing much better --something my siblings noted without my asking.
(5) He manages all of her medical care and goes in with her whenever she's being examined. She often has several doctors' visits per week. Again, no one can explain her weight loss, extreme weakness, disorientation and vision problems.

I want very much to be wrong. But am I wrong for being concerned? And, if not, what should I do? I'm very afraid that accusing him of intentionally harming her could result in his retaliating by cutting off my contact to her.

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