What can we do with our mentally ill relative? Very long and personal.

Our 50 year old uncle has come back to town. He’s here until his sister’s estate is settled. Due to the complete venality, stupidity and laziness of his surviving sisters, the estate business was left to me and my two cousins. My uncle is schizophrenic and an alcholic. He came to NY from Washington state, where he has lived for the past decade. In a tent. He plans to go back where his wife also lives (not in his tent in the woods though).

The problem is that he cannot care for himself. In Washington the state handled his money and his wife made sure he ate and didn’t kill anyone. He spent one day at the condo his sister owned. We got a call from management that very night. He stood in the vestibule all night long, drinking and cursing the other residents.

He is delusional when he doesn’t take his meds. He can be violent when he drinks. He never takes his meds and he will steal beer from the corner store if he is not given money. He hears voices “They’re not all bad,” he’ll tell you.

Both my cousins and I have children. He cannot be trusted alone with children. We are now trying to get him into the HRA system where there are facilities for homeless people with his problem. The real problem is the wait. Until there is a bed available in a MICA shelter, he will be put into a general pop shelter where, my cousins and I are sure, he’ll end up either dead or in jail.

Does anyone have any experience dealing with the mentally ill? Is there anything we can do to calm his paranoia? Are there ways of making sure he takes his meds? Is there any other choice for him but the streets?

Get that estate settled as fast as you can - then take him back to Washington.

You might try calling a few psychiatrists until you find one willing to see him until you can get him home. He could be given weekly injections of an antipsychotic (e.g. Depo-Prolixin.) that would help the psychotic, delusional problem while he is there and you won’t have to worry about him taking his meds. You will probably have to bargain with your uncle to take the injections though. Can you make him believe that getting his share of the inheritance is contingent on complying with the weekly injection treatment?

The drinking is tougher. The MICA program would address that if a bed becomes available.

In the meantime, don’t rescue him when you get a call about his drunken, psychotic behavior. Just call the police. They will take him to a hospital and then his disposition will be the hospital’s problem. If it comes to that, you can probably get the hospital to begin the weekly injection regimen. Hopefully, a MICA bed will open up by the time he is ready to leave the hospital.

Whatever you do, don’t bring him to your house (but you already know that, don’t you?)

I wouldn’t worry too much about him landing in jail. From the sound of it he wouldn’t be there long. As soon as he sobered up and the cops realized he was psychotic he would be transferred to a psych unit.

This is a very difficult situation and I think you and your cousins should be commended for trying so hard to do the right thing. I wish you all the best of luck.

If he is a Veteran, you can check with the V.A. hospital and the Red Cross. I knew someone who had to do that. Best of luck.

Ugh, Biggirl, that sounds like a nightmare. I don’t have any sage words for you, other than look after your kids and try to do the best you can.

How mentally ill people are treated in one of the wealthiest countries in the world disgusts me. All the best.

My mother is an accoholic and also mentally ill, she also cannot be trusted alone or with children. After trying to deal with this for a while, I can only say, we just let her get into trouble with the police, they took her to the county mental hospital where they kept her for a few weeks, then the entire cycle would be repeated again.

It dosen’t sound like a nice thing to do to someone, but she doesn’t think she has any problems, she thinks it’s normal to have conversations with people that aren’t there. So, it’s very difficult to get her to the doctors that she needs to see.

Good Luck.

I don’t know what to say, but,

Thanks for the good wishes. And thanks, ejrn for that info. My cousin is taking a day off next week and driving him to the hospital and HRA. Cuz will ask about it when he gets there.

Uncle T is not always so. . . crazy. When he is lucid he’s a nice guy who tries to do what needs to be done. It’s just that he hasn’t had too many moments of lucidity since he’s come back.

If the money your uncle would receive is more than $2,000, you might want to get information about a Special Needs Trust.

"Many well-intentioned parents don’t realize that an inheritance may cause many problems for their child. Under current federal law, any inheritance of more than $2,000 disqualifies disabled individuals from most federal needs-based assistance. Benefits from state public assistance programs may also be affected.

A special needs trust, however, offers a means of protecting your child’s eligibility for these benefits, while addressing the ongoing care and needs of your child."

More info at link above.

If your uncle is receiving help from an agency in Washington, they might be able to help. Or you might be able to get help from a local agency.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill could have some useful information [ur]www.nami.org. New York state has a chapter at www.naminys.org/.

You’re carrying a heavy burden, particularly when other family members are not helping. I hope things work out.

You really are a Prince Paper. We were so worried about him losing his benefits when he got his money, or that he’d kill himself spending it. We thought of giving it to him in an annuity. That Special Needs Trust looks like exactly what he needs.

There is only so much you can do or be expected to do ** Biggirl. ** Wacly as it sounds, the mentally ill are ultimately responsible for themselves, just like you and me. Unless they are violent, in which case you have more options.

My late sister was mentally ill, though not as severely as your uncle, and my best friend’s sister is severely mentally ill. And what I’ve learned is that the most important thing is that you not beat yourself up over the fact that you can’t fix him.

Yeah this sounds like a very painful situation. I’ve been there with a relative of mine, so I know what you’re going through. Wish I could offer you some easy solutions Biggirl, but my family never found any. Best wishes, anyway.

Biggirl, my sweet, it just keeps comin’, don’t it?

I wish I had something practical to add. But I think others here have handled that well. I hope you get a bit of rest soon.


Oh me, that sounded kinda ghastly. I just mean, you know, rest, as in with “relaxation” attached. :slight_smile:

Does he need to be there? Or can you settle the estate without him and ship him back home now?


Biggirl, baby, I wish I had an answer for you. Mental Illness is a complicated subject on so many levels that few professionals even know for sure what to do, and alcoholism can’t be corrected on a short term basis. As far as the meds, crush them up and put them in his favorite food or a shot of booze if all else fails. I can’t speak at all on the estate situation. But cruel and cold as it may seem, IMO, the kids have to come first. Perhaps have a non-offical talk with a social worker to see if there are any options available for the short term? One of the many “free consultation” lawyers that seem to exist everywhere? Maybe a cop friend somewhere who might know of something?

Just tossing out idea here. Really wish I could be of more help.

email me if you feel a need to vent out on someone.

No words of advice, darling. But does this help?


{{{Biggirl}}} and one for {{{Biggirl’s uncle}}}

Hey, Biggirl!

If your uncle is legally competent (has not been judged to be incapable of consenting to treatment, has not lost a competency hearing), you can offer services but he has the right to turn them down, and in the State of New York the psychiatric system has no authority to force treatment upon him against his will unless the situation constitutes an “emergency” (i.e., he is in the process of trying to do direct damage to himself or someone else).

He may not like psychiatric meds for the same reason that I don’t like them, and that an enormous number of other psychiatric inmates and ex-inmates don’t like them – they make you feel like shit, they damage your brain, and more often than not don’t help you cope with anything you weren’t coping with at least equally well without them. If he has not been judged to lack capacity, he has the right to refuse psych meds even if he has been involuntarily incarcerated as a danger to himself or others, so you have no legal means other than persuasion to get him to take his meds.

Be all of that as well it may, you obviously need to do something about him. Try seeing if a social worker in the hospital you go to will meet with you to discuss placement. He might to well in a Residential Care Center for Adults (RCCA), for instance.

*Originally posted by Turbo Dog *

This is illegal and could theoretically get her arrested for assault.

Don’t worry Hunter, nobody’s forcing Uncle T to do anything. When he is rational he wants to do the right thing. The problem is he is not rational right now.

Nor is he able to do anything for himself. He was given a metrocard and some cash to take himself to the doctor and to HRA. He set off to do these things, but the voices and delusions sidetracked him. My cousins and I do not want to see him living in the street, but that is where he will end up of he cannot stay in the condo.

I did mention he is violent when he drinks? He is 6’3" and 200lbs. When his paranoia gets the better of him people get hurt. Sometimes total strangers whose only “crime” was to share an elevator with him.

I was actually hoping you would post to this thread Hunter. Now that you’ve told me what I can’t do, please give me some advice on what I can do.