It’s possible that your mother has a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia but such a late onset is unusual. You said that she was 56 years old. The typical onset of schizophrenia is late adolescence or young adulthood. It’s rare for an individual to begin experiencing symptoms for the first time in middle adulthood. It’s possible but not common. Perhaps this is not the first time she has behaved in such a manner but without being able to interview you in person, it’s difficult for me to know.
One thing is certain, she is not well. It may be due to psychological problems, delusions, hallucinations or paranoia. Several other possibilities exist which include an organic brain disorder, early-onset dementia or illicit substance use.
You stated that you do not live with your mother and thus intervening may be difficult. Encourage her to be seen by a medical or mental health professional for an evaluation. If you cannot convince her to be evaluated, perhaps one of your siblings can. You stated that she doesn’t trust you but she may trust another member of the family.
Hopefully, someone in your family can convince your mother to seek treatment. Otherwise there’s not much else you can do. Unfortunately, when we see one of our family members acting bizarrely and perhaps putting themselves or others in danger, it can be difficult to force them into treatment. Try your best to encourage her to seek help and hopefully she will listen. Do all you can and realize that your power is limited. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog