My Mother’s Dementia

The following is an excerpt from a first draft of a self-assigned writing assignment I’ve just completed.

The entire essay can be accessed here:


Calling the Cops on Your Mother:

I highly doubt anyone reading this will have experienced what it might be like to call the police on a parent. At least, I hope that isn’t the case. It was during the first week of trying to take care of her while also trying to come up with a workable strategy for her care.


I heard someone on the radio state that people shouldn’t refer to those with mental illness as crazy. Though I agree in that I would never call someone else’s mother crazy.

But my Mom wasn’t about sugar coating terms she’d used her whole life. I knew that when I referred to her as crazy, My mostly sane historical Mother would not have held off using the term. I can hear her voice saying “If someone’s crazy, that’s just what they are”. That seemed to be something my parents both shared, the ability to ignore what the world told them was acceptable.

Did I mention my Mother was crazy? Whacko? Numerous screws loose, truly gone fishing?


Well folks she was and she’d have been the first to admit it… had she been even a little sane during the time she was crazy. She became so crazy that I was literally at my wick’s end with how to deal with the situation. Family wasn’t an option for her care, we couldn’t afford a memory care facility, she wouldn’t have gone willingly even if we could afford it and Kaiser could offer no help. It was a dead end that I felt had no escape route, nobody to call for help except a sister in-law whom was a rock of sanity that I clung to during those times.

There was nothing either myself or my sister in-law could do to manage the situation. I couldn’t stay at my Mom’s house 24/7 and she needed that level of care. She’d refused her medications, so there wasn’t the badly needed medicated state to hope for that might have made caring for her a little less arduous.

The unthinkable idea came to me and I tossed it to my sister in-law. She had no better idea than mine. We both agreed it would be the best thing to do. The sheriff had told us that if she was to call them one more time, they’d have to “take her in”. I remember the phone call vividly.

“Your mother’s been calling us about hearing voices, and dead babies buried in her yard.”
“Yes Sir, we believe she has dementia and we are trying to work with Kaiser to get her help but we’ve not been very successful.”
“Well, here’s the thing Mr. Lopez, we can’t keep coming out to her house. You and your family are going to have to do something.”
“I understand that Sir. We’ve been trying but there’s no one but me who’s able to deal with her like this. And honestly, she’s so far gone, I’m afraid I’m also unable to care for her.”
“Just so you understand, the next time she calls, we’re going to have to take her to a psychiatric hospital. And so you know, those places are not the nicest places to end up. They can be terrible places.”
“We understand that but at this point, that would be a better option than what we are faced with now. We don’t have money to place her anywhere, and the family isn’t capable of providing full-time care.“
“Okay Mr. Lopez. I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

My Mom was still clever in her insanity even then. She somehow knew that if she stated to the cops or the doctors that she was either A. a danger to herself or B., a danger to others, that she would be locked up in the funny farm within hours. She cleverly avoided ever stating those things. In fact, when asked if she thought about or wanted to commit suicide, she would laugh before saying “What? No… I’ve never considered that. No way.”

So, the police and doctors couldn’t perform what’s called a 51/50. I know, you’re thinking the same thing I did, ‘Wasn’t that a Van Halen Album? Apparently it is unrelated (I believe it was the name of the studio the album was recorded in). Either way, it was not an option on the table for us.

It was during one of the last nights I spent at her house, sleeping on the couch while she slammed doors, yelled in Spanish, walked in and out of rooms and generally went berserk all night long. When I woke up, I went out to my car, had an American Spirit or two, then called the cops on my Mother.

 “911 Dispatch, what’s your emergency?”
“Hi… my mother has dementia and she just threatened to kill me with a knife.”

This premise had already been decided between my Sis In-law and I prior to the call. She had to threaten me without any grey areas. She had to be a direct threat.

“Your mother has knife on you right now?”
“No, it was about an hour ago.”
“Is anyone hurt?”
“No. I woke up from sleeping on her couch and she was standing over me with a kitchen knife. So I left the house and am now outside calling from her parking lot.”
“Is she still in the house?”
“Yes. She’s in her house by herself. She was up all night acting very crazy.”
“Can I get your name Sir?”

“So, you woke up and she was holding a knife on you Mr. Lopez?”
“Yes.” I could hear the dispatcher typing in the background.
“Do you feel you’re in danger right now?”
“No. I’m outside in my car.”

 At that moment, I broke down into an uncontrollable sob.

You can read the rest of this essay at: