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Casual Contributor

Struggling with negative symptoms

I’m a carer to my brother who has a long term schizophrenia diagnosis. He is mildly medicated for the positive symptoms, lives alone and manages with day-to-day living ok, but not working. 

My brother shows no detail to hygiene in the home or for himself, and has little motivation so just wondering if others struggle with the negative symptoms of mental illness and some coping mechanisms. Thanks


Re: Struggling with negative symptoms

Yes @Frustrated10  keeping a house tidy and personal hygiene can be a problem for our loved ones, sometimes this is episodic, other times is more chronic.


@silhouette has a sister who also has difficulties in relation to these matters.


There are also a few parents of adult children with Sz @patientpatient  is someone who comes to mind who might have some tips for you.


Re: Struggling with negative symptoms

As @Darcy mentioned, I've found that the negative symptoms vary over time. Things are generally messy (sometimes frustratingly messy) in our house but my son lives with me at home so a lot of cleaning gets done for him, and he gets occasional reminders though hygiene isn't a big issue. He doesn't manage finances well. He's also not working though now well enough to do a few hours volunteer work. Motivation has improved over the years but his many thoughts and ideas are not all that practical. I don't know how he'd manage living by himself and that's an ongoing concern as I get older. @Frustrated10 can your brother get any home help? Someone to occasionally help with the cleanup and remind him to clean up a bit. 

Re: Struggling with negative symptoms

Welcome to the forum @Frustrated10, we can see how that can be incredibly frustrating for you, especially when you want to help your brother help himself. @patientpatient gives some great advice regarding getting some extra help to clean up, regarding personal hygiene - are you able to provide your brother with the necessities to help remove any hurdles to cleanliness?  

Re: Struggling with negative symptoms

 @Ali11  @patientpatient  @Darcy  Thank you all for your responses.

We have tried to get my brother help like a cleaner but he doesn’t deem it necessary so declines any services available to him. We got him into a program where someone was visiting on a regular basis in attempt to get him out and motivate him but eventually my brother stopped it.

We are a big family and my elderly mother lives away so when we stay with her i am constantly reminding him to shower, he thinks it’s ok to go days without showers, and as a smoker he smells. I have my own young family so sometimes it is difficult. 

Re: Struggling with negative symptoms

Balancing your own family while trying to help your brother can be difficult @Frustrated10, especially when he's stopping all of the services that you set up for him. I know it can be difficult, however, have you spoken to him directly about his hygiene? If you think that it won't go down well, is it possible to chat to his GP about this problem?

Re: Struggling with negative symptoms

@Frustrated10 Lack of motivation can be a problem with Sz, and it has been shown that daily living issues such as adequate nutrition, physical health, house keeping and socialising are all part of holistic care and lead to better outcomes and quality of life.  Whilst independent living is seen as a desirable, in the absence of anyone to be accountable to, these areas can become problematic for some patients and lead to a poorer quality of life. 


For those who live on their own, having family who maintain constant contact who are more blunt/bossy than a social worker in enforcing house keeping (esp if rental inspections are pending) as well as showing expectations that social services will be accessed/used is often what is needed not only to maintain a basic standard of living, but also to ensure social interaction;  in addition family are often relied upon to keep an eye out for other health issues and taking person to appts and social functions. Little wonder we as carers get exhausted ... but it is well documented that those patients with appropriate family support do far better than those without it.


Self care and boundaries are so important when caring for loved ones. Regular visit times are often helpful ie. once a week to ensure jobs (clothes washing, shopping, housework) are done and having a social time on the alternate catch up such as a meal with family can be helpful for some (with the expectation that they shower in both occasions).

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