Our expert says:
The niece sounds seriously psychiatrically disturbed and in urgent need of proper psychiatric assessment and care. And her husband and the other adult children simply accepting this peculiar behaviour suggests that they cannot be all that well, either. If they are mentally retarded, which you have not said, then they probably need to be in an institution, at least until they can learn to be properly independent, and then maybe in a hostel or other sheltered care. There must be more going on here than you are telling us / more than you are aware of.
If the niece causes a disturbance ANYWHERE, the targets of her performance ought to call the police and ask them to take her away for disturbing the peace or whatever other charge seems suitable, and they can, if she appears unable to properly care for and protect herself ( or others, such as her children ) ask for her to be seen by a doctor / psychiatrist for a proper assessment, and possibly even compulsory treatment, if needed.
It makes no sense at all for your colleague to struggle to support these peculiar people. The niece and her husband, and these adult children, ought to support themselves, or if too sick to work, should be under treatment, even in hospital. I understand that this good lady is reluctant to confront her niece, but she needs to recognize that she is NOT helping this sick woman to get better, but is enabling her to remain sick and to evade the treatment she probably needs. And at her age, she needs to recognize that should she die or fall ill, what on earth would this wildly dysfunctional family do without her ? Social workers may be able to advise and help, too.
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