Saturday, July 10, 2010

Elderly Parent Issues

I leave tomorrow for a conference and since I have no laptop, I won't be around next week. Not a great time for me to go, but my new boss is sending me and I have no choice.

I'll be back July 18th....

Meanwhile, here's some not fun facts concerning the problems we are having with my mom.

Not a post for everyone, so don't feel obligated to read on. I am hoping for someone(s) in the fields of medicine, social services, elderly services, mental health services, or anything along any of these lines to point me in a direction. Perhaps someone has walked this path before me.

* * * * *

My mom needs to go into assisted living. She has several health problems and has fallen three times in the last couple of months. She has given herself a concussion, a broken hand, and a broken wrist. Her doctor has encouraged her to use her long term health insurance for two years and has been ready to sign off on the forms.

When I was in California last (2007) I stayed at her house to help her. She is a hoarder. It took me a week to clear the spare room, the garage, and the peripheries of the living areas. The only reason my mom allowed me to do this was so she could claim my sister who lives by her "never got off her ass to help." We all knew this was not true and that my sister had been trying to get my mom to allow her to clear out some stuff, but we rarely call mom out on her antics.

Situation of late:
  • Mom has not paid rent since May 1st. She had been working part time and the woman she worked for died. Mom claims she got an eviction notice last week, but won't let anyone see it and she keeps changing her story of the date of the eviction.
  • Mom has taken out several credit cards with big limits over the last several years. She has maxed them out, to what degree we have no idea. ( I have written letters to my elected officials about the WTF situation of non-regulation is in place when a woman in her late 70's, with a bankruptcy in her past, no assets, and only part time work can have access to large amounts of credit she will never be able to repay.)
  • Mom lives in a retirement community. One cannot get past the guarded gate without a pass. Mom took my sister and niece (who live close to her) off the gate pass list and has not allowed them in for a year. Not even lately in this crisis situation. Every time she tells them they can come and help her pack, they get there and there is no pass and she will not answer her phone.
  • Mom has mental health problems. Never diagnosed as she refuses to acknowledge any mental health problems. But..... believe me, it's a huge part of the larger picture.
  • Mom did not save up a single cent for retirement. She came from money and inherited from my grandparents, but blew it all. She made money when she worked, but she spent it all. Her long term health insurance does not kick in until the fourth month. Mom wants us all to pitch in and pay for the first four months, but it is way more than the cash we can come up with.
  • We have been told that these assisted living places will sometimes negotiate on the dollar amount for the time before the insurance kicks in, but since Mom will not give my sister POA, the assisted living home will not negotiate with my sister unless she has POA.
  • All of these issues have added up to Mom being a bit more crazy than usual, even for her, including using suicide threats as a manipulation tool.
So, we have a mom about to be evicted, with massive debts and no money. She won't let anyone in her house. She won't let us negotiate for her with the assisted living homes. She thinks she can keep her charge cards.

Her doctor and my sister both called elderly services, but so far the social worker has said my mom has rights. The social worker has not done much to help us.

My sisters and I have taken a stand and told mom that unless she signs a POA over to my sister that lives close by, we are not giving her any money. We need to figure out her finances and move her quickly and safely and with her daily fits and mood swings and mind games, time is a wasting.

So. Any suggestions?

33 comments:

Snowbrush said...

Been there (kind of), done that (pretty much), which is to say that I feel for you.

Brian Miller said...

ok first, enjoy the trip...

second, so sorry...credit regs should never allow that...sounds like you have been busy with it to...thoughts and prayers...

only a movie said...

Oh, Pseudo...! I wish I could help out in some way. I don't have any words of wisdom. Ack.
Try to enjoy the conference. Did you get your blackberry yet?
xo

starrlife said...

I'm emailing you...

Christy said...

I'll email you too. There are some similarities here to something we recently went through, and to something I've seen on tv - so I'll send you more info via email.

Christy said...

Okay I'm having computer issues and can't email - so email me! But first, get yourself to a highly competent elderly-services lawyer. I don't know exactly what they call themselves, but that's who we had to contact in our family. You may be able to have a POA put in place for her without her consent. Also, call the head of the place where your mom lives - find out if they can assist in the hoarding issue and if she's in fact been given an eviction notice. Finally, call the sheriff of her town - they have dealt with these types of issues before for people without families, and usually know who to send you to help. Hope this helps - a very unpleasant situation.

Michele said...

I was going to tell you the same thing that Christy did. I would have suggested social services but it sounds like you have already tried them. Yes, your mom has rights but those rights shouldn't include harming herself or others. I know that you can force a POA or you can have her declared incompetent. Sounds harsh but it's the best thing for her. Good luck. Just so you know, the wheels on this bus turn very slow.


Try to enjoy your conference.

Linda said...

I know it's harsh but can the Dr diagnosis her mentally unfit to make these kinds of decisions? I know you said these are undiagnosed but the Dr she DOES see must have some say? I am fortunate that my father was able to take care of my mother as long as he did. She is now in full time care & doesn't know us. In the process Dad gave me POA incase something were to happen to him. A good lawyer might be helpful as well. Good luck my friend.

Kathy said...

Oh gosh. :( You need to talk to her doctor and ask if he feels that she's competent to make these decisions on her own, and if he's not 100% convinced - he needs to help with having her declared incompetent, which will get you to court and then give you (or your sister) POA and you can get to work on the issues. It might cost you for an attorney, but in the long run, may cost less than bailing her out of this mess. I'm so sorry she got herself and subsequently you into this mess.

ds said...

Sadly, no practical information. Just remember to breathe. Deeply and often. Will be thinking of you. Best of luck!

creative kerfuffle said...

i have no words of advice, but i'm sending a virtual hug your way. i'm sorry you are going through this.

Jeanne said...

I see you got some useful comments -- good! Nothing to add (my mom died when I was 20), but you're in my thoughts and prayers.

Kristan said...

Shit. No help here, only love and support for you and your sisters. This must be so hard...

Life with Kaishon said...

This is so sad. I can't imagine how difficult this must be so far away. I think the home will end up letting her stay until her insurance kicks in. They usually do.

I will pray for you and your family. I can't imagine this.

tulpen said...

I suck at advice, but I've already given you what I've got in relation to this.

Good vibes headed your way... and you Mom's way.

Anna See said...

Ack. I wish I had expertise to offer. Sounds like a royal mess. Hugs to you.

Christy (Columbia Lily) said...

aw, this just sucks all around. I have no advice for you, but the previous commenters had some good things to say. i can see my mom head in this direction REALLY fast if my dad dies before she does. sigh....best wishes

Twenty Four At Heart said...

What a really difficult situation! I wish I had some advice, but I don't. I think I've got some huge elder care issues in my future though so I can empathize tremendously!

kyooty said...

good luck! You may find someone that can get her declared mentally unfit.

Jan said...

You've gotten some excellent advice from Christy, Michele and Linda - harsh or not, you should do what you can to have her declared incompetent to handle her affairs.

I'm so sorry you're having to go through all of this.

Nubian said...

No words, just sending you virtual hugs and large glasses of wine.

Mama Badger said...

Pseudo, I'm so sorry to hear all this. What a horrible place for both you and your Mom to be.

I'm going to slip in a little bit of advice for your side, though. Whatever you do, make sure it can not effect your own finances. I made the mistake of taking over as my Dad's POA when he became very ill, and as a result ended up with some of his debt. Because I made the decision, and I signed the form, he became my dependent. Make sure any lawyer you get realizes that YOU are his client, not your mother. Don't let her problems become yours long term.

Susan R. Mills said...

That's tough. I wish I had a suggestion for me. Best of luck. I'll be thinking about you.

secret agent woman said...

I've done court-ordered competency evaluations before - I believe it involves consulting with a lawyer who specializes in competency issues or working with elderly parents. I think you're absolutely right to withhold financial support until you get a POA in place. I hope you can set this aside and just enjoy your vacation.

Pastor Sharon said...

Oh, my heart is aching for you. I know I sent you an email. What I realized after reading Moma Badger and Secret Agent's response was this. I had forgotten when I had to get guardianship of my mother that I (being 26 and w/o a clue) didn't realize that by signing certain forms at the hospital took financial responsibility.
After some sound advice like you have received from the bloggers above, an Elder Law Attorney was able to help along with Mom's dr. deeming her incompetent. Then I was able to send the diagnosis to bill collectors where Mom (Alzheimer's) had racked up bills and the couldn't come after me for those funds.

From a professional side, looks like I may have seconded in my email what some of the others have said above.

At any rate, this isn't easy and you are in my prayers! ((HUGS))

Fragrant Liar said...

Sadly, I have no suggestions for you. I have not experienced this with either of my parents and hope I never do. I can't imagine how difficult and painful it must be.

Best of luck to you, Pseudo. Enjoy your respite of sorts, on the job.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Oh how I wish I could be of help on this one. I mean you've got a real complicated situation and I'm so sorry you have to go through this. This must be so stressful for you.

Also, I'm assuming you're in Sacramento this week. If there's any chance you see this, let me know so we can meet for coffee if you have time.

hillgrandmom said...

Hugs to you. Plenty good vibes coming your way.

Onedia said...

So glad you post this. I recognize these kinds of behaviors and what makes it worse is that Hippa gets in the way when you have a parent who removes you from the list of people who can speak to the medical people. Get that POA before she does that.

I have a parent who is a Borderline Personality .... we spent our lives walking on eggshells trying to keep the peace...now that she is in her 80's she it has become impossible to deal with.

The best thing you can do is get the POA because as she loses control of her life she will get more difficult to deal with. That POA will be the only thing that you will be able to rely on. I wish we had one.

I think your steps are reasonable but you and your sister must remember to take care of yourselves in all of this. The children of parents with serious personality disorders suffer their own emotional onslaughts both as adults and from the wounds of childhood.

My siblings and I are struggling to find our own answers (and failing) while trying to remain emotionally intact. So, I can offer moral support but no real answers.

Trust your ideas and your solutions because no one understands the situation better than you and your sister.

I appreciate you writing about this issue because I have not had the guts to write about it openly on my site (thus no writing at all) Thanks for being a good example and reaching out with your dilemma.

Just B said...

I can physically feel your pain and frustration--it is mine, too. As someone who rarely calls my mother out on her obviously insane behavior either, I don't have much in the advice category. I think you have to tread carefully, or you may end up financially responsible for her debts. I would start with contacting a lawyer familiar with California elderly laws/issues. It may cost a little money, but I think it might be well spent.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I also believe your first step should be to contact an elder attorney. Certainly they have been through this same scenario and can direct you in regard to gaining POA and further action.

Often, the parents are frightened. Frightened to lose their independence. If there is someone to make them part of the process rather than alienating them, it progresses smoother. Good luck. Don't with this on anyone.

Bernie said...

I can't add anything to what already has been said except to say that getting an attorney is probably the best step you can make and the first step. An attorney who specializes in elder care.

I am so sorry you have to go through this.

Mrsbear said...

I don't have any advice, just sympathy and bloggy support. My mom has mental health issues as well, she's been enabled through life by my grandparents who are still living, but I'm afraid responsibility for her will soon fall upon me and my sister. She also has a history of poor money management along with strings of dangerous and unsavory men that serve to further complicate the matter. Tough waters to navigate. My thoughts are with you.