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Helping Dad get past the loss of his guns
Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 9:14 AM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Hello..

I am new to this forum. My Dad is in middle stage demencia. I received a phone call at 4:30am from my 82- year old Mom, 450 miles away asking me what she should do. She said Dad had been awake for over 24 hours,  he thought the people on the TV were talking to him and were coming after him.  There was noone near that she could call.  He had a loaded gun and was sitting by the door waiting for the FBI to come and get him.  Together we decided she should call 911. They sent 6 cops to the house,  put my dad in handcuffs then went through the house and removed all his guns,  then called an ambulance. 

He was in ICU for 3 days,  heavily sedated and strapped down because he was combative.  His sugar was extremely high (over 500), he was dehydrated and had a UTI. After the underlying conditions were taken care of,  they released him to a rehab center,  where he refused to stay.  They let him go home against doctor's orders and recommended 24-hour care that my mom just couldn't give.  My husband and I have relocated here to live with them and become caregivers.  

My Dad was traumatized by all this and,  if left alone with Mom will constantly bring up his guns.  He has been mad at her ever since.  We need support and help on how to get him past all this. 


dayn2nite2
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 10:33 AM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 2259


He’ll just have to be mad.  Don’t allow him to verbally abuse anyone and try to change the subject.  Don’t argue or try to reason.  He’s not getting them back because he legally isn’t of sound mind.  Don’t give him access to funds to buy another one or you’ll all end up dead.
jfkoc
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 11:15 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18366


This is not going to be an easy situation. 

It is possible that the initial behavior was brought on by the UTI and dehydration. Treatment of that helped but the experience was traumatic and certainly caused a decline that he may or may not come back from. Regardless you did the right thing.

Now is the time to work closely with your father's neurologist and the geriatric psychiatrist. They will be able to tell you if he needs any medical help.

I think it would be appropriate to tell your father that he had a horrible infection and was acting out because of it so the guns had to be put in a safe place for the time being.

Listening to your father talk about all that happened to him may be enormous help for him. Listen not only to the words but the emotion behind them. Validate rather than reason.

Please update when you can.


MPSunshine
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 11:22 AM
Joined: 5/21/2016
Posts: 1988


Hi, Here4Dad, I agree with dayn2nite2. Absolutely do not give him the opportunity to purchase more firearms. He needs to be monitored and also possibly re-evaluated for medications and setting if your husband and you living there is temporary and cannot be maintained. You, your husband and your mom should keep a charged cell phone on each of you at all times, also place an alert with the police department (they possibly have this on file at this time due to the last incident), and have a safe room with a door that locks from the inside, as well as an exit strategy to a neighbor or friend in the worst case scenario that he gets ahold of a gun and threatens you. It's very serious and you should not try to minimize this. Unfortunately, this disease makes the thought process of the affected persons worse, not better, over time. Sorry for the bad news but you are right to ask for help. People think, "It can't happen again!" Well, sorry, but it can.
King Boo
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 11:58 AM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3233


You are to be commended for very cool and calm thinking in a very dangerous situation.  It is good the police were called.

Obsessive fixations can be part of this disease; read the boards.  For some it is guns; others money, winning Publisher's clearing house; shopping; driving. 

Is your father under the care of a Geriatric Psychiatrist?  Appropriately prescribed medication can help lessen obsessive behaviors, anxiety, confabulations, paranoia, fixations and behaviors.  It can take a while to sort things out and get the right medication.  I do not like this class of medications in the hands of a general doctor, there is too much at stake.

If some of these behaviors can be mellowed just a bit, caregiving becomes more possible.  

Do not doubt you did the right thing.  Dad cannot have access to things that can be of harm.

If he is persisting with delusions, please also remove any other items like knives that could become weapons.


MN Chickadee
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 4:50 PM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1008


You've received some good advice and encouragement from other posters. Don't take your own personal safety lightly. Be aware of other things in the house he could use as weapons. You never know when he might find the mailman or political door-knocker or anyone else a threat. 

None of us are really prepared to be caregivers, and there can be a pretty steep learning curve on relating to the PWD's perspective, de-escalating situations etc. I would first recommend you  read up on communication techniques for dementia. The basics are never argue or try to reason, validate feelings, and re-direct. Any reading or video by Teepa Snow or Naomi Feil are good places to start. The 36 Hour Day is also a good book and full of practical advice. The website for the Alz Assoc can help with resources and techniques. They also have a free hotline staffed with social workers who can help trouble shoot and refer you to local resources. The service is free.        800-272-3900. Then I would look at working with a geriatric psychiatrist. Not a regular psych, a geriatric one. They could possibly be of great help. Sometimes after all else fails, a medication can help with combativeness and fixations and allow the person to be cared for and have a higher quality of life without the severe anxiety and outbursts. 

And last of all, be aware that this won't last. Our loved ones, especially in middle stages of dementia, can really hyper-focus on something but it doesn't last forever.  I can assure you that eventually he will forget the guns. It may be a rough couple weeks or months, but try to remember it will pass eventually.  


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 7:01 PM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Hello jfkoc.

 Thank you very much for your response. We have learned that UTIs in older people does cause bouts of delerium and we feel that had something to do with this incident.  After he recovered medically and the UTI was gone,  he still swears that the people on the TV can hear him.  

I appreciate your comment in regard to listening to him when he talks about the incident.. listen to his emotions.  We have been instantly trying to redirect.

Thank you for your support.

 


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 7:10 PM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Hi MPSunshine,

Thank you so much for your response.  We are here to stay.  We tried to get mom and dad to move to our house (450 miles away), but can't convince dad. He built this house and they have lived her over 40 years.  My husband and i are relocating and will be here through this whole adventure. 

We all understand how important it is to keep the guns out of the house.  My nephew retrieved them from the police,  has them locked away at his house,  and no matter how many times he asks,  they are gone forever.  I hate guns!

The one he asks for most is a 22 that his dad gave him when he was a child

 


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 7:24 PM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Hello King Boo, 

My dad does not have a geriatric phychiatrist. The hospital put him on a psychotic medicine. The side effects of which could have been devastating. . My mom did not refill it.

Could you possibly give more info on a geriatric psychiatrist?  I'm not sure what 'geriatic' refers to and never even thought a psychiatrist would be helpful in dementia patients.  After we arrived here, i found out from Mom that Dad doesn't even know that he has dementia. I tried to talk to him one day about the guns and i mentioned that people with mental disorders aren't allowed to have guns. He then asked "you think i have a mental disorder?" Wasn't too happy about that. 


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 7:47 PM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


First, please let me apology. I am a noob when it comes to forum and didn't realize that i could reply to everyone at the same time

MN Chickadee,

Your response has been most helpful!  I cannot tell you how much i appreciate the advice,  support and help i have received this far. I know this is going to be a very long hard road to travel and am thankful for this forum already.  I want to learn as much as possible on this horrible disease and how to make my Dad's last stage in life as happy and comfortable as possible.


gubblebumm
Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019 10:02 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1546


Ill go there...interesting do we have people going nuts of losing their grills, or golf clubs, or lighters or whatever, but when it comes to weapons they go really scary mad?

Better he be mad at everyone than have something he can kill someone with, and it could be anyone, even a child...think about that when you may want to give in a bit, death or his being a jerk mad, dementia or not

Seems we tend to go but the disease, well their disease doesn't take precedent over others lives and safety...let him be pissed off, whatever


MN Chickadee
Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2019 9:28 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1008


Here4Dad, it is very common for a PWD to not realize they have dementia. It isn't denial, they actually believe it. It's a condition called anosognosia and can be caused by dementia or other things like traumatic brain injury or mental illness. The impairment from dementia has left his brain unable to recognize its deficits, will cause lack of awareness, and can put a person in kind of an alternate reality. All you can do is go with it. There's no use in trying to convince him, showing him evidence of his dementia or behavior, or arguing with him. His brain simply can't process that anymore. All you can do is the validate and re-direct methods and work behind the scenes to keep him safe. Therapeutic fibbing is your friend once they get to a point where they can't recognize their deficits. It helps them feel safer and less anxious, makes caring for them possible, and can be the kinder thing to do in some situations. You might say the guns needed cleaning or repair, they'll be done in a few weeks. And repeat this statement until he finally forgets about them. 

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/related-conditions/anosognosia

As for geriatric psych care, it sounds possible that's where the hospital should have sent him instead of rehab. There are gero-psych units specifically for getting a person with dementia on track (and a regular psych ward is not sufficient.) A geriatric psychiatrist specializes in dementia. When a person has severe behaviors and/or anti-psychotic drugs come into play, they are the most qualified to treat. It can take some tinkering and you don't want to suffer more than necessary as you get the meds right. A primary doctor is good at so much but that's beyond their scope. Even if it involves a long drive or is expensive, a geriatric psychiatrist can be well worth the trouble. Where I live, the nearest geriatric psych unit is 3 hours away, and nearest geri-psychiatrist is 2 hours, but many people find the drive worth it. Once a person has been seen the family can often work with the provider over the phone to make changes. You might also discuss this with the neurologist who diagnosed. 

In the meantime, don't let him watch TV or make sure it's something tame like a game show or nature show. Distract and re-direct from the guns. Try to see what his underlying feelings might be with the guns. Perhaps somewhere deep down he knows something isn't right with him and he's afraid. Afraid of the things that are happening to him. The people on TV seem real and he's unsafe. How will he ward off an attack when he feels so lost? Who will keep him and his wife safe? Try continual communication that tells him he is safe, you will always take care of him you are handling things. "I know you want your guns, dad. I know you're worried. But you know what? (your spouse) and I are here now, we're not going anywhere. We're going to make sure we are all safe. We're always going to take care of you. I promise you we're all ok and in this together. Hey, I have some cake in the kitchen, let's go have some. You could even tell him you had a security camera installed or hired a security company if it helps. Some folks also find pictures of people in the house trigger the PWD feeling unsafe (they think the people are real or looking through a window) and they take them down. Try to put yourself in his head space and make his surroundings pleasant, free of things that trigger his anxiety, and de-cluttered. Right now your job is to do and say whatever you can to get him through this and feel comfortable. 


Here4Dad
Posted: Friday, January 31, 2020 9:19 AM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Chickadee,

This first outreach for help was when all this first became a major part of our lives,  and i want you to know that your advice has helped me the most.  It has been 5 months now and the mention of guns is now VERY rare due to your advice of reassuring him that we are here to keep him safe. It hasn't been easy,  but we are still getting through one day at a time through God's Grace. 

We haven't needed to seek psychiatric help.  His demeenor calmed down once he was home for awhile.  Our attempts to get him to move to our house. . 500 miles away have all failed.  We even got him and mom to take the 10 hour trip there for a week for Christmas.  The trip went very well and he's still wanting to live out his days here,  in the house that he built.  Although our mortgage company may start foreclosure on the house soon. I've reached out in a separate post for that possibility. Your advice would be very welcome on that post as well.

I hope and pray things are going well for you. . 


Victoria2020
Posted: Friday, January 31, 2020 9:37 AM
Joined: 9/21/2017
Posts: 278


Here4Dad-

I'm sorry this is going to be very blunt- you gave up your job and now you and your husband are going to be losing your home because you can't get someone with dementia to agree to do the right safe thing- moving in or near to you.

He never will agree. He isn't capable of making sound decisions anymore. How is your mother processing things? Does she understand your financial life is going down the tubes? Will she move?

The rest of your life ,YOUR life is going to be impacted trying to please someone who isn't thinking properly.

Too bad you didn't say his house was under repair while you already had him in Kentucky, and just drag out the "repair window" until he forgets, and he will forget.

 


Here4Dad
Posted: Friday, January 31, 2020 7:58 PM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Victoria2020,

Thank you for your reply.  Mom... she is willing to move.  She has been willing to for over a year.  She tried,  in her own way,  to talk him into moving there with us before our arrival here. .. so now,  every time it has been mentioned,  Dad just tells her to go!  I'll stay here.  She has insisted that we can't force him.  They have been married for 64 years and come from that generation where the wife does not defy the husband.  So. .. there's that.  I know it's going to have to happen and the advice I've been given here is excellent advice.   She does know our financial struggle and has been willing to help,  but, they are living on SS and my dad's pension from GM.  She doesn't have their estate in order.  No wills,  no advanced directives, no power of attorney. 

We drove to their bank the other day to cash in a 10k cd that was to be my brothers inheritance and she walked out with nothing because it didn't exist anymore.  She forgot that 5 years ago,  she was talked into changing it to an anuity.  From what i understood,  the annuity she had was for my other brother,  but it's not.   10k she thought she had didn't exist.  So,  now she's casing in the annuity to try to help us save the house.  

We THOUGHT the mortgage company was going to do a modification on our loan. . Put the last few months on the end of the loan and lower our payments,  they told me is not going to go through because it's not owner occupied by me. . Even though i still have a valid ky drivers license and all of the utilities are in my name.  Why?  Because i took a part time job on here in michigan to help with finances.  It's only 15 hours a week,  close to home and my employer understands our situation. So,  now,  the mortgage company wants 5 months mortgage payments or they will start foreclosure.  That's why i was reaching out to see if there was any organization that might help us.  


dayn2nite2
Posted: Friday, January 31, 2020 9:06 PM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 2259


There is no help for you with the mortgage because you aren't living there.  You have to be occupying the house.  If they will help you if you move back there then you need to leave your mother and father where they are and go.  But I do doubt they will assist now since you have already admitted you took a job in Michigan.

You are at a point where you need to repair your life.  If you're going to lose the house, you may as well file bankruptcy.

Your parents' financial lives seem to be in great disarray and now they can't help you.

 

You have to stop the bleeding somehow.  If you're losing the house you need to take whatever money you are earning and file bankruptcy to get out from under your debt - if you don't then your creditors will go after whatever you have out of your small paychecks.  

So a fork in the road has come, save yourselves if you can.

Is your mother also having memory issues?  That's a big thing to forget (annuity).  If she CAN help with your mortgage, you need to go back to Kentucky and go back to work.  You cannot assist them anymore.  


gubblebumm
Posted: Friday, January 31, 2020 9:35 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1546


day2night is correct at a certain point you have to cut your losses

 

this is a great hard lesson for others


MN Chickadee
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 9:09 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1008


Here4 Dad I am glad our advice has been useful in the past. Blending on your two current posts... Is it possible your mom is having some cognitive decline that has been overlooked because Dad's dementia is so  bad? This is not unusual either. One spouse may cover for the other, and have some decline that goes unnoticed in comparison. It sounds like at the very least she should not be managing any finances. I would also caution against her giving you ANY MONEY until an elder law attorney has been contacted. At minimum, dad might need Medicaid one day for care. Perhaps mom too someday and they could really mess it up with gifting sums of money. There are certain amounts that are allowed to be gifted without penalty each year but you don't want to do it willy-nilly. Having one or two parents with dementia and no plan B for paying for care if the need arises is a problem. It sounds like you need to visit an attorney for them (elder law specialist) and an attorney for you (bankruptcy/financial specialist.) If mom is still competent to sign papers, you need the POA paperwork done literally asap. Without the authority to act on their behalf if needed, you are up a creek in terms of moving them or making any changes. 

You are not the first person to find yourself in this position where the PWD refuses to move and the spouse won't force them. Unfortunately, what is often the only option is for the adult child to walk away and wait for a crisis and then make changes. Given your dad's history, it sounds like a crisis would not be far off. You have to evaluate the cost and benefit of staying there. Things can change unexpectedly with dementia and what would be an otherwise no big deal health event can be compounded. It is likely that one way or another, he will not be in that house in 5 years. Possibly much sooner.  Either due to death caused by Alz or some other cause such as stroke, heart attack, a fall, etc, through poor financial decisions, through a crisis that lands him in trouble with others, the police or in the hospital, or his care becoming so intense that none of you can physically do it and you are forced to move him to a home anyway (end stage dementia involves diapers, bathing, sleepless nights, lifting, transferring, and numerous other physically demanding care.) And then you will be homeless with bad credit and starting over at presumably in your 50s or older, since you said you have grand kids. This does not sound like a good decision. If all else fails, return to your home and let the pieces fall where they may. You are letting dementia take down way more people than just the one who's brain is affected. If mom does not have any cognitive deficits, then she is the only one who can make decisions and if she won't there isn't much you can do about it. 

 


ButterflyWings
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 9:48 AM
Joined: 12/11/2018
Posts: 178


Hi Here4Dad,

I am sorry you are going through all this. It can make it really hard to think of what is best when in crisis mode. It helps to listen to the wise counsel from those who have been there, and this forum is wonderful in that way. It has/is saving my sanity every day. 

If I were you, I'd go home post haste! That was your plan before you knew how things would go at dad's, right? So, why not take mom and dad back for another vacation "while you handle urgent matters with your house, career etc." and just stay. File Ch 13 bankruptcy to save your home, find a new job, and the bank can't claim you aren't a resident just because you visited your parents temporarily to help care for them in a lengthy crisis. You don't need to ask, or tell dad the real goal is getting your life back on track. As others noted, maybe mom is having issues too, so maybe don't tell her its not a short vacation either. Then just extend their stay, and continue validating. Perhaps you can rent out the house that dad built, or use it for Airbnb temp rentals, etc. This is your marriage, your kids/grandkids and your life, too.

I've copied my reply to your other "foreclosure" post. Good luck, you are a caring daughter!

It may be possible to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy to specifically "stay" (stop) the foreclosure in its tracks. Do see a bankruptcy attorney asap if this is an option you want to consider.  Be honest with them that you want to save the house and are not trying to avoid paying, but just can't afford to pay it all right now. They will help you assess if you qualify for a bankruptcy restructuring plan that let's you pay off the arrearage (whatever you owe in back payments) plus you will also have to make the regular monthly payment at the same time, without missing any, in our case, it is a 5 year plan. (Long story, but basically didn't know LO had AD and had gotten us way behind on the mortgage until we were getting close to the bank winning their foreclosure action. Now, we are 1+years into our Ch13 protection plan and so far, so good. 

This may be one option. Good luck.

 


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 10:01 AM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


You've given me about to think about.  I've never considered bankruptcy.  If i filed for bankruptcy,  would it save the house?  

My mom needs help with dad.  I don't think i could just turn tail and run. . I don't think i could live with myself.  I haven't told you this. .. but, my brother and his wife live right next door to my mom and dad. . But,  he is an alcoholic with cpod that can barely take care of himself.  His wife works long hours.  They have been zero help.  They will be getting mom and dad's house.  If we can get them to move,  mom wants to sell it to them. . And when they are gone from this earth,  she wants to give it to him,  but at this point has nothing in place for either.  Another of my brothers ashes are buried under a tree that is in view of the picture window. My nephews ashes are also on the property.  The house needs to stay in the family. .. so alcoholic brother is designated. 

Through my dad's retirement from gm, he does have LCH. The way i understand it is if he is admitted to a home (which we are trying to avoid at all costs here) it would be paid,  but if WE admit him,  it wouldn't.  They also are provided a lawyer at no cost.  There are so many things i need to get mom to do.  And so many decisions to make. Im so lost. 


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 10:20 AM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


I'm taking all of your advice to heart.  I really am.  I do feel like my life is slipping away and something needs to be done NOW.  Ive never done forums before and am quite overwhelmed.  Feel like if i keep making excuses as to why i can't follow good advice may cause everyone to stop trying to help me through all this.   just trying to figure out what first. . I think get their estate in order.  I told mom to start planning the move.  Make a list of what needs to be done so we can start checking it off her list.
Victoria2020
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 10:35 AM
Joined: 9/21/2017
Posts: 278


Your brother probably can't afford to buy the house at fair market,  he will quite likely pass before his wife, she'll get the house and then it's out in the wild. Ashes of the loved ones can be moved - maybe suggest buying a family plot in a cemetery where your parents can join them in the future.

But to sacrifice the living for burial plots..... I can't see it. Honestly assuming that your mom is kind that she thinks it is "fair" to give the house by sale or inheritance to your brother when you and your husband are financially destroying yourselves shows she is really isn't thinking clearly.

You'll be facing renting in your retirement years maybe with a bankruptcy on your record. I suggest getting a week or two respite care and going back home , you and your husband, get sleep, see a lawyer and then really think , like I saw on a seminar poster recently about caregiving :

 "Why are you more important than I am?": How much should family caregivers sacrifice?"

You are making decisions that impact the rest of your life trying to please the wishes of one or two people who aren't ,sadly, functioning right anymore. 

If you left a resort in an unfamiliar area with friends- would you ask the drunkest ones to drive or ask "which way do we go?"

 

 


Victoria2020
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 11:01 AM
Joined: 9/21/2017
Posts: 278


Here4Dad wrote:
 Feel like if i keep making excuses as to why i can't follow good advice may cause everyone to stop trying to help me through all this.   just trying to figure out what first. 
 
 Not going to happen !   You use what advise makes sense , ignore the rest. See what sits well with  you and your family. You'll get care and concern here.


Here4Dad
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 11:11 AM
Joined: 9/7/2019
Posts: 16


Great analogy!  Thank you.  I'm moving to my other post about the mortgage to outline our financial situation. . And the only current plan i have in place.
MN Chickadee
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2020 11:42 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1008


No worries, you do whatever you feel is right but it's always ok to bounce stuff around here. You might find the Alz hotline helpful. Ask to speak to a care consultant. They can help you work through this, both the emotional aspect and logistics and resources in the area. The service is free. 1-800-272-3900.

Obviously some things will  be on hold until you decide what to do, but other stuff can be taken care of. Start a list with the most pressing. One step at a time. Monday's task is research an attorney in their area who practices at least half their time in elder law. Make the appointment, find a time when someone can stay with dad so you and mom can see the attorney together. The lawyer will get the POA and paperwork in order, do financial planning, and  can look at their particular situation and help with planning for unexpected expenses and circumstances. EVERYONE needs a plan B with dementia care. What if you or mom suffer a health event and can't do the main caregiving? Back up plans are really important.