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Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2019 9:32 PM
Joined: 12/1/2019
Posts: 2

I'm new to the forum and it looks like there are a number of people out there taking care of a family member with dementia/alzheimer's . My mother has been living with us for 9 years (this time) and was diagnosed about 4 and half years ago. I'm behind here and clearly should have reached out a long time ago.  My mother just had a melt down to end all melt downs.  She was in her room screaming ( literally screaming ) at the top of her lungs after she had come down and told us that she wasn't going to put up with us running her life anymore.  I finally had to tell her that if she didn't stop screaming that I would have to call and ambulance.  She stopped then, but I'm not sure how to handle it from here.  
she feels like we are running her life and that we have taken everything away from her that means anything.  We did have to get an evaluation which resulted in her not driving anymore and that made her furious.  Her neurologist said that she shouldn't drive so she demanded an assessment which I got her with the local hospital.  The assessor told her that she could drive with someone else present, but when he sent out his written report indicated that he felt she should surrender her license and never drive again.  She had a mild stroke after that which there is little evidence of ( some compromised vision in her left eye), so getting her to give up her license then was easy.  She has since changed her mind and decided that we stole her car from her, (we paid her for it ) and that we are horrible people.  

Truth be told, I don't take her out much .  I take her to church and take her to a quilting group occasionally when she wants to go.  She loves to shop which we had to stop because of her lack of income.  She discovered QVC  and HSN unfortunately and has cranked her credit cards up to a debt of $7000.  My husband and I are her Power of Attorney, but not her guardians, so we can't really take her cards away from her. The majority of the time, she is of sound mind so this is truly hard on her.  Ultimately, we are at a loss and I'm not sure where to go from here.   She has a very small income and no savings or assets of any kind. My husband and I cannot cover her debts, so she has to pay for them from her Social Security income. She is a hoarder and her room is piled high with clutter to the point where it is unsafe. 

I realize that this post is all over the map, just don't know where to start or what to do from here.

Posted: Monday, December 2, 2019 5:41 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2265

As my parents' POAs are written, I have a duty to protect them from their own poor judgement. If you are uncertain about your mom's, run the documents by a Certified Elder Law Attorney so you understand your rights and responsibilities here. 

For a short term solution, you could report the credit cards stolen and freeze her credit with the 3 major bureaus. You could also put a parental block on the troublesome channels if you have a more advanced DVR box. 

If she'd be happier going out, maybe she'd be a candidate for a day program which would provide structure and socialization plus a break for you.
Posted: Monday, December 2, 2019 6:03 AM
Joined: 6/24/2019
Posts: 82

Hi Joynvan - I can sympathize. My MIL has lived with us since April and is ES. We have no formal diagnosis as of now because she has consistently refused to see the neurologist as advised by her PCP. She insists that she's fine and the PCP is just singling her out because of her age (81) and she wants a new PCP. However, her behaviors are consistent with someone in the early stages. MIL has recently started accusing DH and I of trying to "control" her and run her life; she's refusing to let us help her with finding things she's misplaced (her debit card), and refuses to sign a POA because there's "nothing wrong" with her. 

My MIL also loves to shop so I take her out shopping once a week (usually to thrift stores or the dollar store), and we'll go to the nearby (30 min drive) national park for walks several times a week but she'll tell other family members that I "never" take her out. I avoid places that sell lots of groceries as she'll buy a cart full of stuff we won't eat. I'm not sure how your mom handles outings, by if she's ok in public, maybe you could try thrift stores and dollar stores to satisfy her desire to shop?

My MIL has also told other family members that I "forbid" her from making certain dishes at Thanksgiving (not true) and told DH that I "forbid" her from filling her plate at Thanksgiving...I told her not to eat much of the sweet potatoes as they were loaded with sugar and marshmallows and she's diabetic. We let her fix dinner 2 nights a week and she also made the comment to DH that she's being treated like a child and she's always just been able to buy what she wants and decide what to fix later - we've tried that and she always fixes the same 2 dishes and we're tired of chicken & dumplings and spaghetti.

Posted: Monday, December 2, 2019 10:44 AM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1145

It's tough to manage the care of someone who has dementia and doesn't realize that their behavior is risky, harmful or dangerous. Your mom won't likely realize the problem, listen to reason and heed your suggestions. Often the PWD is highly opposed to the care that is being attempted. Sometimes, you can appease the LO, but, other times, their welfare has to be protected, whether they are in agreement or not. If her room is unsafe, it would just have to be addressed.

I'd also suggest that you consult with an Elder Law attorney to have the current POA for review. Is it Durable? Meaning, is it still valid, even after your mother is incompetent? That's pretty important. I'd explore what measures you need in order to protect her. As well as what benefits she may be entitled to due to her financial situation and medical condition. I found that in my state, they offer AL and MC for people who qualify medically and with income/assets. 

I'd also consult with her doctor about her emotional outbursts.  They can check for illness like a UTI or other condition.  It could be part of the progression of the dementia. I'd explore medication to see if it might help her mental distress. Mental distress can be just as painful as physical pain, imo. 

It sounds like you do quite a bit for your mother. I'd explore ways to get some help, especially, as she progresses, as usually the direct care become even more challenging. 

Posted: Monday, December 2, 2019 1:12 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1195

Just adding a note about my POA-- Mom made all three kids POA's, and the document was written very carefully by a CELA. It gives us power over every aspect of her life. Thankfully, over-spending has NEVER been a problem. Child of the Depression syndrome. It is comforting to know that when Mom was of very sound mind, she trusted each of us so much that she turned over control long before she needed to. When it became our turn to actually take control, the transition was seamless.
Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 4:40 PM
Joined: 12/1/2019
Posts: 2

Thank you for your advice.  We have considered consulting an attorney, unfortunately at $250 per hour and up we don't have the ability to invest even more than we already do . I will look in to our options though.

Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 7:40 PM
Joined: 3/5/2017
Posts: 179

I battle with Mom over her money all the time. Her M.O. has always been to give money away. As a result, I am paying for almost everything because she is broke. She wants to give all these people money for Christmas, like the garbage man, and gets mad when I say no. I did solve this one by putting money in cards in front of her, then taking it out later. 

I know this is so hard now, but you have to protect your demented loved one from themselves. Two years ago, I let her bully me into giving her part time caretaker $2,000. She nagged me for about six months, but I should have held firm. Now, she doesn't remember any of this. When she had a moment of lucidity (she has VD, this happens), I reminded her of the $2,000  we gave away and she said I was crazy to give it!!! 

Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 9:29 PM
Joined: 5/22/2018
Posts: 360


Check with your area elder care attorneys. I checked around and found an affordable one (also experienced) who did the consult free, then when I hired him it only cost 850 total for a package which included doing mom's updated will, new POA (you don't need it, but I did) and much needed advice which really helped me with her estate planning since she still owns a home but lives with me.  I feel so much more at ease with his advice and everything updated. My mom also doesn't have much income so we need to get the house sold, but in the meantime the caregiver cost is what is difficult since I'm still working and paying out of pocket for the daytime caregiver. 

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 7:29 PM
Joined: 5/3/2013
Posts: 414

Hi!  I stole my mom's car too! At least, that's the story she told for years.  I can relate on many levels.  The meltdowns... well, honestly there were probably a few times at least when I could have diffused situations before my mom ramped up, but sometimes she'd just explode because she didn't get her way.  It must be frustrating to be living with brain failure, as Teepa Snow defines dementia.  In lucid moments, my  mom has talked about how scary or frustrating it is when she realizes how much she forgets. 

Can you hide/destroy the cards?  I hid my mom's bank card all the time until she finally gave up.  Yes she would call the bank and ask for a new one, but the time lapse meant she couldn't get in trouble.  It's ok to go behind your mom's back to keep her safe.  It's also ok to use fiblets, therapeutic fibs, stretch the truth or tell her something plausible to keep her safe or more content.  Her brain is failing her and you will do what it takes to look out for her wellbeing. 

Have you looked into any support services that might give you a break?  The county office of aging might be able to evaluate through a needs assessment, and depending on income, she might qualify for home attendants and/or adult day care services -which we called "the senior center" because heaven help us if we suggested mom was going to day care!  

Keep coming back - there's so much wisdom here!