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I gave up (for now anyways)
Dad is continuing to be resistant about the DPOA. He said he'd do it weeks ago, and hasn't.
I tried being direct- total fail. I called and talked to Dad and he basically started yelling at me. Then he said he was busy and hung up on me.
Everytime I talk to him or my mom, I feel like absolute crap because of how they treat me.
I care about them, but it's getting to the point where I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall because we keep going around in circles. Last time I talked to my Dad he kept saying his primary residence is here in MA because he owns property here. He lives in Texas. Not here. At most, they visit twice a year.
This is when being single and not having a relationship with my only sibling sucks royally. And we have no other family here.
One of my friends suggested I should maybe call my brother for back up, but no way. I cut him off five years ago after a lifetime of abuse. I can't go there. He is so rude and mean and condescending.
I am accepting that perhaps they will just stay in Texas, where they've been for the past 15 years. Dad retired in 2012 and they could have moved back to MA, but they chose not to (supposedly for my Mom's "job"- which is a work from home thing). Maybe it's better if they stay there. They love it here, but if they move close(r) to me, I know what is going to happen- I'll be getting calls and texts nonstop and I'm the one who will have to help them (my brother lives on the West Coast and they basically expect nothing of him). I'm also not sure how well they would do with moving from so far away back to this area, and even with THAT plan, again, Dad is being ridiculous. He has all these specs for what they want in a condo, including that it be relatively new, and he set his desired price range so low, that for the towns he likes, it's simply impossible. I have a real estate license and I keep an eye on the market, but of course he doesn't take any of my advice, because what do I know?
And I know many of you suggested I GO to Texas to make this happen, but honestly, my parents are terrible at following through on plans. We could talk about something, agree it's going to happen, and then at the last minute, they change their minds. It's totally exhausting.
Agree with Beth. Try to detach a bit. The more you try to control this type of personality, the more stubborn they get.
Step back + quit discussing these matters with him. If a crisis happens, handle it then..til then, keep conversations light + superficial.
As long as he is not blowing all their money, or impaired driving, I would let them come to you or as I said, wait for a crisis
Beth & Terei- Thank you. I was trying to avoid a crisis, but I really don't know what else to do right now except step back and take care of myself. Just before Dad hung up on me, I told him "Do whatever you want".
I've done what I can, and I know I'm not a bad person, even if my parents think so.
Keeping conversations "superficial" is a great idea. A friend of mine and I came up with a list of "safe topics" for interacting with our parents (both her parents have dementia)- this is what we have so far:
1. The weather
The list of what I can't talk about with them is MUCH longer.
I'm so sorry that this has become the case. I tried for years, starting almost as soon as I knew I needed such things, to get my mom to sign paperwork for me. She would not, making up one excuse after another, fueled in part by a growing paranoia.
While I am pretty sure I still don't have the ideal, I DID end up getting what I think I need to both manage her healthcare AND to take care of a few hanging financial issues. (One of the few benefits in the fact that she doesn't have much in the way of assets. )
I've got no advice, but lots of empathy and many virtual hugs!!! Good luck.
but honestly, my parents are terrible at following through on plans. We could talk about something, agree it's going to happen, and then at the last minute, they change their minds. It's totally exhausting.
If your dad has dementia, or even cognitive impairment, being unable to carry out plans is the meaning of the diagnosis. You just have to accept that he won't be able to function the way you think he should function, or the way he used to function. He may speak well, but perform poorly. That's just the way it is with this disease. This is called impaired executive functions.
Don't push. Learn work-arounds. Be prepared for crises. Don't think of this as giving up, but as reassessing and going in a new direction.
I am so sorry the situation has gone sideways. So much of your story is my story, except for the a-hole sibling. Mine predeceased the situation, remaining a beacon of perfection for dad but not a source of assistance. I agree with dayn2. It's time for erecting boundaries that serve you best. I would limit them to 5 minute calls limited to the most superficial of pleasantries and make myself unavailable for visits for now. Meantime, it makes sense to look into your Plan B so you can be prepared to step in when the feces inevitably hit the fan. Because they will. It took my mom almost dying on dad's watch followed by a dramatic psychotic episode to knock the scales from mom's eyes- perhaps your dad is also an experiential learner as mom is. I would investigate what steps you'll need to obtain guardianship for one or both in TX and MA. I would look into geriatric care managers in TX in case this progresses to a situation where one dies and the other is too fragile to be moved. And I would vet a couple of SNFs and MCFs in both places in case you need to do a permanent or post-inpatient placement on the fly. I don't know if this would work for your situation or not. You've shared your parents' rather old world vision of your brother stepping up and your dad being in command of all his facualties. I had a similar situation. Dad was something of a misogynist and a forceful individual who dominated my mother. She was the baby of nine who was used to being told she was little and dumb. When I tried to help my parents using a more collaborative "let me help you" approach I got abuse from my dad and uneven cooperation from mom where it would "upset your father". What worked was to change my approach to a more authoritative one. Once they saw me as "in charge" their anxiety lessened and the situation became a lot easier to manage.I so hope things don't get too awful before you are able to step in.HB
As for a crisis happening, when it does, they will want me to sort it out. This is an established family pattern. A couple of years ago my brother let a friend of his rent the condo my parents own. Right off, stuff started happening- the guy didn't give them the security deposit, claimed the governement froze all his accounts, he'd give them checks which bounced, etc. I told my Dad to get rid of him and his exact words were "Your brother is part of a very small circle of friends so I don't want to do anything to upset that". Fast forward a year and the renter trashed the condo and had cheated my parents out of about $20K in rent and was threatening them. My brother claimed he wasn't talking to him, so guess who had to find a lawyer to evict the guy? And guess who Dad would call and say crap to, like, "I'm just going to kill myself or have a heart attack!" Mom came here 7 times in 6 months to oversee the renovations and drove me absolutely insane. And when all was finally said and done, my parents still refused to hold my sh**head brother responsible in any way. If it had been a friend of mine, I would have never heard the end of it.
Eric- Thank you! Words of wisdom for sure. I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility sometimes.
Dayn2nite2- YUP, Dad is getting SO paranoid. And oh god, no, I can't tell them their visits are upsetting- they would fly off the handle. One of my friends commented that they don't really seem to see me as a person. My needs, thoughts, feelings, etc absolutely do not matter to them. I'm still upset that they came here at a terrible time for me. I repeated it over and over, "Please DO NOT come here in September, it's a busy work time for me" and they did anyways.
Iris- Thank you- I'll reframe it like that . . . . "a new direction".
Freaking Out- No, your comment doesn't sound crazy at all. One of my best friends just moved her parents closer to her and she confessed that she's been miserable since they moved and she feels guilty about it. It's logical, if you have a dysfunctional family relationship, them being closer + dementia is not going to make anything better or easier for the caregiver.
Harshedbuzz- YES, we clearly have the same family patterns. I'm not ever supposed to upset anyone, but they just do whatever the heck they want with zero regard for my feelings. I absolutely do not enjoy interacting with them. A couple of years ago we tried FaceTiming, and my Dad immediately started criticizing what I was wearing (It was a Sunday morning so I was in pajamas and a hoodie) and he says, "Wow, you look really rough". Like who f-ing cares. What's more important- that your daughter took the time to call, or how she LOOKS?
Right now, I basically email with my Dad a couple of times a week, and text Mom on the weekends and then block her so I can have a peaceful work week. And Dad being sexist is really ridiculous because I'm the kid who always helped with all the chores- shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, etc- while my brother sat on his a** doing absolutely nothing. I'm the one who went to college and graduated with honors while my brother flunked out after a semester. Good idea on researching guardianship, because it may come to that.
This sounds like a really tough situation to be in. You want to do the right thing, that is obvious, but at this point, I think you do need to step back now and wait.
What I would do is:
1. Have the DPOA paperwork ready (if that is possible) so if and when it is needed, you have it and just need to get is signed. Talk to an Elder Attoney about that if needed...
2. Research some places in MA (I am in MA too).. Assisted Living, Memory Care, Nursing Homes, perhaps places that have all 3 "under one roof" .. For example: New Bridge on the Charles in Dedham MA, or The Overlook in Charlton MA, something like that.
This way, if a crisis occurs and you need to move them up here quickly, you have already researched some places where you can get them into ...
Hope that makes sense..
Thanks Tamy- I appreciate the suggestions for places in MA!
Dad won't share the DPOA paperwork with me. So I really can't do much.
Hold onto that condo rental debacle story. I believe you could leverage it as demonstrating a serious decline in cognition that led to him being taken advantage of financially. HB
HB- WOW, mind is blown right now- honestly this whole time I've thought of that debacle being about how my parents let my brother get away with anything and expect nothing of him, but you are right. I was worried right off because my brother wrote up the rental agreement (which makes no sense because my brother knows nothing about real estate, I worked as a realtor), and then my Dad and brother showed me the lease AFTER the jerkface had signed it- and I caught a couple of glaring errors but it was too late by then.
It was so strange and it dragged on for so long- I finally just got irritated with my brother for being such a POS, which is why I did something about it. My Dad would claim my brother tried to get other friends to talk to the renter, but I honestly don't believe him (I think my brother lied about trying to do anything). The guy actually scared the sh-- out of my parents, and the stories he made up were unreal- after he moved out my Mom was convinced that he had installed "tiny cameras" everywhere. He completely played them- rental laws here favor the renter, and you can't begin eviction proceedings until it's been three months of non payment of rent- but even a small payment of $100 resets the clock.
And in regards to the condo, we now have good renters, but when my parents were here I suggested that I should go by and just check out the place- they haven't been inside it in three years. Dad started yelling at me saying he didn't want to upset the renter, and I kept saying, "Dad, it is our legal right to see the place with 24 hours notice, I just want to make sure it's in good shape because they have three small kids" and my Dad was so mean to me about it- I even said, "Ok, you are here, so why don't YOU go by" and he just kept questioning me.
Also, the condo is the SECOND time my Dad has lost a lot of money. Condo debacle was in 2015. Last year my Mom decided to do a completely cosmetic renovation on her bathroom . . . . originally the job was supposed to cost $15K- somehow it came up in conversation and my Dad told me he ended up paying $50K (?!!!!!!!!!!!) how the h*** does a job more than double in price? And for what it was, it didn't make any sense.
I've followed your story with a great deal of sympathy. I feel like my journey has been the "lite" version of your troubles. It's been just my mom rather than 2 challenging parents, but like you we've had a difficult parent / child relationship. My heart really goes out to you.
The hardest phase of my mother's dementia was the early stage when she was still together enough to argue, fight, and make phone calls. I think your father is in that early stage. Your dad's behavior screams "cognitive impairment" on top of a difficult personality.
Harshedbuzz has excellent advice. Her general approach also worked for me: line up your resources and be firm. While you are waiting for the inevitable crises to occur, definitely make that appointment with Eldercare lawyers in TX and in MA. Lay out the situation and ask what steps can be taken to protect your parents' assets for their future care. Getting guardianship or transferring their assets into a living trust might be even better than getting DPOA. Your parents can void DPOA on a whim unless they are declared medically incapable of handing their own affairs.
Getting my mom's affairs in order started by knowing exactly what my desired outcome was, and then blazing a clear path which lead her to only those outcomes. Whenever my mother needed help to do something that did not jibe with my goals for her, I wished her luck and did not assist. Moving her along on the path I wanted required many tactics, including some creative stories and manipulative tactics. Don't be morally strident about "the truth" with your parents. Tell them what they need to hear to get your job done.
I also suggest that you get in touch with your parents' doctors. You can find out who they are by surreptitiously looking at the labels on their prescription medications. Draft a letter of your concerns to their doctors, and then go speak with them in person. Request that during your parents' next visit the office staff have your parents sign a "routine" HIPPA waiver, granting the doctor the right to share medical information with you.
But most importantly: take care of yourself! The limits you've already set on your parents is a perfect start. Your parents can not change first. They are not capable. Only after YOU change the way you communicate with them respond to their bullying will they act any differently. And it will take a long time for them to adjust to the new you - at least a year. They must learn through your rock solid boundaries that you are in charge of your own time, your own space and your own life. Don't argue with them, but do not compromise either. You will be doing not only yourself a favor, but also helping your parents adjust to the inevitable fact that you will eventually end up in charge of their affairs, one way or another.
Best wishes, and keep up the good work.
Cody- Even though your version of what you went through is the "lite" variety, I'm still very sorry you had to deal with any of that. Thank you for your kind and suportive words.
As for figuring out my parent's doctor- they literally REFUSE to give me the info. My dad claims he's a nice man, etc etc, but won't share the contact info or name with me. I asked politely and said, "Just in case of emergency, I'd like to have the doctor's contact"- and BOTH my parents just keep fighting me. My mother is more mean- she puts me down constantly and still expects me to be there for her. Nothing is off limits including insulting how I look, my dog, my job, the fact that I don't have a husband. Healthy happy people don't do that.
My parents refuse to respect my boundaries. Last time they were here, one of my best friends called to offer support- I went outside to talk to her- and my father followed me outside and kept yelling "Where are you? Come back in!" it was literally a 10 min phone call- totally invasive and inappropriate for him to act like that. Things like that are why I'm not willing to allow them to come back here.
The worst part of where my mom is on this horrible journey is that she texts inappropriately- NONSTOP - which is why I block her. She texts me random things- and I think about 85% of it is insults aimed at her trying to make me feel bad about myself or guilt me into doing more for them.
Eric- Dang, renovations are expensive. I have a feeling my Mom also insisted on top quality materials and went a little crazy. The bathroom in her master suite came with a huge hot tub, and she decided she didn't want it because she never used it. So the project was to basically remove the hot tub and install a table which she could use for ironing.
Also, LOLing about the bathroom design you are mentioning- bathrooms should have doors in my opinion!
"Crisis" might = a hospitalization. If a hospitalization occurs, that might be the opportunity you need to place your parent.
My mom had two hospitalizations related to falling. The first time, in 2013, I was unaware of signs of dementia until she got home and was perseverating on something and I couldn't get her to understand. Then I began to notice some other things. I did, at that time, get her to the dr. and she was started on Aricept.
Fast forward to 2015: passed out and was hospitalized with pneumonia. She then went to rehab to gain strength. The OT said she needed to be seen by someone daily. She said that Mom couldn't make toast in OT; she didn't remember to plug in the toaster. Now, WHY OH WHY did they not tell me then that she needed to be in Assisted Living? Instead, she went home and as I realized how bad things were with her, I had to get her to AL and she was resistant.
Long story short, don't take the parent home from the hospital if their care needs are beyond what you can do or are willing to do. It's "easier" to get them transferred from the hospital to a facility.
Cody- Those are some really good ideas! I know neither of them take any medications- my Mom repeats this like a broken record - they are generally in very good physical health. I don't get what the big deal is about sharing the doctor's name with me. I know my Dad had a physical about a month ago and he said it was fine, his blood sugar was a little high but that was it. Mom claims she had a physical but refuses to share any information with me.
And I agree, Dad is afraid of losing control. He's becoming increasingly paranoid and controlling about everything, and it's hard to be around. It started being noticeable about 5 years ago- everything from telling me to go change my clothes for no reason to not allowing me to eat to forcing me to cancel existing plans with friends.
Beth- It's absolutely possible it's going to get to that point of one of them ending up in the hospital. Or there's going to be an accident. Parkinson's runs on my Mom's side of the family and she has a VERY bad hand tremor- ie she has to use two hands to hold a tea cup and has trouble using utensils, can't hold a dinner sized plate, etc. When she was here last time she was having a tough time navigating the stairs.
AND SHE IS STILL DRIVING which I don't like at all.