Father is 91, strong, argumentative, and crazy

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Hello all,

My father is 91 years old and living at home with my mother.

He has been diagnosed with dementia.

give him a plate of food and a fork, he knows what to do.

ask him who I am, he has no idea.

No idea what day it is, where he lives, etc.

He has been an a**hole his whole life.

He lives at home with my mother, 84.

He refuses to do anything he decides in that moment he does not want to do.

I argued with him for nearly two hours trying to get him to take his dentures out for the night... something he has done thousands of times over the past decades.

When he decides that he agrees with what is taking place, he is fine. For example I ask him "feel those whiskers on your face? doesn't that bother you? you've never had a beard in your life." then he agrees and let's me shave him.

Sometimes he is agreeable and lets me bathe him, sometimes he refuses.

Sometimes he refuses to let us bathe him even when is depends is full of excrement.

Here's the real problem, physically, he is in better shape than many people twenty years younger than him. He punched me in the face when I was trying to get him to take his teeth out this evening.

He is a danger to himself and my mother.

They are, of course, part of the generation that believed as long as they paid that FICA tax every two weeks FDR would take care of them... in other words, their only income is Social Security. They have no assets. No money... all due to poor decisions made by my father during the decades he was in charge.

He needs to be in a home, but we have no money to make it happen. I submitted the paperwork to get him on medicaid, but that will take at least 45 days to process, then how long will it take them to put him in a facility?

My real fear is that my father will, like every other male member of his family going back several generations, live another ten years as there is nothing really physically wrong with him.

My Dad is gone and has been gone for a long time, but his body persists.

Honestly if he died in his sleep tonight, I would mourn, but we would all, including him, better off.

QUESTION: If I call adult protective services and tell them he is a danger to himself and my mother and needs to go away "right now" what will happen? What will happen to his Social Security income? My mother would be destitute without it.

Thanks for reading.

6 Comments

WW: I can understand your distress. I don't know what would happen if you called APS, but I don't think your father's Social Security would be withheld from your mother. Here's my guess: In a perfect world, APS would respond and remove your dad from the house, have him mentally evaluated and make arrangements for him to be placed in a care facility while his Medicaid application is in process. Medicare would pick up the cost of his nursing home care until Medicaid kicked in.

Unfortunately, in the real world, things don't usually go that smoothly. Would your mother tell APS that her husband is a threat to her? Has he hit her or pushed her around? Other obstacles can come up and take time to overcome. Why don't you talk to them and explain your fears. Ask them if they can give you any guidance. I know you want a quick fix, but it may not come.

What state do you live in? From the way you explained your parents financial situation, you application for Medicaid may go more quickly than you anticipate. It's wise to call your Social Services agency and ask them at what stage your application is in the pipeline. I'm in Washington state and the procedure here is that the application is assigned to a case worker who reviews all the financial elements of the application. In addition, a social worker is assigned to come to your dad's home and do an assessment on him. They are required to accomplish this within 30 to 45 days. At that time, your dad can be placed. Do you know if there are vacancies at nursing homes in your area? Social Services works with various nursing homes and they usually know who has vacancies. I'm sure you want your dad to have as good as care as possible so it would be helpful if you got acquainted with the options. Stay in touch with those processing your application.

Things can get complicated with Medicaid applications, but I don't think you will face those complications if things are like you say, however, if your parents deeded their home to one of their children within the last 5 years, there will be more difficulties.

I would suggest that you also file a separate Medicaid application for your mother. It may help cover the costs of her medications and utilities. Check into this and see what makes sense. You might want to talk to your local Area on Aging with regards to you mom and see what assistance she qualifies for also.

In the meantime: Try not to argue with your father. I know you want to do what is needed, but arguing with a demented person is pointless. The outcome, in your dad's case, is to take a swing at someone. What would happen if your dad left his dentures in for the night? Two hours of arguing about it will only agitate him, escalate his anger, and bring on a physical response. Let it go whenever possible and do all you can to distract him in another direction. He may be more cooperative an hour later.

How does your mom feel about all of this? How is her heath and how long have you been dealing with their care.

My heart goes out to you. Please stay in touch and keep us posted.

Hugs, Cattails



Wow, WaxonWaxov, you are in a very hard situation. Let me first offer hugs and a pat on the shoulder.

It sounds like you are taking the right action. Filing for Medicaid was the appropriate step. Yes, processing takes a long time, and it seems even longer when you need something to be done soon!

Have you picked out the nursing home he will go to? Do they have an immediate opening? Have you discussed with the admissions person whether they might take him on a medicaid-pending basis? (Be careful not to sign anything that makes you personally responsible for the fees.)

Meanwhile, while you are waiting for placement, pick your battles. You know what? If he doesn't get his dentures out before going to bed some nights the world as we know it does not come to an end. My husband has slept with his in many nights when he has been too tired or too confused to take them out. In the nine years I've dealt up close and person with dementia I've learned that the world hardly ever comes to an end over demented behavior. (Hubby has also slept in his day clothes, worn his pajamas all day, gone without shaving for days, and generally not followed conventional behavior. So far we've both survived just fine.)

Obviously it would be highly preferable for Dad to take a bath or shower after a bm in his depends. But giving him a package of disposable washclothes and letting him to the best he can, handing him clean pajamas or sweat pants and expecting to wash them immediately when he changes later, and hoping he'll be in a shower frame of mind then, gets by, too.

You argued with him two hours to get him to take his dentures out? This in spite of knowing he doesn't do anything he makes up his mind not to do? I'm sorry, but why on earth did you think it was so critical that he do this?

Please, please, for your own sanity, safety, and blood pressure levels, lighten up on the standards you've set for Dad. If he died in his sleep tonight, would it really matter if he had his dentures out, or he was thoroughly clean, or had recently shaved? I know that you are trying really hard to take the best possible care of him. That is to your credit. But for the sake of peace until he is placed, back off a little. Lower your standards. Avoid anything that might seem to him to be a contest of wills.

You tried to get his dentures out for two hours? OMG. I just can't grasp that.

To get to your specific question ... in what way is your father a danger to himself or to your mother? Has he done self-destructive things? Has he struck your mother? Has he threatened to? Was punching you a one-time deal after arguing over dentures for two hours (!) or has it happened before? If you feel that his remaining in the house does pose a danger, then call APS.

When he is placed in a NH, decisions will be made about how much of his SS will be used for your mother's support. I don't think calling APS will have any impact on that. Do what you have to do.
Cat and I were typing at the same time. :-)

I like her suggestion of applying for Medicaid for your mother, too, if she has any medical issues.
People with dementia can be very difficult to reason with. First you have to decide if you are willing to give it a try. If you are, there are a lot of tricks to learn.

People with dementia have lost much of their ability to understand speech and reasoning the disease causing it progresses. They still pick up on cues quite readily. If you look scared or angry, they will notice. So practicing a pleasant face helps a lot.

Long sentences can become baffling. Short sentences that are direct are much better. Arguments are pointless. Reasoning is pointless beyond the first stages of dementia, so don't frustrate yourself trying.

The thing I've found most important is giving choices. Do you want to do this or that? Do you want to eat this or that? It shows respect and gives a sense of control over their lives. Everyone needs that. In the case of the dentures, you could try giving a choice between one cleaner or another, then letting your father choose which one. He will be more open to what you want if he thinks it is his choice or his idea.

People with dementia are often combative.They are often mean. But it is often the underlying disease causing the problem. Sometimes it is best to step back, walk away, take a breath, and come back when you figure out what to do. You can use the history of the person you are caring for to talk him into things that need to be done. There is a good one presented by one of the home care companies for talking someone into getting a shower. If the person used to be in the service. tell him the officer is coming to inspect. He may become very receptive to the shower. This only works if the short-term memory loss is great, of course.

When families are dysfunctional, doing all these things may not be something a person is open to. However, these are good things to know if the finances take a while to fall in line.
"Long sentences can become baffling."

"The thing I've found most important is giving choices."

I like these. "Do you want your dentures to be clean or dirty?" might work next time.

In the same boat here. My mother is 91 and fine physically. Her care is killing my stepfather. I help when I can and they have home health care. But it's hard. I've learned not to argue. When I start to argue back, I know it's time to step away. Good luck. It's no picnic and we all know our turn is coming.

Death will be a blessing because truly this is not life. But in her mind she would rather be the way she is than not here at all. She just doesn't see how she is taking him down. He refuses to put her in a home and that's their choice. The whole situation is bad and even worse when you know there are thousands of others out there going through the same thing.

Sure has made me look at my own old age in a different light.

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