Meddling relatives.

Started by

I've been taking care of my father who is 90 years old. And he's been living with us now for about 9 months. I am 60 and my husband is 63. We are very tired and we have been met with resistance from family members that I don't even know. I have been estranged from my father and his family for about 35 years. At the prompting of my husband, I reunited with my dad about 10 years back. He was healthy then but two years ago he lost his wife and I think that hastened on dad's dementia. So my husband and I felt bad for him because he was not in a good situation with relatives. They were not feeding him and they were not keeping up his bills and they were not taking care of his grooming, and taking money from him monthly. During Christmas of 2014 we decided to bring my father down to live with us in Virginia. Since then it has been constant calling from his brother, his sisters, his niece. This niece actually turned us in to social services saying that we were holding my father captive and taking his money. All of this because we weren't able to attend two funerals that were one month after the next. The funerals were all the way back in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania that is an 8 to 10 hour drive from us. My father can't make a two hour drive without becoming paranoid and irrational. We are already tired and just cannot make those kinds of drives with basically a tantrum-throwing 6 ft man. They've offered no help, just criticism. I don't even know these people and haven't even seen this so-called cousin of mine for over 35 years. I believe it has to do with the control of my father's money is accumulated a bit. & I think they're angry and upset that he chose to live with us. So I just don't know what to do with this point. We are looking at a home that is local. It is extremely nice very professional it is run by Methodist it is clean and very well ordered and most of all inexpensive. But they have talked my father into moving all the way back to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. And my father is not really capable of making that kind of a major decision. I know they won't take care of him because they did not take care of him before and he is even worse now than he was back then. I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. And it feels like my husband and I are completely alone in this. And I have to really thank this website because I have come on here several times to be able to vent. Sometimes that's all you need.


If dad is 90 his brother and sisters must be getting on in age too, I don't know why they think they would be able to look after him. I can sort of understand that they might think of you as a johnny come lately who is trying to gain something from your dad, but that doesn't make it true and it doesn't mean that they are capable of caring for him better than you are.
Do they come to visit or is all this disruption accomplished through phone conversations? How advanced is his dementia, is it possible to just cut off contact and redirect him until you have him settled?
Where are you from a legal standpoint? Do you have POA for Dad? Does he have an updated will and who is the executor and who stands to benefit?
I was just reading the Area Agency on Aging latest newsletter about a new program being implemented called SameAddress. Not a lot detail is provided, but it appears as though the agency provides qualified professionals to assist in developing home care plans, as well as finding resources to implement them.

In many ways it's not more than we as caregivers do, but it does involve an agency which may give its imprimatur to a home caregiving arrangement.

It occurs that you might use something to this with the siblings, to get them to "put up or shut up." I.e., ask them to submit caregiving plans, which can be reviewed by a geriatric care manager, or perhaps someone at the AAA in your area, if there is such an oversight and counseling function. Explain that you want the best for your father and want to ensure that he gets it, wherever he goes. So you need to know how they're going to address issues that they didn't handle properly before, but you don't need to put it that bluntly.

My thinking is that the relatives will put up or shut up if forced to be specific about their plans. From what I'm reading, their activity now seems to be harassment, so perhaps if you can turn that to your advantage and force them to be specific about how and why they would implement care for your father, they might back off.

In the meantime, have you checked with any of the APS agencies in the areas of the meddling relatives to determine if APS was ever involved with their poor care?

Perhaps you could even add a checklist if you go for the care plan idea and specifically ask if there have been any APS investigations. I'm sure they'll explode with anger, but perhaps putting them on the spot might shut them up.
In my experience dementia folks can sound very convincing and OK on the phone,especially to relatives. And what is it about the elderly where they love drama and want to believe "the very worst" when a dementia person bashes and tells lies about their caregiver. To me it is about getting sympathy and attention.

You call the shots here. Let it roll off your back . You may need to monitor these conversations so that you know what is being said. Likely these relatives miss the financial portion of the relationship.

GA is right, seek some advice from your local social services or council on aging people. They make better advocates than adversaries. If you reach out to them, it is likely that they will view your efforts as positive and the best for your father.
If you can honestly say you are looking out for dad's best interests and you are an only child, I would suggest you change your phone number and cut off all contact with these people. They have no legal standing.

If you have siblings, I would want to make absolutely certain they agreed with me.

If you don't have a POA, see if dad will agree to give you one. If you've been told he has dementia, get a copy of that diagnosis into your possession and get guardianship.

I'm recommending a nuclear option here because I think it's sooo unusual for brothers and sisters of an old man to sabotage a child taking care of their parent. The fact that nieces are involved, is if dad has some money they can spend if they get him back.

If you aren't telling us the entire story here, then I'm thinking karma will do what needs to be done.
Yes, Windyridge, I do have POA. I haven't had to exert it. But will no doubt have to in the near future. Cwillie, you are correct. Dad is 90. He just lost a brother 92 and as a remaining brother 86 (the troublemaker and his daughter) and 3 sisters 88, 93 and 95.

And you are right Garden Artist. Dad has a bit of cash and they are all greedy. We were cleared by Social Services. I wasn't worried as I keep records and have his account separate from mine, of course. Dad has free reign to get around as he can safely, but really needs assistance.

Calling me after 11 pm to criticize and sending terse accusatory text is definitely harassment. I will put a restraining order out on them if it persist.
Maggie Marshall, I am looking out for his interest. When I got my dad from Pittsburgh, his bills had not been paid, his toenails were about an inch long with callouses and corns growing under them. I had to get the doctor to cut them. He is over 6 ft tall and had dropped his weight to 138 lbs. We've put 12 lbs. on him as of this date.

We are now trying to get him into a personal care home so that he can get the best care possible.

You are right about karma. It always wins out.
Change your phone number or stop answering their calls. You are under no obligation whatsoever to engage them. You are doing a wonderful job-keep doing it and don't let these people get you down.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support