Planning an intervention, really need advice on what to say -what to do.

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My Mom is wheel chair bound except for bathroom needs and then she has to be very carefully guided and transferred and then helped throughout with the self care, She is almost 75. She had a diagnosis of Alzheimer's but her neurologist just recently said she may not have it as her cognitive abilities are not declining as expected. She took herself off Namanda (sp?) about a year ago and hasn't had any more plaque development on the brain so I guess that is good.
However her physical abilities have been non too slowly regressing. The neurologist said it is from a brain stem stroke. One that appears on her MRI but they do not know when she had it. She is taking blood thinners and had a very brief run of PT for the stroke.
That is all I know about her medical history because my Mom and Dad will not let me or my siblings ( one older sister -involved and one older brother -not very involved) know more. I ask to go to the doctor appointments but am blown off. I think there is something more going on with my Mom because she is declining physically. I know the doctor had wanted her to do more tests but my Dad did not think they were necessary. They tried a few different tests for awhile with no results and then they just stopped. They both get yearly physicals and as my Dad tells it everything is fine but I see my Mom is declining!
Here is the big issue, though, my Dad does not want to accept any outside help. He will allow me and my sister to come and sit with my Mom for a long weekend so he can go gambling but that is about all. My Mom's needs are pretty demanding and my Dad is going to be 80 in Feb. We tell him he needs to get a part time in home caregiver to help with my Mom's baths and to give him more breaks but he is refusing! I live 4 hours away and my sister lives 3 hours away or we would come every day and help.
They live in a big old house with lots of steps and narrow halls and tiny bathrooms. Now my Mom did get my Dad to put in a stair lift a year back but it is really hard to get her in and out of the lift and the only full bathes are upstairs. I suggest to my Dad that they convert the living room that is never used onto a suite for my Mom and put on a walk in tub on that level and he thinks I am crazy. I asked if they should sell the house and downsize and he said not until he was dead would he leave. I asked again if he would please use his after care insurance to get a nurse and he says he is doing just fine. But HE IS NOT!!
He drops my Mom a lot while transferring her and she is scared when he goes to help her because of this. She begs him to get a nurse but he won't! But the worst is that he yells at her all the time! He calls here names -Crap-I am starting to cry-this is hard-it has taken me days to work up the nerve to write this- and he blames her when he drops her. He says things like " SHARON-not her real name- GOOD JOB! LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO! " as she is lying on the floor. When she spills something on her lap-which is often -part of her disability, I think, he screams at her "GOOD GOING SHARON! WELL DONE!! YOU CAN JUST SIT IN IT! I AM NOT CHANGING YOU!!". I have had numerous discussions with him about how he cannot treat her like that and he says he knows, he knows but she just doesn't try hard enough. And these are the things I hear. What is he saying when I am not around? I ask my Mom all the time -do you feel safe? Does he hurt you? And she says "he yells but he takes good care of me" last time I was up , before he left for his trip, he was trying to get my Mom from her lift chair to her wheel chair and she fell and my husband heard him whisper( he whispers loud because he is very hard of hearing and refuses to get a hearing aid) "Sharon, you asshole. What is the matter with you?".
I keep telling him he needs help. He is overwhelmed but he is refusing! He has plenty of money. He even has insurance for home health care but he does not want to have to pay the 100 hour deductible. This makes me so mad because he will spend his money gambling but not on my Mom. He even told her to reuse her Depends if they are not messy!!! We told him NO WAY! I just found out he leaves her alone to go shopping. She should not be left alone! She has an alert necklace at least but still.
I love my Dad but he was never really a hands on Dad. He traveled all the time when I was a child and never really took part in raising the children. He is not a natural caregiver. Some people just are not. And he yells. He yelled at us kids growing up and now he is yelling at my Mom. But he is yelling at her WAY worse than he ever did at us kids. I wish sooo much we could move to them but there is no way we could sell our house or have my husband find a job by them. So my sister and I are planning an intervention soon to force my Dad to get help. The end line is if he doesn't Mom comes home with me. Any suggestions about how to do this? Any ideas? Please...


You could ask their doctor for referral to a home health agency. They will come and do an evaluation as to what services are needed and also provide a social worker who can discuss with the family what options are available. I would think in your situation it would be best to have an outsider present for any type of intervention. Is there a trusted friend, minister or attorney that your Dad might listen to and well as their being a buffer when you talk with Dad?

I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you and your sister. Unfortunately, there are just times when we have to be the adults and do what is right in the care of our parents. They may not like it initially but I would think both your Mom and Dad would feel some relief in knowing they are both being well cared for. The current situation does not sound healthy or safe for either one of them.

Best of luck!
Thank you so much, littleonway! Do I have any rights as the daughter to speak with their doctor? My mom, bless her heart, tries to go online and get information about home health care but she is just not capable. She tries to send them information but she cannot do it correctly. This is how much she wants a home health care aide!
I having been tossing around the idea of talking to their parish priest.-thank-you for reminding me-I kinda forgot I had thought of that!- My mind has been so mixed up since Thanksgving.
My husband also just reminded me this morning that my Mom has her own pension. My Dad has always taken care of the money but he never used to be so controlling. My husband said that there is no reason for my Mom not to be able to decide where she wants her pension money spent-not at the stage she is in. Especially if it is for her own safety!

I hope we are not making a huge mistake. I am kind of afraid of my Dad. He can get so mad. I know he is going to hate us for awhile but I am sick with worry about my Mom. She often has bruises from falling during transfers and that stair lift is just an accident waiting to happen . And his name calling- he is not getting it that you cannot do that ! I am so hoping that if he gets the help they need it will help him have less stress and he won't snap like he does.

Can anyone who has a home health care aide or part time nurse give me any positive stories that I could tell? Like how it has helped your mental state or even your back! Can anyone share with me their journey about having to learn how to accept help and how they are glad they did? I think my Dad is really not wanting to accept that my Mom is in such bad shape and if he just muddles by without outside help that helps him believe that all is well. But it is not! Maybe if I can read him stories about how much the home home care aid has helped he will realize it is a good thing.
Thanks again for the response!

MishkaM, your post scares me. Please go to a Senior Services Caregiver Center immediately! Share with them what you just posted here. Did you read the CNN news yesterday under the Justice tab? Our senior citizens are making the news. I'm not Catholic, but the Catholic Church here offers Senior Services to Seniors and to the Caregivers. They will be able to help you, and they will be local. Please do this right away. Thank you!
Thanks for your response. I, too, am worried. I have been calling around agencies and some suggested talking with an attorney. I have talked with an abuse hotline and got some good numbers. My husband does not think my Mom is in any danger except for emotional abuse -which is horrible - but he thinks I am being too reactive to this. I just do not know , really, what to do. I am going back up in 2 weeks and my sister is coming in as well and we are going to try and get my brother to meet us( he lives about 1/2 hour from them away but has a lot of personnel issues so to very much help). We are going to meet and plan.
Maybe we should meet at their parish with their priest.

I will check out the CNN news.
Please, anyone with stories on how to help with my Dad please, please share.

MishkaM, the abuse is terrible and your mother probably feels she has earned it. I personally feel the best option would be to remove her from the home and set her up in AL or a NH, where she can get the non-abusive care she needs. I don't know if you would be able to get her to agree to this. Often abused people become accustomed to the situation and it can be difficult to get them to leave. Often they feel they deserve to be treated badly because their self-esteem has been so damaged.

Your father seems to have serious anger management issues where he blames others for his own shortcomings. Chances are if the authorities are involved, he will change for a short time, then revert to his old ways. If you feel his actions are serious -- and he sounds like he is seething from what you wrote -- see about getting your mother moved to a better place. Maybe you could even move her close to you so you can visit often.
yeah, you definatly need to contact adult services.. DONT TELL HIM your going to do that, but please, contact them. in the phone book for every town. i know in santa maria, they get right on abuse cases, and your gut is telling you theres a problem, call adult services.. stay strong
Your situation sounds too familiar. After getting calls from their primary care physician, adult protective services, the fire department and a social worker stating that my parents were no longer safe in their home I had to move them into assisted living. Two years later they are each in separate secure facilities for memory care. This is not a pleasant process and you will not get any "Thank yous". I had to go to court and get a Conservatorship so I could pay their bills and get the care they need. Please get started on taking charge of their care for their safety.
I agree with jessie and others. Your mum needs to be out of there for her physical and emotional safety. I don't think you are overreacting at all. You dad has an addiction, and the behaviours he is exhibiting go along with that. He needs an intervention, and treatment too for his addiction. Is he spending your mum's pension on gambling? It should be used for her care. Until your dad is willing/.ready to get treament for his addiction, things will only go down hill - addictions are progressive diseases too. I think removing your mum is necessary. I also think you need some professionals to help you plan it. have you talked to anyone in Gamblers Anonymous for example, or some other addictions counsellor? They are trained in interventions I believe, You don't want to subject your mum to a very nasty scene, which will certainly result in your dad shouting. Could he get physical if you try to remove your mum. Honestly, i don't think home care is the answer, because of his addiction, Your mum is being abused by your dad, and she needs to be removed from that environment, and the sooner the better. Have you talked with Social Services? Do have at least one male person outside of the family with you.
I hate to say this but this is elder abuse; there is no other name for it. The abuser is an adult male who has likely been a verbal abuser for years and maybe a physical abuser too. The victim is his wife who needs HELP to escape this terrible situation.

I suggest you find an elder abuse attorney and start the process to help your mom.
If she will agree (she may not after years of domination and abuse) you and/or your siblings may be able to remove her to your homes for her safety. Any help you try to hire will be driven away by your father. If you do not or cannot act the situation will worsen until the hospital is needed and nursing home care. Sadly, the damage may already be done. I know, it happened in my family.
It's SO tough to love someone fully unconditionally, especially when their own choices and/or behaviours run contrary to their own benefit, huh?..

I would first recommend acknowledging that your parents have long-entrenched patterns that may never be broken no matter how committed others (like you) are to saving or helping them. Trying to stop or change something we've done for 30 years is very, very hard generally.

Next, elder abuse IS a concept to watch for (even abuse of oneself, considered failure to care for self). You might wish to check with your regional Adult Protective Services for signs of such, and how the system can support caring for your mother in particular.

Meanwhile, it sounds like one of their patterns is to take on their challenges on their own - to "not bother" you or anyone else. Remember, even the most destructive patterns have SOME sort of positive purpose. So, keeping their challenges to themselves can be chosen to be noted as them "protecting" or "respecting" others..

An "intervention" is best initiated with:

A. A few loving, supportive statements by you and any other family or friends in attendance (the more the better) - Noting first how much your mother and your father mean to you.

B. A couple of statements acknowledging characteristics or values and/or past actions of/by your parents which you know support the outcome you want from the intervention...
For example, if you want to see them get more help for their physical issues, note when in the past they debated such, or were against doing such, and were later grateful when they went ahead and got help they needed! Or, note they have a belief in "doing whatever it takes to take care of each other" - Any characteristic, belief or behaviour which sets them in a place of openness to the very concept you're wanting them to consider.

It would be a cold day in hell before I'd call my girlfriend an "asshole", or anything nearly so derogatory UNLESS we had some sort of running joke between us which involved those terms truly meaning nothing. Your parents have their patterns and their paradigms.

I'm about 98% certain that calling your mother such a horrid thing degrades her at least to some degree. The key is to not try to change your parents' long-established patterns and their paradigms.. What you want to do is to find SOME values or something WITHIN those patterns/paradigms which supports more immediate support of their human needs.

I've run, coordinated and developed many such interventions, and am happy to be of support pro bono. Please feel free to hit me with any further questions

You're an awesome daughter to proactively care for your parents, Mishka. Pray/meditate, do yoga - whatever cares for YOU, and makes you stronger for your loved ones!

- Mitch Darnell, MS, OSM

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