How do I deal with a toxic mother with dementia without the overwhelming feeling of guilt?

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My husband and I have taken care of his mother until November of last year. She didn't want to live alone, was afraid that she couldn't handle her home. So, we sold our home eight years ago and came to live with her. She has dementia, but refuses to acknowledge there are any problems-(and won't see a doctor, only sees a nurse practioner who is too busy to take the time to refer her, although he has noticed the symptoms). Over the past couple of years, things just got progressively worse. She would misplace items and then accuse me of stealing them. When we would find the missing items, she accused me of hiding them to make her think she was crazy. Then, she started giving things away (sending them to her other son, David, a convicted sexual predator who lives in Washington) then accusing not only me, but my husband of stealing from her. The other son, David, has stolen from her repeatedly over the years; even broke into her home while she was attending the funeral of her 2nd husband. I have never met the other son-(in 18 years of marriage), but know how he has treated both his mother and my husband.

10 years ago, she was terrified that she would "lose her mind", as her mother had, and become easy pickings for her other son. She took steps to ensure that she would not fall victim to David-(changed the will and signed over house to my husband) but neglected the important stuff, like medical POA. Now, she is in constant contact with David, sending him money almost daily-(she used to send money orders, now she wires money). He is obviously trying to suck her dry. In the meantime, WE are the one being accused of taking advantage of her!!

SO, in November of last year, we moved out. Emotionally, I was worn out and the stress was taking a physical toll on me. While packing, she picked up a bat and tried to hit my husband with it. She was furious that he would leave her. We then made an appointment with Adult Protective Services to try to stop David from taking advantage of her. They were of no help at all.

So, fast forward 8 months. Several months ago, she starting leaving ranting messages on my husbands phone-(she was going to sue us for trying to make her think she was crazy). We struggled with what she said her wishes were 10 years ago; not wanting to be another of David's victims. Now, her wishes are to take care of David. After meeting with a counselor who said that even if she was crazy, she had the right to do whatever she wants, we signed the house back over to her and have had no contact with her.

This situation suits me just fine. She has always been a bitter, mean woman. However, this is my husband's mother and he struggles every day with this enormous guilt that he is allowing his mother to be taken advantage of and he feels that he should be caring for her. He was hoping that if she saw that he want nothing from her, she would realize that he acts out of love and responsibilty for her.

I know I am rambling/venting a bit. I was just curious if anyone else has been in this situation. If they have been, how do you maintain distance without feeling this overwhelming guilt? IS there an answer?

Answers 1 to 10 of 16
Have you talked to a lawyer? (you may need to see more than one)

I've had guys like "David" try to get their hooks into Mom and they KNOW how to play Mom better than I do! (I think the jailbirds sit on their butts in jail and compare notes!)

I'd say you need to be FULLY INVOLVED with FULL AUTHORITY or not at all.

If you're not careful, ol' Dave will bleed her dry and she'll be coming to live with you, and David will come with her!

By the way, ramble here and figure out how to explain your thoughts with the least words for doctors, lawyers, POLICE, etc. (words like dementia and Alzheimer's they understand... terms like "Borderline Personality Disorder" will draw a blank, disinterested look every time! Really! They'll write you off and walk for the door!)
One of the things our lawyer had us do was have Mom's accounts set up with Dual Signatures. (wish we had done it 5 years ago!)

That gives some safeguards with accountability to you, AND keeps the riff-raff at bay when they see the checks have to have 2 signatures!
Here are things worthy of feeling guilty about:
Cheating on your taxes, so other people have to carry your share
Cheating on a spouse
Bopping a little ol lady over the head and stealing her purse
Pushing Grandpa down the stairs in a fit of rage
Bleeding your mother dry with no intention of paing her back and no remorse
Do you see what these things in common? The intention to cause harm to others or acting in selfishness without regard to whether it causes others harm.

So, ask your husband, has he earned the right to the guilt he is feeling? Sad? Sure. Frustrated? You bet. Angry? Probably. But guilt? I don't get it. He is not "allowing" his mother to be taken advantage of. She is. And yes, she may not be of sound judgement. But short of proving that and getting guardianship, I'm not sure what you can do. It is not as if you both shrugged and said, oh well, too bad, but we don't care. You made attempts to protect her from herself.

If you can think of other things to try, fine, go ahead and try them -- or not. But either way, lose the guilt. It just isn't appropriate to this situation.
I very much appreciate the responses. As for guardianship, she would have to be deemed incompetent and in our state, it is a very costly, if not impossible thing to do. We did consult with one attorney who advised us that if she (mother) was not in favor of the guardianship, it could cost more than $20,000 and he estimated only a 10% chance of success. That is money that I am not willing to spend for a job I no longer want.

However, I am VERY afraid that what Hank predicted-(David will take her to the cleaners then dump her with us) will come true. The only saving grace is that she is not wealthy by any means, but she does have a very secure monthly income. That should keep him from dumping her. She has no assets, other than the house.

Great idea on learning the language to speak to law enforcement, DHS, etc. Without a concrete medical diagnosis, it has been difficult to explain her situation, so would be very beneficial.

Practice what you're going to say.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

It'll keep the cops and doctors from blowing you off! (I'll bet ol' Dave practices!)
Top Answer
Some of the guilt may come from 1 Timothy 5 if you're familiar with it... (v.4, "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God." v.8, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.")

However, I don't see anything in these 2 verses that say you have to LIVE TOGETHER! (it's okay to hire it out!)

Isn' t this the letter where Paul (if it was written by Paul) is advising Timothy on the responsibilities of the church? Churches have responsibilities to care for widows, but, not widows whose families should be taking care of them (they didn't get on the widow list for church support) and not widows under 60 (they should support themselves by remarrying) and only widows "well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds"

Somehow none of this seems particularly relevent to lenzeme's husband, who has tried his utmost to extend care to his mother who resolutely rejects his efforts.
No, not really, mom knows exactly what to do to make me feel guilty, and since I am the girl, and she had me, I owe her to care for her. She does not want accept that she has alzeimers, she was diagnosed 3 years ago, but I think her process has been going on longer. Because she was physically sick, and not listening to the husband, wandering off, I brought them to live with me last october, the husband have just had enought of her abuse, but said he was going to continue to care for her with my help. But he was not aware that he had a heart aneurism, that could have killed him had he not being here, and taken to a doctor, and had heart surgery 5/31/11, he is in rehab, and my landlords said they could not be here anymore, so I had to put her somewhere, while he recovered, and her husband signed to put her in a home, and guess who she blames? me,that I shold not have done that to her, after she gave birth bla bla bla... so it goes, calls ten times a day, asks me for money because she wants to leave the home, has thrown me out of the place in two ocassions I've gone to get her to see her husband, so we are trying to gain our sanity while she is still there. The husband asked me for help finding an apt, but he is not sure he could continue to care for her, he wants to be better, before trying to have her back with him, she is going insane, because "I" don't find an appartment fast enough, and she doesn't deserve this. I told her that he signed her in, but she either forgets or just wants to continue hurting me. I have given up hope of ever having her "approve" of me, and it hurts, but I am really not wanting to continue to be abused. Yes i am going to try with all my heart to stear clear, help from far ,she is my motherand we don't abandon our parents.
I agree; we don't abandon our parents. That is my value system as I was raised by caring parents and family means everything to me.

However, my husband was not raised by caring parents. Both he and David were adopted, but his mother has always said that she adopted my husband for her mother; she was content with one child. She has been abusive to my husband-(both physically and emotionally) for his entire life. She certainly has never been "well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds".

Do you still owe this monumental debt to a parent like that?
Personally, I think that whatever debt your husband owed his mother has been repaid in full.

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