What to do when Mom can't make decisions?

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I just returned from a vacation? Visiting my mom in California, I live in Texas. The WHOLE time was spent discussing, hashing and rehashing Mom's current declining condition of advanced Parkinson's, she has has two strokes that we know of, fallen numerous times, this last fall she struck her head on the tub and broke a rib. She is blind due to Macula degeneration and cataracts and hard of hearing. Mobility is totally reliant upon motorized wheelchair.

My brother 51 lives with her. Thankfully he was called back to work full-time after being unemployed for 1yr.

My sister comes in on Mon,Wed,Fri at 12noon until 2pm. The rest of the time Mom is alone.

There are NO services for help due to Calif. budget nightmare.

All of us, Mom, sister, brother and myself decided I would talk with my family(which I have and they are completely onboard) with Mom coming to live with us in Texas. There are services here available that are not in Calif. Financially we can provide here.

When I left I set a time limit until July 31st deadline for non-changeable decision of "yes" or "no" she is coming to live with us. See I have done this and got everything set up only to have her back out at last minute. I won't do this again.

Even now AGAIN she is wavering. We have beaten this poor dead horse all we can.

Short of her falling and becoming hospitalized forcing the issue of a nursing home...there is nothing I can fathom as an answer.

I came home so emotionally and mentally drained and exhausted.

My sister has the Durable Power of Attorney for medical decisions. But how does a child enforce that on their parent? The responsibility is cruel.

I feel so guilty because when you think of it, it would almost be better that she fall forcing the whole hospital/nursing home issue.


Answers 1 to 10 of 18
I wasn't able to change my mother's living situation until something catastrophic happened. Then the doctor ordered her to have rehab in a skilled nursing facility. From there I found an acceptable nursing home. Mom could not survive on her own anymore. I couldn't move her closer to me due to the distance and her health issues. In the past Mom refused home health care, assisted living, and even my staying with her for a few months. Yes it seems cruel and I have mixed emotions all the time. She hates not having her life the way it used to be and I can't give her that. I could only try and find a place that I felt she would be cared for and safe. Good luck and hope the move goes smoothly. I would give anything if I could have moved my Mom closer to me when she was still capable of making such a move. I unfortunately went the tough love route and even though it is not perfect, I know she is safe. I didn't have any siblings or other relatives to discuss this with. It is good that you have family to rely on. Take care.
My heart goes out to you! You are trying so hard to do the right thing and also to respect Mother's right for self-determination. What a stressful time.

Is your mother still capable of acting in her own best interests? I know that a large percentage of persons with PD develop dementia (PDD), and even without PD we have a 50/50 chance of showing some signs of dementia by age 80. IF Mother is showing signs of dementia and is literally not able to make a decision, then I think that you and your siblings need to step in, make a decision, and implement it. You are fortunate that you all agree, especially that the POA agrees what would be best. I realize how extemely stressful this would be for all of you, but I think it is your responsibility to make decisions for her if she cannot.

But if you feel she is still "in her right mind" and capable of making a decision, then I guess you do need to wait until the issue is forced by a fall or other crisis. That too is extremely stressful on you.

(That the benefits available to her vary greatly depending on where she lives is, in my mind, disgraceful! But that is another subject.)

My heart goes out to you. Do your best, and don't beat yourself up if you can't resolve this perfectly.

It is sad to watch her, because the more stressed she gets, the more confused she seems to be. Yes she is experiencing dementia, it takes continually explaining and repeating over and over. We try to explain step by step. Plus the fact that she needs a hearing aid so talking very loudly just so that she can hear is nerve racking. It is really frustrating that I cannot or we cannot have a conversation with each other (brother and sisters) without her constantly saying she can't hear us, speak up. You know even though there are three or four in the room...each conversation isn't about you or doesn't directly involve you. She then thinks we are conspiring. That hurts. It is getting to the point that she cannot handle her affairs either, the other day she wanted me to look at her bank account online, I told her that I am not privy to that since I do not live there and my sister and brother are the only ones with that right. She was upset that I would not. But it is a fact. I concern is that she will divulge such information someone like the grocery delivery guy. Worse yet, give account information to someone on the phone, which she almost did at one time, thank God my brother overheard her. She only has SSI, but still...

Thanks to you all for sharing and giving advice...it helps to hear from someone either going through this or who had already gone through this.
cheshirekitti, I suspect that you and your sibs are a little bit in denial. Does that seem to fit?

You think that if you try hard enough you can get Mom to behave as she did before the dementia set in. That if only you explain it enough times and repeats yourselves, and talk to her individually and together enough, she will "get it" and make decisions accordingly.

Sorry. That is not how dementia works. It really sounds like she is, right now, at a point where she cannot take adequate care of her affairs and cannot make decisions in her own best interests.

She is lucky that she has caring children who can step in and do what needs to be done on her behalf. (Not that she is likely to recognize it as being lucky. Don't expect gratitude.)

She has earned the right to retire from the tedious details of financial affairs and the mundane tasks of daily living. Someone else should do her laundry and pay her bills and fix her meals.

Now is the time to put that POA into effect and make the hard decisions for her.

Good luck.
If your mother will have a better services available to her in Texas, and she will be living with you, you should move her. None of us likes change, and it gets worse as we age, but you have to consider her safety and her health. It does not sound like she has the ability to make an informed decision right now, so you have to do that for her. Also sounds as if your siblings are behind the decision for the move with you to Texas. I went through a similar situation moving my mother out o her house to a retirement home in the the SAME TOWN! It was right down to the wire and I finally said, "Mom, you have to do this. Everyone is worried about you when they can't reach you by phone." (She would do things like forget to hang up the phone, insisted she could still drive when she should not have been, etc.) It will be easier if you do the move sooner rather than later, too. And, expect a lot of grumbling and negativity once she moves to your house. But, your mother needs to be somewhere where someone can keep an eye on her. Even though your brother is with her in CA, sounds like she's had a few mishaps there already. I agree with jeannegibbs that she has earned the right to have someone else do the tedious details of day to day stuff. I think if all your sibs talk up the move, she will gradually come around to accepting it. JMHO.
I know it is tough when roles seem reversed... I am in the same situation. You need to do what is in your Mom's best interest, and that is keeping her safe! The reality is she will decline because of the health conditions you described. If you plan to move her do it sooner rather than later! Could you get her some home health care and home delivered meals. She is NEVER going to want to leave her home. Sadly though it sounds very much like you really have no choice. Care center or Nursing Home where she lives may be the best option. Moving her could be very very traumatic and physically hard too. I would really encourage you to do something sooner rather than wish you had!
Top Answer
I am in a very similar situatin with my parents. They both have dementia and alzheimer's dz.

My sister and I have their power of attorney. We have been advised to get both our parents screened by a geriatric psych. doctor. If the dementia is advanced enough for them to do poorly on the psych. screening then we will be able to move them to a facility. We too are playing the waiting game. Waiting for some catastrophic event that might force mom and dad to leave their home. It's very stressful and I despise it. I want to prevent them from being hurt. I don't want to just set back and let it happen. Unfortunately this seems to be the only way right now. Their doctor, other health pros we have talked to, even Adult Protective Services visited their home and told us the same thing. It's very frustrating. But we are trying to give them all the time we can before we have to force the issue. We have had a lengthy talk with them and they are aware they they will eventually go to an assisted living/memory care facility. They are doing OK right now. Their living conditions are not wonderful but they beg us not to make a change. We check on them often and are just waiting till we have no other choice. It sucks but at least we do have a plan in place with the geriatric psych screener so that when things get to a certain point we will have a doctors recommendation for their care and it won't just be us forcing them to do something against thier will.

If your mom is to the point that it is dangerous for her to be alone then you are probably gonna have to make the hard decisions for her. With a geriatric psych doc on board, it's not just us making the decision. It's a doctors recommendation and mom and dad won't be able to argue with that. It's kind of taken a bit of the stress and maybe guilt off our shoulders. We don't want to go against our parents wishes but in the end we're gonna have to make sure they are properly cared for no matter how much they beg to stay in thier own home.
To each of you who have been so understanding;
My 51yr old brother I think is in denial. He makes statements like, "Ma, how come last week you could do this? Now today you can't." He says this in a frustrated tone. I think because he is so close to the situation, he "knows" in the back of his mind, how PDD is progressing.

I spoke with my sister who has the POA (the one for health decisions), she stated that my mom can revoke it at any time.

My mom is probably like all of your moms...get momma mad and well you know.

But It's not like when I was a kid...nowadays it's more like a child throwing a tantrum.

With the co-dependency of my brother and my mom...it is really hard. I spoke with him last evening, let him know I was moving forward with necessary things to get this all set and wouldn't you know it????? I got the stonewall response..."well, I don't know, you better talk to mom" So I spoke with Mom...same thing...she is worried how "he" will survive, he will have to handle the rent, utilities,groceries on and on...what if the landlord raises the rent? What if he loses his job? If anything happens like that can "he" come live with us?


These two are joined at the hip!!! How in the world can I conquer this?!?!

When I was there...at least "he" was recognizing this...but then again...sad as it is...people will tell you what they think you "want" to hear...NOT what is honest.

I stated "the truth" is what I wanted, nothing more. A "Yes" or "No" not this .... "well I don't know" crap.

See I am very strong...I have had to learn the hard way...I have been through unbelievable stuff. So guess I have become VERY passionate about things...VERY strong at demanding truth...what is upright. I will be patient for as long as possible...but it's like a band aid...you want to feel that thing pulling each and every hair out one by one...or get it over with?


I gave them (I may have already stated this) until July 31st to make a decision one way or another. I told them both...whatever answer they give...that is FINAL, there will be NO changing because I have done this already before, got "everything" to the point of even obtaining the lease agreement, everything, only to have THIS happen. I told them both that this will be the last time. My mom's response was, "don't threaten me".

As for "making" the decision for her...I am not sure I want the reprecussion of that. Would anyone want to travel with someone throwing a tantrum all the way from Calif to Texas?

Forgive me...today I am REALLY frustrated. My sister and I both have decided that we are going to leave things as they are until July 31st. NO MORE discussions with Mom or my brother. It's a "mute" subject until then.

Sorry to say this, but it's like my brother wants everybody to do and make decisions while he just sits in his room watching TV or playing video games. Sure he cleans house, does all the care for mom, works at his job. But...HEY we all have raised families, children healthy or sick, managed and manage households, handle finances, endured hardships.

I don't know...just rambling I guess. He has become "DEPENDENT" upon Mom's SSI, it makes life easy for him. Yet he has Mom as a tax deduction/dependent, pays 1/2 of their utilities, rent (which is only $950.00), groceries. He makes $16.00/hr., Mom $1172.00 SSI. He even has still at least $3,000.00 maybe more from his pay-out when he was laid off! See...he tends to be on the stingy side.

If Mom leaves...her money goes bye-bye and Mr. Man will have to be just that...Mr. Man.

He's had it this way since he was a baby...he has NEVER lived on his own...NEVER had a girlfriend (because he is so selfish), literally has NEVER been away from Mom.

THIS IS WHAT my sister and I am dealing with.
It's time for some tough love, Sweetie.. Have a talk with Mom and your sister with the adult baby boy not present. Tell Mom that she needs to come to Texas or else you will be going to both the social security administration and the department of human services to get a social worker onboard. Actually all SSI recipients get the same amount of money and it is currently $698. You can bring all of this out to the social worker and you can also file in court to become her conservator and carefully explain her situation and the situation with your brother. This is tough but I know you are going to do what is best for your mom and believe it or not, this would be best for your brother. It is way past time for him to grow up.
My sister and I also have an older half brother. Since mom divorced his father and they had a hard time of it when he was very young, my mom spoils him and makes excuses for him. Our brother can do no wrong. Even though he does not lift one finger to help her and our dad. He's an alcoholic but mother does not see this. She says it's because he's had such a hard life. He grew up with the same father that I did. Granted my dad was not my brothers real dad, but he treated him the same. He fed him, clothed him and took care of him the same as he did for my sister and I. This is always mom's excuse. Well my brother has a rude awakening coming. He thinks that when mom and dad pass on that he will get a huge reward??? He better think again. He will get his very equal share...100%...of nothing. It's the same thing my sister and I will get. My mom and dad will be lucky to have enough money saved up for us to take care of them til the end of their days. We are scrimping and saving right now to make sure the little savings they have will last as long as possible. Our brother does not do one thing to help us take care of mom and dad. He never visits or calls unless he is drunk. When they have been in the hospital in the past he has not visited or anything even though you would think he would visit his own mother. He is compleely useless.

Having explained my relationship with my own brother, I have to say that I think you are completely correct in saying that when your mom leaves that your brother will have to learn to be on his own. I think that the sooner you cut that apron string between them, the better things will be for you and your sister. Just beware if he still tries to manipulate your mom from a distance. My brother does this stuff all the time. It drive's us crazy!

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