Sober2004 Asked May 2012

How do we know when it is time to put our aging parents who live with us in an assisted living home?

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My mother, age 73, who has always been a strong, independent woman yet also a loving, caring and philanthropic woman has recently become hateful, mean, disrespectful, messy, dirty, manipulative, argumentative and deceitful in oh so many ways. This is painful, as I know her mind is leaving her, but the attacks she makes on me and the harsh, controlling ways she treats my granddaughter who I also have custody of is becomeing detrimental to the balance I thought we had in our 4 generation home. She has no responsibilities here, can sleep all day or do whatever she pleases, has no requirement to pay any household bills nor clean as I do the daily cleaning and have a housekeepper that comes in bi-weekly to do the cleaning I can't keep up with. I work full time in a demanding job, and spend what time I can with her, albeit little due to my responsibilities that fall on me as the woman of the house, but I really am shamefully sometimes grateful that I have no extra time as all of a sudden I have become her #1 enemy whom she threatens in silly monetary ways (ie; "I'll cut you out of my will", when she made me the sole beneficiary of her will a year ago and signed medical and financial Power of Attorneys, so she uses this as some type of control...truth be told, I have houses, cars a decent paying job and need nothing from her. She was just doing that to keep my estranged sister from "getting anything when she dies") and worse yet, emotionally attacks in hateful, hurtful semantics. I am tiring of this. It is becoming far too taxing on me emotionally and I too am becoming detached as, while she is my mother, I do not deserve this horrible treatment from a person that I have gone to the ends of the earth to help. My uncle passed away 3 years ago almost, her only sibling, which made her sole heir to his estate, which was fairly large and quite helpful to her as she was quickly running out of money from my grandmothers estate and her inheritance from my grandmothers death. Since his passing, she has had responsibilities to close his estate, none of which she has fulfilled. I did everything I could to assist, compiled tax paperwork, handled the sale of his Longhorn herd, cleaned up his ranch house and acreage, and communicated with the attorneys of record to move forward with settling the will, however, she has written hot checks to the IRS, not paid the many property taxes which are past due, etc, and I fear she will soon loose everything and then will not have the funds necessary to live in a nice assisted living home versus a state run facility. I do not have the money to afford to pay $2000 a month for a retirement/assisted living home for her and am really lost as to what to do. I so could use some help and while I know this scenario is jumbled as there are so many aspects and issues, a general set of guidelines or suggestions would be truly and sincerely appreciated.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack May 2012
The time is now. She may be past the assisted living phase and need nursing home care. Her money would pay the cost until her assets have been nearly used up. Please see the estate attorney who drew up the POA, or another elder law attorney, if she fights this too much. With the complication of your sister, you have issues not everyone faces. You may need legal help to keep things in order. You can't keep up this stressful situation forever. Please do look into help.
Take care of yourself, too.
Carol

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Sober2004 May 2012
Thank you Carol. You have been quite helpful.

The situation has of course worsened over the past week. She now hates me, wants to move out into her own home which she plans to buy in the next month (?we all know this can't be done?). She has some medical issues to address this week that she will not inform me of...my grandbaby is taking the wrath of her hatefulness nightly when she goes to love on her great-grandmother...she wants to move and have me communicate by "only calling her on Christmas and her birthday"...AND...She also is now carrying a bag of her expensive jewelry around with her everywhere she goes so no one "ever steals from her again", which my sister did do many, many times. I just fear someone is going to hurt her if they discover what is in the bag and want it badly enough. She cannot live alone as I moved her 2 times within a short period of time in 2008 and 2010 and both times the places she was living were filthy and disgusting. She cannot keep a living space clean and insists on having cats inside and does not keep up with the litter box...which we all know becomes horribly stinky and actually unhealthy. At least she has had a nice place to live, a clean environment and healthy food and living quarters here at my home since November 2010...

I also fear I am going to loose my sanity very soon...can't sleep, can't focus at work, can't enjoy the simple everyday pleasures of life...you all know these sad side effects of our situations...

I do feel empowered now though and thank you for your inspiration...am going to contact the attornet that drew up the financial POA and medical POA later today and get some more information...I found an assisted living home nearby and will hopefully visit it this week as well...

Thank you so much for giving me the direction and strength to move forward with this very, very difficult task. It is heart-wrenching and emotionally draining...but I will be fine...God bless, direct and protects us all~
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TooOld4This May 2015
While your mother may have signs of dementia, she may also be suffering from a treatable secondary mental illeness.

My personal experience with my mother is that when she became like your mother, I felt it was not normal dementia. I have also found doctors quick to lump elderly cognitive disorders in together, leaving the patient to suffer the treatable disorder.

Two years ago doctors wanted my mother in a nursing home. I began to write her doctor with detailed logs of her behavior I felt was not the slow progression of dementia. She was ultimately diagnosed as bipolar and I was told she was likely bipolar for quite sometime, but attributed to dementia because of family history.

That said, she does have dementia. However the treatment of her bipolar disorder has allowed her to live at home another two years (so far). As her primary caregiver and responsible party, I now deal with the dementia assistance.

I have given the simplified version for brevity. Your mother's behavior sounds like mine two years ago. You might want to seek a second opinion. The bipolar diagnoses and treatment made a world of difference for my mother.
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