I have been a reader of caregiver lists for the last few months after searching for someplace with others that could identify with the struggles of taking care of my 90 year old mother who was always dissatisfied with both her life and those around her. I have been her sole caretaker (in her home)for the last four years while working (another)full time job out side of the home.
Like many others, I really lived two lives during this time, hers and mine. I took her to multiple doctor appts, advocated for her rights, paid her bills, cooked her meals, monitored her prescriptions, arranged for any home health care, and all of the other duties that come along with this type of commitment. Also, like many caregivers, I never heard a word of thanks or comment of appreciation during this time, but rather a daily barrage of complaints about the level of my care (which she constantly told me was nonexistent) and threats of the repercussions that were to come should i not do what she wanted at the exact time and way that she wanted it done.
My mother had a long history of anxiety and catastrophizing that would cause her to behave irrationally if her needs weren't met. She often threatened to call the police and have me removed from "her house," for instance if I talked about following through on a suggestion from one of my siblings that she get a wheelchair to help her be more mobile. She frequently complained to others (my siblings and home health nurses, etc)that I wouldn't do what she wanted, was trying to kill her etc., but they of course knew that the opposite was true and would often say "God bless you, I don't know how you do it!", recognizing that her constant complaining and her oppositional behavior was who she was..
A few weeks ago, I let my mother know that I would be taking a trip to visit my daughter and grandchildren this month. She had a doctor's appt (pain shot for stenosis) during this time and we talked about whether to reschedule it for before i left, after I returned, or arrange for a volunteer to accompany her while i was gone. After much discussion and changes of mind, she decided it would be acceptable to schedule it before i left and felt she could wait the 4 days rather than take me up on the offer to bring her to the hospital for a check up to see if anything else was going on. Despite this arrangement, she reported that her pain was increasing and I ended up calling the EMT's to transport her to the hospital where she was admitted for a UTI that her PCP was aware of and had been treating. I arrived at the hospital before she was transported to a room and remained with her for most of that day.
When I arrived home later in the day, I received a call from the Department of Children and Families and was informed that there had been a complaint made against me for Elder Abuse based on my mother's report in the ER. Specifically, she had told them that "she needed to go to the doctors once a month for her diabetes and that I only brought her once a year, that she hadn't eaten in two days, and that i had knocked her medication out of her hand and wouldn't let her take it." When questioned about this later, she of course told everyone that she was "just kidding" and that I "shouldn't worry about it, that they had "no sense of humor," but by then of course it was too late and the wheels of the State system had begun to move.
I am currently under investigation for "medical neglect" which will be either "unfounded or founded." Either way, my name is now included in the State's database where, as a mental health professional who is seeking licensure, it will remain permanently even as I apply to take the State exam.
As a mandated reporter myself, I am aware of the rules and regulations concerning the reporting of abuse, but am angry, frustrated and outraged at the lack of research that was done before the ER placed this call. They had admitted my mother at that time, so she was in no imminent danger, there was no sign of bruising or neglect, they had access to her PCP's office who they did not call (she had just been there 2 weeks earlier for her checkup) and to her home health nurse who had been in the home each week for the last two months. Rather than call any of these professionals, they immediately placed a call that could not be reversed.
I am left now with arranging for my mother's funeral as she died 2 days after she was admitted to the hospital from rapid respiratory failure.. hours after they told me she was doing well… and coping with the aftermath of her destruction. Ironically, within 24 hours of being admitted to the hospital, she had called me crying to tell me that the nurses were neglecting her and that I "needed to come right away," which of course I did.
It is too soon to know what I can or should do.. the DCF worker cannot tell me how long this will take to resolve, but in the meantime I will still need to provide that caretaking role and cope with not only my grief at losing a parent, but the enormity of the situation she left behind.
Any suggestions for information on how to move forward in this type this type of occurrence would be helpful.