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Twenty-one years ago I divorced my husband due to alcohol and drug addictions. He put me through hell for 23 years. Became homeless and was not present to help raise our children. No child support for years. To make it worse our daughter had a C-5 Spinal Cord accident at 13 years old leaving her an incomplete quadriplegic. Many hospitals and rehab centers added to my financial strain being on a high school teacher salary.
Less than a year ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's due to his addictions. After running off 2 other women in his life due to the same addictions, he needs help taking care of himself. I don't want to do it, my son helps as much as possible but the load ends up on my daughter (the quadriplegic).
I'm involved more than I wanted but I have to help my daughter out. She needs help taking care of herself, so I take the high road and assist. We have moved him 3 times to get closer to my daughter so it is easier on her but he pulls the same old tricks of drinking even with Alz diagnosis. He is currently living in an Independent Center but his funds are running very low and it won't work for long. Appears a regular apartment is available closer to my daughter so she won't be travelling so much and his neurologist suggested let him be as independent as possible. He calls, and calls and calls all of us saying he is bored. He wants to do things alone like going to football games, ride his bike, etc. We have convinced him to let his car go so he doesn't have travel access when he wants it. Truth is, he has run everyone off and we are involved because unfortunately, he is family. He is even under probation from drinking over a year ago right now. My daughter is just worn out, if my son takes over he will not be as nurturing as my daughter and I don't blame him.


We are at a loss where to put him so he is involved as much as possible with life as long as he can be and afford it. In about 4 years he will have been through his money and will qualify for Medicaid. My children are horrified he will go to a state home but I don't have a problem with him being there.
We also understand the worst of symptoms are coming. My 58-year-old sister died of Dementia 2 years ago and an Aunt died of Alzheimer in 2009. We know this is a horrible disease.

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I am uncertain why your children, who received nothing from this man, are so intent on seeing him through what could be decades of care for a self imposed illness.. That isn't my business, but I am afraid I fail to understand how someone who is, as you say tragically now a quadraplegic is at all able to "care for" someone else? Can you explain that to me. I must be missing something, as quadraplegia means paralysis from the neck down. Usually someone suffering this level of injury must herself/himself be cared for.
All of that aside, I believe "helping" at this point means enabling the care of someone who tragically has reached the end of the road in self care, and will need lifelong support. This gentlemen, were he at all a part of my life, be given into the care of the state for both care and guardianship.
I am sorry to be so tough. I saw a man's life ruined in his last years by an alcoholic partner who now still is alive (though in care, for the one who cared for him is now dead) but in care. There was nothing to do for this gentleman while my brother lived, and nothing to do for him now my brother is dead. He is in care. My brother left him funds. When those are gone he will be in the care of the state. But will likely be the "last man standing" if you know what I mean, no matter the abuse he did to his own body, nor the abuse he did to the last years of my bro, nor the abuse he leveled on others life long with his alcoholism. While I am capable of writing nice letters for the sake of my bro now gone, I do not feel much in the line of sympathy.
I am sorry your children are horrified by this thought. But I certainly would not enable them in any care of him that will put off, as you say, what is inevitable, care in a state home.
I am so sorry. Your plate is full to overflowing and is the plates of your children. This is the typical outcome.
And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE attend Al-Anon with your kids. It will help them enormously in accepting what is real life, and in understanding their own limits and in having access to all the help there is for them.
Best of luck to you all.
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kellytalbot Jan 23, 2021
Thank you for your response and you are not offending me by being tough. I'm sorry you have experienced so much with this issue with connection to your brother.
My daughter is an incomplete C-5 quadriplegic. That means her spinal cord was not completely severed. C-5 is the 5th vertebrae in the spinal cord which is paralysis from the chest down. Depends on where the injury is on the spinal cord determining the extent of paralysis. She was in 7 hospital and rehabs to get where she is today over 22 years.
My children were small when the problems began and didn't know what was going on. He would drink for a few months until some drama (wreck a car) happened and then not drink for 6 months. Things got better and there he goes again. He drank in cycles and when he was sober he was wonderful and attentive to them. They remember those times but their view changes as teenagers. I didn't complain about financial problems or cut him down because that is damaging too. I had more important things to concentrate on besides him being my daughter almost losing her life. Now they are adults. They know the damage but he is still Dad. A little bit goes a long way with him and then Alz diagnosis.
Thanks for your advice about Al-Anon...been there, done that! Over 23 years I've done almost everything you can name before I divorced him so I would not have regrets I should have tried harder. When my daughter had her accident it gave me a clear vision to get away from him. I couldn't deal with him and her needs were everything.
Any suggestion on living arrangements for him at this point? He can dress, cook light meals, take care of his dog, clean apartment but can't remember what he ate for breakfast.
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I think your daughter needs to give her father emotional support only, because as a quadrapalegic, she cannot physically do too much without your help. It's unrealistic and ridiculous for him to expect anything BUT emotional support from her, or to expect ANYTHING from you, which includes helping your daughter help him. You divorced him for a reason and are now being coerced into becoming his caregiver for a disease he's brought on himself and is exacerbating himself by continuing to drink. You have to talk to your daughter about this and let her know what you are and are not willing to do to for this man, and what you feel HER role should be in his care moving forward, realistically.

I divorced my children's father in 2002 and he is a burden to them for a variety of reasons. They've learned how to set down firm boundaries with him, and they even turn off their phones at times because of his incessant calling with invented crises. He's recovered from stage 4 colon cancer, so it's not like he didn't have issues that warranted their help.....he did. But they have lives too, and he was sucking them dry. Which he's an expert at doing. He does not ask me for anything, but now I hear he's gone broke so I'm expecting a call one day asking for a return of some of the settlement money he "gave me" in the divorce. There's 3 chances of me agreeing to that....fat slim and none, and fat just left town. My point is, some people are professional victims, and your ex sounds like mine......2 pros sucking our children dry.

Coach your dear daughter to the best of your ability and pray for the best, as I do. Soon he'll be going into a SNF on Medicaid when his funds run out and there's nothing anyone can do to prevent it. He'll be taken care of there, and your daughter can go back to bei g an occasional visitor and daughter again instead of the Fixer and the Doer for the man who won't do for himself.

Wishing you and your children the best of luck dealing with a difficult situation. Sjplegacy may be correct in that your ex has been misdiagnosed with AD and he really has Wernicke Korsakoff or Wernicke Encephalopathy.....so he may want to get a 2nd opinion asap. If drug use was involved as well, the AD dx may indeed be valid.
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kellytalbot Jan 23, 2021
Thank you for your response and sorry you have an ex like mine. My daughter is good at telling him she needs her space for a few days and also tells him when she knows he is drinking, she will not be around. I may have portrayed my children as not knowing how to handle him but they do. My son will be around him when necessary and ready to go in an hour or so. He'll go fix his TV, hang curtains, etc. but doesn't go over to hang out with him. After high school, my son wouldn't communicate with him for several years. After his Air Force years were over, he started little by little being around him but still keeps a guarded heart. I've never heard of Wernicke Korsakoff or Wernicke Encephalopathy. That is what I like about this forum is you learn.
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"My children are horrified he will go to a state home but I don't have a problem with him being there."

He is an adult who made bad choices. We all make choices, and all choices have consequences. We are each responsible for coping with those consequences. Children make bad choices and parents (hopefully) intervene to help them learn to make better choices. But by the time we're adults, we have learned that when we make a bad choice, we need to pick ourselves up, learn from the mistake, and make a better choice--and no one is obliged to come to our rescue if we screw up.

And my hat is off to your daughter! Amazing how hard she works to make progress and live a wonderful life! WOW!

Your children need to recognize that their father (some are calling him "sperm donor"!) is an adult, and they need to stop babying him. Enabling his bad behavior by rescuing him from the consequences of his, um... stupidity... just perpetuates his broken state.

I noticed you said of Al-Anon, "been there, done that!" If you have an ongoing problem with an alcoholic in your life, you need ongoing support. I've been a member of Al-Anon for about 25 years. And sober in AA for about 30. These 12 Step Programs are not like a shopping mall where you go in, shop for just what you need, and drive home. They offer practical principles for effective daily living. I go to a meeting (now on Zoom) and always hear some bit of useful wisdom that I'd forgotten. It is so necessary for human beings to be a part of constructive, supportive communities. And golly gee, does it seem you need to learn more about detaching from the alcoholic with love! No one should be diminishing the quality of their own life caring for this uncooperative lout!

I have to tell you, if you were to attend Al-Anon and open AA meetings (where they welcome non-alcoholics) you would very quickly learn what options he has, and what options you have to relieve yourself of his care. Is he a veteran? The VA certainly can take care of him, maybe imperfectly, but they can.

In this time of Covid, there are Al-Anon and AA meetings on ZOOM all over the world. AA World Services offers a meeting guide https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/meeting-guide.

Al-Anon also has a directory of worldwide contacts https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/worldwide-al-anon-contacts/. USE THEM!

He is a manipulative, childish, drunk. Change your telephone number. If he is bored, he is an adult, let him learn to find entertainment for himself. Tell him "AA or the highway." Really. I have no patience with this sort. And neither should you! You deserve to enjoy your life fully, without being drained by some infantile psychic vampire! Got it? ;-)

P.S. The notion that he was diagnosed with Alz is medically unsound. An active alcoholic and drug addict cannot be accurately diagnosed with any sort of neurological disorder so long as they continue to drink & drug.
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kellytalbot Jan 26, 2021
Thank you for your response. I agree with you about AA. The ex-husband has been in rehabs, AA groups, even taught the AA group. You do have a great suggestion as AA might have a suggestion on care for a diagnosis of ALZ that is an alcoholic. Also, from this forum, a suggestion to have him tested for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome was something I never heard of. We will be sure to have the neurologist review his medical history and retest for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
I'm proud of you for being sober for so long. My ex enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow heavy drinkers and the fun they had and caused heartache for their families. He just liked that way of life that is why I divorced him. Has been 22 years divorced and just recently have helped him out but I'm already feeling smothered by the same things I did when we were married.
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MIsguided compassion is what comes to my mind.

Why does your quadriplegic daughter help the sperm donor? Because she has misguided compassion.

How does she help him being a quadriplegic?

Why do you want to assist in the misguided compassion?
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kellytalbot Jan 23, 2021
My daughter is an incomplete quad. She was a very good athlete and has worked extremely hard to gain some mobility. She has gone from power chair, mobile chair, using 2 forearm crutches and now just one over the last 21 years. It is a very struggled walk and drags a leg but it is walking. Only one hand works. Her internal organs do not operate effectively either. She is determined. The answer about misguided compassion is she loves him. I told her years ago she may divorce her father someday but she hasn't got there yet. She is right he is good when he is sober and loving but he still will drink and has caused havoc with every relationship due to addictions. People have never given up on her after her accident and I think that is where not giving up on him comes from.
I just don't know of a facility that handles alcohol addicts with dementia that is affordable.
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Stuff him. Your children are so compassionate. I had a crap childhood and an abusive parent with alz. I see them but I dont put a great deal of effort in. You get what your given and he has given nothing other than his sperm donation from the sounds of things.
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kellytalbot Jan 23, 2021
I know it. Sorry your childhood was so bad. Scares children.
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Step back and advise your children to do the same.
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kellytalbot Jan 23, 2021
Thanks for your response. We have been to an elder lawyer and found out he needs 4 more years to qualify due to the assets he had.
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Dear Kelly, it sounds as though your children maintained their love for their father because he was sometimes OK, but more because you didn’t complain about the fact that he was reducing you and them to penury and making life very very hard for you. I appreciate your good intentions, but the result is that they are now doing things for a ‘love’ that is misplaced. Their love should go to you for what you coped with, unknown to them.

I’d suggest that you talk to them about the reality of what he did and what you did when they were children. Compare it with what he is asking for now. Then ask for the love YOU need now. You, your son and your daughter should turn his needs over to the State. Your daughter should not waste her limited energy on someone who just keeps sucking support from other people. Her energy could be better used in voluntary work for people with her issues, which she understands from personal experience. And PLEASE hang on to your money!
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kellytalbot Jan 26, 2021
I agree with you. Thanks for saying directly in that manner.
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Kellytalbott....please read lealonnie, taarna, and alvadeer posts again.....they have been thru so much and 2 of them are/were RNs....and the caregivers who have been thru this, will give their answers as well. I know i could not have done anything for my first husband, there was 21 long years of every kind of abuse you could imagine.....once my children were finished with high school, we got divorced, and i was harassed by him for a long time until i reported him to the police. I couldnt take it anymore. He remarried and continued his perverted lifestyle including drugs....i would not have spit on him if he was on fire, and thats the honest truth because of all he put my children an me thru.....its been since 1990 and he passed away some years ago...funny how things work out, the three people in my life that have hurt me the worst have died. I may die tomoro,but my life has been happier ....sorry this is so long, i hope you and your children have backed away from him and let him deal with the consequences of his life,,,,i wish you all the best and keep coming here....there are very wise women and men on this forum that provide very valuable information....Liz
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kellytalbot Jan 26, 2021
Thank you Liz, I will continue to come here. Glad you are having a happier life.
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If your husband's dementia was attributed to alcohol, he was most likely misdiagnosed with AD. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is the most well known type of dementia associated with alcohol. It occurs from a dramatic deficiency of vitamin B1. If you catch it early enough, the Wernicke part of the disease, vitamin B1 can be directly injected into a vein for several days or even longer. The patient may recover. If it advances into Korsakoff syndrome, it is no longer reversible.

Go to YouTube and search for Korsakoff syndrome and you'll find many videos. Unfortunately, I don't think Teepa Snow has such a video. I would seek a second opinion.
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kellytalbot Jan 23, 2021
Wow, thank you so much. I've never heard of this syndrome. I definitely will.
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May I suggest a few things.

My history - My dad is an alcoholic and chose not to have anything to do with his children or wife going on 35 years. My mother finally divorced him a few years ago since our state does not honor legal separation.

I looked up the laws regarding caring for my father from the state's perspective. Children and separated/divorced spouses are not liable for the parent/ex-spouse's finances unless you have a business dealing that both have signed documents showing joint responsibility. Children and ex-spouses are not required to provide care for the parent/ex-spouse. Since my dad's medical and mental health issues are starting to get difficult, was a huge relief to know I have no obligations. So from my perspective, you are not responsible for caring for your ex-husband. Similarly, your children are not responsible for caring for him.

Alcoholism may cause brain damage but that may or may not lead to Alzheimer's disease. Since 75% of seniors have some Alzheimer's dementia, most likely your ex-husband has age-related Alzheimer's disease and an overlay of neurological insults from his alcoholism.

Your best option is to get him evaluated by a doctor for mental competency. If he is not deemed mentally competent, then a legal guardian should be appointed for him by the local courts. This may happen best as an inpatient in your local hospital or working with his probation officer. The legal guardian will make sure that paperwork is filed to Medicare and/or Medicaid. The legal guardian will arrange for his health care and his housing. Please contact the local authorities to take over his care.

The goal is for your children to have contact with their father per the children's wishes/desires and not to saddle them with costs of their father's poor choices.
May I also suggest that your and your children spend a little time involved in
Al-Anon - a counselling group for family and friends of alcoholics. You seem a little co-dependent in your ex-husband's problems.
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kellytalbot Jan 29, 2021
Thank you for your advice. I didn’t know his probation officer could help in the process. I’ll contact him,
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