What's the best way to deal with manipulative family members? How can I help the family avoid disastrous decisions?

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My grandmother was recently (within the last 6 months) moved to a NH. Since then, my uncle began going to the NH EVERY DAY, even against family and professional advice. He began taking her on outings almost immediately, also against family and professional advice. He has since planted himself right in the middle and has sort of taken over, in a sense, with her and the staff at the NH.

Prior to her going into the NH I spent some time caring for her, once for a short period in my family's home (my home), and for a short time during a hospital stay. During this time, I got up to speed on her condition, did a ton of research about her condition and the reality of it, provided recovery care/supervision along with home health/PT/OT after she coded/recovered/ICU/swing bed/to my house. I consider myself well informed and sensible where my grandmother's health is concerned both mental and physical. Not perfect! I'm human and I still fall prey to her antics at times.

My uncle's behavior is very odd to me and is actually insulting. He has never really had a good grasp on her mental and physical condition and couldn't understand why I didn't wait on her hand and foot while she underwent P & O/T at my house. It seemed as though he saw himself as "swooping in and rescuing her" from the rest of us boogeymen (my mother, me, and my aunt). He is particularly resentful of my involvement in my grandmother's care. I can't put my finger on why. He refuses to listen to or acknowledge my input about her in family discussions. I know that part of it is that he sees me as a child (I'm almost 40), and I think he sees my involvement as an infringement. He thinks all care and decisions should be solely between the children and their spouses. No one else has a problem with my involvement and actually see it as value-added input and even seek my input from time to time.

Onto the manipulation- my uncle has been angling for my grandmother's vehicle and mobile home. Neither are worth a whole lot, but he (and his wife) have never been financially successful (read: irresponsible, always in trouble financially) and probably see those things as a way out of their own financial responsibilities.

He actually told my mother and aunt that she said it was okay for him to get her vehicle and put insurance and a license plate on it. This isn't true at all!! I talked to her about this and she said he is NOT to take her vehicle at all. Today, I found out that he was planning to take her to her house for a visit this weekend, but backed out of that this evening saying that she was really nasty to him while he was there. My best guess is that sometime over the weekend he promised her that he would take her to her house if she agreed to let him use her vehicle and it got brought up today and she told him he's not getting her vehicle.

When I first heard of this vehicle thing, I talked to her about what he was telling all of us. She was adamant that he's not to have it. I took the opportunity to tell her how I personally felt about what he was doing. I told her that I thought it was wrong of him to behave this way, lying to his siblings about it and even trying to get the vehicle in the first place.

The family's concern is that he won't handle the paperwork properly and won't get insurance on it, making things worse. Or even run it in the ground.

I think it's wrong for him to prey on her this way. His going to the NH everyday (IMO) just to gain favor so she'll give him money and favor him into giving him what's left of her possessions. The rest of us would never think of doing those things. We just don't think like that.

I'm hanging in there as far as being actively involved in her overall care. My uncle is annoying in that area, but I'm not going to go away or stop thinking about her or what's best for her just because he wants me to.

Where his behavior about her things is concerned, I'm torn. If she's willing to give him money b/c he goes to see her every day, if they're happy with that, is it my business? What about her vehicle and home? I don't want them; should it matter to me that he's manipulating her and working an angle with her? I hate to see that kind of dishonest low-life behavior. Should I just leave it alone and let them be, even though I know he's not being honest in his actions with her?

Lastly, my mother is planning to take my grandmother to her house for a few hours on Saturday. This is a horrible decision that will only cause more stress, drama, and upset for everyone, and will only intensify her drive and desire to go home permanently, which isn't an option.

My mother thinks she's "shutting her up about it" or doing her a favor, but really it will only make things worse and set her back to square one adjustment wise. Should I try harder to talk her out of it or just let her learn her lesson? We did this between the last hospital stay and the NH, and it was a disaster with lasting affects.

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Have you heard the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? So the way I have coped with controlling getting my feelings hurt is to not set myself up for entering the trap once again. You seem to know what you mother wants to hear you say and otherwise she will be nasty. So...I guess, say the things she wants to hear and keep some distance. Choose your battles. If you need to engage because something terrible will happen if she doesn't listen to you, then I guess you have to do what you have to do. Otherwise realize you are not in control of all of this and to a certain extent, she makes her choices and you will have to let her live with the consequences.
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Wouldn't it be simple if an attorney could stop people from behaving in ways that are hurtful? Wouldn't it be great if POA meant no more squabbling, or hurt feelings? That's just not the way it works. That's why I asked for advice about how to cope with this stuff emotionally. What are some things I can do to set boundaries for myself where others' behavior is concerned? For example: my mother values my input as long as it's what she wants to hear. When it's not, she's really nasty to me about it and picks fights. Where is the boundary there?
Anyone with similar experience? How did you handle it?
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J, my father had a form of muscular dystrophy that affected only a small portion of hispanics in the NM area. It is called OPMD. It affects the eye lids and the epiglottis, the little flap that controls whether or not the food goes into the stomach or the lungs (unfortunately it is hereditary).
It started affecting him 4 years ago. He had severe allergies and asthma for much of his life so this compounded the problem of the weak lungs and the chance for pneumonia.
After several swallow tests they decided to put a peg tube into his abdomen to make sure that he received food and his medications. Because the medications can also have an issue with getting into the lungs. My father lived for four years with a peg tube in his abdomen.
When he was in the ICU for other issues he did try to pull it out several times and succeeded a couple of times. They were able to put a new one in.
This might be an option for your grandmother.

It's great that you are keeping an eye on your grandmother's care. Maybe her children won't listen to you, but that doesn't mean that you still can't offer your input. Be there and listen. Sometimes it is someone such as yourself that will point out a very important detail to a doctor that the others don't see.
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If your grandmother is in a nursing facility she has the right to say yes or no to visitors. I agree with others who have answered, if your grandmother is capable of taking care of her affairs, she needs to see an attorney for legal paperwork, it's her decision who will get what and who should be making decisions and handling her affairs in the event she becomes unable. It is difficult when some in the family are responsible and others are not. I've experienced this bother personally and professionally. No matter what happens someone will have 'bad' feelings. What is important is what your grandmother wants and making sure she is taken care of. the legal issues need to be taken care of as soon as possible just in case something would happen that would render her unable to speak for herself. I'm sure she appreciates all the help you give and whether she admits it or not it may be difficult for her to see her family squabble.
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Thanks for everyone's input. I'll try to answer here in sort of a one-big-answer.

My grandmother has vascular dementia, as do most of us over 35, and hers is progressing. She isn’t IMO capable of making major decisions without help- cognizant, yes/maybe sometimes, completely out of it- no. She puts on a show for the most part b/c she thinks if she “looks good” she’ll get to go home. I think going home is the only thing she can consistently “grasp,” if you know what I mean. When on her own she doesn't take care of herself. She doesn't eat properly, gets dehydrated and emaciated (I think she weighed 84 lbs at one time), falls occasionally, doesn't keep up with finances, housework, etc. or care for pet’s toileting or feeding. A swallow study done in the NH has shown that the muscles in her throat aren’t working properly and that part of everything she swallows goes into her lungs. She is at high risk for aspirating and pneumonia because of that. Interestingly, the throat issue is also dementia related; the neurons in charge of those muscles aren’t firing anymore. She does do a lot of what I have seen on here referred to as “show-timing.” Looking back, I can see that she was doing a lot of that for the last few years. She’s been hospitalized numerous times this year for things ranging from illness/fever, low blood, and nutritional deficiencies, but those all lead back to dementia (nutrition, self care) and depression. If I had to summarize what’s ailing her, it would be dementia that’s at the root of her problems.

I have taken care of my grandmother in my (our) home before she went to the NH. She coded over the summer and needed OT/ PT and home health to recover, but also needed round-the-clock supervision and I offered to have her here b/c I was in a position to do it. So, I'm not a stranger to her moods and state(s) of mind (which in her case, largely govern her ability to care for herself), habits and physical capabilities; even since then, I’ve kept a close eye on her health and have a good grasp on her current state as well. So, I do feel qualified to add input about her health and capabilities even if I don’t have the right to. It’s not as though I don’t know what I’m talking about.

My concerns aren't about who has POA or DPOA. That's an obvious and convenient solution. I'm not asking the legalities or looking for legal advice. I'm asking how to cope with these knowing that some of my family is capable and is doing these things. I feel sad about it and hurt b/c I didn’t realize I needed to compete in a game to hold any favor with her. I feel angry, confused, resentful, and hurt that my input and help is rejected and disrespected b/c it’s getting in the way of others’ manipulative ways.

As I’ve read from this site, there are often siblings that don’t agree too. Sometimes one does things differently or breaks ‘rules’ or behaves badly and there’s still nothing the others can do about it b/c they all have an equal interest in their parents’ care. The point is, there’s nothing they can do about it, for whatever the reason. The reason for me happens to be that I’m a grandchild not a child, but even if I were, I might still have these feelings or struggles. Please don’t dismiss me just b/c I’m a grandchild. I love my grandmother, I want what’s best for her, and I want what’s best for all of my family and their families. Obviously, I have no control, and that’s okay. I’m just trying to cope with the difficulties of caring for and about an aging family member and dealing with extended family in ways that I’ve never had to before.

It’s really frustrating to watch everyone jump to my grandmother’s tune when she’s just entertaining herself by making them jump. She’s wreaked havoc in all of our lives since she’s been at the NH. I know she’s angry about being there and she’ll do anything to get out, but that doesn’t make it okay to let her cause so much drama between everyone. It’s like my mother and uncle believe and buy into what my grandmother says and her pleas to go home. They don’t get that by buying into the drama and dancing to her tune, they’re making things worse for all involved, even her. Even if I weren’t directly involved, my mother’s reactions and responses to her affect me; she takes out her frustration on me and directs her anger at me. (I have no idea why I’d want to have even the slightest control over the things that make my mother do that!!) So, butting out doesn’t do me any good either. I’m still affected by it all.
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I've know people who try to make Mom and or Dad feel better--by taking them home--It hasn't ever worked that I've seen and back fires.They don't want to leave. All those memories flood back and they want to stay. Wouldn't you? The other situations you mention seem to be legal in nature like many people who write in here. There really is no better way then getting a lawyer who's expertise is in elder law. POA? Why is this man allowed into the nursing home if family and doctors say NO. That car and trailor---as long as they're in Grandma's name and not legally transfered -she's responsible. Does Grandma have a social worker. I mean with your area not just the NH. Social workers can introduce you to things you may need to know.
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If you get the finances and POA tied down and in order, then you'll see if uncle continues visiting daily or at least frequently not...if he keeps it up because he wants to and not just to get rewarded for it, it would be a blessing to grandma for sure to have someone looking in and making sure she has both company and good care.
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Who is the DPOA if your grandmother isnt competent? They call all the shots, who can or cant visit, and/or supervised visits only. It might be innocent and he a Godsend to her for visiting, or, hes out to get something, go with yout gut, its always right!
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If your grandmother has a POA then they should be acting in her best interest and protecting her assets. If she doesn't then she needs to get one for both financial and medical.
As for your concern for your grandmother, that is great. But, your uncle, mom and aunts do have the rights to decide on where, when and how your grandmother is cared for. Personally I wish our niece would have had an interest in my mother's care, then we wouldn't have had to take her out of her home. But, that wasn't the case. It sounds like you did a good job taking care of her and that you still want to take care of her. The NH is doing the primary job of that now and you can continue to make sure that she gets the best care that she can, but from a slight distance.
As for the vehicle and her mobile home, if your grandmother decides that your uncle can have them, then that is your grandmother’s decision, if she is of sound mind. If she isn’t then your mother or aunt need to step in and protect her.
Give your grandmother love and care and make sure that the NH is caring for her properly.
She just may be happy that her son is coming to see her daily and is paying attention to her. That may make her happy. Why would you want to take that away from her?
Your mother will have to learn the hard way that taking her to her home “might” cause a problem. If it does, your mother won’t do it again, if it doesn’t then your grandmother had a nice visit.
Take care of yourself and be there for your grandmother, as support.
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First, the best thing you can do for your grandmother is to get her an attorney so SHE can decide what to do with her assets. Secondly, stop acting like a bunch of children and stop bickering over your grandmother. Greed is a powerful emotion and so is sibling rivalry with your grandmother caught in the middle. Just because she is going for a visit does not mean she will automatically want to stay. Even if she does, she has to understand that is not an option. Make that a condition of her visiting. In any event, you trying to exert your will over anyone is pointless. You are and will forever be considered a "kid". Just offer help when you can and take care of your own family. I am sure they miss your efforts.
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