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My mother has dementia. I am her only child. She has two sisters who are very enabling and will interfere with her medical care or decisions we have made regarding my mother's care. She is in her home, lives next door to me where I check on her frequently. I also have a child with Asperger syndrome for whom I am a caregiver, plus I work as does my husband. I do work at home; however, I must maintain a work schedule the same as if I were in an office.

I recently made arrangements for Mom to receive home health (aide and home PT). Mom falls a lot. She is unsteady on her feet and must use a walker. She has already had to have home PT and an aide once before because of general debility.

One aunt is telling her that she doesn't have to have this if she doesn't want it. This same aunt recently caved in to one of Mom's requests and put her in a dangerous situation by coming over and starting Mom's van, after we had disabled it to keep her from driving. Mom left and then drove to another town, then returned home. Mom has been explicitly told not to drive. We have tried taking keys, but she manages to dig up another set, so we disabled her van by disconnecting the battery cables. The aunt then called and bawled me out because I or my husband (who had just worked 12-hour shifts the 2 days before) would not get up and take her to do her errands *right then.* I told the aunt that Mom is NOT to be driving, and had disabled the van to keep her from doing so because Mom has zero impulse control.

These aunts are not involved with mom's day-to-day care whatsoever. They call her on a daily basis, but they are not around her to see that her physical and mental status have deteriorated significantly. Mom can hold it together, for a bit, but if you speak to her long enough, you'll see that she has significant confusion, hallucinates, and mixes things up.

Mom also tells lies about people to get people to feel sorry for her. Usually she tells them about me, and they're not true. This is usually if we set a boundary with her such as, "I won't get up at 6 a.m. and take you to the grocery store, but I will take you at 4:30 p.m. today after I'm finished working." She will call someone, usually one of these aunts, and tell them that I am being mean to her and won't help her, and she wants to go to the grocery store. They react by dropping what they are doing, going to her, and then bawling me out. Never do they actually ASK me or ask her why she needs to go to the grocery store at 6 a.m. Nor do they ever say, "Do you need to go to the grocery store some time next week?"

Mom's doctors and caregivers have told me not to give in to her requests because otherwise will make me crazy. They have told me, in no uncertain terms, that I must set boundaries, otherwise life will only get worse. I have been her caregiver for 9 years now, and we've managed pretty well. However, it's recently that she's become more manipulative and demanding.

Yes, I have tried talking to the aunts, but they have a tendency to treat me like I'm an idiot even though I'm well educated and work in the healthcare field. I have made specific requests of them, such as to NOT come start her van, and they've told me that their allegiance is with her not me, and they'll do what they please. I flat told the one aunt if Mom was hurt or hurt others because of their giving in to her demands, it was on THEM.

What do you do? How do you cover yourself in such a situation? If their help is appropriate, I appreciate it tremendously because even a little bit gives me some respite. The problem is that they give in to her demands without being involved in her care to see that their catering and enabling her is only making things worse.

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Could you keep the van locked in your garage? You seriously need to be able to prevent her from driving!
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I agree sell the car. Block the aunts from calling you, don't answer the door when they come over. Tell the aunts that they are enabling and interfering and that you will not tolerate it any longer. The aunts are not helping you, you don't need that kind of help. Begin to look into an assisted living place for mom. Limit the time the aunts can have with your mom. If they continue to interfere then they become on the banned visitor list, somehow.
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P.S. That probably looks conflicting, but the aunt who swore to never speak to her again called a couple of days ago when we restarted Mom on home health, and when Mom whined to her, she told Mom that she could do or not do whatever she wanted. Argggh!! Mom has fallen several times lately, and if she does not get her strength up and have the assistance of an aide, she's going to fall and break a hip.
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We still have the van because we use it. The aunts have gone with her to the doctor before, and the irony is that they've heard the doctors say these things, then walk outside and poo poo everything that was said. I know that they feel they should do things for her in her old age, but honestly what they are doing is not making her life better. Instead, it is endangering her and others.

One sister picked a fight with my Mom back in December over something stupid. Then she told her she'd never speak to her again. I really think she did it as an excuse to not have to take part in Mom's care. The aunts and I have had hard times because I have asked them to please respect the doctor's wishes and my wishes because I am not trying to be mean to Mom or limit her. I'm trying to keep her safe. We then butt heads. There are things that I could overlook, but when it comes to a matter of safety, I have to be consistent and straight forward.

I appreciate the support and answers. Thank you!
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I take care of my grandmother, who never drove so I dont have that problem, But when my grandfather was still alive, and was no longer able to drive, he was extremely difficult about it. Keeping the keys away from him was difficult, and that was a situation where everyone agreed he shouldnt drive. I can imagine its even tougher when you have interference! One time he took my daughters car keys and stole her car and nobody knew where he went! I didnt live here at the time, my daughter did...and she was terrified. She called me and asked "What do I do? Should I call the police?" I didnt know what to tell her. About ten minutes later he came home. We never found out where he went but its lucky he didnt kill someone. I understand that you dont want a confrontation with your aunts I let a lot of things go just to keep the peace in my family. I also realize you dont want to alienate them because they are your only source of help and the only way you might ever get a break! You could keep trying to reason with them, or get rid of the van entirely..Or you could ask them to sign a paper stating that they are willing to take responsibility for any property damage or injury caused if they allow your mom to drive against your wishes. That might get them to think twice! But if all else fails, you might have to stand up to your aunts and do whatever you need to do in the interest of your moms safety and the safety of others.. Does she still have a valid drivers licence? If not, that could be leverage. If she does, maybe you could call Motor Vehicals to see how they think you should handle this situation. I am sure you are not the first person to have had this problem, so they might have some sort of policy or a way to report a person who shouldnt be driving. They might have her retake the test or something. The police department might have some advice too.
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Why is the van still there? Mom sure is never going to improve and suddenly be able to drive. Sell it.

You are right that her sisters are enabling dangerous behavior. I can understand where their allegiance is -- I would always be on my sister's side, not my niece's or nephews. But I certainly hope I would always be on her side for her good, and that I'd recognize when going along with her son or daughter was really the right thing to do for Sister. My heart goes out to you. What a spot you are in!

If there is anyway you could get the Aunts to visit the doctor with you and hear for themselves what is best for your mother, I hope that would help.

You have to set boundaries with your mother. You may also have to set boundaries with your aunts. Just what you need -- another difficult task!

Know at least that we understand and wish you well. You are a fine daughter. .
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Do you have POA? If so, change the ignition lock cylinder on the van and keep the keys. You can also notify the registry of motor vehicles in your state and report your concerns about her driving abilities. The aunts will take a little more finesse when dealing with them since you do rely on them somewhat. If the main problem is the van situation, the above will alleviate that problem. Maybe if the aunts are told she has been diagnosed with diminished capacity by her doctor they may bend a little. Elderly woman have a tendency to place doctors to a very high standard. I don't know the health and living situation of the aunts, but it seems they have too much times on their hands and focusing all their free time with you and your mom. If the aunts continue to interfer, you may find have to take a stand and limit the contact they have with your mom.
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