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I am an adult only child. I've been estranged from my parents for 20+/- years with some periods of "detente" However communication is always strained at best. Initially my parents disowned me for being gay. They stole money from me, harassed my friends and support network ( some of my friends filed restraining orders against my parents) so I separated from them. I sought therapy for the pain of the loss, assumed I'd never see or hear from them again ( my mother stated she did not want me to be informed if she died) Gradually I came to understand that there was a long history of verbal, emotional abuse and childhood neglect. Situations and actions I thought "everyone" experienced turned out to fall into classic definition of abuse. I tried to reconnect for years but they are unwilling or incapable of accepting me for me, nor do they see anything they did or said as "abusive" I am "making up stories" "being dramatic" et al. Eventually I married, bought a home and live about 8 miles from where my parents live. I never told my parents I was married. I thought it would be far too disruptive. Maybe they read it in the papers or heard from a relative but I never told them. Fast forward to spring 2016 and I am contacted by my mother. My father has been displaying signs of early dementia, he has fallen victim to one of those "your a winner sweepstakes " scams to the tune of $7K, their house is falling apart, she has peripheral nephropathy in her leg and has trouble getting around and cant drive, my father is losing weight and looks terrible. My wife and I start helping them with basic household care, cleaning the property, taking away huge mounds of junk mail. We bring by "special meals" for birthdays and holidays. I try and get my dad to see a doctor. He refuses. Fast forward to December - I get a 6am call telling me my dad has fallen and can't move can I come over. I call 911 and get him to an ER. Turns out he has CLL (chronic leukemia) he has lost a lot of muscle mass. He is admitted to the hospital and 1 week later he is discharged to a nearby rehab. Thru all this I try and help them navigate what doctors are saying, drive my mother back and forth to the hospital ( :30 mins from my house to hers, 20 mins to hospital then back again), buy some groceries. I am self employed and work several part time jobs. I am not financially secure myself, have my own health issues and work and personal commitments.Despite that I cancel and reschedule work for 3 weeks to help my mother. This week I needed to get back to work. I needed to handle my own health needs and this resulted in being screamed at for 20 mins by my mother. That "her generation" expected adult children to step up and be the primary care giver. She cant do it alone, she is lonely and needs help. They have both neglected their health for 30+ years, they have neglected home repairs, they have indeed struggled with money but seem to have made that part of their identity - it is who they are not a circumstance to overcome. They never made financial plans, never planned for legal documents. I drove around for a week trying to get a lawyer to get my mom POA and Althea Care POA for my dad. They didnt have cell phones - i got them phones. I am doing all I can do. I understand my mom is freaking out about money, bills, her husband but I cant do any more than I am. I cant give up my business and other jobs to be her full time caretaker. I can offer a few hours a week. She insisted I drive her car while my dad is in rehab so I can drive her around ( I don't own a car) but doesn't respect my time limits. I get yelled at for having any limits and boundaries. I tried offering Uber, a cab, signing her up for a local low cost senior transit shuttle - she rejects all of it. She says she is bankrupt and cant afford a cab or uber. She wont take public transit or a shuttle because she doesn't want to fall in front of strangers. "It is my responsibility" It is easier to yell at me and blame me for their 10 alarm fire. The kick in the stomach today was learning about PA's Filial Responsibility laws. This just feels punitive. For 60 years they get to do, say, behave however they want,make poor choices, harass, insult, "disown" me, paint me as a villain to the family, isolate themselves, cut themselves off from family /community and now I am expected to pick up the bill - literally and figuratively? HELP! I need help. After the last screaming call I got from my mother I feel physically ill. I keep throwing up, I cant stop crying, my back hurts, I cant eat. How can I step away without being entrapped by this insane law? BTW - I've attempted to get help from the social worker at my dad's rehab, a local elder volunteer service, the hospital everyone shrugs their shoulders and says "not my problem" who can I turn to for help? I don't have $200/hr for lawyers and GCM or private agencies.How can I help without getting ensnared in the toxic dynamic?

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Pam, I read the Pittas case, and it wasn't at all clear to me that the son had control of the mother's assets, or that she even had any assets. As I recall the facts, the mother was indigent, and the nursing home was trying to apply for Medicaid for her, but they couldn't obtain the necessary information. They blamed the son for that, claiming that they relied on him to supply the information and he had failed to do so. It wasn't even clear to me that the son had access to the mother's financial information, or sufficient information to apply for Medicaid, which as you know is a great deal of historical documentation.

I think the son was an innocent bystander in this case. He was guilty of living in a filial responsibility state and earning $80,000 per year, which was deemed enough to pay off his mother's bill for 6 months of nursing home rehab services.
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doris12, The only people who have been sued under filial responsibility laws were recipients of their parents' assets. Read HCR v Pittas. Only one child had control of the mother's assets, gave vague answers in his testimony and that is the one the court found responsible for the nursing home bill. So if you never took anything from them via a gift or life estate, you are not going to court. You are being used by them. Walk away.
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I think your parents have a lot of nerve ignoring and demeaning you your entire adult life and then calling you to rescue them when the carp hits the fan. That takes a seriously inflated sense of entitlement, which is reinforced by their failure to take responsibility for their prior actions towards you, and their expectation that you'll drop everything else in your life to see them through their health and financial crises. That's chutzpah!!! And not in a good way, either!

I don't blame you for being outraged about the PA filial responsibility laws. I used to live in PA and felt the same way. As I said on another thread, few of us have any control over our parents' earning and spending behavior or even knowledge of their finances- why in the world should we be held accountable for their failures to provide for their own needs when they've had a working lifetime to do so? Farmington makes a good point though - you will not be made liable for your parents' financial needs if you don't have the funds to support them. Still, under the circumstances, it would suck to be required even to contribute a modest sum towards their upkeep and expenses. I personally wouldn't do it. I'd move out of the state first and let them chase me for it.

You do not owe them anything, regardless of their expectations and attempts to bully you. You are a volunteer and are helping out of the goodness of your heart. You should not have to tolerate being abused. If your mother wants help, she needs to treat you with respect, ask nicely and accept the limits on what you are willing to give. She's lucky to even be given your phone number, given her past behavior towards you. I would not hesitate to point that out to her, as often as necessary. She should be grateful for any help at all, given her past abuse and the absence of any warm relationship between you. DO NOT let her bully you or make their problems your responsibility. They're not. Really.
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First off, I wouldn't start from here. I'd have moved a lot more than eight miles away, for example...

More seriously, now, take deep breaths. This is a total hurricane, and I'm impressed that you can think straight enough to type.

The filial responsibility laws, as I understand it, are employed in practice mainly to oblige extremely rich people to settle bills for services they have freely contracted for. You are not going to be bankrupted in order to keep your feckless parents in the style to which they would like to become accustomed. Rest your mind.

Besides, there are much more immediate problems. Your mother's hysteria, let's start with that. Well, the lady has things to be hysterical about. But what *you* need to keep uppermost in your mind is that whatever she's screaming at you has nothing to do with you. She just needs to scream. Kindest thing you can do is let her until she's all screamed out. Then proceed as planned, regardless of screaming.

Next useful tactic (my favourite): pretend you are a man. Self-employed men are not expected by anyone to surrender their work (even though some men do do that, I'm not saying they're incapable, just that it isn't expected on a societal level). So your priorities, in terms of time allocation, become: self (in order to keep functioning), spouse, work, parents, more or less in that order.

Mother doesn't have to like it. It makes no difference whether she does or not, because it isn't her decision. And privately I would add that she's bloody lucky you haven't taken out your own restraining order... but that's another story.

Find out what services are available, make them available, leave your parents to use them or not - that is their decision. Not your responsibility.

Where I do have more sympathy for your mother is that your father's diagnosis is a big deal and she must feel that life is a bit crap. And she is perhaps not one of the world's copers, would you say?

I don't think you owe your parents anything, morally. But that doesn't mean you can't choose to help them, or that doing so may not be the right thing for you - it's what you believe is right that counts. Keep remembering that this is your choice, that's all, and I hope that will make it easier to make your own decisions about what you can and cannot do for them.

It's early days in this crisis, and you have all kinds of historical baggage landing on you at the same time. So be fair to yourself and don't expect unreasonable feats of yourself. Anything you can do is a bonus - give yourself credit for helping, instead of taking your mother's accusations to heart or struggling with guilt you don't deserve. Best of luck, please keep posting.
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Read this, it should make you feel better. They cannot take something that you don't have.....
Pennsylvania, along with 29 other states in the U.S., has what is commonly referred to as “filial support” laws (23 Pa.C.S. Section 4601, et. seq.), which state that certain family members may be required to financially support and maintain an indigent family member. Specifically, a spouse, child, or parent of an indigent person may be charged with the responsibility of caring for the indigent family member, who is usually an elderly parent (but may also be a child with special needs). For a family member to be considered indigent, he or she must lack “sufficient means” to pay for their care and maintenance. Two exceptions apply which relieve the family member of the responsibility to financially assist the indigent person: 1) if the family member herself does not have the money to support the indigent person, and 2) if the parent abandoned a child for more than ten years while the child was a minor (23 Pa.C.S. Section 4603(a)(2)).
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You owe them nothing. They weren't there when you needed them. I'll bet they weren't there for their parents either; don't believe them.
Children take care of parents is only half the picture; parents support their children. They didn't. Walk away. Fast.
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Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. You have to figure out what you are capable of doing and then draw some hard lines. I suggest not picking up any calls for a day or two and maybe sitting down and writing her a letter. The past is the past, they can't fix it and you can't let it continue to destroy you. You have a good heart and want to be helpful. Let her know what you are capable of doing and that you will not be responsive to yelling, screaming, demeaning comments or manipulation.....period. Let her know that you are happy to help, but only if you are treated respectfully. It may take a while for her to get it, but hopefully she will. Good luck! I get it!!!
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