Hello all. This forum was a great help when my own mother had issues before she died. Now I am asking on behalf of my wife, about her father.
He is a complicated man, and always has been. He is 85, and has lived far longer than anyone ever thought possible. The problem is that he has become increasingly unmanageable (he and MIL still live in their own home). He also has been on Lithium for many years, to control anger issues. He was just hospitalized for a hernia issue, as he has had trouble eating. He was diagnosed as being dehydrated, and possibly was not taking his meds, which MIL is responsible for, and who we think is also having severe memory/cognitive issues.

A few weeks ago, wife's sister (who lives nearby) was called over in the middle of the night because FIL thought it was time to get up and go to church. When MIL tried to reason, he threatened to hit her.

He just recently had his driver's license revoked by the state of NC, and he is very unhappy about that, despite having been tested specifically and reported by his physician (family all agrees). He has already driven without his license. MIL basically will not stand up to him, and never has.

After being home from hospital two days, he has already been defying doctor's orders, and with his personality, is not likely to.

Despite all of this, and the two sisters who live nearby say that his cognitive skills are very bad, it is hard to see what the family can do until he either does something really bad (i.e. car accident or else hurting MIL), or has a more serious health issue of his own.

What kinds of options does the family have? The sisters have been great, but both work full time. It is unlikely that he would appreciate having an outside agency get involved in any fashion. And there is no money for assisted living.

There, mostly I wanted to vent for my wife, but any thoughts or comments about patients who are "difficult" but not yet incapacitated, would be welcome.


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Thanks to all of you for replying. I believe that the daughter there is doing the right things, but she is very stressed, and as I pointed out, it is a little bit ambiguous. Basically, my wife does agree that the local sheriff should be notified if we find he is still driving, and let those chips fall. Also, if there is any further threat of violence that should also be pursued. I think at this point that the PoA will probably have to be looked into. My wife has a financial PoA, and her sister in NC has a medical PoA, but that is all.

I am going to (I help my wife out on this stuff) look at the NC law about incapacitation, as someone pointed out. But as probably everyone here knows, there are some lines that once crossed, can never be returned.

FWIW, we now wonder how much different (worse) MIL's life may have been that it seemed...

Many, many thanks again!
Helpful Answer (1)
anonymous912123 Feb 2020
My mother lived in NC before she had her stroke and we moved her into AL here in Florida. I will say this, sometimes she would play games because she was upset with me or my brother. She would not answer the phone, we would call and call, leave messages, no go.

So we got smart, every time she played her little games we would call the sheriff for a wellness check, they were very helpful and would go there immediately, finally they told her if she didn't stop this nonsense they were going to arrest her for being a public nuisance. That ended that. Of coarse they were not going to arrest her, but she believed them.

Maybe by calling the sheriff when he gets behind the wheel it will end his driving for good!
I always wonder about why so many women are so weak, it is a pandemic here in Florida.

When he threatens to hit someone call 911 and have him evaluated, see what the outcome is.

I do not know who has the DPOA for them, but, if there is none in place I would rush to get one drawn up before they are declared mentally incompetent.

As for the driving thing every time he drives I would call the sheriff and advise them or I would disable the vehicle.

Dealing with someone as stubborn as he is can be a real pain. My mother was that way, she fought us on everything, finally she had a stroke and we placed her in AL. Good Luck!
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Evermore99 Feb 2020
Victim blaming, nice one. Don't forget that my grandparent's generation and before, there was no such help for domestic violence and if the police were called, women were told that they brought the beating from their husbands on themselves. And the cycle of abuse goes from one generation to the next. Elderly women were taught to accept this stuff.
Hello Bood, he sounds pretty ornery. Does anyone have durable PoA for him? If not, I would sit down with him (meaning, his daughters, or maybe just one daughter) and have a calm, pre-rehearsed conversation with him. That everyone ages, and everyone starts to need some help. Your daughters are happy to help, or find help, if you let them. To do this one or 2 would need to have PoA for you and mom. (Have the papers on hand in case he actually agrees.) But he probably won't, so you can also inform him of what will happen if he doesn't choose a legal representative: he becomes a ward of the county and then no one in the family will have any control over what they make him do or where he lives.

I think you will need to try to get his wife on board, separately and in advance, so that she leads the way in trust. I would ask what she wants to do if he descends further into anger and disarray. Be clear that without legal authority your family won't be willing to exhaust themselves trying to "help" a resistant person. Your FIL may be too far gone to make a rational decision, but without a diagnosis, at least you have a clear conscience and you've done your due diligence in having this conversation and one last hail Mary pass to help him without a struggle. Perhaps he would be willing to make his wife primary PoA and a daughter as the back-up? That would be better than nothing.

If your MIL is overwhelmed or unable to care for him and herself, and no one has legal authority over either of them, you can decide to pursue guardianship. If you chose to not do that, then the only other option is to call APS and report them as vulnerable adults and get them on the county's radar. Eventually they will seek guardianship and he will be placed in a facility and the family will have no more control over him, his medical care, his assets, his living location, etc. As others have stated below, if he gets physical call 911.

Also, please think about the definition of "incapacitated". I think you are making an assumption. If your FIL is no longer remembering to take essential meds that he needs, he is not able to act in his own best interest. He doesn't need to be totally gone mentally to be incapacitated. Ugh! so much stress for your family... peace to you!
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It seems that any help that might be had is being blocked by the family. In my opinion you're right, nothing can be done until something bad happens. As horrible as it sounds, until someone in the family or a doctor takes the step of forcing help, no help will come. Someone forced help to get that license revoked. Maybe whoever was brave enough to start that process will also be brave enough to take the next step by making calls and forcing help?
Helpful Answer (3)

When he threatens to hit someone, 911 gets called, not a family member.

He needs to get admitted to a psych unit for an evaluation of his meds.
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