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My fiance takes care of his mother & step father full time whom I believe both have dementia (but is un-diagnosed). It is obvious to me that he is burnt out, but he seems to refuse to do anything about it. He refuses to put his mother in a home, I have made suggestions for him to get help and a diagnosis, but he says he doesn't have time to go get help & his mother doesn't want any body else to help her. It would be fine, but he is very angry most of the time, yelling at his mother & step father about the smallest things & when I am over there it is very uncomfortable & highly stressful for me. The last time I was witness to this, I spoke up and told him to stop yelling. I just cant sit by & do nothing, it is borderline abuse. His mother is only 68, this could go on for a long time. She can't move one side of her body & can't be left alone.

Oh my goodness your poor fiancé.

As I remember it, even when you do have a diagnosis and you have worked hard to educate yourself about dementia and think you're getting the hang of it; even then, it can still feel very much as if they are "doing it on purpose." You feel that it surely can't be a coincidence that the worst and messiest disasters happen at the worst and most frustrating possible moments.

So if he isn't yet ready to accept that there could be sound neurological or physiological causes behind his step-dad's behaviours, I can imagine he, fiancé, is backing himself into a very painful corner indeed.

Isn't it bizarre? Is there any other medical or psychological condition that we'd approach thinking "I may not know the first thing about this but what the heck, I am the best and only person to deal with it." But I'm sure that among people whom caregiving creeps up on (like me) or ambushes (like him) many of us must fall into that trap.

What if you were, in a quiet and peaceful moment, to ask your fiancé how he would feel if he were to be told in six to twelve months' time that his defiant, annoying, attention-seeking, trouble-making stepfather in fact does have advancing dementia?

What other fields of expertise does he think he could step into at short notice and cope with unaided?

I don't know why we feel we "ought" to be able to do this job, just like that. It makes no sense. But we do, don't we.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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In the perfect world, I would not want him to be his mother's sole caregiver, let alone her husbands sole caregiver too. I respect him for doing it, his heart is in the right place, but he doesn't have the resources to cope with it all & all of life's nuances. I wish I had more control over the situation. Currently I would like to take the "step dad" to evaluated for dementia. I believe he has dementia, my fiance believes he does the things he does on purpose. I think if the doctor told my fiance he had dementia things would be a little better, because alot of the conflict is due to the step dad not helping or doing things as expected or told. I really dont think hes capable, but by fiance thinks hes defiant & trying to cause trouble.
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Reply to Melissa197
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So...

Before all this began to go south, how would you have rated the idea of his becoming his mother's full time caregiver, just hypothetically?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I have known him for 11 years, been dating for 4, 2 of which we have been engaged. His mother became ill shortly after our engagement. NYS doesnt have an elder abuse mandated reporter requirement.
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Reply to Melissa197
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Melissa; Are you a mandated reporter?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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What do you know about the history of his relationship with his mother?

She's 68, young enough for her dementia to be early onset and aggressive, which could even also fit in with her romantic but questionable marriage - "look what I found on the night train!"

Or, this could be the latest act in a long, long drama which he has been more or less patiently bearing with all his life.

Or both, I s'pose.

In any case, though, the man needs help. He needs help with the care, which means he needs to be brought to accept that it is not reasonable or realistic for him to do the hands-on providing. And possibly he needs help for himself, if he's the victim of a lifelong dysfunctional relationship.

You have been absolutely correct in that no matter how much of a nightmare his mother might represent to him, as long as she is in his home he must govern his emotions towards her. I know myself how difficult that can be when the fact is that one is dealing with a good deal of historic anger.

If he won't listen to you, can you think of anyone he might listen to? Anyone he knows, anyone you know?

Two last (promise!) questions:

How long have you known him/been engaged to him?
How long has his mother been on the scene?
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That would tell me a great deal about what it could be like being married to him...
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Reply to mally1
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Make sure you continue to live 45 minutes away. I know you love him and care about him, but this is his train wreck, not yours. If you fall into the “fixer” trap, your life will take a bigger hit than his. Protect yourself.
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Reply to BlackHole
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I'm okay although I am not sure I want to go through this forever. He is a great guy really, just at the end of his rope. What makes it worse is that I am an aging care professional, so I know the resources, but he wont listen to me, although he will admit I'm right after the fact. I could swoop in & try to take care of it all, but I'm not sure I want that on my shoulders & I dont know how he would react to that. Also, I have 2 jobs & my own life to deal with. We live 45 minutes away from each other. He states he has talked to a daughter. I dont know alot about the step dad's situation and he's a little vague on his mothers situation at times & try not to pry to far into it all, because I'm not sure how that would be taken.
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Ahmijoy Dec 7, 2018
If you are going to be his wife, you shouldn’t be in the dark about anything to do with his family or his life. There should be no secrets between you. Because of your profession, he should be more than willing to let you help. I wonder why he isn’t. Are you more vested in this relationship than he is? He admits you’re right, but that’s where it stops. Nothing is done. I would truly rethink marriage to this man.
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The stepdad has children in GA? Is anyone in touch with them?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Oh honey bunny. I'm sorry this is happening to all of you.

Please do try to get in touch with social services. Whether he's in the mood to recognise it or not he clearly does need help, as you've recognised. It's so difficult, because when you're backed into a corner as he is then the slightest suggestion can feel like a hostile criticism even when it isn't. I think professional advice must be the only way forward.

And what about you? How are *you* doing?
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I have helped him fill out a Medicaid application to the best of my ability, but I dont know & he doesn't know what exactly his mothers resources are & she is not able to communicate these things to us. I have also given him the number to The Office of the Aging in his area. The step-dad is the same age but he doesn't seem willing or able to help. I truly think he has dementia himself or just plays stupid (i'm not sure which) She moved down to Georgia, married this guy without telling anyone & then got sick about a year later & had to move back to NY and brought him with her. He does have kids in Georgia.
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Reply to Melissa197
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You know the saying, "It takes a Village to raise a child", well I think that goes the same for caring for an adult. Caring for one person is hard let alone 2. He needs to realize he needs help. Medicaid maybe able to do homecare. Office of Aging may help with an aide. 68 is not that old. Out of my group of friends, only one has major health problems at 69. How old is stepfather? Why can't he help? Does he have kids of his own.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Your fiancé seems to have made it quite clear that he doesn’t want help, your’s or anyone else’s. Burned out? Absolutely. I would honestly be a bit concerned that his yelling at his parents in anger could turn physical. When you’re stressed, it doesn’t take much to push one over the line.

I would say you cannot “fix” this situation and you are only frustrating yourself by trying. Your fiancé will need to decide for himself when and if he will accept help. APS is bound to come out to investigate, but unless there are obvious signs of abuse or neglect, they cannot open a file. For your own well-being, you may want to consider taking a break from this relationship. It will be much more difficult to do so once you are married.
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Melissa197 Dec 4, 2018
That's what I'm afraid of.
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I'm very sorry to read your post, Melissa. This is a horrible situation, but thank goodness you have the backbone to do something about it.

In your position, I would call APS in confidence and get their advice. Say that to them, literally: "I need advice on what to do in a situation which I've become concerned about."

I'm in the UK, so of course it isn't exactly the same, but professional social workers are professional social workers the world over, and in my experience social workers specialising in services for older adults know their business and do not rush at things like a bull at a gate.

How did your fiancé respond when you pulled him up short that time? Was he angry with you, relieved, defensive? I'm wondering if his response might tell you anything about how receptive he'd be to professional advice.

The ideal would be to gain his agreement to a needs assessment. There are so many possible options that would help him and an assessment would bring the information to him.
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Melissa197 Dec 4, 2018
He said please don't mess with me right now & stormed out of the room.
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