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I moved here from Utah with about $20 to my name after 2 1/2 years of unemployment, and had been reduced to living in a tent by the river. I was desperate, and took it essentially sight-unseen on the recommendation of a close friend. I knew one person, the woman who helped me get the job.

I am living on a large family-owned property within shouting distance of her sons houses, in a very rural, isolated area of the mtns. east of Monterey, CA, It is 22 miles of dirt and mountain roads to the closest village (too small to be designated a town). I have very little social network, and no one with experience I can speak freely to. I'm being paid cash. UTT, no receipts, just an informal employee contract and list of duties. Said duties have increased exponentially, but my pay has not.

I am only allowed "off the mountain" on my days off and am still struggling with basic issues like getting my car legal to drive, getting on MediCal, paying off back debts, etc. Basic "functioning in normal society" kinds of things. I can't afford to lose this job, because with the cost of rent here I would be back in my tent again. It's hard to camp and look for work when your plates are expired.

My employers (the three sons of the woman I care for) are frightening me. I don't fear for my physical safety so much as I am finding it difficult to do my job properly due to my fear of their impatience, explosive tempers, and of being held personally accountable for not being able to cajole, manipulate or somehow force their mother to do things like bathe when they want, change clothes daily, participate in family gatherings, etc. She can be a peach on a good day but is usually mean, belligerent and nasty. I need their support and back-up, it is becoming obvious that they simply want me to "get it done". I understand that they are under tons of stress, but it seems that they just want to install be here as a keeper and walk away..

They understand all about dementia and stubborn behavior when it suits them, but always, ALWAYS throw be under the bus when I she won't "behave". I have been threatened with termination if I cannot get my client to bathe every Wed.. and Sat. So tonight when she wouldn't bathe after my trying all day, I was criticized for not succeeding, and for not reporting the problem sooner in the day. I was also told that "We will be talking tomorrow." Yes, I should have called sooner, but in all honesty, I was afraid to. No one helps, no one listens, the women in the family are supportive but have little power. I feel so trapped. Any ideas?

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Loulou.. how are you doing and making out? Hope things are better
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The people I work for wanted a live in caregiver,they have taken over an elderly man's affairs,even though he had family.I was a nurse for 20 years(LPN)and had been doing caregiver work for about 10 years.some similarities as far as low pay,overworked for first three months I was it,here 24/7.My patient iss not mean,just kinda stubborn as far as bathing,exercising,getting out of bed etc.I know about the employers not understanding,being short tempered and adding more duties with no pay increase.as soon as I find another job,I'm out.good luck
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Amen to that, Sooz!
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Sounds like they want nothing to do with the care their mom obviously needs and they expect you to do it all but then they fuss and fume when you are doing what they want - i.e., making all the care decisions. Tell them their mom refuses to bathe and short of picking her up and putting her in the bathtub, there isn't anything you can do about it. Just leave it at that. If she refuses, you can't demand that she takes a bath. These guys need to get a better grip on what it takes to care for someone 24/7. You have to take your time off too - this is essential for your own sanity. By law, you must have 48 hours per week time off. And stop being a victim. Get your car situation taken care of. There is absolutely no reason for your to put up with abuse and you need to voice this to these guys very quietly and politely and another thing, let them know you are doing your very best and do not feel heir attitude toward you shows any appreciation at all. If they think they could do better than you, maybe they need to try. You have life issues as well that you need to see to but you are the only one that can - so do it.
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Good for you, LouLou, for looking into what's behind the family's outbursts that sounded frightening at first. Still, not the type of folks I'd choose to work for! I'd still see if they have a criminal record so I could sleep at night! I'd also still have an exit plan and strategy. Line up some other possibilities. After all, the question remains, how are they treating and paying you?
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I'm glad to hear that you're finding your feet, Lou, and especially that there are people you can call on for advice and information nearby. How is the mother getting on, is she getting used to you too?
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I've done some talking to people here who I trust and got a little more info on the family. They are of a "fiery" family-culture, if you can pardon the Sociology 101 terminology. They have their temper tantrums, raise a big, loud stink, and then they are done. I was raised in a home where raised voices.meant someone was going to get their butt beat. Granted, furniture-tossing is out of line bit I think I've decoded what makes them tick. They are just LOUD.
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LouLou, you sure sound like you've just woken up to a bad situation that could get worse. The family treats you like an indentured servant and you will be if you can't get out now. Use a few hours a day of your time if you can online searching for some good support and resources. I hope you have access to a computer. Since you are here online, I assume you do.

Church groups, women's groups, Jewish Family Service (you don't have to be Jewish), charity groups to get you out and safe and to land in a place you can restart. Do you feel safer and happier in Utah? Where ever it is, I have a feeling if you stay in this present place you'll sink deeper in that quagmire.

Countrymouse has given some positive points. Build your job resume with a local support group online. Since the family wants to tether you to their mountain, do whatever you can online and start to show them YOUR boundaries. Don't give in to letting them have power over you. Emotional abuse cannot happen if you don't buy into that script and set up. You have strength and talents. Now's the time to forge your powerful will and find the life you want and need.

If you are a senior, senior low income housing is another possibility. Get on the waiting list in several places. That's what I did and I just got called and moved into a gorgeous place where I can build my life in a better way.
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These people don't want to pay "prevailing wages" for a caregiver from an agency. Do you have a caregiver certification? I'm afraid that I would leave a note and be gone. Sure your bills have to be paid, but you also need to live in comfortable conditions. Leave there, even if the plates are illegal, call the children on your way out of town, and chalk this one up to experience.

My dad is coming home from rehab tomorrow after suffering a stroke and he also has dementia. His aide will be African, from an agency, and will have his own room, the African food that he asked for and he and I both will answer to an agency about my dad's care. These people used you. Get out while you can!
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Glad you are OK!
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UPDATE: I'm fine, and the situation has blown over. I'm seeing a pattern here. I've read and am considering everyone's advice. Thanks for the encouragement from countrymouse. Much appreciated. I'll check in again soon and explain further. Its late. Bed is calling.
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Communication with the family is important when caring for someone else's loved one. Upon re-reading your post, I don't see anything out of line they have asked from you - to be there on days you are working and to try to bathe their mother twice a week and communicate early with them when you are having a problem managing her. You have so many extra issues with your own life that maybe you aren't the right person for the job. I suspect they will also come to that conclusion.
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the fact this place is isolated, all the information you gave, I also think this entire bunch is not operating with a full deck of cards.
get out.
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Why did you choose California since the cost of living is so high? If you can live anywhere, my suggestion is to find a cheaper state to live it. Obviously get out of there ASAP. You obviously have internet access. Go on the care.com website and look for a live in job elsewhere, probably close around at first, then when you get on your feet, you can move on. If they pay you anything at all, you should be able to purchase car tags unless you drive a pretty new car. At least that's the way it is in GA. Tags are cheaper on older less expensive vehicles here. I don't know about CA. Make that your first priority & forget the bills. What will the creditors do? With no assets, you don't even need to file for bankruptcy. Just quit paying.
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From the way it sounds, I think there r no sit downs with these people. Just get that car driveable, pack up and leave afteru get ur check. There are DILs who can take care of u.

When it comes to shelters, I doubt if they have one near her. I live in SJ on the west coast. The closest shelter i for abused woman. The other shelter is in Atlantic City, 2 hours east of me. Probably more in North Jersey were its more populated but still far.
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I just want to see you leave as soon as possible. You deserve to be happy. Make sure they pay you in full before you leave. I think a sit down meeting is in order and a list of procedures they require and which ones you will do. I cannot figure why they are paying you in cash....I would think this would be a write-off for them. I am so concerned for you. Like I said earlier, find a church and ask for help. I am sure there are benefits from the County that you are entitled to. The churches in my area give free lunches. Each church take a different day to make sure people are eating. Find a shelter somewhere. There are shelters specifically set up for the homeless. They will help you. God Bless Don't be frightened,,,,just do it.
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LouLou, how are you posting to this board? If you are using your employer's computer be sure that you erase all trace of your activity here as well as all emails. On the other hand, if you are using your own device, it would be wise to keep all correspondence showing the situation you are in and that you are seeking help.

I don't want to add to your worries, but I can see something happening to this lady---a fall or other accident or a sudden illness---and her boys blaming YOU and reporting you to the authorities. If she is as mean and nasty as you say she might tell them you pushed her or left her alone. You are in a very precarious position with no connection to an employment agency, no solid contract and no proof of employment beyond what the brothers are willing to attest to. Add to that an expired out of state auto registration and you are setting yourself up for trouble if the authorities ever need to step in. Who are they going to believe, someone who is little more than a vagrant in the eyes of the state or supposedly reputable established landowners?

You are being exploited. PLEASE remove yourself from this situation ASAP.
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Get out of there and report them if they are not caring for their mother. You are not supposed to live in fear...I don't know what to say, but maybe your church can house you somewhere until you get a job...This sounds horrible
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Go back to Utah as soon as your next payday. They think you can fix dementia, and we all know nobody can fix dementia. At least you tried to help.
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this place sounds dangerous. VERY dangerous. get. out. now. while you can
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LouLou I was wondering how old you are? If you are not comfortable answering that question please don't.
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am I the only one hearing the "Deliverance" movie theme song here? You are very isolated,, feel unsafe.. Get out when you can
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If there are daughters-in-law and/or granddaughters they apparently have been unable to cope with the mom. One problem with your situation is that if the mom should happen to fall or anything happens to her, they could blame you. Can you check with the friend that connected you with this situation and see if she can help you get out? There should be some sort of social welfare help if you can get into a city. Registering the car in Utah would be better than nothing; it can be a problem to register an out-of state car in California if it doesn't pass smog. On the other hand, it may be possible to get a one-time hardship waiver of smog waivers as low income. (You could get them into trouble with all sorts of gov't agencies; they might even have to cough up minimum wage and overtime in arrears.)
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Between a rock and a hard place. Get out. If there r wives they can take turns caring for her. Sounds like maybe she is a burden to them. Are ur plates expired, if not leave. If so, contact Utah MV and register with them. Your still considered a resident. Tell them u took a temporary job and ur coming home.
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Oof. You *are* in a tight spot.

On the other hand: get out of this gracefully and at the very least you'll have glowing references when it comes to getting your next job. So. Something to aim at, at least.

Number one: don't let the sons' meanness and blame-dispersal infect your view of yourself. You're doing your best with almost nothing to work with. Be proud of what you do accomplish to keep this lady safe and cared for, which is no walk in the park.

Two. I can't believe it's the best idea for an elderly lady with dementia to be living in so isolated a location. Ok, it's her home, her sons and their families are nearby, blah blah blah - but the mere fact that they hired you (and don't forget that if the job was sight unseen, well, so were you!) indicates that she was already more than they could handle. The whole platform just seems a bit teeter-y, if you see what I mean. What happens if you twist an ankle on those dirt tracks, for example? What happens if she gets out and goes a-wandering? This can't be safe.

I wonder. If you were to put it to the daughters/sisters that mother would really be a lot safer a lot closer to civilisation, would they tend to agree? If so, it then becomes a question of impressing on the sons where their mother's welfare could best be served and appealing to their filial duty. Yes that would leave you out of a job, but see above.

One other thing. When they have a pop at you for not getting their mother washed and turned out nicely in pearls and tiara, remind them that it is for their mother to say when she wishes to bathe and dress and not them. You can assist, you can encourage, you can facilitate but you cannot dictate. Respect for autonomy. It's The Law (near as dang it is to swearing, anyway).

If you get really concerned that looking after this lady in these circumstances is impossible, you can also call APS, report the situation and request an assessment. The brothers might not like it, but as long as they're copping this "don't bring us problems bring us solutions" attitude they'll just have to lump it. Safety - yours and your charge's - first.
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You may need to get out first and then pay your bills and get your life in order. You are being abused. Seek a hotline in your area or a major city that you can call to get advice.
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Ask the brothers to buy Adult bath wipes for you to use with their Mom on days she refuses to shower. It is an alternative for those days when the dementia behavior has her not cooperating. Pay off your bills, get your life in order, save money and get out.
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