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My 76 y/o mother recently fell, resulting in a pelvic and coccyx fracture. At the same time, my father was hospitalized for COPD and congestive heart failure complications. She ignored our advice to go to a doctor, tried to self diagnose her pain and self medicated with Percocet in the house from a previous surgery. In short, when she ran out of pills, the pain became too much and she called EMS. I live 600 miles away and my brothers handled everything until I got there. The hospital had her on significant pain medications and she was very confused about her situation. She refused to participate in PT/OT. After 10 days, the hospital transferred her to a rehab facility for more PT. My father had already been sent to rehab until he regained strength and could walk. I had to return home due to work/financial reasons. I called each of them multiple times daily. As they began to reduce her pain medication (oxycontin) and eventually eliminated it, she became angry with my brothers and me, accused us of trying to force her out of her house, steal her money, etc. She said she will never forgive us, we have humiliated her and she even threatened getting an attorney and suing us. All we have done is try to make sure they both get the medical care they need to get home safe and healthy and take care of their personal matters (bills, house, etc.) until they are able to take care of themselves. I was tired of being yelled at and belittled every time we talked, so I started checking in with my dad each day but not calling her. He has reported that she is very clear and seems to have the drugs out of her system. They are going home tomorrow. She, however, still blames my brothers and I for everything and is cutting us out of her life. She has always been very critical, judgmental and self-absorbed, at times belittling us, but now she is saying cruel things to everyone, including my father and the rehab/medical staff. I have two questions. Could this experience have brought out underlying dementia? And should I continue to try to contact her or respect her wishes and not be a part of her life until she is ready (if that ever happens)? This all breaks my heart but what is even harder is that this will cut my father out of our lives too. She is very controlling, has always belittled him and will likely prevent us from being able to talk with him. It seems like this experience has brought out the worst in her, possibly permanently. Does anyone have a similar experience and some advice?

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The hospital experience can cause hospital delirium. It’s fairly common.

I suppose it could have also advanced an underlying dementia issue.
Strong drugs really affect the brain as well.

A controlling or uptight personality is going to be even more so in a circumstance where one feels no control over anything.

So even if she has returned to her previous level of cognition she has been through a trauma and it seems has a lot of adjustment to make in order to make peace with her life. She may not be able to.

I would not argue with her. I would tell her one time that at great expense to your own life you did what you did out of family love and that you are sorry she can’t accept that gift. Then let it go.

I think some elders fear their children as they see themselves slipping. I’m angry with her for your sake.

If I were you I would get one of the local brothers to take your dad to have a DPOA signed giving one or more of his children the ability to take care of him as needed.

This could save you from having to file for guardianship which is very expensive, time consuming and requires ongoing reporting.

Your not being able to talk to your dad would be sad but sadder still would be him needing help and not being able to get it because she wouldn’t allow it. Perhaps your brother can call you on his cell when he goes by to see your dad.

My FIL was very controlling over MIL and denied her needed medical treatment. Long story but he was so controlling that even though the children had POA they couldn’t seem to act on it and go up against him until it was basically too late. Cancer had advanced. They both had dementia but the children seemed unable to take action.
Once when FIL was in a coma, MIL was very sure she should not so much as write a check for utilities. So I do understand how difficult parents can be when the children are only trying to help. Often you have to let things play out. Your dad may not be willing to sign a DPOA but you could try. He knows how she is. He might be afraid to take action without her permission.

Perhaps you already have a DPOA and she’s mad because you used it.
If not, this situation where they were both just in the hospital should illustrate how difficult things can become but I wouldn’t count on her grasping that.

I remember hoping that when FIL came out of his coma he would be so grateful that he would be a changed man. Nope. Same character.
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