Has anyone given up and walked away?

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The background is that although relatively young (66) my dad has Parkinson's, dementia and various other issues like arthritis and diabetes. The past year and half have been rough, with a couple hospital stays and a rehab stay. He'd been doing very poorly at home with caregivers coming every couple of days. He refused to take his meds properly and was completely unable to participate in his own care, simply because he's stubborn, doesn't care, and is completely unrealistic about his abilities.

He did not have any POA docs in place before all this started. After the dementia set in, he became paranoid and always refused to sign any POA, until one day last October when he really needed some help with bills and I refused unless he signed for me. Unfortunately, I didn't have a notary available that day. I consulted with an elder care attorney who drew up a better, more solid document, and she made a house call and could have signed as a notary, but my dad refused to sign and has continued to refuse ever since.

So after this last hospital stay in December, I told them flat out I was absolutely not taking him home. The docs & social worker agreed, and helped me admit him to a nursing facily, where he stayed until yesterday.

The entire time, he kept threatening to leave, and the staff told me that they could not physically restrain him if managed to make it out the door. Typically he will threaten to call a cab, but will forgot/be unable to follow through. Yesterday he actually did it, and he left and made it home. I didn't find out until this morning while at work. I feel so sick to my stomach right now.

The nursing home did call the police and APS. The police called and told me that he appeared ok. The officer made a number of extremely frustrating suggestions, like calling APS, getting POA or consulting with an attorney. Guess what I've been doing for the past year and a half? Exploring every option I can think of, and look how much it's accomplished. My dad's right back at home where he will deteriorate and be unsafe and there's nothing I can do about it.

I have asked varioius professionals about guardianship (social workers, and the elder care attorney) and my understanding is that my chances are not that great. He has not been declared incompetent and doctors are reluctant to get involved. Although delusional, paranoid, incapable of reasoning and suffering from occasional hallucinations, my dad can tell you who the president is and can really talk a good talk for 10 minutes or so, which is apparently all it takes to deem someone competent.

I have been arranging payment for all bills, working on his taxes, taking his calls and working with each nursing home, hospital, social worker, home health aids, insurance company, etc. My life has really been turned upside down for the past 1 1/2 yrs and I've missed a lot of work due to all the emergencies he creates, not to mention neglecting my own son, my house, and suffering from depression. So to my real question, what if I walk away? Stop doing everything I'm doing? That's what my dad wants. He's nothing but mean & nasty to me. And according to the current system, he's able to make that decision.

People will think I'm horrible, I'm sure. So what? They already do, and only point out what I should be doing better. So I feel like I don't have much to lose.

BTW there are no siblings or family. My dad has one sister who is not local and has stayed uninvolved although she asks for occasional updates. Without any help or anyone with the ability to force him into a facility, I believe there's a reasonable possibility he may actually die at home, relatively soon. But, that's what he wants. He has stated he wants to die at home. And he has shown repeatedly that he does not care about taking care of himself.

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Don't worry a bit about what others think. You need to do what you need to do. It looks from your letter that you have little choice but to allow your father to get into enough trouble that he'll allow you or others to help. This isn't, unfortunately, all that unusual.

It's very difficult to step back and let the chips fall. However, it seems as though you've tried everything else. When - and it is when, not if - something happens to bring him to his knees, insist that he sign a POA with a notary present before you do anything. Have one ready for finances and one for health situations.

Armed with the POAs, you should be able to have him placed in a nursing home if that is still what he needs. It's not going to be easy to place him with his past record, but as his health worsens, he may mellow.

You may hear from others in this very smart community, but I can't think of any other option for you.

Leave guilt out of it - you've done your best. Forget people who judge - they will judge no matter what you do. Pay attention to your child, your health and your job, while seeking as much information about care options as possible for your father so when the time comes you are prepared.

Best of luck. You've got your hands full.
Carol
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I agree with Carol. Your story could be mine, and I understand about the legal system and police. No one wants to get involved and will avoid dealing with elders because it is so complex and unfortunately not profitable.

I don't know if you live with him or he returned to his "own home" and you live somewhere else. You are correct and everyone will tell you, a senior has the right to make their own decision even if it's a poor decision...bottom line. And unless a dr is willing to declare in writing incompetence, a POA is worthless. I've got a notarized POA, written diagnosis of paranoia, hallucination, depression, dementia --but not enough for drs and psychiatrists to declare incompetency.

I have stepped back and learned my lesson. Mom knows if she gets in trouble again and is hospitalized, next stop is care facility. I will not accept her being discharged to me as this didn't work last time.

In my case, mom is doing very well considering, but I don't live nearby and I don't bail her out all the time with bills, etc unless she asks my help.

It's okay to detach and give dad his independence and control. He will manage until he can't. Then when he gets picked up or hospitalized and they call you --you say "sorry, we're estranged and dad refuses my assistance. I'm unable to come and or take him so you'll have to work out finding services to support dad". Then let it go until he's placed.

Take care of you.
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Buell, the way we got MIL to ALF was by backing off. As cruel as some think that is, it is the only way to make a headstrong patient realize the gravity of their situation. Do not call him. Make sure the police dispatcher has a way to contact you if need be. Notify APS that he returned home AMA (against medical advice). If he calls, tell him you'll come by if he will sign the POA. Don't give in.
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sunflo2, you helped me with your answer to aebuell. I, too am in the process of walking away. Thank you for your words; "It's okay to detach and give dad his independence and control. He will manage until he can't. Then when he gets picked up or hospitalized and they call you --you say "sorry, we're estranged and dad refuses my assistance. I'm unable to come and or take him so you'll have to work out finding services to support dad". Then let it go until he's placed." I have been estranged from my dad since my mother died. We briefly reconciled last fall, but he is back to his old harassment and abuse. My family is even mad at me for letting it go this far. He has no one else and has been a victim of fraud. We've cleaned up a few messes with his finances so he is happy now, but no more. He won't sign a POA either and I won't go through the process of guardianship later on. You've given me courage! Thank you!
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sunflo2, thanks so much, it really helps to know that others have done the same and it wasn't a disaster they regretted. My dad doesn't live with me and doesn't want to, I'm in the next town over. I share the sentiment, it would ruin any little bit of peace I get to have him living with me.

pstegman, again I'm so glad to hear that stepping back worked out for someone else. The nursing home said they'd call APS, and I checked back and confirmed they did. I haven't heard from APS and don't know if anything will come of that, but here's hoping.

Countrymouse - He definitely has dementia, and all neighbors, friends, etc know that, and I've explained his symptoms to doctors. but as far as I know he doesn't have an official diagnosis. I've explained his problems to two different attorneys. Neither one took serious issue with his dementia. The first one said we just have to "catch him on a good day". The second one, who was the one to actually draw up documents and visit my dad, also wasn't concerned with any legal issues as long as the docs were explained to him before signing (which he didn't sign, anyway). Thanks for the encouragement :) I really do just need a rest and am not abandoning him.

sandlee - I'm glad you're feeling better. I am too. I feel more confident now and don't feel like I have to defend my decision to the world.

Everyone's replies have made me feel so much better and it's been a few days now, and there have been little moments of guilt, but overall I'm way more confident I'm doing the right thing. I checked on my dad just very briefly, returned his checkbook, his wallet, and a bag of boxed groceries that I'd taken because I certainly wasn't expecting him to be back home. He appeared to be doing ok. I'm gonna stick with my decision and I hope it works out!
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To some extent I have. My mother insists in staying in her own home even though the doctors feels she shouldn't be living alone. She has severe COPD along with needing oxygen. She does have someone come in twice a week to help her. I live an hours drive one way from her and I work. I see her about once a month and that is usually to drive her to doctors appointments. It involves me taking an unpaid day off, gas expense and time. She will not look into any transportation services or use the home health agency to take her. I would like to just be able to visit her on a scheduled day off. I wish she would agree to move closer to a more senior friendly place instead of a huge house and yard she is unable to maintain. So I just do the minimum. I do have DPOA that is in effect, but I cannot trump her decision making, as long as she is still competent. I know she is isolated and lonely, but that is her choice.
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Thanks so much for taking the time to read my incredibly lengthy vent! That is really means a lot to me. I already feel a little bit better about my decision. My dad has one friend, who called me today and I was dreading talking with him because he's been judgmental in the past. I told him that I'd done all I could and was giving up for the time being and his response was way better than I expected. He told me he was doing the same, that he also wanted to focus on his own problems instead of my dad's, and he told me "good luck".
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If Buell's father really does have dementia, he can't sign the POA. It doesn't matter. The important thing, Buell, is that you have done the right thing all the way through and you've reached the end of your particular line. Let the authorities and the professionals sort him out between them. Once they have, and he's settled, you can then resume relations as his loving daughter, not his caregiver/keeper. You have not a thing to feel guilty about. You're not even walking away! You're just giving your head a rest from banging against the brick walls.

To answer your question, though… Has anyone given up and walked away…? Tempt me.
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CountryMouse, a diagnosis of dementia does not automatically disqualify someone from signing a POA. They must be able to understand the concept of giving someone else the authority to act on their behalf. I got my husband's POA after he was officially diagnosed with dementia. At the time he was having periods of delusions and paranoia and I explained to the lawyer that if he was in that state he would not trust me (or anyone) to have POA for him. She made an appointment to see him and said she would simply keep coming back until she reached him on a good day. Fortunately only one appointment was necessary.
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