How can I help my father escape the clutches of a controlling and manipulative carer?


This question concerns my 64 year old father, residing in a small town with his ex-partner (since Jan this year). He has been living with this woman for about 3 years. My father has informed me he no longer wants to stay in this town, the relationship has broken down and he wants out. I live in another state (of Australia). He has no other family or friends who live nearby, just the ex-partner and her family. He wants to move near me. He has asked for my help to update his POA and his will. He rings me when she is not around and tells me he does not want her help with this. He also wants to go to the bank and make some changes but again he does not want her there as ‘she stands right there next to me’. I organised for him to be taken to a lawyer this week. He specifically told me he wanted a different lawyer to the last one who drew up his will which happened 2 months after he had a massive stroke back in 2015. He said he was happy with to go with the plans I made. Then the next day he rang me to tell me he has changed his mind. He told me he was rushing into this. He also said he would go back to the previous lawyer as it would just make things ‘easier’. When I questioned him further, his ex-partner spoke up in the background, having had me on loud speaker and told me “I am his carer, this is my job. I help him, you don’t. He will go to a lawyer when he is ready and I am ready to take him”. She is currently his POA and a benefactor of his will. I am in the process of making plans to go visit in 2 weeks’ time, but in the meantime, I am concerned about my father. He wants to move on in his life but she still lives there, collecting a carers payment, free board, free food. He pays the utilities, her car expenses and insurances. I doubt that she has informed any government agency of their change in relationship status. He also abruptly ends our conversation when she returns home. He tells me she often leaves him home alone, sometimes overnight while she babysits her grandchildren " I do have another life you know!" she tells me. He says he copes fine with being alone. However, upon speaking with his brain injury case manager recently, she is concerned that he could forget things while he is alone like leaving a stove or kettle on. My father is hoping she will move on once his house has sold (her name on house title as well) and he pays her out a large cash sum (which is an amount agreed between them). Apparently she has no money to move out at the moment. She has also made suggestion to him that they could just keep living in this ‘arrangement’. My father cannot legally drive, read or write properly and is partially blind since his stroke. He also suffers short term memory loss amongst other problems. I feel he is crying out for help but I don’t know how to help him when he refuses my help in her presence.



(Isthisrealyreal) that is the most horrendous story of elder abuse I have heard! I cant begin to imagine what that must have been like for you and your family. My heart goes out to you. Did your dad ever ask for help earlier on? Your story scares the crap out of me but it has made me wonder if something similar could happen here...

JeannGibbs I think he is afraid of her or perhaps he feels indebted to her because she is caring for him. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors?

He tells me he is sick of all the questions she asks when she finds out he has been talking to others. He suspects she also checks his phone. Once he went outside to talk to me when he thought she was watching tv but she had been listening in the whole time.
I don't know but the fact he tries to ring me when he's alone says something. I don't think she is physically abusing him but there is definitely something psychological.

My dad bought a house not long after his stroke and put her name on the title. A lawyer here told me she is definitely entitled to a half because her name is on the title. He is giving her more than a half. Hopefully when she gets what she wants, she will leave him alone.
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Reply to Cazz1973

You need to get your dad out of there. Shes not entitled to one thing, let alone 1/2. My dad had a similiar situation, no private contact with him, him hanging up calls when she came home, her turning him against everyone that cared about him, on and on, then when all the money was gone so was she. Thankfully he gets S.S. or he would be up a creek. She let him get so sick by not taking care of him, he was almost dead when my husband and I went to pick him up. 60 days in hospital and skilled nursing, has dementia from long term untreated renal failure. Congestive heart failure, untreated diabetes to name a few. We filed an elder abuse complaint and because he gave willingly, nothing could be done, even though the doctors said he had Stockholm syndrome.

It has been a nightmare dealing with him, he needs more care than I can give him and quite frankly I would think long and hard about how to best help him.

God be with you and your dad in this situation.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Thank you for your replies.

He is much more capable now than he was a year ago. He couldn't tell me his address then because he couldn't remember it and also because she refused to give it out.

I only got through to him because my husband's phone wasn't blocked and he happened to be home alone. My father had no idea I was blocked. I was preparing for life with no contact with my father.

Its almost like a light switch has been turned on in his brain because he is starting to remember conversations and appear more clearer in his thinking and speaking.

I have just emailed the brain injury unit to try and get his case manager to get in touch with me again. She rang me earlier on my father's instructions to give me insight into the extent of his brain injury. But now I think I need more help with his case.

Just to give you more insight into how his ex partner thinks. She told him earlier this year that she thinks she is entitled to half of everything he owns. This is a woman who after 3 months of knowing my father, he had a heart attack and then she told me she was waiting for him to ask her to move in. She didn't have a penny to her name and was on a jobless pension. She did end up moving in. My dad had a stroke less than a year later and after driving 15 hours to see him, she said to me in the hospital that my father wants her in his will (have no idea why she brought that one up- so left of field!).

He changed his POA after 2 months of having a stroke and now he tells me he didn't really know what was going on back then when he changed it??

Sorry but ever since knowing her she has come out with oddball comments to do with his money that have raised flags. I have honored my father's decision to be with her and did not as his POA back then bring him back home to care for him when he had his stroke because I thought that wouldn't be what he wanted. Now that she is no longer in a relationship with him, she needs to do the same.

When I go over there in 2 weeks, I will see if he does want to go to a lawyer and the bank. Then I will take him there myself. But not sure if he needs a capacity check first?
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Reply to Cazz1973

It sure does raise a lot of flag, most of them red.

But, since the solutions are fairly easy and depend on your father, it is puzzling to me that something isn't done. He can change his power of attorney designation. He can change his will. He can fire her as a carer and stop paying her. Does she have some hold over him?

While you cannot act legally on his behalf, you can drive him to his lawyer and wait outside the office while he acts on his own behalf. Has he been declared incompetent? If not, is he reluctant to move forward with his plans? Why?

She won't tell you his address? Doesn't he know it? Won't his brain injury case manager tell you?

Since so much of this hinges on your father's cognitive level, I would think that his brain injury case manager would be a very good person to deal with. Can she discuss his case, or are their privacy issues? If so, can she ask him if he'd like to sign a waiver or whatever is necessary to allow her to speak about him with you?

The manager thinks it is not safe for Dad to be left alone overnight. Can she make arrangements to see that he isn't? Can she arrange for a different care arrangement?

I agree with cwillie that we are not hearing the carer/partner's side of this, and I wouldn't be so sure she is a gold digger. But what your father wants to do now should be respected.
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Reply to jeannegibbs

Have a meeting with an elder attorney then, armed with legal information, you need to go "rescue" your father!
To find an elder law lawyer, check out the Senior Center in your town. They often will have low cost attorneys that will help the seniors.
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Reply to SueC1957

Thank you cwillie for listening and for your words of advice. My father has told his case manager of his plans to move away and live closer to me. How am I supposed to help my father transition to a new place? I can not act legally on his behalf to help him. My hands are tied. If she doesn't have anything to gain by continuing things like this then at least she can help make the process easier by relinquishing some of the responsibility to his daughter. After all, I will be his next carer. She does have a lot to gain by staying in his will though. Doesn't that alone raise red flags? his circumstances have changed within the relationship and she is not doing anything to acknowledge that. He calls me when she is not around, he hurries off the phone when she gets home, she has had his family blocked on the phone, she puts him on loud speaker when he is on the phone and listens in, she has refused to give out their home address, ...doesn't that raise red flags?
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Reply to Cazz1973

I would be careful of making negative assumptions about this woman, she has been there for him and caring for him and perhaps knows him better than you do. It isn't uncommon for people to tell two different stories depending on who they are talking to, in the case of brain injury or dementia it isn't manipulative but they may sincerely believe what they are saying both times. The best solution would be to make nice with this woman (doesn't ex partner make her your ex step mom?) and see if you can join the care team - I really doesn't sound as though she has anything to gain by continuing things as they are. If you are truly oil and water then try to find a third party to act as mediator, ask advice of a his case manager or a lawyer about how to go about having his needs properly assessed and understanding his true wishes. Good Luck.
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Reply to cwillie