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Hello,


I’m one of 5 children. My mother who is 90 was recently sent to a rehab facility where they are saying she’s most likely going to have to move into a nursing facility. My brother has power of attorney and will not tell the rest of us what’s going on with mom. Is he planning on selling her house? What are the social workers, nurses, etc saying about her condition? She has an extreme bedsore on her tailbone. Have they given him an update on her care? He won’t answer texts, emails, calls. If we try to help or find out anything we’re told the power of attorney has to approve it. Help! He’s put her in a facility that is close to his house but a long way for the rest of us. Any suggestions, advice, experience would be great. I’m worried about my mom.

I'm going to respond from the POA perspective and tell you why I do not provide any information to my estranged brother while providing almost all information to my co-POA brother. I have my mother's primary HCPOA and secondary DPOA. My co-POA brother has primary DPOA and secondary HCPOA. Both of us can act in either capacity but if there's a difference in opinion, primary's decision is binding.

My mother prepared POA documents more than a decade before she began having any age related problems. At that time she stated she did this "...so that C will never have any voice in my care." My estranged brother C stopped working regularly in his late 40s and devoted himself to buying and reselling flea market items to make a living. Whenever a bill came due and he didn't have the money to pay it, my father would cover it. As my father's vascular dementia worsen, C needed more. As my mother objected, C began verbally and emotionally abusing her. When she wouldn't "mind" and sign over her property (home, rentals) to C because she had three children, C filed for guardianship, seeking to overturn her POAs. He lost primarily because Mom was still competent at that time.

My mother still deserves a right to privacy even into her advanced years. My mother deserves peace and not bickering over her possessions like crows before she is even dead. C used any knowledge he had as weapons against my mother. C went through her medicine cabinet and found a prescription for Aricept and decided she must have ALZ so she must need him as her guardian since her POAs wouldn't get her treatment and just said Mom's doctors noted some mild cognitive decline but no signs of dementia yet. C searched my mother's house, including her bedroom, and took bank statements and other personal property. C was enraged that most of my mother's jewelry was missing at the time of his search because Mom had appeared at my house one afternoon carrying her jewelry box and asking me to keep it at my house (I lived across the street and chauffeured Mom most places she went wearing her jewelry).

A POA is suppose to act at the direction or in the best interest of the principal, not fulfill the wishes of his/her siblings. I tell family (my mother's siblings, cousins, estranged son) the doctor's general diagnosis (hairline fracture above the knee), treatment (rest and PT), and prognosis (probably will not walk normally again but should do OK with a walker). I do not usually share details except with my co-POA and some very personal details I do not share with him unless there is some need. He needs to know only surgery will repair the break enough for a full recovery but the risk of surgical complications is so high Mom would probably be worse off after surgery than living with the injury. He doesn't really need to know I'm fanatical over cleaning Mom during each incontinence panty change because she has some birthing scars that are easily irritated. Mom didn't share information about her scars with him when she was fully competent and I'm not going to unless there is a need. I consider that respecting her privacy.

If your brother is choosing not to communicate with you it is mostly likely because he feels threaten in some way. Maybe he anticipates someone is going to question his every decision; that is very hard to take especially when the decision was difficult to make. Or maybe he doesn't know yet what he will need to do with the house and doesn't want to talk about it until he does.

I suggest you try approaching your brother in a supportive manner, asking what you can do to help. He isn't "required" to tell you anything, so be thankful for what he chooses to share. My experience is that when families have these kinds of problems over discussing a parent's care, the relationships between the siblings broke down long before. The relationship doesn't break down over the parent's care, it just becomes more noticeable.
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Reply to TNtechie
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Show up. Somebody needs to ho to where she is and try to visit. You need a face to face with your brother.

His lack of communication could be for many reasons. None of them justify keeping you in the dark, but they may help explain how it got this way. He may be feeling overwhelmed and defensive because he has HUGE decisions to make while also grieving. Avoidance is always complicated. He might be fearing your collective (or individual) reaction to his decisions.

Bottom line - you’re entitled to answers. Stop doing what’s not working.
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worriedinCali Jun 13, 2019
She’s not entitled to answers actually.
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I'm sure you are worried about your mother, yes. It's a worrying time.

Suggestions, though, depend so much on what has actually happened. Your mother was "recently" sent to a rehab facility - when? Two weeks, a month and a half, five days ago? Clearly someone has been in touch with the rehab team, because someone told someone that your mother will probably be moved to a nursing facility - who told whom what? With what authorisation?

You are naturally concerned at the lack of information, and you say that your brother won't respond to texts, calls or emails. Hmmm. What does "won't respond" mean? If you've left several pleasant voicemails at sensible times of day asking him to call you back, and there's been nothing for three weeks, then he's not responding. If you called yesterday because he didn't answer a text at the weekend, that doesn't count. When exactly was anyone last in direct contact with him?

How long a way is a long way? The thing is. Between the four of you. Assuming you would expect to get it together to attend your mother's funeral, the travel isn't actually impossible, is it? And when you come to think about it, isn't it better to go to that much trouble and expense when the person you care about is there to appreciate it? If you're really worried and want to see for yourself how she's doing, I'd make the journey.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Sounds like your brother is in contact with the both the rehab and the hospital. While you and I might really prefer to be on-site at the hospital, your brother can authorize care and is legally meeting his responsibilities as long as he remains in contact so he can exercise his decision making authority.

I'm sorry your mother is ill and you find your brother's methods of exercising the POA your mother chose to give him so emotionally unsatisfying. Vent here but please get a hold of yourself and do not vent your anger toward your brother. Angry criticism is likely to push your brother farther away. Who wants to call someone just to get chewed out?

Sounds like your brother is communicating to your sister; how else would she know he doesn't plan on coming to the hospital? Is your brother also the one who told your sister Mom is on her way to the hospital? If your brother did agree to add you to the HIPPA list and you had information about your mother, are you going to angularly criticize every decision he makes?

As a practical matter, your mother's ER admission is going to be a lot of tests and assessments for at least the first few hours. He really doesn't need to be there for decision making and he called your sister so she can be there to support Mom emotionally? Your profile doesn't mention any dementia, but for your brother to be making the decisions there must be some reason Mom cannot make her own decisions. I know this is a really difficult time and the lack of information only makes it harder, but I still encourage you to consider how your approach to your brother dictates much of his response.
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Bamboo, do you mean that your sister IS with your mother and was planning to accompany her to the ER? Or... what? How did your sister come by this information?

I think you're getting sent off on a tangent by your anger with your brother. His behaviour isn't the issue, it would be better to concentrate on how you want to participate in supporting your mother and the rest of the family and just leave your brother to his own devices.

From our point of view, it would be baffling and upsetting if a child who was sufficiently close to his mother for her to have selected him specifically for power of attorney then turned out to be callously indifferent to her with no reason behind it at all. But we, of course, have absolutely no idea what's going on in his life. For all we know, he has a sick child at home, his company is in the midst of a corporate takeover, he is plain burned out with caregiving, or... he's got no problem with taking responsibility for his mother, he just can't stand his sisters and bitterly resents every question and every second he spends on communicating with them.

Whatever: your mother is dangerously ill, somebody ought to be with her, who is going volunteer? If your sister isn't already there, can you make the journey?
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my2cents Jun 17, 2019
Surely there is more family history that goes with this story.

Prior to her recent trip to facility care, where was mom? Was brother the closest to her at that time leaving all of the responsibility for her on him? Did siblings visit with her regularly for significant periods of time to deal with day to day activities or drop in here and there to say hello. Who was taking time off work or showing up at the drop of a hat when she needed something. If the rest of you were able to enjoy weekends off, vacations planned months in advance, your own family functions - and brother had to adjust/cancel plans to accommodate mom - then brother had an issue that each of you chose to ignore. Could that be why he has turned the tables? There has to be some reason the one kid in the family who has the poorest communication skills and compassion for his siblings is the POA and keeping all the info under wraps.

You seem to know bits and pieces about bed sore, needing facility care after rehab - indicative of getting info from someone. If your sister gets info from bother (as you said), then he talks to someone. What your sister did not have answers to, you choose to blame on brother for not telling. Perhaps your sister doesn't ask any questions. Some don't ask questions because it can lead to having to act - to go, to help, etc.

If your mom has been in a facility and you got no information on her health or care, shame on you/sibs for not going in person to check. If she has returned to hospital in ambulance and you have no info on her health - all or some of you should have already been on the road to pay a visit.

Sometimes it is easier to blame another when in reality it is time to step up to the plate.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I do the day to day stuff. When the siblings drop by, I get to hear about the weekend trips, weeks spent at the second homes, the cruises planned for the week of Thanksgiving while I have only been able to go to my own home (200 miles away) for one week in the past year...and I spent that week doing deep cleaning because my guy only does the surface stuff - he's great to hold the home front down, but he's no Molly Maid. It's odd to me that while they share these great adventures, it doesn't occur to them what it sounds like from my perspective. Is it possible you/your siblings gave up very little while brother worked his life plans around mom?
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I did not feel my POA was a controll thing. I had POA because I was the oldest child and who was the closest. I lived in the same town. One brother 8 hours away and the other brother, 30 min away, didn't want the responsibility.

Moms finances were never questioned by my brothers. I never gave them info. Medical wise, I don't feel Mom would have liked it if I kept brothers out of the loop. The POA gave me the right to carry out her wishes. I think its wrong not to tell siblings where a parent is. Also, what POAs plans are. He has the final decision, but if there is no family problems, I don't see a problem keeping siblings in the loop. In some instances, its a control thing and wrong.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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If you aren’t on the HIPAA form, your mom can add you to it if she’s still competent. You can ask your brother to do it as well. If he won’t, then you might get a little information if you show up in person. And you might hit a brick wall. As far as your moms house, your brother as POA doesn’t have to tell you anything. He’s not obligated or required to tell the siblings anything. I don’t see why he would be secretive but really no one but your mom is entitled to know anything at this point. Some POAs apparently don’t believe in transparency.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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I imagine brother was assigned as POA because he is the oldest son and not because he is especially suited to the job, am I right?

At 90 every crisis could be the last, you need to react in a way you can live with in the future if things go badly. IMO somebody needs to get boots on the ground to support your mother as see with their own eyes what is happening, if she is coherent she can give permission for them/you to be informed.
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Countrymouse Jun 16, 2019
Asking, not contradicting - where did you see that the OP is three hours away?
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Forget writing and calling and texting, you need to go see your mom and your brother. You can certainly see your mom, and your brother may appreciate that your actual physical presence.
If he's the POA, then of course he placed her close to him. That just makes sense. There's got to be something else going on here if one sibling refuses to provide information to the others.
What do you think the problem is?
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Reply to Rabanette
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She should be close to POA's residence. That way he can respond quickly any time he is needed. How far are you from the facility?

It is actually POA's responsibility to keep health information private. Is mom competent? If so, she could sign a HIPPA release for anyone that she desires.

Mom, if competent, could reassign POA if she wishes to do so.
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