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I am 38, a stay at home Mom with a young child. I am my Mother's only child. We moved across the street from her and my stepfather a year ago to be closer to them. My Mom's mental state has been in decline for 10 years now at least. My Mother has not had an easy life. Lots of family addiction issues. Caring for an alcoholic mother and brother. Her father was robbed and murdered in 1980, never solved. 3 marriages. Her sister died sick and alone in 2000 because she hid her illness from the family. She said I was a wonderful child, but I was hell on her as a teenager and young adult. I made terrible decisions and she was always helping me get back on my feet/out of trouble. I was living with my Father in 2010 and caring for him near the end of a long battle with cancer. I had recently divorced and my mom was helping me care for dad. Then my stepfather had an abdominal aortic aneurysm and nearly died. He had major surgery and spent weeks in a hospital out of town. A couple of weeks after he returned home, my father passed away. My Mom decided to come stay with me as I was living in his house alone now. My Granny (Her Mom) also lived in a cottage on the property so it made sense for Mom to be there, despite her also needing to take care of her husband. It was a lot. My Granny had been showing cognitive decline for many years and refused treatment or examination of any kind. We gave up when we realized we couldn't force her to talk to a doctor if she didn't want to, And so it went. After my Dad passed, it was like my Granny could not and would not process it. It broke her. She would ask me every day how he was feeling and if he was coming to eat supper. She did odd things like throwing the coffee maker in the trash and then claiming she couldn't find it. Finally one day, I saw her standing at the kitchen sink completely nude, mid-day. I went in to help her and she was completely unaware of what was going on. It was only days after that incident that she stopped walking at all and became incontinent. We moved her over to my Dad's house in his old wheelchair so that we could care for her. My Mom retired from work. I worked full-time and helped her when I was home. She did contact hospice to at least get some help caring for Granny. It was a daunting job. Some days she knew us, others she didn't. Some days she was sweet, others she was cursing. She withered and declined for 2 years in that same bedroom that my Dad died in, eventually not speaking, eating, or drinking. It was so hard for me do deal with, that I don't even have words to describe it. She was the only Grandparent I'd ever known and I loved her dearly. It hit my Mother much harder though. Although her younger brother is still alive, he has severe alcohol induced dementia and lives in a home almost two states away. So, I'm sure losing her Mother felt like losing the last of her family unit. So, My Mom's mental decline has been years in the making and she suffers from anxiety and depression on top of it. She refuses to see any doctors, neglects self care, has let her teeth basically rot out, has poor nutrition despite my efforts to help her. She stopped taking all of her medications months ago and has had bouts of a "stomach ache" that keeps her from eating. She is down
to 103 pounds and I am very worried for her. My step-dad has his own health issues, but worrying about her and living with her irrational and paranoid behavior is driving him mad. He is terribly depressed and has no clue what to do. Their house is a complete wreck, but she won't let me come to clean or do anything. Oh, and yes, she has a mild hoarding issue too. Stuff piled everywhere. She very begrudgingly allows me to grocery shop for them due to Corona virus, but she doesn't really understand why I'm doing it. She has ZERO touch with the real world. Just the television, my step-dad, me and my son. I have to take him to visit her on the front porch, she won't even come across the street to see us.

Bless you for caring so much for your mother. Geaton has given you a great plan forward. If you don’t have POA then I encourage you to call Adult Protective Services in your county and tell them what you’ve said here. Your mom is mired is such a deep mess, it’ll take far more than any one person has to help things
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NRGMamma, I so sorry for this distressing situation. Thank you for providing much information. But, I still have a few questions for you:
- do you have PoA for your mom? If not, does anyone?
- has your mom ever been formally diagnosed with dementia by a doctor?
- what do you want the outcome to be if you could get your mom to a doctor? What if she went to a doctor, got a diagnosis and then didn't take her meds or follow treatment and nothing really changed? Because, that's what it appears would probably happen.

I'm a fixer, so my only help I can contribute is to point you in a direction to help your mom, but it won't make her old self come back. I'm a realist, so my opinion is you must deal with what is real in front of you and into the future. I know you want to help your mom and right now you feel helpless. Helping control some of the chaos won't cure her but it will be cathartic for you and set a good example for your son. So, if you have the energy, here is what you can realistically do.

There are 2 people who need care: your mom and her husband. You are outnumbered no matter how willing you are to help them. If they don't have the financial means to pay for hired caregivers, they must apply for Medicaid. It takes time for the app to process (about 3 months) so I'm starting with this suggestion first. If you are not either of their PoAs, you can still fill out the Medicaid forms on their behalf. Come back here for guidance about that. You must not pay for any of their care -- this is robbing from yourself and it will impact not only you but your son. Please don't do it.

Her care: if you are not her medical PoA or her legal guardian (which you must pursue through the courts) then you cannot legally force her to see a doctor. You can either 1) call APS through social services and report her as a danger to herself, or 2) wait for a medical "incident" that will require a trip to the ER. At that point if the hospital attempts to discharge her you must tell them it is an "unsafe discharge" so that they will place her in a facility where she will be safe, fed, treated and with others.

If you don't pursue guardianship then the county will. Someone will eventually have guardianship of her. It can be you, if you're up to it. If it's not you it WILL be the county at some point. If the county gets guardianship they will call all the shots of her treatment and placement and you won't be privy to any financial or medical information but you will be allowed to carry on your relationship.

Her stomach symptoms and weight loss are concerning but again, there's nothing you or her husband can do about it. Also, she has become a hoarder, which is very common in the elderly. Do not attempt to declutter her home -- she will most likely just fill it up again. Hoarding doesn't go away on its own, especially if your mom has dementia. You need to save your energy for your son.

Does her husband have family that can be contacted to at least help him? If so, I'd get in touch with them and see if they can step up to help, but don't be upset if they don't.

My dear, for some problems there are just no good solutions. You must decide what "help" for your mom looks like. For yourself, please understand that as much as you love your mom, your own son takes priority. Anything that robs him of your full parenting is not healthy. I hope the takeaway from this experience is to take good care of yourself: your health, your teeth, etc. When your son is of age, make him your durable PoA (if he is an upright person living a responsible life). I wish you much peace in your heart as you move through this with your sweet mom. Blessings to you. From one only to another.
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