I have a friend who just turned 68. She is a widow with 3 grandchildren she's raising alone, w/o any parental help. Her DIL lost custody of them and her son is not in the picture at all--he has joint guardianship with her, but does not provide any financial aid at all. Lives in another state and will not come here to even see the kids once or twice a year. The kids are 11,9 and 5. 2 older kids are boys, the 5 yo is a girl.

I have stepped up the friendship level b/c she is burning out, fast. She lost her home to bankruptcy and is selling it this month, and planning to move to AZ with the kids. We live in UT. She knows ONE person in AZ. One.

The kids have been through living all around the country as their father is along distance trucker. The mother is a meth addict and in and out of jail. Both parents abandoned the kids and are perfectly happy to let Grandma raise them alone.

My friend, I'll call her Louise....HAS to sell her home. No hope there, of keeping it. She makes $1400 a month in pension. Her husband left her basically desitiute, a small savings which she has had to use to pay for the kids' needs. She will stand to make about $180K on her home sale, but she needs every cent to bolster her income. Her son is in ND trucking for an oil company. She tries to get in touch with him and beg him for support for the kids and he rarely even answers her texts. He will not allow her to call him. She was texting him daily for 2 weeks and ONLY when she said she'd listed the house, he suddenly responded that he'd move to AZ with her and the kids. He keeps on asking "how much are you going to make on the house?" (Are we seeing a pattern here???!!!) She's so ecstatic he even answered her texts she can't see that he is planning to clean her out.

She has a HUGE support group with our church and neighborhood. Those boys have 40 fathers!! They are looked after and protected and taught. Their "bio dad" is an alcoholic loser who showed up for all of 6 hours back in April, got mad at the oldest son and took off. Hasn't been seen since.

I am watching my friend slowly deteriorate into a person who cannot make a decision, who has nonstop physical tremors, screams loudly at the kids whenever they disobey--- she hasn't always been this way. I do not understand the need she has to uproot the kids, when they are FINALLY stable and doing well.

I have put the cost of storage pods and moving costs on my credit card--b/c while I DO NOT support her crazy idea to move, she would be literally thrown out in the streets Nov. 5th. She is also a hoarder, and so cleaning this 4,000 sf home when she won't let anything go has been intensely stressful.

My concern is really that she is starting to show signs of dementia. I am NOT familiar with what that looks like! She has become incredibly forgetful, angry and unable to make the smallest decision. Understanding that she is under amazing stress, I can accept that part of this may be that stress---but she can't funtion w/o me or someone else basically "bossing her" to move. I go to her house to help and she is either asleep on the couch or sitting in a recliner looking at FB. Until I show up each day, she sits, frozen and unable to think.

Her son is a waste of space. She lives for him (only child) and will never do anything that may remotely upset him. The pods are about 1/2 full of garbage he's dumped at her house over the years and she will not toss a single thing. And he's a hoarder too.

She's thrown 2 blot clots since she gained custody of the kids..Neighbors and church stepped in and took the kids for 2-6 week stints. Son never came home nor even answered calls or texts to him to PLEASE come home and care for his children.

My real question: what does the onset of dementia look like? Am I looking at it with my friend? Her personality has changed, she is so angry it's scary. I understand that she is under untenable stress--but this behavior, the indecisiveness and amazing anger are new. Also the forgetfulness. I go 4-5 days a week to help her and have for the last 3 weeks. She yelled at me several times on Friday for no reason and I simply told her I was going to continue pushing her and to please quit yelling at the ONE person who is "there".

I am worried sick about her. If she'd stay in the general area, we could all keep an eye on her and the kids will be safe. She moves 800 miles away and her son is in the picture, something happens to her--he'll take her money and pop the kids into foster care. He's done it twice before when they got on his nerves.

If it was her alone, I'd worry, but she has these troubled kids---they're who I really worry about.

Help! Am I seeing super-stress or someone who is slicing into dementia? (Her mother and aunt both had it, bad, and young.)

Any ideas? I'm at a loss here.

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It wasn't until I saw your reply to Barb that I realized it was you Midkid - I know you are an experienced caregiver and understand better than most about how impossible your situation is. I hope you can at least get her to slow down her plans a little to give herself breathing space. You are a good friend, and a good person.
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Midkid58 Oct 2018
Thanks Cwillie--yep, same old the "middle" of waaaaay more "things" than I want.
The strong family history of early onset Alzheimer's is worrisome. The problem is that even if you were 100% certain she has it there is very little that you can do about it, until someone reaches a point where they are declared legally incompetent they are free to make all the terrible decisions they want to (there are many on this forum who are family members yet are still caught in the same bind).
I think that BarbB's suggestion to involve CPS is probably your only option, truthfully it doesn't sound as though she is any more able to look after them than her deadbeat son.
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I'd start by calling Child Protective Services and get the children into Foster Care. Seriously. Once the stress of caring for the kids is gone, her mental status may become clearer.

It sounds as though there is long-standing mental illness in this family. It's kind of you to try to help her, but her issues sound as though they warrant professional attention.
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Midkid58 Oct 2018
These poor kids have been in foster care two separate times. There is a family in our neighborhood who wants to adopt them--the father will not allow it. Although he has nothing to do with them, he won't let anyone else step in.

I will be at her house all day tomorrow. I am going to bring up the idea of her getting some intensive therapy--even tho she will only be here a few more weeks.
I wholeheartedly agree with Barb- call CPS. While all the adults in the room wring their hands, you have children that need attention.
Hopefully if they take the kids this will give your friend time to catch her breath.
CPS May go after the father for child support, although I have come to realize those agencies are way too lenient on dead beat dads.
Its too bad the kids have been in foster care before, but it appears essential the children be taken out of that home now while custody, etc is ironed out.
I am 60 & couldn’t take care of what you described.
Your friend is absolutely stressed out and needs time out for herself. If the children go to foster care your friend will be able to make better decisions.
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I agree, its stress. I an 69 and cannot imagine raising 3 kids of this age.

First, she should be getting support for the kids. Either from the father or thru the state. Also, Medicaid insurance for them and maybe her. Such a shame she is losing her home.

This woman cannot financially or emotionally take care of these children. I would first call Office of Aging and run this by them.
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Financial assistance might be available if she applied for welfare for the children...TANF, Temporary Aid for Needy Families. However, I don't think that is the appropriate solution...Having worked previously in CPS and on the financial welfare side I think she needs to have CPS become involved. The kids could go to another home. There is a legal path to having the court revoke the parent's rights so the children can be adopted. For her however, finding a solution for the kids won't fix her. It will be a trying experience for her during the process of removing the children from her care. In the long run it sounds like her situation is on a downward slide, exacerbated by the stress related to the kids and their parents. She probably needs help protecting herself from the son who sounds like he would be coming after her money if she sells the house. But if the kids are living with her in a hoarder's home you should be calling both CPS and APS. You aren't going to be able tofix this for her.
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Thanks all----

I am sure she doesn't get enough sleep, for one. She wears a fit-bit that tracks everything she does--esp sleep. Most nights she is happy if she gets 5 hours. I am grouchy all day if I get less than 4 continuous hours....and most nights, I don't.

She has become too dependent on me to "boss her"....she would still be sitting in her living room in a rocker if I hadn't gone to see her 2 weeks ago and saw the utter chaos she was living in. Asked her point blank what she had been doing since the last time I had spent a 60 hr week up there, packing, cleaning....not only had she NOT called a realtor, she had allowed the kids to open up all the boxes with their toys and stuff---plus she hadn't gotten to the attic to see what was up there (over 70 boxes of her son's crap!!) She said "I just can't deal with this. I need someone to organize for me". Well, the rest of our church community has been deeply involved in this effort and one by one, everyone has drifted shoveling sand into the ocean. I am the only one left who shows on a regular basis and works my butt off. And I am not going to abandon her. She HAS to list the house Nov. 1 and she has to be out.

Her son "says" he will wait until she's "settled" in AZ and then he will fly from ND to AZ. She's so ecstatic that this jerk even CALLED her--she cannot see the warning signs---he is not bringing his car or his belongings with him. I truly believe he will simply show up, harass her until she gives him half of the proceeds of the house and then he's in the wind again.


Well-there is one hope outstanding. They may very likely NOT qualify for a home in AZ. their combined credit scores aren't even 400. Doubtful they can come up with first & last month's rent and security. The son cannot come to Utah as he is on the radar with Office of Recovery Services (he has an 18 yo daughter he never bothered to pay child support for---so if he worked here, he'd be caught immediately and either jailed or have any wages garnished.) Isn't he truly sounding like the father we all wish our kids had?? I cleaned out his room yesterday and took it upon myself to throw away all his porn, ancient bills and packed all the ammunition for his many guns in one safe place. My friend made the mistake of leaving me alone for an hour and I threw away so much junk.

Sorry--I really am just venting.

I am hesitant to call CPS. The kids would be tossed back into foster care. Like I said--they've ripped out of their home twice before and placed in foster care. It took months for them to "recover". I'm talking more and more bluntly to her, and she simply doesn't listen.

Shell--I am not staying in touch when she moves. She's worn me to a nub. I know she's grateful, but helping someone do something this stupid---I am wearing out each day, I cry everyday. She actually yells at me--I have told her over and over "Hey--quit that. I am the ONLY PERSON HELPING YOU!!!"

I am NOT signing anything for her. I don't want to be tied to her financially at ALL. Having said that, I have to add that her moving pods and cost of transport and storage is on MY CREDIT CARD. $5K, so far. My SIL is her realtor, he promises me a check will be cut at closing and I will be reimbursed. I hope.

She's been involved in so many "get rich quick" schemes over the years..that's why she's 68 yo and has less than $5000 in savings and a $1400 a month pension.

SO MANY PEOPLE have "thrown money" at the "problem" and honestly? You can't fix stupid. She still believes in her son, despite him ripping her off all his life. It's just very sad.

She did admit she had to buy him a car. I said "He has a car. It's his fault he wrecked it in a drunken rage".

I will think about calling CPS. Just---wow, that's tough. There really isn't time to do anything--but if it stalls her plans to move, maybe it's worth it.
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She may just be depressed and stressed out, if the behavior changes have increased since things went south with the family. Withdrawal (like sitting on the couch) and anger can both be symptoms.

Teepa Snow refers to the 3 D's that can cause some dementia-like behavior: Depression, Delirium, and Dementia. From the circumstances you describe, I think the woman should be at the end of her rope.
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I don't know if this will help you but here is what I do know. If a person is going through a big life changes such as your friend this can cause the brain to change due to high stress and she is probably not getting the deep sleep she needs. Therefore causing an imbalance of chemicals throughout the body. I agree that CPS should be called. Stress and lack of sound sleep can cause mood swing, confusion, poor decision making and yes it can cause personality to change if it been going on for a long period. Which can also be signs of dementia.

However, with the hoarding have you thought about calling in organizational speicalist to help her to learn how to throw things away. I say this because hoarders have emotional attachment to things that we don't understand. So there are psychologist specialize in this area.

Maybe you could talk your friend into putting her money after she sells her house into a few short-term investment. For example, take about 5000 dollars into a one year CD she could have a number of these ranging to 1,000 to 10,000 and/or 10,000 into a moneymarket a count- this where she can take out some money at different times a year (APR and the number of withdrawals differentiate from bank to bank). There are some good short term bonds out there as well. This might help to keep her son out of her purse. Another idea is maybe set up a saving acct with her and your name on it and let it be known to the bank that both parties have to be present to make a withdrawal. ( Make sure the bank is with the FICD.) Don't let her put all her money in one acct. Banks have limits to their maximum amount to insurance. One bank is find as long as the money is divided into different accts. Researching investments may take some time but it may stop some heart breaks. Just a thought!

I wish you and your friend the best of luck.
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