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Very worried.


My friend, Linda, is 68. Widow of 3 years. She has physical custody of 3 grandkids, age 11, 9 and 5. Older 2 kids are boys, youngest is a girl.


Mother is in rehab/jail in ND. Father (Linda's son) is a long distance trucker in ND on the oilfields.


Kids were removed by ND CPS for abandonment by the parents about 20 months ago. Linda went to ND and retrieved the kids and arranged a verbal custody/child support arrangement with her son.


VERBAL= he doesn't HAVE to pay her a dime. He should, of course, but since all this was "handshake" basis, she cannot legally hold him to anything.


And she doesn't. Just complains bitterly about the kids. They are all very troubled and hard to handle.


She is absolutely besotted with her son. (Only child). She has spent his entire life (37 years) bailing him out of problems and legal issues. Sick relationship.


He will only talk to her when HE feels like it, and had not seen his kids for over 18 months. No calls, nothing. Also no money.


She lives on a $1400 a month pension and what was left of the life insurance on her husband.


10 months ago she decided to move to AZ where her son has a GF. (He is still married). She announces she's moving and begins packing--sort of. Son can't decide if he really wants to move or not. She can't make plans w/o his income. He won't give her the info she needs to find a rental.


Long story short--she is going to lose her house to foreclosure in about 4 months. I got involved organizing the packing and paying for the storage for her 4500 sf home. PLUS a TON of the son's stuff too. She has waffled back and forth on moving, selling, letting the kids be adopted by a wonderful family (that got shot down--dad would rather they were dead than adopted--just a power play).


She is now, simply and literally frozen in place. She cannot make decisions. She doesn't open her mail, pay her bills or answer her phone. She has shut down completely. She cannot think from A to B--she forgets things and discipline in the house is simply her screaming at the kids non stop.


I do not know if this is just her being overwhelmed with decisions to make, or if she is showing signs of dementia. You cannot carry on a conversation with her. She is forgetting people's names and basic living skills---it's horrifying to watch.


Her son graced her with his presence over Thanksgiving, but locked himself in the downstairs apartment with another GF and wouldn't come up to see the kids nor talk to his mother.


She will not make a move without the son's "OK" and she is terrified of him. She will NOT make a decision how to move forward.


She has had incredible support from our church family, and that is all she has had to lean on--but right now, she has 2 enormous pods packed with all her worldly goods, furniture in the garage and an empty, yet somehow filthy house. People are burning out, trying to help her. She has become VERY mean and screamed at me the other day. I have been by her side through all of this--and I know she wasn't mad at ME--but the situation.


My question--how do "we" figure out what is going on with her, mentally? She is all alone in the world, has no family but this son and the grandkids, and 2 elderly Inlaws. So sad.


I am so worried that her son is taking huge advantage of her, and in the end, which is coming soon, she will lose her home to foreclosure and the kids to foster care.


CPS has been called, so hopefully the kids will be looked after---I'm very concerned about her. How does a "friend" step in and tell someone they aren't acting/thinking like they used to? I went to her house the other day, and I could see through the windows that she was sitting in a chair. Just staring at the wall. It was chilling.


Very worried for her & for the kids. Couldn't care less about her son.



Hi Midkid,

I would never suggest you stop helping others or change your kind heart. What I was trying to suggest without being blunt was that there are so very many innocent children in need and to do the most good for as many as you can while recognizing that, unfortunately, every kid cannot be saved when an adult like Linda stands in the way. I am not heartless just realistic and that your husband is angry may be a red flag that this particular case may be different. Perhaps consider stepping away from Linda and those kids. I am a firm believer in the saying that when G-- closes a door, s/he opens a window. Peace.
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Midkid58 Dec 11, 2018
Ny Daughter--

Yes, I am a people pleaser and a dyed in the wool soft touch--and there is NOTHING wrong with that.

And yes, realistically, I do have to now step far away from her and the kids and let the situation sort itself out. So sad these kids are bring used as "bait" as it were. They'll never be OK as long as this goes on.

MANY others are as deeply involved as I am, it's not just me.

Taking a week off from talking to/seeing her has been nice. I am feeling some measure of peace. However, as long as those huge storage units I paid for are sitting in her driveway...I will not feel completely OK. (In no way will I be held accountable for those--I paid and I froze the CC used. She has to find another way to pay for storage. $690+ per month.

Don't know.

Don't care.
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Mdkid58, you need a new hobby that doesn't involve rescuing others.
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Midkid58 Dec 11, 2018
Vegas Lady--

I "hope" you're being tongue in cheek.

Some people truly have the empathy gene in spades and we jump to when we see needs.

As I said--for every one time I've been "taken" there have been dozens of cases where it's a one time help or lift and then it's over.

I admit this got out of hand. But I won't stop helping where and when I can.

Live and learn.
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It sounds like she's had a 'nervous breakdown', from the stress of too much pressure on her. She wud recover better away from her home, so I wud ask her to go get evaluated for temporary inpatient care. I only say that cuz of what happened to me, (& I sincerely hope the dear lady gets better). Thanks for caring about her☺. ✌💞
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Midkid58 Dec 11, 2018
Well, she is not talking to me, which is fine BTW. She does have agood friend, who is aware of all this mess, She is going to try to encourage this woman to get some help.

Barring that, she is on her own. She is far from stupid, but is overwhelmed by life, And will not make the simple decisions that could enable her to have an actual life.

I think the fact she stayed 5 days in Denver with nothing to do was her way of dealing with the untenable stress.

Thanks, Tiger55 for seeing that I was really trying to help her--until I was enabling her. It's a fine line.
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Your husband is furious because this woman is taking advantage of his wife's good nature?

You are spending therapy time (and money) on this woman?

She may well have delusional personality disorder. Might you have the rescuer personality type? And might you be going a wee bit overboard?

It's one thing to have a kind heart and quite another to try to fix someone whose not your project to fix. The definition of "delusional" is holding onto beliefs that are contraindicated by reality. I hope you find a healthier outlet for yourself. At this time of the year, there's no shortage of people in dire straights who need some kindness. Peace, Midkid.
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Midkid58 Dec 10, 2018
My hubby is angry because I was (once again) taken advantage of--he is all for "good works" but he has much better sense than I do and more than once have been caught out in doing too much for someone. My son said he was having a t shirt made for me that says "Need someone to enable you to ruin your life? Call 1-800-MyMom".

It'd be funnier of it weren't true.

I have seeing a therapist for YEARS due to severe anxiety and depression due to long term childhood abuse--the worst of the worst. It's made me very sensitive, but sensitive people also like to give and make things be OK and for every time I've been involved in something like "Linda" I've had 20 positive experiences with healthy "helping". Boundaries got blurred too much in this instance, for sure. And yes, I am a rescuer, I have 5 kids, you do the math. Lotsa years of coming to the rescue.....old habits...

No, I NEVER thought she was my project to "fix". I don't really even care much for her, her personality is very abrasive and hard to be with. It was concern for the KIDS as they are the true innocents. I picked up pretty fast that she was using me, and I knew it all along. I have zero delusions that she is going to try to get well, or make any progress towards getting custody of the kids--none of that. She's kind of a lost cause, and I am not really upset nor worried about HER. It's the kids.

No, I don't want her to suffer, but it seems like she doesn't learn a darn thing. People in the church community and neighborhood are all stepping a mile away from her when she reneged on her decision to sell the house and move, all b/c her saintly son doesn't want her to. I am not the only person, believe me, who got "took" in this scheme.

I can't change the sick dynamic that they have. I couldn't even begin to try. But, talking about this on the AC forum, has helped me to put it in perspective. She truly does not WANT to be helped, only if it means that beloved son is not upset in the slightest. Nobody can fix THAT.

I have been doing small acts of kindness each day through this month, I'm not letting her anger ruin my holiday traditions of "giving". She has plenty of people who will see to her, and one person who is a dear friend who said she would make it her utmost important "job" to see that Linda gets a full physical and some mental health counseling. It may happen.

Much calmer this week and got the family's packages mailed today, so all is well. Don't know how this family will shake out, but it's not my problem.

Like I said, my takeaway is that I need to remember to set up better boundaries. I don't have to turn myself inside out to try to make someone's life choices more palatable.

What is it they say? "Not my circus, not my monkeys" I will remember that.
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Just a side note. I ran this all past my therapist last week, She knows all about thi situation, as it has caused me tremendous stress over the last 6+months.

Her take was that this woman is suffering from delusional personality disorder. Makes sense, but really, a dx is no good when the sufferer is under the delusion that they are ALWAYS RIGHT and you are ALWAYS wrong.

Helps me to know she cannot think correctly until she acknowledges there's a problem and chooses to deal with it.
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I haven't really known Linda all that long---5-6years? Her hubby worked in Denver, we live in SLC, So, I didn't ever really know him at all,

I DO know that they were both lousy "investors" and lost a LOT of money in MLM schemes...sad, but there was all the "evidence" of at least 3 failed MLM businesses in the garage and sheds. Also, they had 2nd mortgaged their home to bail the son out of trouble some years back...never got back on their feet.

Weirdly, she has about $2500 in uncashed dividend checks from a business venture that they involved with some years back, I found the stash of checks and asked her why she hadn't cashed this pile of checks--all the while pleading poverty to me. She said "Oh, they're just little checks, won't make a hill of beans difference. go ahead and count them up:. I did and was astonished to see how much money she had simply let "sit". When I showed her the column of figures, she was blank faced. No response and no explanation ever of why she A: doesn't open her mail and B: why she doesn't cash checks??

If I owed somebody over $1K, I would die from embarassment to have them find me acting like this.

This was in August and she still hasn't cashed the checks. This is one of the reasons I am concerned for her mental health....dementia or ALzheimer's--along with obvious depression.

VERY poor long term planning got her where she is today. Just such a sad thing.
She has gotten to the rock bottom of her life--no decision IS a decision. She cannot just keep on the way she has. Such a lesson on how NOT to be.

There are MANY people around her who will and can support her--but we are all in agreement that the enabling MUST stop. A brief meeting today about her--the kids will get a nice Christmas and she will get a dose of reality.

Thanks for simply listening to me rant. I cannot talk to my DH about this, he is well beyond furious at this woman for manipulating my "good nature" and causing me so much pain.

Hopefully I can help from the sidelines. Thanks for good advice!
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Ok, I see where you are coming from. You are very lucky you have so many professionals to run to with questions. But, also, look at it this way. This is an intelligent woman who, after her husbands death, must have realized she just isn't going to make it on 1400 a month. What did she need a 4500 sq ft house for. She should have sold it and used the proceeds for a smaller home or apt. She could have sold items she wouldn't need anymore. If she already has depression she must have realized that raising children at 68 was not going to be easy. But, I can see why she took them in. Did she get legal custody, if so, thecstate may have paid her to care for the kids and get money from the father to offset the cost. She wouldn't had anything to do with it, She needed to set boundries with her son. So what I am saying, she had options.

I am curious though, what did her husband do that they could afford a 4500 sq ft home? At their ages, why didn't they have Mortgage insurance or is the foreclosure property tax related? How did her husband think she was goinfpg to live off of 1400 a month? That is poverty level.
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The short answer is you are going to have to tell her. If she stays in denial then report the situation as elder abuse. That should shake up whoever is her guardian or equivalent to her guardian. Every state has (most of them are contracted out to private companies) an agency that you can report elder abuse to. The police should be able to refer you if you call their business number. That agency is the catalyst to bringing the matter before a probate court judge who will try to resolve it in a court hearing. If the hearing does not resolve it the judge will refer it to trial and things will get done. I sympathize with you but as a friend your legal intervention is limited (however anyone can report elder abuse). Hope this helps. Needless to say don't do anything that could bring legalities down on you. Many a good deed has brought on bad ramifications.
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Save yourself. This woman has serious problems and she has designed her life around her abusive/neglectful son. That was her choice, and she made it when she was younger and able. Sadly, you must accept that.

I agree with Vegaslady that she is severely depressed, which is understandable because she's 68 years old and has a 5-year old to take care of. Again, this was her choice.

Prepare yourself for her getting really upset with you when she loses all the stuff in the storage unit you rented for her once she stops paying the monthly bill. You said she's not opening her mail and paying her bills.
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Did you post this previously because it sounds so familiar.

I think the best thing would be is allow CPS to place the children hopefully together. They need more than ur friend or their parents are capable of giving. 68 is not that old. I would say that her problem is too much responsibility and waiting for the shoe to drop when it comes to her son. She maybe just extremely depressed.

4500 sf home! She needs to sell it. Hopefully she can pay her mortgage off and have some money to start over. That's where you or someone can come in and help her get an apartment and set up for resources she may need. It will be a long road for her and she will need some professional care, I would think. Some health insurance provides this. Maybe Office of Aging has a SW who can help.

First, she needs to let the children go and the son too. Selling the house would be a good start. He will have nowhere to go. She should get a 1 bedroom apartment. If all she gets is 1400 then she may qualify for a Senior apt. Their rules don't allow anyone living with you.

Why does she not get SS? Did she ever work? Even if husband was government, if she worked forv10 yrs or more she is entitled to something. Those in-laws, someone else needs to take on that responsibility. She mentally can't.
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Midkid58 Dec 9, 2018
Yes, I have mentioned her dilemma in a couple of other posts on the AC forum. I just felt that after last week's visit and ensuing debacle--I needed to get some much needed mental support from the AC community.

Just came home from church where she blatantly ignored me....wow, talk about the cold shoulder!

Yes she worked all her adult life. She was a nurse and was in the AF for years. I know her hubby also worked--he was still actively working when he died 3 years ago, I do not know why she only get $1400 a month, but she has held firm to that number ever since the start. Nobody can maintain a home of that size, 3 kids and all that goes along with them on $1400 a month. She has a mortgage of $1800 a month, which I don;t think she's been paying. Was counting on it all being "ironed out" when the house sold--now she's not selling, so, she may be up a creek.

I already GOT her a realtor, my SIL who is amazing and who helped her so much--until it came time to actually list and sell the house-then the drama ramped up, Although she's in a bad place, all her stuff has been purged and cleaned, so she DID give up a lot of stuff. She refuses to part with ANYTHING that her son may someday want, and that's the problem--she can't see anything but him and his wants.

Hopefully this week she will come to a decision about something--move, stay....whatever. All I know is that I will not be involved. I told her, all last summer (jokingly) that I would di anything to help her move forward in her life but I would not help her put ONE BOX back in the house. (sigh)

Yep, I know what she SHOULD be doing. I can't talk to her anymore, she now only speaks to people who are "of use" to her. I cut her off, financially, and so now she is mad at me.

Our church community is very aware of her needs. I did speak to a couple of women with whom she is still close. Talked with them about helping her to get in to her dr and get some help, whatever that may be,

Can't give her a backbone, that's for sure. It's just so sad to see these kids in the midst of all the drama.
I'm REALLY hoping the combination of CPS and APS working for the common good will help her.
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A MILLION THANKS to those of you who took time to respond.

I have been way too involved for too long to be considered a "disinterested observer". Just seeing her with the kids yesterday at a church brunch--I couldn't even go say hi to her. She hurt me that badly.

I did call CPS the other day. Little they can do, and as I couldn't lie and say that the kids were being physically abused...(if they are, they send somebody out IMMEDIATELY)..but they aren't. They did say that there will be a home visit and a base investigation...and as this family is already "in the system" it shouldn't be hard to follow through. Since I didn't want my name in the report, I cannot call back and see what's transpired.

I am hoping that, no, it's not dementia, but rather *just* severe depression that's got to her. I know she takes antidepressants and I know she could see her Dr and up the dose, or add something to the mix to help with the horrible anxiety she feels---but I am not the one to broach that with her.

I am going to call APS tomorrow. I feel that they may be a better place to get to her. She is going to be seething at the visit from CPS, but so many people have said they would call CPS, she probably won't immediately think it was me.

My son is a lawyer and he spent about half an hour talking me through the legalities of what could happen. Sadly, his best advice was "buckle up--this is going to take a LONG time." Calling CPS is the first step in a long, long process. IF the father and mother would sign away their parental rights (as opposed to having them stripped of them, in court) then the kids could be placed immediately with the future adoptive family--and and the "fostering" begins--but if either parent kicks up the slightest fuss, then it drags in for ages. The end result will be the same--parents will lose the kids, but they will be in and out of court for years, possibly.

I am too emotionally and physically spent from helping her. I've begun having panic attacks over it--my triggers all firing at once. I know not to get any more involved. She is paid for her storage through Dec., and then my CC is frozen and will not accept charges from her. She knows this (and it angry with me).

In the end, I am hopeful the kids can be given the best care possible and she can figure how to just be the grandma. Hoping she doesn't end up losing her house due to stupidity and trying to placate her son.

I will watch her and talk to others who are concerned over her state of mind. I still am not sure if her inability to make decisions and the choices she IS making (all of them stupid, beyond belief) are just due to the unbearable stress she is under.

She is really, really stubborn. Getting her to see her Dr. for a start will be a real chore. I'm not the one who should be talking to her about that. Maybe she'll listen to our bishop--I don't know. (A Bishop is the ecclesiastical leader of our church--he has been wonderful with her so far.)

Thanks again. I will be calling APS and maybe the pressure of the combo of both agencies will help her. She is truly and elder in need!
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Despite your friends best intentions the children deserve a better life than they are living. They need to be placed in a better environment as soon as possible. I hope you’ll report this situation and save them from the disastrous future coming their way. Chances are your friend will eventually see that she wasn’t capable of providing a stable home for them, but even if that day doesn’t come, they need to be removed from the chaos, please report
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Tragically, there are actually times when “protective services” MUST be considered, and the children’s father clearly CLEARLY crossed that line with “rather they were dead”.

If there’s an Adult Protective Services agency in the area, or something similar, it sounds like something she might need right now.

Depression can do this, and can mimic dementia and can be present WITH dementia. If she’s refusing the assistance of caring acquaintances, it may be in her best interest to seek out public services, who will deal with her hostility while still observing and assessing her overall circumstances.

Love her and pray for her and get some trained help involved.
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I would hope CPS takes the kids away. It doesn't matter right now what her diagnosis is. ..put the kids in a better place. Foster care and possibly termination of parental rights so the kids can be adopted is where this is headed. Financially, if the kids are with her she should apply for food stamps for her whole household and welfare (TANF- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for the kids. The state will pursue child support as reimbursement for the welfare. Stop spending your money on her storage etc.
A friend who needs to tell someone something just steps up and does it. But don't be surprised if she can't do anything about her situation on her own. It sounds like flat out major depression to me (not dementia). If you can get her seen medically that would help. I would be concerned about the toxic environment for the children and possibly removing them might help her as well. Another alternative is to call APS as well as CPS. And call CPS from ND since they're the ones who apparently approved this placement of kids in the first place. Again, probably depression which could be treated medically and there should be a change to the household composition and her responsibility for the kids. If that doesn't work would she agree to someone having her POA so they can act on her behalf because she is frozen? Is there anyone would do this (and don't be too quick to volunteer yourself - it will be exhausting)?
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Any church members happen to be doctors? If so surprise your friend with a social visit including the doctor (she doesn't need to know he's a doctor). Get the doctors opinion after the social visit.
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Midkid58 Dec 9, 2018
Nope--sadly. But two of my kids are. Both live out of state and I have talked to them a little bit about this--but geriatrics is not their specialty--so all they've really said to me is to take care of ME and not let this woman make me crazy.


Linda is actually a retired nurse--sooo---she isn't dumb about things medical. But seeing illness in yourself is very hard.
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