How long does one wait to take action-as nothing major has happened?


Anyone familiar with elder care laws in Hawaii?

My Mother has been diagnosed with Dementia. She is in her 80's and if there are stages (1-10) she is about a 4 or 5. She still drives and lives alone as 3 of us live in the Mainland.
She has a sizable Trust that my 2 siblings control and have recently added themselves to be Co-Trustees. They are very concern that I may influence my Mother and try to take her money. Or so they say...
I have stayed away from my family (including my Mother) for about 5 years-needed a break from their means.
My Mother, about three years ago started begging and bagering my friends and Cousin to get in touch with me as she wanted to see me. She told them no one -including my siblings-had any idea where I was even though have had the same email address and friends (that my sibling they knew) for the past 20 years...
My Cousin finally contacted me and said she was at her wits end because my 2 siblings were not returning my Mother's calls and they were now ignoring her calls to help my Mother.
I finally relented-went to Hawaii to see what was going on. My Mother's memory is very short-termed as she constantly asked the same questions and at one point did not recognize me. I spoke to her Doctor who said she suffered from Dementia.
That is when I found out about her Trust and the changes (are in my 2 siblings favor) that were made. According to my Mother who English is her 2nd language, she was told by my siblings to sign it.
Of course there is much more to the story, but the bottom line is I don't think my Mother should be driving or living alone and the 2 Trustees and my Mother's Trust Attorney refused to do anything. Her Trust Attorney basically told me to butt out and that she is being "monitored very closely by her Doctors"-not true as I call them all the time.
My Mother is still complaining that neither of my siblings return her calls. This has been verified by my Cousin.
I will be visiting my Mother soon-should I contact someone and who would it be?
Any advise would be welcomed!!!
Thank you!

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I'm really sorry that you have this mess. It's common for family problems get even stickier when a parent nears the end-f-life.

The time to act is now if you want to be involved. If your siblings aren't helping your mother, then as snowquail suggested your going out to stay with your mom for awhile is a good idea. Meet her doctors and find out how much they know about her situation.

The person in charge of the trust is working for your siblings at this time. You may need some legal help if they have her money cornered but are neglecting her care. It sounds like, at a minimum, the trust should be paying for in-home care and she should stop driving (the caregiver could take her where she needs to go).

Setting this up and convincing your siblings that this needs paying for will be hard, I'm sure, but try to get it done. Again, you may need legal help, or at least a consultation with Adult Protective Services if they refuse to use her money for her care. The idea of taking pictures before you do anything is a good idea.

We'd love an update from you when you have time,
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This is tough when siblings are at odds, and there is money at stake.

If this were my situation, I would go out and "visit" for a couple months,
and see how she was being taken care of. With her money she could
hire housekeeping help that would help her with her pills and food. You will
be able to see what doctor she is going to and what she takes.
Do her friends come over? If all is being taken care of you can go home in good conscience.

If she is being neglected, then get yourself signed up at POA, find her checkbook and get her what she needs. Make sure you take pictures of the neglect, as your siblings may be unaware of what is going on.
Helpful Answer (3)

Find a good Elder Law Attorney who can speak to your mom, to ensure that her documents are set up for her benefit.
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The only thing you can do while your mother is competent is to put you in the trust as well. You don't mention if you considering being her caretaker or just having her placed in a home. All of this has to be supervised. Even if she were to get a live in. Are you willing to commit or stay away.
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It sounds like your mother is OK for the time being. If you are concerned about her, why don't you start gently talking to her about her safety and the related issues. Nothing might happen, but you are at least planting a seed. Other than that, where it concerns an elderly parent like your mother, you have to broach topics slowly and gently and over a period of time. Get along side your mother, when you visit, let her know you have her interests at heart, and not financial interests, but her welfare and how she is doing. All the best, Arlene Hutcheon
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me: 53, had 30-yr freelance career on the road in media industry, never married, no kids, financially diligent over the yrs; brother: 48, has kept steady gigs for yrs, married over 15 yrs, 2 pre-teens, lives paychk-to-paychk, recently disclosed a longtime gambling addiction, his wife had to tk control of their finances recently because he even tapped the kids' college fund. mom: 82, recent cancer diagnosis, ok prognosis, but will need treatments for years to come (we have been taking her weekly for the past month, shes responding well), dementia, starting to hv memory issues, mobile but can't live alone safely, not social, no financial knowledge whatsoever. dad: deceased 3 yrs ago, he was 89, he handled all money and home upkeep thru their 53 yrs of marriage, ignored mom's hoarding as long as her stuff didn't comingle with his lean military lifestyle on a separate floor of the house. NOW: parents convinced me to move bk into the house 'for a year' while readjusting to hometown, which i moved bk to make sure they were ok in their 80s and to change work style from road to more settled. that was 5 years ago and i'm still here! dad's health was failing, and all were in denial, so i jumped in to be his medical advocate and caregiver, he got a staph infection after a surgery, and passed away within 2 yrs of me being bk home. mom tried to handle bills etc after that, but just didn't 'get' how all that works, so even tho our $ was and is separate, i just started paying for stuff out of my life savings. i live with her in her 3-story rowhouse, a third of which is all her hoarded paperwork from teaching and old magazines, as my ready-to-go lean apartment life sits in waiting at a local storage facility. we just got around to convincing mom to do a simple will, her assets will be split 50-50 me and bro, and i am financial poa, bro is medical. here's the rub - when she first got bk from hospital, her meds made her almost comatose, so i was thrown into hands-on caregiving first time, around the clock, incontinence and all - wow. she's better now, but i still help her get dressed, cook all meals, keep up the house, etc can't leave her alone, and bro can only relieve me on saturdays, and that time goes to grocery shopping and a solid gym workout. i am now on the second parent as a caregiver and am trying to keep burnout and resentment in check, but i live very comfortably here and have low expenses. however, i need to get things started so i manage her care more than provide it, especially thinking long term, seeing as her needs will only increase. i also need to get back to work, so as not to jeopardize my retirement and have a life outside of the house, even just part time, but any work i get will not be traditional office work 9-5, more like filming or covering events to write about. mom gets SS and teacher pension and has ira and inherited dad's savings of about 300k. i have saved over 200k, but very little of that is in retirement funds. i would actually be ok continuing to live with her for the rest of her life, as she does not want to do assisted living. i think that could work but maybe in a retirement community, definitely in a smaller house, with more separation of bedrooms, an office for me, etc, and outside help would have to be hired to come in daily and help her in the home 'dayshift', and some overnights if i would be away on assignment, then we adjust adding more services over the years, etc. this is just now unfolding, and i am trying to think ahead and be proactive. i am flexible and feel confident i will fully get my life back eventually, but i need BALANCE moving forward. any ideas on how to make sure mom is taken care of, without sacrificing my future, and realistically doing it with no help from my well-meaning (but non-factor) brother? thanks for any advice!
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The FAST (functional stages) often used in dementia, especially Alzheimer's, is a good guide and should be a familiar measure for her doctors. Good info on FAST and examples are on line. Driving is compromised level 4-5. Caution is that once she is too impaired, changing anything is a battle vs. say her just adding you as POA. Time may be of the essence if you really want to help. If she's cognitively able, she can change what she wants. In any case it's hard to excuse a Trustee/POA not returning phone calls if that is truly the case (vs. memory issues). Encourage her to keep a log and/or phone records of incoming/outgoing calls and better yet if she can use and save all emails of her requests. That said, 5 years is also a long time to not be closely involved. Not judging, just encouraging you to try to be patient also in assessing the whole picture. The objective is to provide for her needs now yet not run out of funding just as she really needs it. That can be a tougher balance than it looks since noone knows if that's one or ten+ years of care and if the level of will stay minimal or become substantial. Agree that an elder attorney would be best to line up ahead of time to review the docs with you and your mother and perhaps an affidavit (via a notary usually readily available with the attorney) if she signed without fully comprehending the changes due to English as her second language, under durress, and/or if she would like to revoke them. Good luck. Good for you for going and advocating for her.
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As I read this, Mom lives alone in Hawaii and you and the two other siblings live on mainland, but the other two control all the money?? I've done this for my parents from afar for 4 years, and as dementia gets worse, being left alone and driving does not work. IF she is to remain in her home, and not move into assisted living or with family etc, then she will need a plan for caregivers in home with her, to monitor, to drive, to be eyes and ears for whomever is in charge. Do the two siblings also have any power of attorney or is Mom still making her decisions? How does she get money for day to day expenses? Do they fund a checking or savings account for her to access? I agree with hanging out in the same town, or same house for a couple months to monitor if she is ok alone. Attend MD visits with her to find out what you can about her medical condition and even if MDs know she has dementia or in what stages. Does she take prescription meds? If so, is she taking them correctly? There are ways for the elderly to have their driving evaluated too. Also, ways to increase liability on her car insurance if she's safe to drive, but bottom line is that as dementia progresses, vision and reaction time get affected, and while the person THINKS they are OK, they are not. You certainly do not want her to hurt another person, or herself or sustain lots of damage to hers or others properties. Siblings handling money seems like they do this, but are not involved with her directly, if they do not even return phone calls. You being around to assess and help her get resources to keep her safe, seems a good start to create a plan. IF they are taking advantage and if they do not have any POA yet, I agree with getting her to her own elder care attorney to review the entire situation. You say they had her sign papers, and if so, she should have copies of them, or such should be requested from attorney who drew up such papers. And, yes, there should be some type of Adult Protective Service program in Hawaii that could help assess if she was being taken advantage of by others in family. As you would approach all this, I would suggest making it clear that MOM asked you to be back in her life, and you came, and you just want to assure that all is safe and fair for MOM and that no one is taking advantage of are not trying to interfere or take over for yourself. However, those in charge of her MONEY, should also be in charge of her safety and well being and if not doing so, then changes need to be made. If you are there for awhile, and do not even tell other family members that you are there, you would be able to see if there are phone calls to check on her, or see if there is paperwork she forgot about having, or just assist with a better plan for more direct care if you cannot move in or do not want to move in. With dementia, she will only get worse as time goes on, so the plan and the knowledge that no one is taking advantage of her, is very important, while she can still communicate what's happening and what she wants to happen.
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Even if your mother did give her POA to your siblings, she can always revoke it and give it to you. I know that's not what you are asking but one of the posts read like if there was a POA then that was taken care of. It can always be changed as long as mom understands what she is doing.
Not all siblings choose to care for their parents in the same manner. Some think they are caring while others looking on think they are neglecting. I've seen siblings take oppositional actions when one wanted to force parents to go into care. One who is purporting to be keeping an eye on things neglected the parents, thinking it would make the parents have to decide to go into assisted living. Then, in this scenario, another outoftown sibling came for an unexpected visit. They discovered a dirty house. Meds not being taken. Dents all over the car and garage. No food in the frig. 50 cans of tuna in the cupboard and some of those spoiled and in swollen leaking cans. Dog covered in fleas. No dog food. Water dish empty. Parents wearing dirty clothes. Phone calls from bill collectors because bills aren't being paid. Grandkids showing up wanting cars consigned.
In the above story, a third outoftown sibling called for the elder abuse folks to investigate. They said things weren't so bad as to take action. So there is a broad range of acceptable behavior before any government action would or could be taken. Your poor cousin sees a bad situation with no help in sight.
You have to decide if you are willing to get involved to the degree it would take to be a real advocate for your mom. Very effective caretaking can be managed from afar. ( after all that's what your siblings are pretending to do. ) but it takes more than a drive by check on things. It sounds like you have a personal relationship with your mothers drs which is great. What your mother needs is an attorney that represents her interests. Perhaps the cousin or other family member could be hired to be the Onsite overseer of your moms care? Someone needs to have a care plan in place for the next stage of her dementia. And a special thank you to family members who aren't the first level relationship but do care and try to help their family members and friends.
In the above story it was the sister of the mother who checked on them and brought them food. Now that the parents are both gone, the sister has the little dog who gets the best of medical and personal care. You had your reasons for staying away from your family but obviously you do care for your mom and it sounds like she needs you in whatever capacity you can offer her help.
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Touched for "paying it forward." It's never TOO early to think ahead and be prepared!
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