Hello all,
I'm new here, and not entirely sure if anyone will take the time to read or reply to this, but I thought it might be worth a shot.
My 98 year old grandmother was finally recently diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ovarian cancer (about 2 weeks ago now) after a recent trip to the emergency room due to breathing issues (the cancer has metastasized to her lung). She is not allowed to return home, and is now in a recovery facility, then will be moved to a nursing/care facility. She has been given an estimated two months life expectancy.
About 5 years ago after the deaths of my father, mother, and uncle (it’s been a ROUGH few years for me, folks) she made my older sister & myself both the trustees of her estate as we are now her only living relatives (and we were buddies!).
About one year ago (before her diagnoses) she began to accuse my sister and myself of stealing from her (we live in a different state). Telling her neighbors, and our family friends that we have “done terrible things” to her. She refuses to take our phone calls, see us, and is saying that she needs to hire an attorney (she now wishes to leave her estate to her hairdresser...And no...I’m not making that up).
In the beginning of the accusations she would still speak to us (me more so than my sister, though my poor sister is just as innocent as I am). It was always difficult, and brief. I would tend to attempt to correct her in a gentle way. “Grammie, I’m not entirely sure why you think I would ever steal from you, but I can assure you that isn’t true”. “Yes, I did mail you that book you wanted, but I paid for it with MY credit card. Not yours”. “No, Grammie. You gave me those really don’t remember that?”. Etc. Nothing changed. Nothing worked.
My grandmother and I were VERY close when I was growing up. She lived around the corner from my childhood home, and she was more of a parent to me throughout my adolescence and young adulthood (I’m 31 now) than either of my parents were, so to say that these false accusations and refusal to even speak to me feels like a knife through the heart is an extreme understatement.
I want nothing more than to be with my grandmother/parent during her last remaining days (I have taken an extended leave from work to be in California where she is).
Respectfully & graciously, my questions for everyone are:
1: HOW and DO you handle false accusations made by someone with dementia and Alzheimers? Is there anything that can be done? Or is this just NOW their new mental state, and will be their mental state until the end?
2: As insensitive as this one may be; if she has been deemed by a Neuropathologist incapable of making rationale, cognitive decisions, DOES she legally have the ability to alter or change her most recent will in any way? Because I highly doubt that her hairdresser would have the ability to handle making arrangements for her care and settling her estate. Also, WE’RE her ONLY living relatives!
3: How do you guys “deal”? Because I’m having a hell of a time right now.

My sincere THANK YOU to anyone and everyone who has taken the time to read this. Especially to anyone who takes the time to respond to my desperate pleas for help. I just...need a little guidance.

All the best to you all.

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I am sorry for your loss.

May God grant you grieving mercies and strength during this time.

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Oh my, how shocking! I'm so sorry for your loss.
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HamsterJane, were you able to have the meeting at the bank? Hope all is well.
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Hamsterjane Jul 2019
I kept meaning to write you back, and thank you so much for the kind reply. I mean that. Thank you.
My grandmother passed yesterday afternoon quite suddenly.
She had been on oxygen since she arrived at the hospital, and wasn't able to breathe well enough on her own. I wasn't there, but apparently she finally agreed to attempt to get out of bed. They removed the oxygen, and she seemed to be doing alright. Until she wasn't.
Ham, you didn't come across as greedy, there was an answer that you had made about your sister and you paying for your airline ticket and such. That was the reason I said pay your way now. It's okay to talk about money and death here. I know two very avoided topics.

Are you the trustee to the trust? Do you have a copy or know the attorney that created the trust? This should not be any issue if it is a care trust, just read the specifics about what kicks in for the trustee to take over. Our trust specifically states that two doctors have to give an actual diagnosis for our successor trustee to be able to act on our behalf, checks and balance.

Unfortunately you paid anything towards grandmas care, you should not do that so it protects you, sometimes the money spent is not reimbursable and has created hardships for other posters who are just out the money because they acted in good faith and circumstances were such that they could not get it back.

I hope that it all goes well and grandma can see the love and not go all bent in delusions.

Take care, Hugs!
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It is a brutal nasty disease to be sure. I am sorry that your family is going through this.

Has anyone talked to you about hospice? Your grandma should be on it, they will help her stay comfortable during her passing, they will also provide care in addition to what the nursing home provides. They are there for her and her family. Don't listen to anyone that says they kill people, they don't, their clients are dying that is why they are on hospice.

If grandma starts accusing you or your sister try to redirect the conversation to happy memories. Alzheimer's patients can get fixated and it may take much effort and many attempts to redirect her.

Keep the visits short if she won't stop, even if you go have a cup of coffee and take a walk then come back with a smile and positive attitude.

If she enjoys anything, provide it. Flowers, balloons, chocolate, whatever will be enjoyed and create a diversion.

Remind your sister that it is better to pay her way now to avoid any issues later. If she is struggling financially maybe you can give her a personal loan. It is easier to let accusations roll off your back when they have no factual basis, getting money from the estate now is crossing the line and could feel personal if money has been used. Just saying.

I wouldn't worry about her doing anything from this point forward, she has a diagnosis of Alzheimer's and dementia and anything she did would not be valid. As far as an amended trust or revised will.

Remember to eat well, rest, exercise and get plenty of vitamin c to keep your own health good. 2 months can feel like a lifetime in this situation. Especially if the cancer metastasizes to the brain, which is possible and it could get pretty bizarre. My sister was scary to be around the last couple weeks, we just laughed and disregarded her alien behavior in a loving gentle way.

May God give you strength and wisdom during this difficult time, may He grant your grandma peace and comfort.
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Hamsterjane Jul 2019
Oh my gosh. HUGS to YOU my dear! Thank you so much for the awesome, helpful response!
We are currently in the process of arranging for hospice. My Dad was on hospice, and I certainly did NOT think of them as "death doctors". Quite the opposite, actually. His amazing nurse honestly seemed just as upset to see him go as we were (he was a VERY likable guy).

So. My grandmother has a...oh jeez...I'm so sorry. I'm blanking on what it's officially called, but a specific trust set up for her care (for this very situation) that is in a completely separate bank account. Which is what we're in the process of trying to gain access to, because well...I just plain ol' don't have enough money to pay for a care facility AND hospice care! I don't think too many people my age do (maybe if they work for Google 🤣). We are in NO way trying to gain access to anything else involving her estate.
I realize that my original post and asking the question of whether or not she can amend her will at this point may have made it sound like we were money grubbers. It's an indelicate question! But unfortunately it's the reality of life, and at one point (before she thought that we did awful things to her) her will/estate was set up FOR US (we've had it a little rough, and our grandmother was very smart financially. Like how I am now).

I'm so sorry about your sister. My Dad had Glioblastoma, so I completely understand what you're saying about the alien behavior. It was so strange, but also so...sort of fascinating at the same time. Seeing what doors to the human brain get unlocked and what it reveals. My Dad was already a very colorful, creative person, and if anything that personality seemed to heighten towards the end. But he still KNEW that what he was saying and doing wasn't what he actually meant to say or do. We came up with a code for communication that was like a different language.

Thank you again so much for your kind, caring reply. It was so nice to read and see this morning.

I am so sorry you are having to deal with all this at such a young age.

I read that you and your sister are co trustees of your grandmothers estate. Are you referencing as stated in her Will? Does this not take affect until after your grandmother passes?
Or does your grandmother have a “Trust”?

If your grandmother does indeed have a Trust, nothing to do with her Will, you could start with the attorney that set up the Trust. There will be things that will need to be handled correctly.

If you and your sister are having a difference of opinion, even slightly, as to how funds are to be spent, better to be guided by an attorney rather than there be hard feelings later.

An Elder Care Attorney specializes in guiding families thru the maze that is Elder Care.

You asked “how do you deal”? You go slow, you breath, you take breaks, you take care of yourself, you take care of your relationship you have with your sister, you ask the medical team lots of questions, you try to absorb the answers and you try to make the best decisions that you can in a difficult situation.

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Hamsterjane Jul 2019
Good morning! And thank you SO much for the amazing reply and for taking the time to read! Really. THANK YOU.

My grandmother does have a separate trust set up for her care, which we are currently in the process of gaining access to (because unfortunately I just...plain ol' can't afford to continue paying for her care facility AND hospice).
Everything I'm saying is what is stated in her will. I'm really not legally savvy, and simply don't have the mental capacity to understand it all 🤣 When I say Co-Trustees, it's because my sister and I are both POA's and trustees to her estate. We have had to do everything together since it's both of our names (which has been very difficult) on her will. Does that make any sense? It still doesn't to me!

Thank you for clearing up what an Elder Care Attorney is! We've been lucky enough to have a family friend who is a Wills and Trusts lawyer, and she has been of great help, but we keep wondering if perhaps we need to get someone else involved in the process.

This has been extremely draining for everyone involved. I feel like a terrible person for being worried about anything BUT her care currently (her care team is actually really wonderful, though!), but there is SO MUCH that goes into all of it. Unfortunately it isn't just one sided. It really should be so that families can focus fully on what's really important (our loved ones).

Thank you again so much for your kind, thoughtful reply. I'll be sharing it with my sister later.
Tge best to you, my dear.
I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this awful situation!

I don't think I have anything useful to add except that you should take copies of the incapacity papers to the bank with you and hand them to the officer you are to speak with. If you can get those papers to her/him beforehand, so much the better.
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Your grandmother should be unable to make new documents. You say you are co Trustees of her Trust. Is she still "in charge " of her trust, or have you been appointed as co-Trustees, managing her trust, paying her bills and etc? You should see an elder law attorney at once, because we cannot know what is happening with this hairdresser, or what lawyer may come in not knowing the fact. You need to have the documents documenting your grandmother's dementia with you when you see the Elder Law Attorney, and all Trust documents. I would get her care locked in and be certain that your documentation of paying debts and care are absolutely scrupulous with all receipts. Do not mix in anything you yourselves are using, including airfare to be with her; I recommend you pay this yourselves. All records must be absolutely clean or you could be in a good deal of legal trouble if the hairdresser comes up with a will or a document from a "lawyer" of questionable repute. You and your sister are lucky to have one another now and need to do this carefully and together. Best wishes in a difficult situation.
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Hamsterjane Jul 2019
Thank you SO much for the kind reply! Really.
She is no longer in charge of her trust, as she is no longer considered to be of "sound mind".
As far as the hairdresser is concerned...I don't think they've seen each other in a good 3 years. Heh. She doesn't really speak English, and she hasn't been going to visit her. That just seems to be...what she thinks is a good idea now! This women does not have a copy of the will by any means.
An elder law attorney? I have absolutely no idea what that even is! Is an attorney even necessary at this point if she has been found to be...mentally incapable of making decisions?
We have a notorized copy of the trust stating that my sister and myself are the trustees of the estate, and a letter from the doctor stating that she is no longer capable of making medical or financial decisions for herself. We have a meeting at one of her banks on Saturday (thus far I have been paying for her care).
Thank you for saying that about mixing up expenses! That's what I've been trying to tell my sister. I have been paying for travel costs and expenses MYSELF as to not get anything mixed up. I'm definitely going to show her what you said.
You are having a very hard time, and I know that everyone here will understand and sympathise.

It is impressive that you and your sister have not been forced apart by your grandmother's accusations. A good many families get completely derailed in this kind of situation.

Your grandmother will not be able to make a new will. She is not by any stretch of the imagination "of sound mind," and that's the number one requirement for a valid will.

I don't know, of course, but I would expect that the hairdresser hears this kind of thing from her elderly clients every other month or so and pays it no attention. If your grandmother enjoys her visits, don't stop her coming. Maybe have a discreet, friendly word just to make sure that she isn't being misled or worried by anything your grandmother is telling her.

So you and your sister should hold tight to one another and tough it out. Be confident that you *are* doing the right thing; but also keep immaculate records. By the way, though - you shouldn't be spending your own money on goods or services that you buy strictly for your grandmother. It may feel like the noble thing to do, but in fact the correct thing is to use her money for her appropriate spending: otherwise you're kind of making her a charity case, which she isn't.

How much have you been able to find out about the SNF she'll be going to? Are you happy with it, have you met any of the staff? What I'd be hoping for is that you'll be able to work with them to make her transition there smooth, and that as she gets closer to the end-of-life stage the clouds in her thinking may clear again. Don't give up!
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