Dad, who is 92, started declining a few years ago, when he began losing speech after what I suspect was a series of strokes. Mom kept going in and out of denial, not getting him decent medical care, then refusing to give me, their only living child contact information for any of his doctors. Every time I asked she got more agitated and offended, even telling me it’s none of my business and I’m a P.I.TA. All of that upsets me for many reasons. I am a special education advocate and my work regularly brings me into contact with Neurologists and Speech Language Pathologists to whom I refer my own clients for evaluation. So not only do I want information as Dad’s daughter, but I also have some professional experience that might have helped if she had been willing to share information earlier. All of this has been going on for a few years and gradually getting worse. Then two weeks ago, something changed abruptly. Mom called and repeated for at least the forth time in as many days some unclear demands about my bringing documents proving I kept my “maiden name” (It’s my legal name. I never changed it) to prove to her bank, which for some reason has me listed under my husband’s name, that I’m me and should have access to an account after she and Dad are both gone. I said I’d go with her to the bank and show my license and credit card, as she requested. Then she started asking me to bring additional documents. And then she withdrew those request. She kept changing her mind about what she wanted and practically hung up on me. Later that day we spoke again. She didn’t apologize for yelling at me earlier. (Apologies have never been her strong suit.) She sounded a little calmer though, until she accused me of talking down to her. (Another of her longtime accusations. I am one of many people whom she alleges looks down on her.) I sidestepped the accusation saying we’re both intelligent women with strong opinions, under serious stress. Conflict is inevitable, but I thought we could work our way through whatever came up. “However,” I told her “I do get mad when I feel you’re not listening to me,” which she ignored. The next day she called again saying, almost as an afterthought, that my Dad’s confusion is getting worse, that she asked him to brush his hair and he brushed his nose, and that she caught him trying to put coins in his mouth. I almost dropped the phone. What started as post-stroke expressive aphasia, did start to become some disorientation a while back. (Since my Mom has tried to step between me and the doctors and therapists all along, I’ve just had to keep guessing) But this level of confusion sounds like a whole other order of magnitude. It’s looking more and more to me like he might have something like vascular dementia. But he was the first person I would have turned to about such questions, once upon a time. Now I can’t. My father was a doctor. He taught every kind of natural science imaginable at a local community college. He was reserved, formal, and not particularly social until he started blooming in his seventies. He was the person I talked to about science, medical and otherwise. This most recent news hit me like a gut punch. I feel like he’s losing everything he valued in himself, and Mom and I are losing him by yards now, not by inches as we were before. I know she still loves him, but has terrible caregiver burnout. I know she’s anxious and angry, and at 89, might even be starting to show early signs of dementia too. I have been caring for my high-support, mostly non-speaking autistic son, so I do get how hard primary care-giving is, but I have support, and my son is an absolute joy. She can afford more help, but refuses to get it. I miss my Dad so much. I love Mom, and am trying so hard to treat her lovingly, even when I feel angry & must set gentle but firm boundaries. I feel by turns, loss, numbness, anger, sadness, guilt...I know I need to acknowledge all of these feelings to work through them, but I hate this.

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I agree. And I keep approaching her the way you have suggested and she keeps fighting me. I believe there is a world of difference between feelings and actions. I can feel as angry as I need to feel towards her, as long as I don’t lose control of how I act toward her. As for Mom’s anxiety and denial, yes it is getting worse as she ages, but she has always been this way. It took her a good couple of years for her to accept my son’s autism diagnosis 14 years ago (even though he’s primarily non-speaking) and my subsequent Autism spectrum diagnosis two years later. In fact, since I anticipated she would shut her ears to me, I called my Dad and asked him to tell her, as he was one of the few people who could get through to her when she didn’t want to hear something. He told me he wasn’t surprised that I’m also autistic and suspected he was as well. (We worked on getting him an evaluation for it, but there was no research on geriatric autism back then, so he was never formally diagnosed, but he’s always encouraged me to talk about aging and autism using him as an example.) He immediately agreed to talk to her. A year later she asked me why so many community organizations and parent groups were so eager to have me speak. I said it was unusual to find formally diagnosed, openly autistic parents talk about raising autistic children and she expressed surprise and doubt. She claimed Dad never told her. To warn him he was about to get yelled at, I called him and said that whatever Mom scolded him about, I knew he had done as I asked, and that he wasn’t at fault for her denial. It was one of the very few times I ever heard him speak of her in anger. He has always been so protective of her. I reassured him that I had always understood that Mom only hears what she wants to hear and I love her anyway. I know that tension between Mom and I pains him. I try so hard to be a loving daughter to both of them, but I also won’t let myself be bullied by anyone, even Mom, even when she won’t accept or can’t understand that she’s behaving badly. I really get that anxiety over her loss of control over her independence could explain 100% of this, that she might not have dementia at all. I’m trying so hard to speak from a place of concern and respect, rather than frustration and demand, but all she seems to be hearing are attacks.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Aikyo1

Your Mom is no longer young. I can understand her denial. Its overwhelming and she doesn't want to deal with it. Since she has told you she is worried, maybe now she will allow you to help. Stress can cause symptoms like your Mom has.

Maybe you can approach her saying, "Mom, I just want to help. And ur so lucky that I have the resources to do so. I don't want to take over, just help you."

Hopefully you can get Dad in to see a neurologist. Then he can run all the tests. Then you and Mom can go from there.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoAnn29

I am so glad that you reached out. It hurts to keep things bottled up. It takes time to process hurt. You have taken the first step by sharing your concerns with the forum.

Your mom’s secretive behavior is puzzling. It’s disturbing and a challenging situation. You are concerned for your mom and dad.

The suggestions that have been made from Barb and isthisreallyreal are great and I completely agree with them.

Moms and daughters can absolutely have complicated relationships. I hope the two of you are able to reach a resolution to these issues.

It’s a shame that your mom is withholding information because clearly you have connections and feedback from neurologists in your area due to your own circumstances being involved in special education.

Do what you have to do to find help for your parents. Even though your mom is being secretive she did make an attempt to reach out in an indirect way.

Keep that door open for communication to occur. She may be fearful and she isn’t able to process your dad’s changes just yet.

Try to look at her need for help over being annoyed about her being contrary. I realize it is frustrating to you since you have explained that is typical of her personality. It’s most important right now to get to the source of the matter.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

Great big warm hug !

Can you possibly get dad to the hospital? Sudden changes indicate that something may have happened, it could be as simple as a urinary tract infection that is increasing his decline.

I hope that you can find a way to help both of them, dementia is a terrible disease and it is so difficult for everyone.

You have come to the right place, you can vent safely here. Just ignore anyone that is rude.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

I'm sorry you're in such a bind.

Sometimes we end up in situations in which doing the right thing for one parent ends up rupturing the relationship with the other parent, at least temporarily.

Only you can determine for yourself whether it's worth it to risk your mother's anger to get better care/treatment for your dad.

There are a couple of things you could do. You could call dad's doctor (if you know who it is) and tell her/him dad's symptoms and ask how to proceed. (That would be my choice).

You could call 911 and show up at dad's door and get dad transported to the ER for evaluation.

You could call APS and report your parents as vulnerable adults. (Results with APS vary widely by location).

You could stop being quite so polite with mom and tell her she's being very selfish by denying dad treatment.

Are you afraid of your mother's anger? Is there any way that her anger can hurt you?

I hope you'll continue to post here and let us know how you're getting on. (((((Hugs))))))).
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Aikyo1 Dec 23, 2019
The suggestion about calling the neurologist sounds like the best option to me too. Although my mother will not give me their name or number, I might still track them down. My mother will often say she needs my advice or help, then bury me under a pile of papers that seem disconnected to each other and what she requested. But still, I keep all of the papers she gives me, in case something turns out to be relevant. As an act of self care, I would like to tidy my home office, and if I run across any of the multiple copies of documents she’s given me over the years, and one of them contains numbers for my Dad’s current neurologist, I’ll be overjoyed and call the neurologist right away. The other more likely possibility is, next time I visit them, I might be able to find it in paperwork somewhere in their apartment in the independent living facility where they now live. (A good choice on her part.) I can also call the rehab center, where my father was placed briefly after he fell for the third time in six months. They gave dehydration as the primary reason for the falls, which is entirely possible. So thank you for your suggestion, it may take some effort to accomplish the goal, but my work often requires similar effort as school districts also keep information close to the chest to avoid advocates like me from finding out that they have been out of compliance. I just wish my Mom would start treating me less like an adversary and more like...oh, I don’t know...a caring daughter. I hate having to sneak around.
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