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.