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I posted here last July for the first time because I was struggling with how to deal with the needs of my dysfunctional family. I'm sure many of you dealing with these kinds of situations will not be surprised to know that little has changed. I'm here now because the situation really has reached its climax for me - either things change, or I have to find a way to leave ASAP.

Quick summary - both parents in late 70s, father has an autoimmune condition which causes problems with balance and walking and his "mind has started to go" (though he will never get tested). He has started to repeatedly fall for scams (nearly wired $500 to a scammer, got his computer hacked by giving access to someone over the phone, has gotten conned into giving ride to random person who then hit him up for money). You've never met someone in your life who has his head buried so deep in the sand - refuses to deal with reality. If anyone can give him a run for his money in that regard, it's my mother. After YEARS of trying, finally got her in to get tested and confirmed she has mild-moderate Alzheimer's. She's also as personality disordered as they come. Narcissistic, histrionic, obsessive compulsive, the consummate martyr and eternal victim. She's disgustingly emotionally manipulative and has made my life a nightmare. And my father has made it his life's work to enable her. My role is black sheep, scapegoat, and punching bag...oh, and the "adult".

About 4.5 years ago I moved "home" to get back on my feet after losing my job. What ended up happening is that I've gotten sucked into the black hole that my parents are. I've totally lost myself. I suffer from chronic depression and anxiety, and now add to that a level of anger that is absolutely killing me. I'm broke. I have no support from family, no friends nearby and those who were my friends have dropped off the map. And still I know, it can always get worse. That's what I'm trying to prevent right now. I really feel it's now or never.

Here's the deal. My mother's lifelong love and obsession and dysfunction is money. But the disease is catching up with her now and in the last 6 months she has started to forget to pay bills. Their cell phones were almost turned off the other day because she hadn't paid the bill since January. Every day is Groundhog Day, with her manipulating me into her psychodrama because she can't remember how to long into an account, doesn't know passwords, etc. I am so furious I refuse to continue like this. So I have put my foot down and said it is time for her to sign the POA and let me pay the bills. But she persists in her old ways and makes progress impossible. And my father will acknowledge privately to me I'm right, then five minutes later he'll be threatening to hit me and telling me to back off and leave him alone. They have no will, no medical advanced directive/POA, refuse to make arrangements to move to a community where they can transition to assisted living (which are at a minimum a year's wait to even get into). In my efforts to try to get them to turn over the bills, it has also become patently clear that they don't know what all their bills, assets, investments and insurance policies are. They don't know what they're for, can't find previous statements...it's appalling.

So I'd like to consider a hypothetical. What would happen if I left and left them to flounder? (Now, I'm not in a financial position to do this immediately, but if this is the best option, then I know I need to get creative and try to work something out). What happens when my mom's Alzheimer's worsens, her credit goes down the tubes, they haven't arranged for any care and there's no designated POA? Does this responsibility ultimately always come back to the children anyway? Because my fear has been that if I don't deal with this now, I'm going to have to take them to court later to get guardianship and I can't even stomach the thought. If all roads lead back to me, then I would rather push through now and figure out a way to get the POA signed at least.

Bottom line is, I need to save myself from this sinking ship. But once I've jumped ship, I don't want to still be roped to it. So can I leave them to wallow in their own mess, or do I need to get the POA and get them to commit to alternative living arrangements before I go if I really want to be free(er) of this and move on?

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Don't put you name on anything except as a third party notification. I don't like joint credit cards either. I think everyone should have their own cards if they actually need one anyway.
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Been there I am on my mothers bills as her POA and I am responsible for seeing that they are paid but not for paying them out of my own money
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so, upacreek, what's ended up happening?
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Be aware that if you put your name on their utilities you will then be responsible for the bills...no matter what! I speak from experience.
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Just need to say, parents can have a contacts name put on their utulity accounts so when bills aren't paid, the contact is informed. Not sure if this can be done w/o the permission of the person on the bills.
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See if ur local Office of the Aging can help u find alternatives. I know someone said no government but maybe a visit from the county Social Worker. Explain that u can now be on ur own and need to work. Sounds to me there is some mental problem here. They can't take care of themselves. You need to step back for ur sanity.
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I do like pamzimmrt's suggestions, let everything non-essential get cut off, then let them come to you. But either you need to find your own place and remove yourself from this entirely or make them let you handle their affairs. The gray area you are now in is impossible for you, I hate it for you. You may want to research for free legal advice in your community to get the ball rolling or talk to their doctors about some paperwork advising that they are no longer able to handle their own financial and everyday affairs. I hope this all works out for all of you.
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Sandwich42plus, The company that rhymes with "smells phargo" was also a real treat to deal with on my parents POA. Took 6 different in person visits. I refused to surrender my original document to them. They would not honor a copy. That will be the first account to be drained to pay the nursing home....argh

This esteemed company was also executor for a friend's family land estate. Against the family's wishes, the bank employee "executor" started the process to subdivide and sell off the estate property because it was the "highest and best use". Family had to endure lengthy court battle to get what was rightfully theirs and keep it intact.
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How did you keep your cool with the person who had GROWN FAKE BALLS (anagram it!) once you have it sorted and before you punch his lights out go in ask for him and then tell him you want to draw all the money out and put it in a uer friendly bank.
Then when you have done that email the top brass and explain why you have done what you have done I am sending you their email addresses privately hun
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The particular evil bank I have to deal with wanted my ORIGINAL POA document to send off to their legal department for some kind of review of undetermined length.

Every single other company or agency has been fine with a copy of the notarized original. I have emailed it, faxed it, and mailed it literally everywhere else and been OK. Most places have even been nice to me.

The first time I went to the bank HQ office here in downtown, I simply wanted to get my POA on file before I needed to even do anything. The smarmy jerk behind the big desk just sneered at me when I said I have POA. His answer was "Well, we'll see about that." I wanted to kick him in the shins but I remained calm.

The bank that rhymes with Hells Fartgo. My attorney for guardianship said they are notorious for being difficult to work with. I wonder how they would feel about a class action suit.
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upacreek, how's it going you said your mom was going to go to the free class at the senior center about POA and what not. Did she go? Has anything changed? Are you doing better now? Has anyone's answers here helped? I hope so. Let us know how things are going and where you are at.
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Ah therein lie the problem JoAnn some people dont realise that being a registered POA isnt enough you also have to have it on file at the bank and in some cases for each of the darned accounts. Mum has savings ac current ac credit cards etc. I have had to register POA on every one at each of the banks she banks with. It can be a bit of a nightmare but they wont play ball without it
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For piece od mind, maybe allowing someone else to be guardian is a good idea.
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Good advice. Don't think I'd get guardianship. Maybe conservator but that is set up so she can't get to her money, right? Since she is in a NH, she can't do that anyway. I don't understand why the bank is giving u problems with the POA. Thats why it was set up to do her banking. Mine is on file at the bank. I have cashed in a CD with no problem. But then,we are known there.
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Also, keep in mind that if you do pursue any kind of court ordered guardianship/conservatorship, you will be roped to the ship in a way.

You can petition for emergency guardianship, in forma pauperis, which waives the court fees. It still requires an attorney to get done and will be $2,000+, depending on how complicated and contested it is. These fees can be paid out of your parents (the Wards) money.

There will be annual reporting requirements. It will be harder for you to move out of state should you need to. You can do it, but you have to file papers with the court to notify them.

Think long and hard about this option and don't jump into it until there is literally no other choice. One other choice is that the court can appoint a guardian from a service. Kind of like Guardian ad litem for children, but for adults unable to manage their affairs. You can refuse to do it (which is what I would recommend since this situation sounds like it's going to devolve a lot more before it improves any.)
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My advice is this: RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN
Run far & run fast. Don't look back until you are a 1,000 miles away. Or more. Live at the YMCA if you have to.

I am another person here with a demented mentally ill mother. I spent nearly 20 years successfully 1800 miles away from her and her crazy except when we lost our minds and brought her to visit once in a while. I really can't imagine having two of them to deal with at one time.

Her phone calls became increasingly bizarre until we determined she needed an intervention. She had to move to us because there was no satisfactory care in her location and she had run off every family member and friend years before.
We sacrificed all our time off work to move her, her house load of crap, and get her settled. I had no time off to even see the doctor for myself. Fortunately, I had a boss who kind of looked the other way and let me make up hours unofficially so I could get things minimally taken care of.

That was 2013. To this day, I really don't know if I did the right thing. I can't say I'd do it over again. I can't recommend it to anybody. There were a lot of days I put my head in my hands and asked what on earth have I done? There will be no thanks. No pay back. No inheritance to offset costs. Not two red pennies to rub together. Nothing is really better. A lot of people have said that I'm an angel for doing this, but in all honesty, I think I should have made different choices. I just didn't know there were other choices. I mean, the entire rest of the family had walked away from her - was that not a sign!

The time period between then and now has been some of the most soul-crushing, stressful, awful, night-mare filled time in my life. My depression was out of control and I refused to acknowledge it. I've always been a "suck it up" kind of gal. It has been one epic medical emergency or dramatic situation of her making after the next. Lots of change into higher and higher levels of care. Several moves. Suicide threats. Violent behavior toward staff.

Nearly all my free time after work goes into managing her paperwork and affairs. Make sure bills are paid. Dealing with collections. Insurance. Finding out I don't have POA back home. It has been one complicated mountain to climb after the next.

It's better (by comparison) now. Mom can't move anymore. She's in the unit she'll be in until hospice. I don't have to run errands with or for her anymore.
Her bills and money problems seem to be stable for the moment.

Her psychosis is as under control with meds as it can be, but it's still a difficult situation. She's no longer ambulatory or continent, so she's less able to fight but she still tries. Her paranoia is stronger than the meds some days.

I'm awaiting my court visit to be granted guardian/conservatorship to protect myself financially from responsibility for her debts. I can't even take my own name off her checking account as a joint account holder - seemed like a good idea at the time but it was a huge mistake. The bank has been an utter (insert favorite expletive here) to work with through this despite the fact I DO have durable POA.

Was it worth it? I don't know. I don't know that I fixed anything and often feel like I just created a lot more problems for myself by trying to do right. The sacrifice by my whole family on this end has been mighty.

Let go of any notion of how it supposed to be like on TV where everything just falls into place. Get yourself setup to be in good shape and don't worry about anything else.
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Upacreek -- there are good answers here. Yes, put the "oxygen mask" on yourself first and get strong. Then, find every relevant piece of paperwork and get a filebox to put it in. Addresses, account#'s, notices of non-payment, ect. If you cannot get the item for "keeps," then make a copy and put it back. It'll help when you do go to get help from an agency or attorney. Try the agency first, it'll help you put things in perspective before you talk to an attorney. I hope for your sake you will get some direct ideas to help. Try to stay out of the drama part of things -- make a file, put thoughts in a journal. Good luck.
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Hello, I have been in the same boat, except for I did not move back in, but in the last 5 years have had to become both of their POA's, as by 2 brothers stood
by and did nothing. I live 3 hours away and have 5 kids and work full time, single mother, and I have done it. If I can, you can too. Both had to be put into
an Alzheimer's home, my mom passed last Oct. and I do not regret a thing. My
dad is now in a Veteran's home, the Alzheimer's unit, and has been in the end
stage for the past 2 years, and I do not regret a thing. It has been very rough, not just watching them deteriorate but also taking care of EVERYTHING, I have
felt that I wanted to do this and am doing it. God bless you, if you leave they will have no one. Take care, KL
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My father is an alcoholic and a narcissist. My mother was the enabler but she took very good care of me and my brothers growing up. I still live with them but I had to literally distance myself from my dad within the home. I ended up getting Conservatorship over my mother but I always say that if my dad needs it someday, it's not gonna be me. My advice: get out.
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Boy, don't know how you've all lasted this long. Guess Who, don't understand why u r paying anything. Is it because ur Mom is in Asst. Living and not long term nursing care? Maybe when she gets worse, u can switch her over. I would change my phone number and only call her. Block it so no one gets it. I agree, ur brother bought her the computer, let him deal with it.

Up the creek, I would see if you could get a lawyer to gie u a consultation for free. I would tell him what u r going thru and find out ur options. You could start with your counties office of the aging and parents doctors. A human can only take so much. You may have to allow them to hit bottom before u can do anything legally. May have to put them in the hands of the state. Wouldn't want guardianship under these circumstances.

I had my Mom put me as a contact for her bills in case she wasn't paying them.

We shouldn't have to give up every part of our lives for our parents. When they start effecting our relationships then its time for an assisted living/nursing facility. They may end up being happier.
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Have you asked your psychiatrist/therapist what his/her thought(s) are?

Can they help you with this by getting in touch with sources they may have?
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Yes, "bottom line, I need to save myself."
Advice, "you need to save yourself."
Detach with love. You cannot do that while living there or while being
financially dependent. You can check on their welfare after you move out.
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First of all, stop blaming your Mother because you are still allowing her to suck you into HER drama. I am an only child so when this began happening with my parents, I have never faced such a difficult time in my life. But I learned real quick, with therapy, that I could not force what they would not do. I just stopped jumping every time the phone rang. Have I felt guilt? You bet. But deep inside I know I did what was best. And eventually when everything went all to h___, I was strong enough to step in and help where it was needed. Again, I could not have set such strong boundaries and been able to take care of myself had it not been for therapy.
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@guesswho4you My mom heard they were offering a FREE advanced directive meeting at the local senior center and FREE was the key word apparently. (Funny me paying the bills and preparing the POA free of charge didn't have the same appeal to her). She and my father have an appointment tomorrow morning and I'm dreading it. Because a) I can't imagine them actually making all the necessary decisions in the context of one meeting and b) that means when they come home I'm going to have my day eaten up with misinterpretations and ruminations and indecisions. And then we'll likely be back at denial (death, what death?) where we started.

I'm really moved by your situation. It hits very close to home. Especially the IT background...I used to do IT-related work and here I've been the network specialist for years. And it's quite possibly the most infuriating part of caregiving for me. The viruses, the forgotten passwords, them incessantly saying their computers have been hacked when actually it's just that they don't know how to use it...it's maddening.

My parents scoff at the cost of the independent living community that feeds into the assisted living community in our neck of the woods. Of course there are cheaper options, but they could *never* slum it like that. Those apartments and companion suites are way too small (and half the cost but who's counting, right?)! Why move into a retirement/assisted living community when the house is paid for, right? No reason to let a little thing like Alzheimer's force you into an unnecessary move.

And I'm particularly sorry about all the family criticism you've received. It is so infuriating to receive judgment from people who have never been primarily responsible for care. I've only got one close family member - my brother - and I updated him days ago about what's been going on and he hasn't even bothered to respond. So for me the issue is primarily lack of support, and then when he or my sis-in-law bother to call, the criticism comes. They feel no guilt, no responsibility. Talk to me like I'm an idiot.

Amazing how these experiences reveal your true friends and family. I personally have none, but, good to know nonetheless.
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upacreek, I was in your position. I made my mother sign the papers reluctantly and she would only sign the one on do not resuscitate (She 's planning on living forever) but would not do the POA-Financial or Medical it but I filled the out for her. And so when the time came and she needed the help to get into an assisted living home I was all she had for help and she was in the ICU. So I just got the Notary to come into the hospital when she was back in real live world and had her sign them to get her out of the hospital because she didn't want to stay there. Bad timing but she at least knew what they papers were because she had seen them before (like every year for 6 years) until it was evident that she was not going to go be able to live on her own. I took care of everything for her. I took care of all the paperwork got her into an Assisted Living center, Medicaid, Physical therapy doctors appointments. By myself. Did I get a thank you from the relatives her sisters and brother or any one no. But I sure got a lot of criticism from all of them after she was settled and she was there. I put her there and took away everything from her. And I've been paying for it ever since I got her there. To do over again at this point. I wish I could have been 5 minutes faster at getting to her apartment and being able to talk to the Emergency Room doctor before the intubated her. If I had the chance I would have given them the document that she signed and stated she did not want any of that done. And it would be over. I know that she was not ready to leave this world yet. But I wish I could have. It would have alleviated the hell I have been through after getting her into Assisted living from them. So I saved her, ruined my health, lost a lot of time and sanity, relationship with my husband, and lost relationships with my relatives, killed my car, gained a dog I hate, more money I have to pay out for her care because believe me Medicaid does not cover it. And she has never been appreciative about any of it. She is just as nasty to me now as ever. She calls me everyday and asks me what day of the week it is. what time it is, do we go to the doctor today. She was using the computer and everyday I would get the calls about how do I do this and I can't make it work. Forgot my password, etc. where is word at. So I said no to a computer in the new place (my brother actually agreed with me on that thought anyway) but they went out and got her one anyway after I said I would not be her assistant and they could troubleshoot her problems from across the country. Yesterday it was can you hook me up to the network so I can use it? Can you show me how? I said no call and talk to them how to work it. I have a degree in IT and have been doing this for 25 years so of course everyone has previously called me for assistance on their computers. For the first time in 5 years while she was there she was actually going out and talking to the table mates and others in the complex. She was walking around and actually finally looking better than before (probably because they made her quit drinking) because of new medicines she is on. I think that right there has been the life saver. Now after the doctors appointment yesterday she thinks she is perfectly healthy and fine and there was no problem with her at all, the doctors and the hospital made it up. Yet she couldn't tell me where we were or what we had just done that day. The dementia is getting worse and there is nothing I can do about it. But she can rip me up one side and down the other and think it is okay. But it is not. I'm going to save myself while I have a chance and I will pay her Assisted living payments each month and other payments. As long as she doesn't take any money out of the account and she has just enough for the assisted living payment. If she starts taking it out of the account then doesn't have enough to pay the assisted living. She is my brother or my aunts and uncles problem not mine. My best advice, save yourself. If she and your dad have treated you that badly and will not come up with a caretaker agreement plan to pay you for their care. Get out and get out fast.
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Save yourself some aggravation. Put a notebook beside the computer and itemize all the logins and passwords for the various accounts. Make a copy of it and keep it in a fireproof safe. Even I am having to do that. It seems that there are more and more things to try to memorize and it's harder and harder to do so.

As you go through paperwork and find important paperwork regarding investments or insurance, place those in the firesafe as well. Eventually you may have it all organized and in one place. Keep their marriage license in there and passports as well. Any military paperwork (discharge) should be in there too. Make a list of important papers and make it a scavenger hunt with your parents. See who can find the most.
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Thanks so much @emjo23. It's taken me a long time but I see that it's not that my efforts aren't good enough - it's that no amount of help will ever change them. And I see first hand that the way they behave privately with me is atrocious but they do work hard to save face with professionals. So I think a 3rd party POA would ultimately be a better choice for them. You're right though - it's their choice. So I think my priority right now will be to distance myself as much as possible, work on getting my own finances and career together, while reiterating to them what their options are. If I can't change them, I can at least change myself. I really don't want to play this dysfunctional role any more, and I don't want to enable them to keep playing either.
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up - as you are seeing, just because you are being reasonable, organized and and honest about money does not mean your mother will be any different. I very much doubt that she is capable of being reasonable, so regardless of what you do she is going to behave the same as she has been. I believe that with the degree of dysfunction between your two parents a 3rd party, non family would be the best choice. The trouble is that a POA is for your parents to appoint - if they are competent - not for you to decide. And it does not sound like that is what they want.The alternative is for them to continue until they are deemed incompetent and then the state can take over. If you are POA you will not extract yourself from the dysfunction - believe me, I know.

Yes, you have to look after yourself. Leaving them at this stage to experience the consequences of their choices is not abandoning them. It may be the only way help can be brought in. Contact APS and the agency on aging and find out what is possible. Get a job and get yourself set up as they are going down in flames and you don't want to go down with them. Keep in contact with them and agencies and be the family "go to" person, but at a distance for now. Have all your efforts to date helped them? Has being there helped you? Think about it!
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I'm prepared to keep good records so it's not so much that I'm worried about legitimately getting in trouble. It's more to do with the time and emotional drain of dealing with my mother's incessant checking of things, her histrionic fits, and accusations. She's absolutely draining and I can't afford the time suck. I need to have the space to become financially independent, and I can't do it with my mother anywhere near the vicinity.
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I keep a spreadhseet with absoutely everything on it. And I keep a box with the receipts in. Do I keep them in order? Nope! but they are all there every one
and if anyone wants to check - crack on
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