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I've been on agingcare.com all the time and know that many of these issues have been addressed. But I have no hope. I had a total nervous breakdown and was almost suicidal a few weeks ago. I can't go on. Numerous issues:
-Impossible parents have caused two accidents recently. My family and I took away the keys but Dad fought it, tried to sneak them from caregivers, called the DMV, Police, did not accept his liability even though he was proved to be at fault, threatened to call injured parties. He falls asleep often, even at the wheel. If we sabotage the car he said he will buy another one. We reported them to the DMV already. At this very moment they could cause another accident or even kills someone. They have impaired judgment about everything.
-Mom has dementia, mid-stage. Both of them are in denial about it.
-Both of them are very stubborn and only drive 1.5 hour each way to their herbalist who is not really a Primary Care Physician. You cannot force someone to make proper medical decisions.
-We spent months of stress to get them into a perfect AL. Dad sabotaged the plan once, then we got them there and they lasted only a week and have moved back to their dangerous, decaying house. Dad was adjusting but stuck in a small room with a dementia wife was suffocating. If we separated Mom into MC then my dad would have a chance to improve away from her madness. I know you cannot force anyone into AL against their will without a guardianship. The AL was month to month so they could walk away.
-They will probably not accept or dismiss any home care givers. They have always wanted to do things their own way and on their own but now they do things dangerously.
-Guardianship has been filed but know they are far too competent at this point.
-Elder care paralegal says there's not much to do but to let it all get worse before it can get better so they will accept care. I'm starting to HATE that phrase. What does that mean? Let them kill someone on the road by driving, have a stroke, fall, constant ER visits, $ bankruptcy and endless other possibilities?


I am just not strong enough to deal with them and did my very best last year. I have tons of support and resources and even the good people at the AL couldn't get them to stay. I can't face the endless years of madness and dementia ahead. My body already crashed and am still suicidal and live in existential terror of what may happen. I am seeing a therapist. I need to save my life over theirs? Is that wrong to want to live? How can I walk away? It's terrible but I'm honest. I am not willing to live with them for years on end. Reading all the posts, I don't think you can.

I'm so sorry you are going through such turmoil with your parents. I think if it were me in your shoes, I'd disable their car by removing the spark plugs or whatever, then dispose of the keys so that NOBODY is in possession of them b/c they no longer exist. That would force dad to either buy a new car or have new keys made after calling a locksmith AND a mechanic to come to the house to diagnose the issue. With dementia at play, it's not so easy to figure out how to accomplish such tasks. You don't mention dad having dementia, but, based on his behaviors & refusal to stop driving even after causing accidents, I'd venture to guess there IS dementia at play here. If, by some miracle, he's able to get the car back in working order, repeat your actions to disable it again. After disabling the car, I'd leave their house (if that's where you're living) and get out of the madness.

I think the paralegal is right; you'll have to step back & away from your folks and let them do their own thing at home (without the car) and have a crisis occur before they can be placed. What that means is, one of them will have an accident, break a leg or a hip, go to the hospital and then rehab who will refuse to release them back to living independently at home. THAT is when managed care or full time in-home help will be their only option. In the meantime, step BACK and care for YOURSELF b/c your life is just as important (or more important) than THEIRS at this point. Setting yourself on fire to keep them warm is a mistake, and your nervous breakdown is proof of that.

You DO have to save your own life now! It's not wrong to want to live YOUR life and to allow them to live theirs, at least to some degree. You're not 'walking away' ....you're being FORCED to leave them to fend for themselves after trying everything in your power to help them, and having THEM refuse the help. You can't force a person to take care of themselves; they have to want to do it. Even though your folks are incapable of caring for themselves at this point, it's going to require them being FORCED into care before they accept it. #Truth. Don't go down the drain yourself waiting for that to happen!

Wishing you the best of luck realizing your limitations here, and agreeing to take care of yourself now. Should you ever feel like suicide is the only way out of this situation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255
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MJ1929 Jan 18, 2022
Contact his insurance company, too, and make sure they know he's a dangerous driver. That might show up on a universal record somewhere (I don't honestly know, though), and if he tried to get another car he'd be unable to get insurance. No insurance = no registration = no sale.

You could also contact the dealers in the area to warn them off from selling to him. I don't if it'd work, but dealers are mighty wary of selling to iffy older folks as it is. They don't want the liability.
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Walking away is far easier to say than do. Somehow the parent/child connection - whatever and however it may be, still lingers full of guilt and obligation.

You have receive much good advice and guidance here. Make sure you anyone you contact about this situation - i.e., the police, the state, their doctor, etc, that this is all done in writing (either snail mail certified or email with a notification that the email has been viewed) so that there is a 'trail of proof' for you.

For sure recontact the DMV, the auto insurance company, the home insurance company, the local police, their doctor(s), and the State - including Adult Protective Services. Have a doctor declare, in writing, that your parents are unable to take care of themselves and make their own financial decisions. They don't have to be full out dementia - it sounds like they are not living in a 'safe home environment' (key words there). This opens the possibility that then POA an be given to a competent person to manage your folks affairs - whether it is you or another trusted family member. This letter is then provided to all agencies and to the bank, insurance companies, etc.

When my mother mixed up her meds and the result was that the local pharmacy had to call 911 because mother was at the pharmacy having a full anxiety attack (she forgot she took her pain meds and took too many along with forgetting to take her hi blood pressure pills, etc), the emergency room had to notify the state, and the state got Adult Protective Services involved. They scheduled a visit to come and 'chat' at which I was present because I set up the appointment. If you folks don't set up an appointment, APS could show up unannounced and your folks might not let them in. You want to be present so all the 'facts' are aired and APS fully understands the situation. And if the hospital doesn't call APS, YOU call them.

Take away al the keys to the car(s), disconnect the battery, render the alternator unusable, flatten all the tires - do whatever it takes to disable any vehicle so they cant drive it. Don't tell them, just do it.

Once you have done everything in your power, there is no more you can do. You cannot control them, nor can you change them - like ever. You have been as proactive as you possible can, and now set your boundaries. Do not engage in discussions or arguments with either parent - it doesn't help nor does it work - it just frustrates you further and stresses you out even more. If they call and start b*******, hang up. Do not engage. I know that is hard and they will probably be super pissed at and with you - but you have to now recoup your mental and physical health. No more jumping through hoops between tall buildings. You cannot do anymore, and must heal yourself.
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To use a good phrase from 12-Step programs, wise little mottos: "Let Go, Let God (or whatever you acknowledge to move life along)"...because in a case like this you cannot do anything more than you've already done. Yes, we hope there's no accidents/deaths, but if things fall apart for your folks the authorities/social services will step in for the community's sake. Your mother may be placed in a facility appropriate for her needs; your father elsewhere, as needed. That you've already crashed means you simply must take care of you; release them with love; it is not abandonment, it is accepting reality: a hopeless situation that requires more than you can handle nor change. Find good support for yourself, counselor, etc. to endure the unfolding of your parents' chosen path. Yes, you must save your life over theirs; no one is expected to sacrifice themselves and it is Not wrong to want to live: that is a Sign of Life, of your innate understanding of the Law of Nature, which is always lifeward. For whatever reason your parents seem to be giving in to their decline toward death as hard as it is to witness. You walk away by making all the appropriate agencies aware of the situation so that when things evolve in whatever direction your folks will be on their 'radar.' Adult Protective Services might be an appropriate contact if you haven't consulted with them already. When my declining mom became difficult I appealed to APS, asking 'what happens when the elder just doesn't get it, won't cooperate?' and their answer was, you let things run their course and then mom would be placed wherever space was found; it was a terrible prospect, but out of my hands. In my case, Grace intervened and she passed away the morning of the day I was to interview a place to try to place her. These situations did not happen overnight; the dynamics were in place for a very long time. It is their path, not yours even tho you are blood relations; everyone has their own destiny.
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want2havehope Jan 18, 2022
This was super helpful and so well written. I love this forum. Beautifully said. Thank you.
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My heart totally goes out to you. I remember when my dad was burning leaves during a no burn ban. Reasoning with him was impossible. Looking back at family history, I do not remember past generations being so difficult to help, care for, or manage. I’m wondering if others are noticing this, too? I know my parents never did as much for their parents as I have for them. I remember feeling so exhausted and depressed that one night I said, “God, either take one of them or me. I can’t keep this up.” All I can say is contact APS and let them know your parents are affecting your physical and mental health and that you are no longer able to manage their safety and behaviors. I definitely had to re-evaluate my own quality of life. At my age, my parents were thriving and enjoying life. This is a good forum for support. I wish nothing but good things and rest.
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rovana Jan 21, 2022
In the past, people did not live so long and certainly not with the kind of chronic disease that nowadays is treated with dialysis, etc. Dad retired at 65, lived for 4 more years and keeled over of a heart attack. (no 911 in those days)
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Thank you everyone for all your support, solidarity and advice. I've been reaching out to lots of resources and help and here's a similar response I found so helpful from a local Alzheimer's organization: “It is understandably difficult when you want so badly to help, and can see how much a change in circumstances would benefit your parents, but they are not ready to accept that help. It is so important to know that you are not responsible for their refusing to move, and you cannot force them to make a good decision; even a person who has a cognitive impairment has a right to make bad decisions, and, unless they are deemed non-competent or are at a point when they can no longer carry out the steps necessary to make those bad decisions, unfortunately, no one can make good decisions for them. As promised, you may want to remind yourself on the difficult days that ".I cannot force them to accept help, and I cannot be responsible when they refuse the help I offer. I can only be here with options and a plan for when the time comes that they are ready to accept the help I can give." I know this can be so hard to get through, especially during this point in the disease process. Please know that you are not alone in this, and it is NOT your fault; Dementia often does not allow for ideal outcomes, and we can only do the best we can, no matter how hard we try. It is important to recognize your own limitations in this situation, do what you can, and accept what you cannot, and keep in mind that that can be a moving line. There may be days when you can do more, and days when you reach that boundary much sooner, and that is ok.”
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Your health and well being should be your primary concern. Walk away from your parents.

Does it solve their situation, no, but it removes you from crazy town.

We cannot save people who do not want saving.

Continue to disable the car. Write with a bold Sharpie in the inside of the Hood that the car has been disabled as your parents are unsafe drivers. Make it clear that you will hold anyone who enables their driving partially responsible for any accidents they get into and deaths they may cause, including your parents death.
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For starters, the car keys should not even be in your parent's house. Keep them at your house. This way when your father is berating the caregiver about it, the keys can't be produced even if she wanted to. I feel sorry for whoever is their hired caregivers. I've had many clients like your parents. Some sweet, loving caregiver who thinks she has a halo on her head is not the kind of caregiver people like your parents need.
They need an older one who's experienced with this kind of behavior. One who knows how to put a stubborn senior in their place and how to keep them there for their own safety and everyone else's.
Now, you are in no fit condition to be handling any of it just right now because you need to take some time and have a rest.
Here's what you do for them. Pay a visit to the police department in the town they live in. Tell the cops that they have dementia and have caused car accidents, but the DMV is aware. Ask the police to do regular wellness checks on your parents because they are at-risk adults. The police department will report them to APS (Adult Protective Services) and to your state's department of social services. When the calls come in from the police these agencies get on the ball a lot faster than if it was a family member trying to get help.
Also, don't pay any mind to what a paralegal working for an elder law attorney has to say. Police, social workers, and healthcare professionals are who handle these kinds of situations. Not elder lawyers or their paralegals. Please talk to the police department. They will help you and will probably send a social worker to speak with you too. Then let the state take it from there. Good luck and please keep us posted.
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The ONLY person you have control over and can save is yourself. Read that again please. Suicide is not going to fix anything and it certainly will not help your parents, so please take that option off of the table. Continue with your therapist.

You're gonna have to take a step back and let it hit the ground. You have attempted to help them and they don't want it. It's hard to do with people you love, but it has to happen. I had to walk away from an alcoholic father for the same reason. You cannot make sense of insanity.

You could write a letter to the BMV and let them know that your parents are not mentally sound and that they should be brought in for a driving test. That's how I got moms drivers license taken away. Then if they continue to drive without a license and they get into an accident or pulled over, the law/courts will get involved. Basically you're waiting until they corner themselves and have no other resource other than to go into a facility. Adult Protective Services is another phone call you can make just to let them know that your parents are endangering themselves. I know this is hard for you and I am not attempting to make light of the situation. Your stress and worry is not solving their issue and it is causing you harm.

Their lives are falling apart and they are going to fight to try to maintain control of it, no matter how crazy that sounds. Other than alerting the authorities about their situation, you're going to have to let it play out. If you have a type A personality like I do, it is going to be very difficult for you to do, but you have to keep yourself healthy so that when the s*** hits the fan and it will, you are available to help them however you can.
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Last year, the whole year, I dealt with a stubborn, independent mother just like your parents it sounds like. I won't go into detail, but after several accidents, hospitals, facilities, going to assisted living, going back home alone, having the worst accident of all to put her back in hospital now nursing home. I understand the guilt you feel. I really do. I have felt it too and I have been feeling so stressed out and depressed it is hurting my health too. I am determined not to let her ruin my life. I have done everything for her, including selling her home and moving her things many times with no help. When she was really in bad shape and said she wished she would die, she said she was sorry for what she put me through. Now she is getting much better and that stubborn, independent attitude is coming right back! She plans to leave there when she gets better. I cannot let her suck me into hell again worrying about her. She is in a safe place. I have to think of myself now. God bless you. Please take care of yourself. You have done more than enough to try to convince your parents. It may just have to come to something really bad happening. It usually does. But that will not be your fault.
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bundleofjoy Jan 18, 2022
"I am determined not to let her ruin my life."
"I have done everything for her"
"I cannot let her suck me into hell again worrying about her."
"I have to think of myself now." 

yes!!
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You disconnect part of the car engine.
You change the keys on the chain so they do not work.
You put glue or something in the door / key hole to jam it (if it takes a key to open (mine doesn't).

You need to get out of this situation.
Your responsibility now is to yourself and healing yourself. If you do not have your health, what is left for you? Nothing. I believe you are writing us here for validation.

Your cries for support are validated.

You need to help yourself.

If you legally do not have any recourse, accept this and if you do not, I question why not? You matter. Just take care of the car per above instructions . . . / suggestion. Even if he buys a new one, take part of the engine away so he can't start it.

Sometimes, the police and/or DMV cannot do anything until an MD submits in writing they / your dad is incompetent and unable to drive a vehicle. Even if license is revoked, some people will drive anyway. Do both - from a distance. It is frightening to realize that some people with dementia - and many - are driving.

Take care of yourself. If you are suicidal, your therapist must take some action on your behalf for your safety. What does s/he say ? Do ? Advise ?

Your life depends on you letting go. Do you see this?
What is running you to continue to self-abuse?

Gena / Touch Matters
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want2havehope Jan 18, 2022
Thank you and yes, I guess I am writing for help and validation. It's my first post. I do have a power team of family and friends looking out for me. They've taken me completely out of the situation protecting me from the madness. But that's the thing. I'm healing well slowly bit by bit with my mind getting integrated back to my body today which is why today has been the first day I feel more normal and can even type words here. But my protection right now is an artificial reality. It's not real. I'm being protected. The moment I have to face another moment of madness in their lives (accidents, stubborness, refusals, dementia, falls, strokes, etc) I will come undone. I am really trying to be stronger and gain better tools but their situation is impossible. I agree I must choose my life.
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