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My sister just called me in a total freak out. She just came back from taking my Dad to have his bottom teeth pulled, the probable source of his sepsis. He comes home from rehab tomorrow after many weeks of treatment and therapy. The good news is he is doing well. The bad news is he and my Mom still refuse to do ANYTHING about their lack of finances (they have plenty of resources but nothing is liquid). They have no cash, none, not even to buy groceries.

My sister takes care of Dads medical stuff and my brother has been helping my Mom sort out the bills but he does not have POA. My parents keep sabotaging his efforts to help them get the ball rolling to bring in revenue from their assets. I have been going to the rehab a few times a week to spend time with Dad then back to their house to give Mom some time. We have all been working hard.

Anyway, my sister made it very clear that arrangements for payment to the dentist must be made ahead of time and she told my brother what he needed to do to help my parents procure care credit which the dentist had agreed to accept. He gave the info to my parents and my Mom told him not to worry, it was taken care of. Much to my sisters horror, when they went to settle out after Dads procedure, the dentists clerk told her nothing had been done and asked for payment in full. She said both of my parents just stared ahead with blank expressions and said nothing. My sister did not know what to do , she said she would have my brother call in later in the day Dads credit card info. When she called my brother he was livid and told her that all their cards were maxed out. Accusations flew and terrible things were said between my siblings. Whats sad is neither one of them are to blame. They are doing their best but my parents will not do their part.

My sister called me, furious at my brother. I let her vent then I carefully explained that our brother was also at his wits end. She calmed down and decided to call our brother and apologize (not something she does very often). I hope my brother apologizes back. We need to work together.

My sister and I are hoping that the three of us can get together to talk about moving forward. It is clear our hands are tied when it comes our parents choices. They will not listen to any of us and I have a terrible feeling they expect us to cover them financially which is something none of us can do. I talked to Dads case worker about setting him up with meals on wheels (which he says he does not want) and I can bring food a couple times a week but they need way more than that. They get social security but that won't even touch their monthly bills because they still have a small business which is not bringing anything in and still has overhead to meet.

They will not even consider talking to an elder finance attorney, as was suggested here, so that is out of the question. It is pointless for us to talk to anyone since we have no power. I don't know what to do. Do we just sit back and let the chips fall? Can I call elder protective services? What would I even say? At this point none of us want anything to do with POA even if they would agree. We are all fine with the state taking over when the time comes.

There are so many more details I could go into but I would be writing into next week...what a mess.

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I am having finance problems with my mum too i would suggest if they have no dementia then stop helping until they release some assets. You want food then give me money!

I have had to do this with mum and she has dementia she is over generous then wont even give me money for food until she wants tea and theres no milk!

I know i need to get POA but its hard trying to get her to understand. Its awful i have had to take money from her purse a few times as it was easier than trying to explain things!
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Thank you all again for your words of support. I will take your words to heart and try to accept this thing I cannot change.
I brought Dad home and got him settled in. He was so glad to be home and so was my Mom. I hate their behavior sometimes but I do love them both. I need to remind myself that they are damaged and doing the best with what they have. As dysfunctional as my upbringing was it was plenty worse for them, especially for my Mom. I am going to keep a safe distance but be there for them when I can.

And whats that about an Extreme Cheapskate show!!! Oh I gotta check that out. There is something weirdly comforting about knowing there are other people out there who are just as bizarre...
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It seems a sort of lifelong mental illness that both parents have - perhaps your mom is more a "ignore it and it will go away" type of person, while your dad is a miser. I suspect even professional help would probably not do much to help them, not that they would accept it. For sure, you and your siblings should avoid entanglement in their finances - if anyone hears that you're going to assume responsibility, they'll be on to you like fleas on a dog. And you definitely should not be paying their bills. The social worker's advice to let it all play out is probably best. Sounds like it is approaching that, with the credit cards maxed out. And I'm not going to even advise checking into stuff like have they been filing tax returns, etc. I think you are looking at a toxic swamp and don't want to even go near the edges, lest you fall in. Could I suggest holding onto your siblings like the lifesavers I suspect they will turn out to be? I know my sisters are my best friends, can trust them with my life without thinking twice and have found over many years that if we "hang together" we won't hang separately. I cannot help but suspect that a divide and conquer strategy may be occurring to your parents as they find they cannot stave off the falling financial house of cards. I'm not sure you actually have to have a formal dementia diagnosis, just a situation where they obviously cannot take care of themselves to get a public guardian involved. Bankruptcy may turn out to be your friend.
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You poor dear...and your siblings too. Although clearly your parents are mentally ill, ultimately they are so selfish not to consider how this impacts you all. Sadly, you will have to let something awful happen, that will require hospitalization. And then you will have to indicate to discharge planning that no, you and your siblings will not be helping because your parents won't give you the tools to help.
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I spoke with my Dads case worker and told her the short version of my parents situation and she told me there is nothing I can do, that my parents will have to deal with it. They have the right to make their own decisions no matter how bad those choices are. I said, "but what if something awful happens because of it" and she said they will have to deal with that too....and the consequences. I'm probably going to call the Elder Affairs office anyway. My sister and I are going to meet on Sunday to talk. I don't think my brother will come because he is still pretty mad at her.

We did arrange meals on wheels so that is good news.

In answer to some of the questions asked. My parents work alone. They have a shop and they deal in a specialized collectibles market. Mom doesn't know much of the business she goes mainly to be with my Dad. She has not been going in while Dad has been sick. Their business has been going downhill for quite a while because the market has changed and they are not willing to change with it. That happens to a lot of old time business owners.

Even if there are books they would never in a million years let us see them.

No they are not losing weight, not yet, up until now they have been buying their own groceries because they had some income coming in from the shop although they have also been using credit cards which are all maxed out now.

I'm off to bring Dad home now. I'll be praying for patience and if that does not work I have lorazepam :)
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Oh my they are an accident waiting to happen. Like I said before I would love to understand what makes some people so cheap. Have you ever seen that TV show Extreme Cheapskate? Now that is crazy run amok.
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Tryingmybest -- Meet with your siblings and figure out the steps to take to wash your hands of this and walk away. It sounds like a lifelong nightmare for you, and these are the natural consequences of your parents' actions -- and inactions.
I think, if you can make the calls this week, and get some answers and a plan in place, you will feel SO much better. Let us know how it goes :).
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Thank you so much for understanding palmtrees. My Dad is the cheap one and he controls all their finances. My Mom on the other hand has always refused to get involved. She has told me many times that she hates dealing with bills and money, it gives her a headache.

My parents both believe they are going to resume their old life, including their business. They are really in denial. As for inheritance, I seriously doubt that has ever entered their minds. I have been asking them for years to please liquidate what they have to do things like put in a safe shower (they have a claw foot tub) or get a new stove because their oven has not worked for years. They live with questionable wiring all over the house...on and on.

Once when I was told they don't want to spend the money on something important I got really exasperated and said "you can't bring it with you". I told them to please use what they have now because us kids sure as heck don't want it in the end. Mom just sneered and said "oh you don't have to worry about THAT happening" I don't know or care what she meant by that but after, I just gave up trying to talk to them about it.

I did not mean to go off on this. I work really hard on letting go and staying focused on the important stuff. I guess I'm just feeling a bit lost right now. Thank you again for understanding.
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Wow and I thought my parents were cheap. Is one parent the really cheap one and the other codependent? My mother is the cheap one, dad just let her be. We too did not receive the proper care, never spent a dime on us. Mom does pay for a few things around the house now that dad is dead but she grumbles as if she were a poor, poor widow. We are estranged because she told my brother I wanted money from her, to feed my kids! Total lie, just an excuse to keep me in the dark about her finances. My husband has plenty of money and always has. I have no need to ask her for anything.

I know you love your parents but they are beyond selfish. What they want is you guys to pay their bills and for what? To save a business, to pass on an inheritance. I would love to do a study on the psychology behind excessive cheapness. My mother is beyond cheap and I married a very cheap guy( you marry what you know). He will struggle and struggle with paying for the things we need. Yet he has many investments and accounts (all his of course). All of our friends laugh at him as do I and his family. He is getting worse with age as your parents have. With my husband it is about the security of "having" the money, not using or enjoying it. Believe me it boarders on mental illness.

These types will wear you out and cause enormous stress for you if you let them. That is unhealthy. I am sure someone on here will give you good advice about having a guardian appointed at some point. It sounds as if that may be the best thing for your family. Don't let them destroy your relationship with your siblings. My brother and I barely speak now due to mom's manipulative ways and he being very much like her. Good luck to you.
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Thank you. I hope to have a meeting with my siblings this weekend. I will think about all you have said. Today I pick my Dad up from rehab and bring him home, I will try to talk with his case worker at the rehab before we leave and see what she says. We have no money for lawyers so I think I will call Elder Affairs in Massachusetts to see what they say.

I do know one thing, untreated mental disorders often get worse with age so even if it's not dementia it could be that as was mentioned. I will try to find out about a psych evaluation.
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Trying, I can only offer information on what would be done in my area. Hopefully it will be of some help, although this is what was done over 40 years ago so things may have changed.

The County Probate Court had jurisdiction over guardianships, and would provide information to someone who inquired on what's necessary to file a Petition. It also had jursidction over mental commitments.

Back in the mid-1960s I worked as a court reporter for the Juvenile Court, a division of the Probate Court, and sometimes we had to cover the guardianship and mental commitment hearings.

My memory is a little fuzzy on all the details, but as best as I can recollect, someone, including agencies, would file a petition for guardianship (or mental health hearing). Family could also file the petition.

At the hearing, typically the judge would order a psych eval and sometimes a temporary commitment for evaluation, depending on the circumstances.

After those were done, a decision would be made whether placement in a mental facility would be appropriate, or what other action would be taken.

I don't recall all the specific details of guardianship hearings, but I also worked on a few case files of guardianships handled by an elder law attorney in the late 1990s (and saw very eggregious financial abuse).

Guardians appointed often were attorneys, who obviously charged fees, big fees. I honestly don't remember what was done if there were no family funds.

So if I were you, I'd contact the county Probate court in the county in which your parents live and ask them about how to file, procedures, fees, etc.

Good luck, and best wishes for some level of involvement that helps everyone in the family. You're really in a tough situation.
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Well if the family members don't want to take charge I suggest not enabling your parents either. Are they actually losing weight from not eating? In Las Vegas a lot of older people no longer cook at all at home and go out to eat all the time. It's very easy to do here and quite common. Do your parents eat elsewhere as opposed to buying groceries? Do they purchase any prescribed meds? By the way, what makes you think that they are currently of sound mind? They don't sound like it. Do either of them go to this business and run it? Is someone else operating it? Either step in or step away. It will end up ugly either way. I think that as long as the siblings think that the parents are mentally ok you won't make any progress. Have a meeting with dad's caseworker and lay it all out....they don't pay their dental bills, don't buy groceries, whatever. You may find out that they really are not competent. Then you could request a guardianship hearing, and ask the court to appoint a non relative to take over. There's no way I see a happy ending. Figure out what the siblings goals are, how much ugliness you are willing to see your parents go through, what you think the consequences will be whatever you choose to do. I repeat the earlier advice to get an attorney and accountant, and also try to get their medical info. If you don't want to go that far, just decide what you will do and draw the line and don't cross it. You suffered medical abuse as a child but you know this is not the right behavior, but it's"normal" for them. If they wouldn't pay for a child what makes you think they would pay other bills? They are off kilter, you're just used to it. I too am curious about hoarding. Is that happening? If yes, that supports the idea that they are not really functioning well.
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It is possible that lifelong money issues + mild cognitive impairment setting in, plus/minus a hefty dose of denial = they have tipped themselves over from being pathetically cheap to being dangerously maladaptive. They could end up homeless and it sounds like they need a bankruptcy at least for the business. In other words, don't rule out dementia; they may be losing their judgement and their ability to see the house of cards about to fall down. A look at the books for their business - if there are any - might tell you a lot. And yes, if they are not buying groceries, rather than you stepping in and doing it for them, which will become permanent, call Adult Protective Services. Are they by any chance also hoarding? Is there home safe and reasonably clean?

PS - I supsect brother is in a little denial too.
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If this is dementia then they have always had it. My parents have always been totally paranoid, miserly and weird with money. I have countless stories about how this impacted our lives in a negative way but I'll just use this example. When I was a kid I ended up deathly ill from untreated strep throat and now have permanent health issues. Why? My parents would not take me to the doctor, they did not want to pay the fee, not because they couldn't but because they did not want to. Forget health insurance, we never had it.

This behavior is neither new nor unexpected. The difference now is that they no longer have the ability to work 7 days a week so they need to sell off their material assets and properties aside from their house. They refuse to even discuss it. This is not dementia, some other mental health issues, probably, but not dementia.

At this point neither of my siblings nor I want guardianship or POA. We will help them as best we can but it would be best for an outside agency to be in charge. There is a long history here which resulted in damage all around. We love our parents and will be there for them but none of us would feel safe taking on that role.
Which brings me to ask. How would one petition the state to take guardianship and is that even possible if they are of sound mind but making terrible decisions.
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I agree that the three of the siblings need to stick together and consult an attorney about guardianship. Even if you don't have POA I would make a push with their doctor detailing their problems in writing. You may be on their HIPPA forms and not even know it. Ask for the doctors help in determining their competency. You are probably going to have to take steps for guardianship that no one wants to do. Try to keep up that united front with your parents. Do not cover their bills. You're only going to hurt your own families and enable them to stay dysfunctional. Their dysfunction is not likely to improve, so you should do something about it. That is what guardianship is for.
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The three of you should go see the elder attorney and petition the court for guardianship if they are in dementia. The failure to provide for themselves is a a strong indicator that their cognitive abilities are failing. I'm willing to bet they are not paying bills at home, given they won't pay the dentist. Mom would hide any bills she did not like. She hated taxes and medical bills, but would send money to any charity that mailed her a plea.
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