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I currently am in a situation where I assist my parents (who live in their own home) when I can, my Dad is 80 years old and has a severe case of asbestosis and is on oxygen and has also lost a lot of mobility. My Mom rarely gets dressed during the day and sits around in pajamas, same with Dad. I understand comfort but they both appear to be pretty depressed (yes, both are on medication for it, Dad also for anxiety).


Things I worry about:


1) Dad goes way too long without using his oxygen during the daytime, sometimes until he hallucinates or can't breathe well, simply because of denial that anything is wrong with him. I am afraid that he will fall as he has in the past because of this behavior and really hurt himself.


2) Dad also spends most of each day trying to figure out how to either spend the money that they have each month or takes big amounts at a time out of the ATM (by sending grandchildren) such as $750.00 for no reason other than he wants in in his possession. This often depletes the checking account to as little as $30 and Mom has sent out checks for bills on this money. He continually gets on the telephone and opens new credit accounts putting them further in debt. He also refuses to pay extra on the mortgage to pay it down. This behavior is going to put Mom in severe financial crisis after Dad passes because his monthly pay consists of VA disability & military retirement which both disappear at that point. She will get some survivor benefits that he has paid into but he thinks it will be enough and it won't. He also told me that "one of us can take care of her".


3) Mom refuses to start a savings account in her name to help offset any future expenses. I brought this up to her in April of 2017 and she still won't do it. She won't do much of anything to help herself.


4) Mom won't cook meals (my daughter currently helps with this as she is living there but she won't be there forever and she does work) or go shopping. She won't even make a grocery list. It's like she just gave up on everything. I fear that if or when my daughter moves out my parents will get malnutrition. Both parents would rather eat sweets like cake and donuts or quick snack food.


5) Dad sits down cellar and smokes which is where his oxygen cylinders are stored until he needs them. I consider this dangerous and that he is putting all of them at risk. He refuses to go sit on the back porch. (Yes, we all know with asbestosis that he shouldn't smoke but he still does.)


I could go on but won't.


Are any of these issues enough to be able to get POA to help them from spiraling down? Or should I just let it go?

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It is less expensive and quicker to get a POA rather than a guardianship, which requires going to court and ongoing court supervision. In California (not sure about other states) it is possible to make a POA effective immediately, even while the principle retains capacity (as long as they agree to it). In any case, your parents would each need to have capacity to be able to appoint an agent in a POA. I would suggest consulting with an experienced elder law attorney who can advise you as to whether one or both parents are still able to execute a POA. If not, you would probably need to pursue guardianship. A dishonest attorney might have an incentive to encourage guardianship since it would be more lucrative for for them so beware of that and ask for a clear explanation of why they are saying a POA won't work, if it won't.
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Guardianship seems to make more sense in the long run. I believe this to be true in most cases when you are trying to care for someone with limited or deminishing mental capacity.

Guardianship comes with more encompassing and immediate authority in making decisions both big and small on another’s behalf. However, gaining guardianship is also more expensive and time consuming to obtain. But - if the person you are seeking guardianship for has the funds AND you are successful in being awarded guardianship - the expense can be recovered with the persons own money.

And - with guardianship verse a POA or even a DPOA, once it’s done it’s pretty much done. No having to go to a doctor (or two) to have the individual declared incompetent. Although, a very well written DPOA can help to minimize that complication.

What really factors in - is the fly in the ointment- is whether or not the individual(s) is going to be agreeable with a guardianship. Or even a POA for that matter. The individual may be agreeable to a POA at the time it’s written - they’d have to be to actually take this step - but as the dementia progresses and they perceive their loosing control of their own life, they may - and can - very well rescind the POA and perhaps even award it to someone else. This is something that doesn’t usually happen with guardianship. I mean, the individual may still get angry and fuss - but it’s unlikely a new guardianship challenge will occur simply due to the huge legal mess that would ensue and with it the huge expense. Only the ultra rich do this - the 1%.

But - back to the needed cooperation of the individual. If they do not want a guardian and they choose to fight in court - the guardianship process will become very complicated, very time consuming and very, very expensive. If the individual can not afford an attorney to fight on their side, the court will appoint them one. That does not hold true for the seeker of guardianship- they need to be able to hire an attorney in the beginning - but as stated above - can be reimbursed later. But the seekers attorney is going to want to know they will be paid win or loose.

So which is the better route? I imagine it varies with circumstances. One major consideration is the two sided nature that comes with guardianship. That being - yes, you have much more authority but much more responsibility and accountability comes with the package - and that includes financial responsibility and any debts the
individual may incur under your guardianship.
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With Dads lung problem and not using his oxygen he is not thinking right. He probably is not getting enough oxygen to his brain. Do you do a Pause Ox on him? 95 is normal, 90 is not good and below that is bad. Smoking we all know does not help especially around oxygen. I would go guardianship and you can use parents money. Dad giving money away is not a good thing. If he ever needs Medicaid the look back is 5yrs. These gifts will be questioned and he may be penalized.
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I got guardianship/conservatorship for my dad and he is not even as bad as yours. This was just awarded in the last month and we are only making small changes for now, as he is a bit of a control freak. The one thing I have noticed in the short term is that people are finally listening to ME. It has given me more authority with his care. I don't have the final certified copies of the conservatorship yet so I haven't been able to go to any of the banks but that should be coming soon.
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You need to get guardianship of your parents. This situation is a disaster waiting to happen. How do they intend to pay for their future caregiving needs. They are totally mismanaging their finances, which you know. Get guardianship. Cut off access to ATM. Cut up credit cards. I would suggest selling their home and moving them into a smaller senior apartment to cut their expenses.
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