What do you do when your step father, who is DPOA and Healthcare Proxy of your Mother, will not provide the proper level of care, will not accept help because of trust issues with everyone - family or hired, believes he knows best and is fine, has savings and will not hire any help, and will not take any input from family or friends who are in the healthcare field? My mother cannot care for herself, cannot shower, cannot get out of bed on her own, cannot use the bathroom and uses a bed pan, is a two person assist to get to a wheel chair (and there's only 1 person home) and is struggling to recover from a debilitating fall and sepsis 1 year ago. She is not given meds properly, the house is scary filthy, and she is not fed a healthy diet. As her adult children we live over 1 hour away, work full time, and spend 1 day a week there cleaning / helping to come back and find it a disaster in a couple of days. We are worried about him as well. He is burning out and not taking his own medication in the process. He has now told us not to touch anything and it is his home. We feel our hands are tied as we have no power to change anything. What do we do as we are at a loss and want to see our mother able to recover to a better quality of life if at all possible? To us this is not fair to her. He loves her deeply and wants to do this (and tries) but it is really a disaster with no outside help coming in.

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You call Adult Protective Services and tell them that she is a vulnerable adult.

Agencies like this exist for a reason. They got put in place because of situations like yours, where no amount of polite persuasion has worked. Please call them first thing in the AM.

I'm so sorry that you are going through this.
Helpful Answer (15)

One of the things I had to learn with my parents is that they were living their own "script" that they had agreed to many, many years ago when they were both healthy with good minds. They made decisions about who did what and how things would go. Trying to interrupt that script fifty or sixty years into how they do things because you know better makes you crazy and your parents livid. Your mom cast her lot with your dad, for better or worse, whatever may come.

So you just have to let things play out and wait for that emergency when the whole situation changes to the extent that they have to listen to you. It's very common on these threads. It's nearly impossible as a loving child to stand by and watch the coming train wreck, but trying to intercede is often met with staunch resistance and doesn't get you anywhere but to more resistance from your parents (who will then act as a united front against you). Hugs - it's hard!
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There are no options here. Call APS, if they take no action then wait for the big crisis.  Sadly, it almost always takes a disaster to force a change.  My dad has dementia, mom does not.  But at her age with multiple health problems etc. her reasoning is not good at all.  I'm resigned to letting this run its course.  I can't force them to do anything.

You are at the point where feelings, tearing the family apart etc. are becoming secondary to the basic safety and welfare of these elders. It is so tough. I'm close to this with my folks, just hanging by a thread.

Be strong and good luck.
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Marie, let me tell you a true story, of my aunt and uncle. Aunt had CHF, uncle had dementia, and probably mental illness ( WWII vet, Burma Road, malaria, God knows what all).

They refused outside help. Dutiful daughter ( my cousin brought groceries each week, did housecleaning).

My aunt fell, fracturing her hip. Uncle pulled her around the house on a throw rug for three days until my cousin showed up with groceries and called 911.
After 4 months of rehab, aunt insisted on going back home. Cousin at that point was able to bring in day time care, which uncle fired regularly.

My cousin is a very patient person and waited until her mom died to gain guardianship over my uncle. He lived for several years after his wife died, finally with proper psych meds, in a VA nh.

So yes, you have to wait for a crisis if you are dealing with obdurate folks.
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Carerick, in this case, there needs to be a lot more care provided than just "picking up". I think your criticism is harsh and unwarranted. The poster and siblings are trying to do the right thing for their mother and clearly feel their stepfather is doing his best but is overwhelmed and needs some additional help which he's refusing.
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There are many folks here who are waiting for a crisis.

I'm sure that APS, like CPS, vary widely in their competencies and are ultimately only as good as their least competent employee.
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Thank you. That's where our minds are at.
Helpful Answer (3)

Marie; let us know how this goes, what works and what doesn't We all learn from each other here and there are no right and wrong answers.
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Marie, if you don't want APS, maybe slow and easy could get you some of what you want. Sometimes the way we say things causes a person to become resistant. Think about the words you have used with him, have you told him what he needs to do, or have you asked him questions and discussed and questioned and discussed until he starts to see things the way you do. It can't be obvious questioning to reach a goal, the conversation needs to seem totally organic.

Did you have his trust before things went south? Did you have a loving relationship with your stepfather through the years? I am wondering if the distrust is what we often see as people age or if this has always been part of your relationship. Have you been praising him and his efforts or just pointing out what is wrong, not good enough, not right. Have you said things like, "sit down, let me make you something to drink and you rest. You work so hard for mom and I am so thankful you came into her life."

When you come in do you take over or do you ask him what chores he doesn't like that you can take off his back? Are you treating him like a child in his own home, or like you want to be his partner in your mother's care? Change,if it happens, won't happen in one visit, it will take multiple visits. It is not easy to be patient, but it may provide at least part of what you want.

Do you know someone who does this kind of work who could come with you two or three times, intermittently over a five week period as your friend. He meets her, likes her then see if you can work her into the schedule for four hours once a week at midpoint of when you will be there. Then as things go well add another half day etc. you will need to pay her for the visits until the arrangement is formalized. Agree that it is just temporary until mom can get up and around and he doesn't have to carry everything on his shoulders.

Good luck. I hope it gets you at least part of what you want.
Helpful Answer (3)

Okay. Lots of input here and I do appreciate it. I'm going write a few more points in response to the ideas.

#1. We do not go in and complain to them. We do ask what they most need/want done around house. We try to encourage them to get help and what type of help they may need. Rehab told them both the same. He is very tight with money but then spends on stuff that won't help. We don't critique this. We only observe and tread lightly and suggest. He's not a person you can just push. He wants to do it his way. We focus on safety things.

#2. We do understand and tell him we know this is very hard and he is trying his best. He is not a trusting person in general. Hard to explain here and yes we had as loving a relationship as we could as adult children. My mom and him have been married a few less years than I have but still many. We always got along. He was around before any of the grandkids (and many are now adults too)and he is their grandfather.

#3 My mother recognizes he struggles with this and almost changed the DPOA and Healthcare proxy that he holds when she was in rehab. She didn't because she was worried he wouldn't get involved and would be angry. At the end of the day she's competent to speak for herself. So gaining guardianship in my eyes is not an option unless she decides to make a change on her own. She has to want this too.

#4 We try to make suggestions and plant seeds and ideas on what could help. I have offered to pay for help! They say no. But it has been a year and she has already had to go back to rehab facility twice in that time and the seeds are not growing that were planted. Each time there's a promise they will do something different but they then change their mind. They have taken some advice over time but not too much. It's their money and they get to decide what to do with it. We have no idea what's left and quite honestly it's none of our business.

#5 The cleaning of the house is one thing but the General daily hygiene care, doing daily Exercises to strengthen and recover, getting her up everyday to her wheel chair(really need 2 people), getting her to the open shower they had built, meds on time and complete, and even healthy eating are concerns. She goes out for rehab only 2x per week as in house ended. This is where aid is needed for a few hours per day. They've tried some and then fired and assume all are the same so haven't hired again. We finally convinced them to get lifeline and that took months.

So I hope that clarifies some. Will keep you posted. I think continuing to ask what they need and planting seeds is going to be the best option at this point.
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