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I have POA over Dad's healthcare and am the Trustee of his Trust. Starting to have issues with stepmom interfering in care. She tries to scare him by telling him that I wish to put him in a home. That is the farthest thing from the truth! She tries to get him not to take the pharmaceuticals prescribed by his Dr. for dementia and anxiety (sever anxiety), instead saying to take supplements only. He turns into a 8 year old boy when she is around him. She treats him that way. I don't really care, except that it interferes in him being as independent as he possibly can. There are financial issues to consider and I am hoping that he remains as ambulatory as possible for as long as possible. I am committed to his care, to my own financial detriment. She thinks because she is the wife that she has all these rights. I thought the DPOAs had the rights to make decisions, including determining who can help with his care. If she continues to undermine my job, is it not my fiduciary responsibility to remove her, or limit her time with him? I truly do not know what to do! Her oldest daughter is the only one of five children that really gets it, but she lives 8 hours away.

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If I were the marrying kind… I'm not sure I'd be too happy with someone else having that kind of officially recognised authority in my spouse's life, either. She is his wife, she is his next of kin, she does have rights - including the right to have an opinion (even if it is wrong!) about what's best for him. So perhaps it's fair to assume that stepmother is starting out from a position of some resentment at your being involved. That's not great from the point of view of your winning her co-operation, but "I wouldn't start from here"…? Not terribly helpful, I agree.

Couple of questions: how long have they been married? Did your father appoint you as his DPOA before or after, and why you in particular? Also: you say your caregiving is detrimental to your own financial position; in what way? It shouldn't be. If you're incurring expenses, as in actual outlay, you should be able to reclaim these from the trust; although if you mean in terms of time or reduced expectations… well, it goes with the territory, I'm afraid.

Your options, depending on how strongly you feel about the various topics, are:
1. resign your POA and trusteeship
2. speak firmly to your father, reminding him of the reasons why he appointed you and asking for his explicit confirmation of his confidence in your judgement
3. step back and reconsider your stepmother's point of view. What is she afraid of? What is she failing to appreciate about your father's needs? How can you persuade her of the importance of following medical advice in order to prolong high quality of life for both of them?

It must be frustrating and annoying for you when she sticks her oar in; but the fact is they're a package, and supporting their relationship is in your father's best interests - and therefore your obligation. Sigh heavily, but take heart - unless she's seriously evil there will be a way.
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Having DPOA does not extend to separating married couples. Has your father been/would he be declared incompetent by his doctors? If he were legally declared incompetent and you had guardianship you would have the kind of authority you are talking about. If he is not incompetent then he can say "I intend to stay with my wife," or "I'm only going to take supplements," or "I'm going on some weird fad diet."

Competent adults are allowed to make their own decisions -- even very bad decisions, even self-destructive decisions. I know it is terribly frustrating and upsetting to watch loved ones make poor decisions, but that is their right.

If you feel he is truly incompetent, to the extent a court would find him so, then you can pursue guardianship.
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Actually, a wife has a LOT of rights. The POA can only carry out the wishes of the patient, who apparently is bound tightly to his wife. Removing her, thus depriving her of marital rights, would definitely require a court order.
The probable outcome of a custody battle would result in neither you nor her acting as Guardian, due to conflicts. The Judge would appoint an independent guardian. I should think you want to avoid that.
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If you can possibly afford to, I think you'd do better to move out. It sounds as though - how long have you been living with them, by the way? - your stepmother is beginning to behave so badly because she feels some kind of threat from your being there.

What is your brother's take on this? Others will correct me if I'm off target, but since he has DPOA for finances and you for healthcare, the two of you need to get those in force and, ironically enough, your father's funds could properly be used for that process. Your father's money can be used for any expenditure necessary to protect his best interests. That would include setting up the arrangements to use the authority that HE gave you in case of his becoming incapacitated. Which he has.

Your stepmother also sounds as if she is beginning to need support. Has she appointed POAs of her own? I think you ought to try to meet with her daughters and explain that, while you appreciate their difficulties, the fact of the matter is that she certainly will not accept your help and they need to decide what they would like to do about it if she is heading for trouble.

Normally I'd ask why you don't take over the cooking if you're not happy with your father's diet, but in this household I can see that it would cause more conflict: another reason for moving out, if possible. You could then go back to your father's GP and explain that it isn't currently possible for you to supervise your father's diet or medication, and ask him to issue very clear guidelines for your stepmother to follow. Having DPOA doesn't prevent you from sharing day to day responsibilities for your father's wellbeing, after all. You make the policy decisions, but trying to tell a woman what size her husband's helpings should be is never going to go well.

This must be very hard going. I'm sad to hear you thinking of the bitter end, and hope things will improve. What are the chances of your brother getting his finger out, if you'll forgive the vulgarity?
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Beware, this is a thread ripe for setting up contributors to fight among themselves for differing opinions,; or, taking sides. The tabloid of famous people have already argued this out in the courts. There needs to be kindness, trying out how to support this caregiver who asked her question needing advice. I can say this because I would have been one to take the nuclear option had I not learned more perspective from all of you.
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Here's the deal. Dad chose you for a particular legal role. He was wise to think ahead to a time when he might need that kind of help. And it is not surprising that he chose a younger person. Assuming that he and his wife are close in age, then choosing each other might not be prudent. So you have authority to act on his behalf IF HE WANTS YOU TO, or if he is not able to act for himself. You have no authority to make him do something he doesn't want to.

Dad chose your step mother for a particular life role. She is his life partner, and his soul mate. He made that choice freely, and continues to honor it. He is accepting being treated like a child (if that is what she is doing), he is deciding to take her advice about nutrition, he is choosing to stay with her. There is nothing in your role as medical proxy that gives you ANY authority over those decisions. If Dad says he wants out of this marriage and needs your help, that would be different. But I don't hear that as being the case.

I suspect that your intentions are impeccable. I have no doubt you want what is best for your Dad. You just have to accept the limitations of your role. (And, BTW, many caregivers are challenged by limitations even when there is no spouse involved!)

You haven't filled out your profile. I'm not sure if you are the daughter or son. I can't determine whether both of them have dementia and if there are other impairments. Perhaps if you give us a more detailed picture of what is going on we can provide more helpful and specific suggestions.
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If it were your mom, and not your stepmom, would you "remove" her? Limit her time with him? Personally, I think you need to change your perspective a bit. If I were you, I think my "job objective" would be to keep dad safe and happy. You're talking about a nuclear option.

I was a "second wife" for 25 years. When my husband became terminally ill, had his daughter held his HCPOA and interfered in our daily life? She'd have been taking care of him herself.
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I have no problem taking care of him myself. What I don't understand is why she is so nasty, when I am trying to make sure that he is safe, fed and medicated properly. If she loves him, she should be helping, not causing problems. In answer to your question, if my own Mother were causing problems, I would ABSOLUTELY separate them, if necessary! My goal for my Father is safety, happiness, and properly administered medication. Her actions are keeping him in an agitated state. As his caregiver, why would I allow ANYONE to have that effect on him?
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My sympathy goes out to you HelpforLife. If I did not know better I would swear you were writing about what our family is going through. I won't tell you my story but I can tell you that you have very real problems and it is not up to anyone on this forum to determine if the wife's issues are a result of love or the need to control. It is very difficult as a child to watch someone manipulate or verbally "massage" your parent. I think it might be more difficult when the parent is the male, as they typically adopt the new spouses personality traits etc. as the female sets the tone for the family and household in many cases …so from the beginning of the second marriage it may make the children feel they have lost the Dad they once knew. Stand your ground. My 90 year old Dad was diagnosed with ALZ 10 years ago and it has been living hell dealing with his wife. The length of time anyone has been married doesn't equate to love anymore than a car in the garage makes it a body shop. WIth 6 kids in my family we have the DPOA responsibility of Medical and Financial. These were made after they were married and amended many times. My dad's wife has 3 kids and they get involved as little as possible. We have caregivers, have retained a Geriatric Care Manger for two family dysfunctional issues and tried mediation about 5 years ago. SHe and her family resist participation in these activities and they do not pay a dime for anything…anything at all. She gets the benefit of someone else taking care of him, his laundry, the grocery shopping, companionship….you name it. Dad's wife continues to agitate the caregivers and stress out the household by her actions. The observation from all who enter the house is she is a master at manipulating everyone and uses the spousal card to her advantage. When a spouse engages the person who is ill in an argument or decision when they cannot recall the answer, they cannot recall the question and have no idea of the "backstory" that is the work of a control freak and someone who has placed their needs before the loved one. She attempts to monitor food, clothing selection, and nit picks every thing he does. My Dad is still able to do all his ADL's and remains very high functioning but I know he is progressing . His wife would him into a home NOW as she says he is so social. Our GCM advise absolutely no way is he a candidate for a home at this point. She has stated that she will move out once he does not know who she is…that is true love, isn't it? She has said she will not pay for his care if he runs out of money. After 27 years of marriage that doesn't speak very well of the relationship does it? It sounds to me as if your Dad's wife is pulling the spouse card and taking advantage of his condition. The laws are funny on POA's versus spousal rights and I hope you do not have to go the distance to challenge them. Are you certain that you cannot get some help etc from her family? Finding someone to talk to is difficult as the first thing you probably want is someone to say…calm down, you are overwhelmed, take a breathe. You do not need someone to point out that their is a spouse…which seems to assume the spouse is making great decisions. Is there any way to consider hospice? Hospice does not mean end of life and many people are on it for years. ( My husbands mother has been on it for 3 years and even though I resisted at first because I felt it was an unfair use of Medicare dollars I realized that so many people use it so why not her?) Caregivers need relief and you should not be expected to shoulder the burden. Statistics are not in favor of the caregiver's ability to maintain good health etc if they do not get help. Try the local Area on Aging, ALZ Association, church, adult senior centers, doctors. Also be sure to stand up to her when your Dad is not in ear shot! The thing that aggravates my Dad's wife the most is she has not been able to severe the relationship and love we have for our Dad or our Dad for us. Get help. Hang in there.
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If he ( Dad) has dementia how can he tell you what to do about her losing her memory, and her future health issues, does she have dementia also? If not then why are you living in their home? My husband ( I'm a Step Mother also almost 30 years) refuses to take meds, has lost most of his pre Alzheimers weight, eats very little, I have to show him where the bathroom is, I could go on and on, what you are sharing with us are common traits of those with AD, and I also treat him like he's three years old most of the time. If you were my step-daughter and I read this, you would be out of OUR house immediately. I would love to hear his wife's side of this. You need to lighten up, she has been his wife for 15 years and she is in charge whether you like it or not. Get a life, and leave them in peace.
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