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So, let me say right up front that I believe my mother and my uncle have a highly dysfunctional relationship with my grandmother. They both carry years of resentment over perceived grievances throughout their lives. And it affects the way they treat my grandmother – my mom with her lack of urgency and unwillingness to inconvenience herself, and my uncle with his volatile outbursts and blaming her for everything that’s ever gone wrong in his life. Truthfully, my grandmother’s past manipulation has earned a certain amount of this. But she has dementia now and the lines between reality and the stories she has twisted throughout the years are blurred at best. My feeling is that if confrontation was going to happen, it should have been when she was able to defend herself – not now when she’s becoming increasingly dependent and vulnerable.


So here’s the problem. My uncle’s ex-girlfriend was helping us choose an in-home care agency since she’s worked in the field for a very long time and has insight that was enormously helpful to us. She pulled me aside and told me that she has grave concerns over my grandmother’s emotional and financial safety as it pertains to my uncle. He lives in Gramma’s home and has taken over Gramma’s bill paying. The Ex told me that she witnessed frequent verbal abuse of my grandmother during the time she and my uncle were together. She tried to act as peacemaker and also encouraged Gramma to kick my uncle out of her home. But Gramma always blamed his tirades on depression and the “wrongs” he’d experienced in his life (divorces, disappointments, broken dreams, blah, blah, blah). That he was verbally ugly toward Gramma came as no surprise – I saw it numerous times when I was younger - but the intensity of what I can only call verbal assaults given the Ex’s descriptions and Gramma’s obvious fear was new to me. My dad also saw it recently and said my uncle clearly crossed the line with the way he was screaming and cussing at her. He’s a big man, and she’s a tiny old lady. My dad said you could see how scared she was and how confused it made her. Luckily my dad was able to intervene and send my uncle outside. He’s a big man, too. But what happens when no one else is there?


The Ex broke up when the verbal abuse began to include her, and she felt at that time that it wasn’t her place to interfere with the family dynamic. But given our new dementia diagnosis and knowing that elder abuse is a much higher risk with dementia patients, she felt she needed to tell someone. Her belief is that it’s probably happening daily. She also said that my uncle has carried a debit card for Gramma’s account with him for years, and that he would use it to take her and her kids out to dinner, buy all of his gas, clothes, etc. He does work a full time job and makes good money, but he’d rather use hers.


I can’t ignore this. I also can’t confront him without knowing for certain what is really happening. My sisters (living out of state) are urging me to plant a granny-cam in her house. I’m pretty certain that is illegal, but short of hiding in the closet, I don’t know how else to get to the truth. And if I do get evidence, what the heck do I do with it? Illegal evidence isn’t admissible. Bottom line, though, if he’s abusing Gramma it needs to stop. He should not be allowed to continue holding POA - which he shares with my mom - he shouldn’t be allowed to be alone with Gramma, and he should not have access to her accounts. I don’t care about what happens after she dies. What he inherits, which is half of the assets to the best of my knowledge, is not my concern. My grandfather and grandmother made that decision long ago, and I respect their wishes. But I can’t allow abuse to continue, if indeed it is occurring. My mom, I think, would be happy to pretend she doesn’t know about it. She told me that if I take action and it causes my uncle to be removed from the home, Gramma will die. But is it better to leave her in a situation where she is being abused? I just can’t believe that.


What do you think? Has anyone gone through this before? Any great bits of advice or experience to share?

Call Adult Protective Services. You suspect abuse. You don't need evidence other than witnessing the verbal abuse.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Did you ask the ex why she did not report him herself? You state she has worked in the field several years, so my question is : is ex a mandated reporter?
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Reply to tacy022
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Pepsee Jul 26, 2018
She didn't report because her and her kids were reaping the benefits of GMA's stolen credit cards......for years.
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You can't ignore this. You got that right, that's a good start!

I see that you have discussed the situation with your mother. A riposte to what she told you, that if you take action and uncle leaves Grandma will die, would be that if mother does nothing and Grandma comes to harm as a result of uncle's abuse, she will be responsible. See "Wilful Blindness" - bystanders who allow bad things to happen must share the blame.

Kudos to your father for intervening as he did. Was it difficult? How did your uncle take it?

I have more sympathy for your uncle's situation than you might expect. I went through a very difficult period feeling enormous anger and resentment towards my mother at exactly the point when she was becoming completely dependent on my care. It was horrible. No small thanks to AC, I adjusted and I learned; but if I'd been a big strong man with no one to help me gain insight... there but for the grace of God, is what I'm thinking.

So. You need to do something, but what?

I agree that you should involve outsiders, and APS is the obvious place to turn. But first of all: think through what result you would consider a good outcome. That might be, for example: uncle moving out or moving back to where he lived before; alternative support for grandmother in the short-term, until a detailed care plan can be worked out for her; or 24/7 support in the home, depending on whether it is felt that that would be enough to defuse the tensions that are triggering the abuse.

What *does* trigger it? Was your uncle always given to bullying his mother, or has this come to light only since he's been under pressure as her primary caregiver? It's a question of whether he's having difficulty coping, or whether he is fundamentally unsuited to the role.

On the money side: somebody needs to call uncle to account for his management of your grandmother's money, and the obvious person is the person who has joint responsibility - your mother. She needs to realise that if mother's money has been misspent, she has *equal* responsibility. So if she is afraid to ask your uncle what he's up to, she just isn't capable of doing the job. She must either shape up, or resign. She cannot sit there pretending everything is fine.

You can always call APS anonymously and ask for advice about your options. Please keep in touch and let us know how you're getting on.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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You can report him anonymously.
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Reply to HolidayEnd
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Even if grandma lies to protect him, there will be a record that someone suspected abuse, both financial and emotional.

OBTW, your mom is so wrong that gma would die if she went to a nice AL. Your Uncle is burnt out and needs help. He needs respite and mental health treatment.

I hope gma is very wealthy. If she ever needs Medicaid, all that stealing that Uncle is doing is going to show up and then your Mom is going to be left holding the bag. I wonder if she knows that?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Report abuse that you suspect. It does not matter they type of abuse.
Verbal abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, mental abuse.
Let the "experts" determine if abuse is occurring.
From one of the encounters you described future physical abuse is possible if it has not occurred already.
You say your Mom says if he is removed Grandma would die..the reality is if he is NOT removed Grandma could also die.
It also sounds like he should be removed as POA and there is a good possibility that someone should file for Guardianship. And she may also do better in Assisted Living or if needed Memory Care.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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I installed a video cam in my sister's house because a caregiver was stealing her medication (narcotics). That was used in court. As long as we didn't record sound, we were okay.
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Reply to Mapotter
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We had a similar story of extreme neglect, possible abuse (minus the girlfriend or financial abuse). A misery son who lived off mom's pension but wasn't self indulgent was his mom's caregiver. She had advancing dementia, and he kept the two of them isolated, and in poverty and disintegrating house (in affluent neighborhood) when he could at least have kept her comfortable and fed. To be fair, he did the best he knew to do, but he lacked basic life skills himself. Offers from siblings to help with repairs were rebuffed. As she became incontinent and no longer bathed, he admitted he couldn't do her personal care. But no aid would have gone into that filthy house with poor plumbing and no way to get her into big tub, and he didn't want one there interfering! We urged him to enroll her in an exceptional memory daycare two days a week where there were activities, physical therapy, step-in bathtub, meals, nurses and aids to provide care! It was affordable, but the son decided it was too much trouble.
We visited but were kept at arm's length. When we saw her fingernails bruised on a latter visit (the son scoffed when she said he'd slammed her hand in the piano) we reported suspicion of abuse to her doctor. He told us we were overreacting, and did nothing. He said his concern "was keeping the family on friendly terms. She'll be gone soon, and her children will need to get along with one another"!!!
We did not call APS because my husband (her other son) knew they'd take her, medicate her, and we'd lose rights. So we found an elder-law attorney and began guardianship proceedings, expensive but worth it. Guardian-At-Lidim was appointed, who went into her home, took pictures to present to the court, and shook his head wondering why social services hadn't been there before. Two months later she was with us.
With a guardianship, (in our case) the court appoints the Guardian of Estate, an attorney who oversees all finances. They appointed my husband, a retired nurse, her Guardian of Person. We lost certain rights, but for us it was providential, saving brothers from greater discord when the attorney sold her house and eventually evicted the son. My husband did not have to run back and forth to her home, hours away, to empty it, clean it, try to sell it, with a hostile brother obstructing! What a relief!
Fear keeps us from acting. Pray. Don't fear. Get help so you can act! Ex girlfriend can put you in touch with the right people if she's afraid to get in the middle of it.
Mom missed her son of course, but thrived with us, where she was fed balanced meals, bathed, and provided with more interaction. Now she is in a nearby memory care facility where she seems to enjoy all the activity around her, smiles at staff, tries to talk with residents, it has been so much better than we expected!
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Reply to ccheno
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STOP—you have to call ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES and possible have removed from current setting. You have to be very proactive, also ask for a callback report they must act quickly
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Reply to Topotraveler64
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CCall social services asap. Do not hessitate. Express your concerns and have them do a home evaluation. If they deem it dangerous or unhealthy then let them be the "bad guy" for removing gma to a safe location. This way you're not caught up in the middle of a family fued.
Best of luck!
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