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I am really not sure where to begin. About 3 years ago we discovered that my father had a huge spike in credit card debt. While investigating he insisted he had no idea what had happened so I treated it like identity theft. Several months later my mother discovered she was missing $20K from her bank account which was most of her life savings. My father had apparently taken it from the account and gave it away to online scammers. I attempted to do as much as I can but I have been met with resistance. Fast forward to today and my father finally went through some neurological testing which determined he was bi-polar. At his first psychiatrist appointment he was told you are no bi-polar you are just making bad decisions. I have gone through 3 years of hell and now I do not know where to turn. My parents refuse to accept that it is a mental problem, my father lies about his behavior so I have no idea what to believe. My mother during this time is not acting like herself. I believe she is suffering from depression and possibly something else. She has been talking to herself and I noticed she kept shaking her head the other day and I don't know if it was a twitch or if she was doing it intentionally. I believe they both need some sort of exam but I have no idea where else to go. It also doesn't help that my mother refuses all help because she doesn't want to spend the money. I have no idea what to do....

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Both of them need a neurological workup. The psychiatrist seems to have had tunnel vision. Bad decisions are often made by compromised brains and some type of dementia (not necessarily Alzheimer's) may be behind it.

This is the starting place, hard as it is.
We'd love to have you update us when you can.
Carol
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The first thing I would do would be to get them both in for a neuro workup.
Consult another Doctor other than the first one you father saw.
Always good to get a second opinion anyway.
I have gone to several seminars near where I live and I have heard a NeuroPsychologist talk. I think if I were to have heard this doctor when my husband was first diagnosed I would have taken my husband to see him. A neuropsychologist works with a neurologist to work on a treatment plan. Working together seems to be the key. (he told of one gentleman that had been to a neurologist and he had been diagnosed with dementia. The family had obtained Guardianship for this man, so all his "rights" were taken from him. After this neuropsychologist started the exam he determined that the man was very hard of hearing. So all the questions the neurologist had asked the man could not answer at all or correctly. This brings back the point that you should have a second opinion...)
Your Mom may very well be suffering from depression.
You might want to try to put an alert on your fathers accounts.
And you might want to consult an Elder Lawyer so that you can get some protection for your Mom. It may be determined that your Father is not competent and you or someone will have to become his Guardian.

As far as the doctor costing money and your Mom worried about that, we all want to save money but when it comes to our health and or safety now is not the time to pinch pennies. If she had a high fever, twisted her ankle, sliced her hand open, found a lump on her breast would she go to the doctor? We take care of the physical because that is what we see. We have to take care of the mind as well. "We" all need to accept that the mind is another part of the body that needs to be cared for. The stigma of having something "wrong" with the brain needs to go away. Education and acceptance is the only way that will happen.
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pking4445, both Grandma1954 and Hugemom laid out a good foundation for you. And if you are the only driver/caretaker/voice of reason for your parents, be as efficient as possible with doctor's appts and follow-ups. Try to schedule everything for mom and dad during the same block of time. Rather than separate days for him and her.

I assume you work full-time. Even the most flexible employers grow weary of the "caregiver skedaddle." And it's not just doctor's appointments that only happen during business hours. It's banking and finance, insurance issues, lawyer visits, etc.

Approach your HR department and request an application for Intermittent FMLA. Now. A portion of the application will need to be completed by your parents' doctor. Many folks are unaware of Intermittent FMLA. It's just what it sounds like. You can take a batch of unpaid work days, individual days or hourly increments as needed for caregiving. With minimal notice, if the situation does not allow for fair warning. And these absences are NOT factored into your attendance stats or performance evaluation.

If your parents' current diagnoses are not severe enough for your HR department to approve Intermittent FMLA for you, that's (yet another) reason why your parents warrant further medical and neurological evaluation.

In the meantime, do what you can for your parents with vacation time, sick time and scheduled time off. And as out-of-control as your parents seem right now, try to hold back a little bit.....so you have some personal resources left for the next surprise or escalation.


Try like heck to get medical and financial POA for your parents -- if you are not already. Of course, there's this little obstacle: your parents make bad decisions. Be as persuasive as you can be. But remain open to the fact that they might crash and burn without ever giving you official capacity to intervene.

I was in your situation a while ago. The trainwreck was not financially dire, thank heavens. But EVERYTHING my mother did was driven by impaired reasoning, self-neglect and odd paranoias. Because of this, she rejected all of my common-sense suggestions. Therefore, no doctoring and no diagnosis for her. And no DPOA, no health-care proxy and no executor status for me. (I am her only living adult child.)

Mom only accepted my help in the form of helping her pay bills (out of her accounts) and making sure she had enough to eat (again, her funds). And select odds and ends around the house. In short, Mom dug in, rejected every idea that wasn't hers and kept her so-called independence. At the expense of my free time, my sanity and my constant -- and ultimately fruitless -- research on how to handle every possible upcoming scenario.....when I'm not authorized to handle any of it.

Oh, one exception. A funeral home will take anyone's money. I footed the bill for mom's funeral while her outdated, uninvolved and somewhat surprised executor -- who lives 6 hours away and hadn't seen mom in nearly 15 years -- was struggling to gather everything he needed to open mom's estate and assume fiduciary responsibilities. (I was reimbursed as quickly as the mess would allow. But it still smarts.)

Best of luck to you. When you present your ideas to your parents, put a positive spin on them. Be hopeful. At the same time, don't be surprised if what makes sense to you (and the whole wide world and the legal community) does not fly with your parents. These are rough years.
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I can see that it can be really, really hard for someone trying to get this kind of help for parents, if they do not already have POA and control of finances. Many people simply cannot pay for a consult with an elder care attorney by themselves. If this is the case, one should contact their area council on aging and meet with someone who can give them resources. If there IS a lawyer parents have worked with before, go there and ask for a complimentary app't to ask for help to get them assessed and the right kind of help. My parents had a great plan in place, but they still didn't want to give up any control to me, even when Dad could not pay bills and utilities were ready to be shut off. I had to get Mom to give me a credit card to use to get them paid....and then I called the law office who had done all this POA, last will, trust stuff and say, HEY....there are problems there, but Dad does not want to give up control. So the lawyer, called and said it was time for them to come in for a 'routine check up' about their trust.....and I stayed away. The lawyer got Dad to sign the paperwork and to agree that it was time for me to pay the bills and told Dad that he, the lawyer, would be checking that I was doing everything right, and that Dad could call any time to ask him questions etc..... Lawyer, said all the way down the line....do what you need to do, and if there is fighting, call me, and let me be the 'bad guy'.....I do this every day. He has been a god send for me! But, I make sure all their needs are paid for from their money. I never mix our money with their money, unless it's an accident, and then I make a note in the budget forms for that month and get it squared off before end of the month. Sometimes, it's hard to go grocery shopping and remember to pay for our food with our card and hold Mom's things back and then do hers with her card....for example. And once, I bought her a patio set for her balcony that was on sale, but the only way to get the sale price was to use our Home Depot card.....so those kinds of things happen occasionally. But if you start paying for your parents expenses, you are just setting yourselves back for your own elderly years.....unless you just happen to have lots of excess income.
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My dad was diagnosed as bipolar at age 65 and had three psychotic breaks in 2004, 2005, and 2013. Since the last one, he became apathetic, does nothing, and won't take care of his hygiene. After a 3 year fight when he refused help, I finally got the results of his neurocognitive testing last week. It confirms my diagnosis of damage to the frontal temporal lobe. He has FTD which sometimes is misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder. But, they still leave it up to him if he wants help. He doesn't. So, that's all I can do. I continue to watch him slowly rot away. She said he shouldn't drive and asked him if he would stop. He said no. She asked if he saw any impairments in himself, and he said no. She asked if he had any trouble driving. He said, "No, except that I can't see." So, watch out for the sleeping, "severely impaired" motor skills, semi-blind driving coming your way! I hope you can get help for your parents but I've failed miserably. You can't force someone to accept help.
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Zombie - you can report your father to the DMV or even APS. You can ask that your report be kept confidential- your identity, that is.
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Is there any other family member involved in their lives but you? This is not something you can handle on your own. You are meeting resistance at every turn and you desperately need someone on your side. Talk to your OWN PCP and ask for help. Consulting with an elder care attorney can also point you in the right direction. Get your feet under you with some outside help, and then when you're certain what your rights are, move ahead with help for them.
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You should definitely hire an attorney for now. That's a lot of money that your father went through. What does he have to show for it?
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I like the neuropsychologist idea from Grandma1954, but you may want to start with a geriatric assessment for both parents, if you can persuade them to go. If you are near a medical school or large medical center, look for a board-certified geriatrician or geriatric program. Persuade your parents that this "special consultation" will be to help them age successfully and stay as independent as possible. The geriatrician or geriatric team (at our center includes geriatrician, geriatric fellow, pharmacist, social worker and chaplain), can help you lay out a care plan for them, including referrals to neurology, neuropsychology, psychiatry, or whatever else may be needed.
An elder law consult is also a good idea, but it may be best to find out what you're dealing with medically first. Good luck!
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As Mark Twain said "every person has the right to go to hell in the manner of their own choosing". That is true until somebody in the package is incompetent enough to be declared legally incompetent. Because you can't do this by agreement and cooperation with Dad and Mom, keep your records but repeat part A above. Nobody can be forced to go take a Neuropsych test, which can be used as evidence for your court case. So, keep your records of examples and wait for the breaking event. Usually there will be one.
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