Friday, December 29, 2006

Adult children's responsibilities for elderly parents

"When it comes to a child's legal duties to a parent, the courts are scarily unclear" notes a recent NOW Magazine article .

When you review articles and studies on the challenges facing the elderly in our Canadian society the emphasis is almost always on assuring that the elderly are treated with respect, maintain the ability to choose their own care as long as they are capable and are free from abuse by family or caregivers. A worthy goal that we all support.

But what obligations and rights do the adult children have when elderly parents assert their independence to live alone in unsafe conditions when their physical and mental capacities are diminished? In my own experience, the adult children are placed very much between a rock and a hard place. They feel the responsibility to preserve their parents' health, safety and protection from predatory opportunists but lack any power to make decisions to protect their parents from harm. It is a life filled with stress and worry for the adult child, interspersed with unpredictable and disruptive crises.

No matter what relationship may or may not exist with the parent, nor physical proximity to the parent, the expectation of the health care network will be that the adult child will provide the support to prop up what may be a silly and dangerous choice by your aging parent to live at home. This can translate into a daily barrage of phone calls from all levels of health care support services, concerned neighbours, volunteer visitors and others. What rights do adult children have to say, "this situation is no longer supportable? It is unsafe for you and outside of my ability to sustain for you?" "It is time for you to move to a supported living environment?"

Absolutely none.

Neighbours and community supports may be over-taxed and concerned for your parent and advise that the elderly person be housed in a supportive environment. However the adult child is powerless to force this choice on the elderly person and must cope the best way they can.

Even when the hospital or caregivers decide that your elderly parent is unable to make appropriate choices for their accommodation, this is open to legal challenge by the elderly person and in my own experience, an elderly person who was unable to recognize their grandchild or remember what they had for lunch that day, or where they were, was able to be declared competent to make their own decisions by a legal panel.

Simply put, the adult child finds themself in a position where they are possibly legally obligated to assure the safety of their elderly parent but prevented from making any rational decisions to assure that safety. The result is a nerve-racking existence in which one waits for the next call about a debilitating fall, or dealing with fallout from the signing of some contract with a confidence artist, or phone calls from distraught neighbours who are concerned or aggravated by bizarre behaviour.

When leaving elderly parents to their own devices is viewed as abandonment, coercing them into supportive housing is viewed as usurping their rights, and community supports fail to meet the need, the adult child is left with a situation in which the only "right" option is to give up their own life and career to nurse the elderly parent. This is suggested by health care professionals at a surprising rate and women who assert their right to maintain a career in mid-life rather than nurse their elderly mother can expect to face at least some negative comments and guilt-tripping from their parents support network.

In a society in which we no longer demand that mothers interupt their lives to be fulltime caregivers to children, why are we placing adult children--usually middle-aged women-- in this situation, understanding that some elderly parents may live miles away from their adult children's communities and even have been estranged for years? Not all families are happy ones and not all adult children wish to care for parents that they may have no fond memories of.

In my view responsibility has to equal authority. If an elderly parent has the authority to make a decision to remain in their own home then responsibility for making that situation work has to remain with them. If an adult child is increasingly given responsibility to support the parent in the home, then authority should be ceded to that caregiver to enable them to make the decision to change the elderly parent's living situation when necessary.

The elderly person should have the authority to make decisions for themselves but not to impose those decisions in ways that adversely affect the lives, marriages and careers of their adult children, sometimes for several years of disruption.


David Solie, MS, PA said...

This is the boomer’s dilemma with no easy way out. Let me give you a personal example. My 89 year old mother for years simply refused any assistance despite increasing frailty and her responsibilities for my special needs brother. Every approach was rejected. The best we could do was build support scaffolding around both of them for when “the bottom fell out.”

This went on for years. Airline flights, phone conversations, involvement of other family members, protracted conversations with our family lawyer, meetings with my brother’s case worker, and endless strategy sessions with my wife all ended with the same outcome. It was my mother’s way or the highway.

So we shored up the situation the best we could. Despite my mother’s derogatory objections, we purchased long term care insurance ten years ago. We petitioned the court so she and I could have co-guardianship of my brother. We got her to sign a Medical Power of Attorney. Then we waited.

Last June she suffered a major stroke. She was found lying in the hallway by my brother’s day care driver. She survived the stroke but had to be placed in nursing care due to the residuals from the stroke. My brother was moved to an foster care home for special needs adults.

Slowly we have been digging our way out. Her house, my brother’s living arrangement, her long term care benefits. and her medical care are just the tip of the transaction iceberg that need ongoing attention. Despite making progress, it is clear we are just getting started.

I think the take home message for boomers like myself is this:

1. Advance as far as you can go based on the personality and the nature of your relationship with the parent.

2. Retest the boundaries of that advance periodically even if they appear absolute. You never know when there is some give in the system.

3. Build the best scaffolding you can with what you have.

4. Keep asking yourself this question: What am I responsible for?

5. Draft a “When The Bottom Falls Out” list of the items that will require your management. Print it out and then start making weekly annotations. Your brain works better with a “starter” document. I think just “pre-thinking” about the house, the Medicare forms, the Power of Attorney steps, and so on will give you greater stability in the midst of the actual chaos.

6. Rethink what you know about the final mission of life. Most of what we are seeing in our aging parents is a need to maintain control in a world where all control is being taken away. Nothing is going to change that. It is not a rational need; it is simply a developmental task. We have all lived them in our own lives. The problem with the last one is how deeply it is connected to our family systems. However, knowing its true magnitude reduces the guilt over trying to craft a perfect ending or trying to control things that beyond our capabilities.

Lastly, I published an article on “communicating tough choices to aging parents.” It is not a panacea, but it does offer a new approach to get aging parents “reframe” their thinking about their choices. It has proven to be very effective in situations which were thought to be hopeless. You can find the link for the article on my website at It is on the home page, top right hand corner.

Linda Rogers said...

Hi David,

Good comments but in my case my mother has fought any power of attorney and when she was declared incompetent by the medical authorities she fought it legally and won. Despite this, everyone turns to me when she can't cope. And I'm an only child.

I am truly screwed. I receive up to 4 hours of phone calls a day from medical people or individuals that my mother is driving nuts in various ways. Yet I can make no decisions on her behalf. She's 94. I really want the best for her but I think the best is living in a longterm care facility where she will be able to socialize with others and have her basic needs provided for. In her own home, she's lonely, sad, doesn't eat well and ends up phoning people every 10 minutes and alienating all her supports. Her analysis of the problem is that people are not providing the supports she needs. The only acceptable solution to her is that I abandon my career and provide 24 hour care for her. Something she didn't even do for me as a child!

darla and randy said...

Thank goodness, someone in the same boat as we are. My husband is any only child of divorced parents. Fortuantely, his father has been married to a wonderful woman with wondeful children for many years, but we have inherited his mother. We moved her near us so that we could better take care of her and now are in a dilema, of her not signing a power of attorney, not agreeing to sign up for Medicaid, and on top of that, no doctor will agree to a psych consult to estabilsh her compentency inspite of the fact that she cannot walk by herself, is incontinet, cannot prepare food for herself or feed herself. Now she is in a nursing home facing a 3000 dollar a month bill with only a 1250 a month income. What does one do? We want her to be safe, well taken care of, and clean, which she is, but now she can't afford those basics. We are just waiting for the phone call to come to tell us that she is being discharged from the nursing home due to non payment, what does one do??

Linda Rogers said...

Gee that sounds like a tough situation. In our case everyone is in agreement that my mother is fairly "confused" but is still in a bit of a gray area as to whether she is able to make her own decisions. Physical infirmities (incontinence, inability to feed oneself) are not incompetency issues. So just a suggestion to leave those items off the list when asking for a competency evaluation. It is simply a question of whether the individual is able to make informed choices for themselves.

In our case, my mother will not consent to longterm care and we've only been cajoling and wheedling her to accept temporary care in a nice retirement facility--with less support than a real nursing home. She still wants to return to living on her own in her own home. So we have to maintain the home (burgler alarm, taxes, utilities, etc.)while also maintaining her various needs.

You are lucky that your elderly person accepts that they need care. However that bill seems steep. In shopping for homes, the range here was between 1775 and 3000 a month. I found a really nice room for her in the lower price range. All her friends are in the downtown area of the city and so is her doctor and so on, so that's where the home is. It's an older home with smaller rooms and no "grounds" to speak of, hence the lower price. On the up side, it's warm and friendly, less of an institutional feel, great food and convenient for friends and professionals to visit. She'd be living within her means except for maintaining the home right now.

Elizabeth said...

I am so fortunate that both my parents have always assured me that anything I need to do regarding their care is alright with them.

It was not an issue when she became ill with cancer (she died last summer), and, I hope that things go as well with my father whenever the time comes.

I'm sorry you are going through all this.

Linda Rogers said...

The administrator of the retirement home my mother is staying in told me that my mom is the worst case that she has ever seen, in that there is just an odd mixture of issues that create "the perfect storm".

She's very confused and illogical but can have a sane conversation that makes her seem more competent than she is. She's inconsistent and moody. She has screaming tantrums. She phones people all the time and drives them nuts until she gets her way. She's crafty.

This week I was to transport her from hospital (where she was for a short stay due to a stomach problem) back to the retirement home. When I arrived she was wandering the halls and didn't know where she was. She began to construct a story about coming to see if I might show up there because she HAD been in hospital but they'd let her go home.

I had difficulty getting her to sit down in the room until discharged.

Once in the car she insisted I take her to her house not the retirement home. At the home, she didn't recognize where we were. After 2 hours of a screaming tantrum in the car, we had ambulance people and police officers confiring in the lot. No one wanted to take responsibility for getting her into the warmth and safety of the home.

Finally I said that if they couldn't help then I would take her to her home and leave her there and the consequences of that would be their responsibility. Then and only then was that option scarier than bundling her into a stretcher against her will.

Once in her room, it was like a switch was flipped. The tantrum was forgotten and she went to bed and we watched tv together for awhile. An hour later, she vaguely remembered the tantrum.

But she's assessed as competent!!

Anonymous said...

My mother Doris died 2 days ago from a fall which caused a fatal bleed in her brain. It took 2 weeks for her to pass.

I had begged my Father to hire nursing help in home. He refused over and over. My husband and I live next door and both work full time.

She had been falling for months and it was painful to see the continuous brusing and cuts on her body. He did his best but failed to make good decisions.

Dad had suffered a stroke last year and pneumonia this summer and was caring for Mom who had advanced Parkinsons and Lewy body dementia for 6 years.

The very night my Mom fell badly, my Father and she fell again and he needed stitches. He tried to hide his injury from me. He did not want to take her to hospital or get 24 hour nursing as the brain injury did not manifest itself for 2 days. My mom was on blood thinners. 3 days after the fall she was semi-comatose and dad was still convinced she could walk, eat, etc.

We have been helping them for 2 years. I am drained beyond belief.

This has made me so very ANGRY! I have 3 friends in similar desperate situations. I am so motivated to end this torment for us and all others like us.

Does anyone know of an organization in the States that is mobilized to confront such intractable stubborness that is making children of elderly parents give up their work, vacations and lives to protect the unprotectable?

My parents can afford assisted living or full time nurses. They want to save money for the kids. We don't want it.

Hurting in San Diego.

Linda Rogers said...

No, I don't know of any organization for the rights of adult children and I think it is past time.

We are shouldered with all these responsibilities but often treated poorly when we try to do what is best for our parents, within our means.

Just trying to make an insurance claim to get a wheelchair covered is a huge bureaucratic hurdle when you don't have a Power of Attorney and your parent is incompetent to make the claim herself.

clara said...

We are dealing with the sad remains of a family unit which apparently had been dysfunctional for years. My mother's 83-year-old cousin, suffering from dementia (but not severely) was widowed in August 07. She has two sons, one of whom has "divorced" himself from the family (no contact in at least 10 years), and the other suffering from extreme alcoholism, among other problems. This son is 48 years old, and was still living at home with his parents. You can now see why the older son wanted nothing to do with his family anymore!) When the dad died, the problem son was left to care for his mother, and failed from day one, for obvious reasons. Things spiraled quickly downhill. He was eventually (just this month) arrested for abuse, and is currently serving 30 days for probation violation.
Meanwhile, after trying several times to contact the estranged son (and being hung up on), my parents became guardians for this poor cousin, as my mother is her only other living relative (she was about to become a ward of the state). They have done everything they could to try and keep her in her own home -- hired all the necessary help, services, etc., but the real problem is the alcoholic son, who will soon be released from jail, and will try to "go back home" - most likely with a giant chip on his shoulder. He has been unemployed for about three years, and lost his driver's license several years ago due to DUI's. The fear is that he will keep harassing her (for money?), or could even hurt her again (even though there is a PPO against him). And the whole 24-hour caregiver plan would obviously never work with him there.
My parent have been trying to convince her to move to an assisted living apartment, as she is not reliably competent (doesn't know how to fix her own food anymore, doesn't bathe or wash her hair, etc.) You all know what I'm talking about...
She probably could stay in her own home, for a while, with 24 hour care, but she insists she's fine, won't hear of having someone live with her, and at times is looking forward to the son being released from jail (because "he really didn't do anything wrong", and "all he needs is a hug"!!).
So, in court today, we got an injunction to move her, for her own safety, to an apartment (very minimal assistance). And when we told her about this, she had a total meltdown. After about an hour of yelling, pacing, swearing, crying, she did eventually calm down. But moving day is two days away, and our biggest fear is that she will physically refuse to leave the house. The plan is that my parents will take her out to lunch, and shopping for some new things for the apartment, while my sisters and husbands take care of the actual moving of stuff.
(We don't want her to have to witness her possessions being hauled out of the house, and loaded into a truck. )
But ... what if she absolutely refuses to leave the house when the time comes? Has anyone out there dealt with this situation? Or does it happen pretty infrequently? Would we really have to call the police to physically remove her? Are they driven in a scout car to the new apartment?
Of course we are hoping and praying that it does not come to this, but we really need to know what to expect in a "worst case scenario", so that we can be as prepared as possible.
We've read several books on this, but none have gone into much detail for such a situation.
Any advice would be much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

i am experiencing the same thing with my mother as you are describing with yours. an added problem is that my 78 yr. old mother is abusing xanax -she keeps getting doctors to prescibe it against my urging that it makes her drunk, staggering to the point that she has fallen twice. the first fall resulted in two arm surgeries for her broken elbow. she lives 60 miles from me, won't move closer, and her only other child is my sister who lives out of state (conveniently for her) and refuses to help with any of the day to day problems. my mothers neighbor and a neice call me expecting me to solve this when the law here doesn't allow me make decisions. and the power of attorney we have is meaningless since it doesn't "trump" her decision to overturn any decision we make. so frustrating, it's like we have to wait UNTIL she hurts herself before we can do anything. and these doctors that keep prescribing for her. today i put them on notice that i will hold them responsible for another accident that she has since they refuse to declare her incompetent in order for me to have the authority to make decisions regarding her safety and well being. i'm so frustrated that i am at the point of saying she's on her own. the laws are tying my hands and the doctors are almost as bad.

Anonymous said...

I'm an only child since my only brother past away nearly 10 years agao. And my mother had passed on 3 years before from cancer. So it's been put on me by reletives and medical personel to deal with my father of 77 that has been going down hill with his alcholol abuse for the past 2 years. In the course of that time, he's in constant denial that his falling is due to the abuse and he refuses to eat properly and take his medications.

Last month he had a serious fall into his clock that has a glass door. This which cause a big, deep laseration in his face and cut the side of his eye. You would think this would be the wake-up call he needs to stop the foolishness about the abuse. He spent the holidays recovering in a hospital and a nursing home. The whole time he was there, he harped at me every day wanting to go home to his house for which he also lives alone with a dog. The day after I get him home, he's resumed not to eat properly, not getting proper sleep, refused to take his meds for his eye, and not wanting to take his meds fro the alcholism. Nor does he want to go to his doctor appointments. And he managed to find the spare key to my brother's truck that he took care of since he passed, to drive to the nearest liquier shop to by a big bottle of vodka.

I get occational calls from his neigbors and family that he hasn't been answering his phone and they expect me to stop what I'm doing to leave from where ever I am to see what he's up to. And from his neighbors, they expect that I should get permission to check on him. I told them they have free reign to do so.

I'm so sick of family "patting me on the head" telling me "it's all on you now. Call us if you need anything." And I imply that I need them NOW! And they don't budge to step up!

His neighbors keep telling me that they are so worried that he'll fall again in the house. I told dad, That I am physically incapable to pic him up. Especially when he's completely blattered. And no matter who I get to take care of him in the house, he's not still going to use his walker and still fall.

I've had some of his older reletives suggesting that I should halt everything in my life and move in with him. There is not enough room for us both in his house or mine. Nor are our lifestyles. Our personalities clash too much. And given the hell that he's put me, my mom, brother, and other past wives through with the drinking, I refuse to go through it again. I've never really had a quality relationship with him because of it.

And he's become very argumentitive, about the abuse to his living standards. He refuses to budge. He can still take care of his needs from bathing to paying his bills, but his balance, reasoning, and memory has been damaged by the alcohol.

People, friends, organizations, and family have harped at me with the "you need to do this, you need to do that" not realizing that I've been trying to do it, but I keep getting run-arounds and brick walls. They all expect me to do it all on my own. It's not their problem.

Andmy father's depression is really been taxing to the point that I don't want to deal with going to the house anymore. He's depressed about my brother, his health, and how other people he's been close to have also died.'s expected of me. My daughterly duty!

I just want to just run away from it all and leave him to his devices. I have just had it with it all!

If he would only relise he has an alcholo problem and get help. That would lift a big burden off my sholders. But until then, I'm left with this ball-and-chain responsabilty.

Linda Rogers said...

Since periodically people are still finding this article and commenting I thought I should post that my mother passed away last year. As she became more and more infirm the complications of having no Power-of-Attorney and no Living Will became more acute and an ongoing battle. I was fielding 4 to 6 telephone calls a day on things and would go around in circles with insurance companies, doctors, people at the nursing home in trying to get her things she needed. It took four times as long to get her the fitted wheel chair that would help prevent a sore back. Had she made proper provisions for a legal decision-maker, she would have been so much better cared for, and I would have had more time to visit instead of having so much time spent in business issues there was no time left for just visiting.

At one point someone wrote a rather nasty comment here... the only one that was unkind... and I didn't publish it. I am actually sorry now that I didn't. It was of the "ungrateful bitch, you just wait until you are old and need help" variety.


Well I'm not going to wait. I am going to make sure that my kids have the Power of Attorney and Living Will that they will need to easily get things done if I become incapable.

I don't expect my children to take me into their homes. I like my privacy and would be much happier in a retirement or nursing home than intruding on my kids lives.

My mother made choices in life that assured that she would be remembered as mostly being very difficult, instead of taking the time to love and be loved.

Anonymous said...

I feel relieved reading that I am not alone. We are dealing with a 89-year-old mother who kept falling at home and was incontinent a lot of the time not being able to get to the toilet in time, a dad who isn't physically able to help her anymore and they both had been falling with him trying to help her. She is in a nursing home getting therapy so she can hopefully return home and one sibling and his wife has offered to leave their home two staes away and stay with my parents for a few months to make sure they can manage on their own. This would involve bringing their 7 year child along. My dad called them last night and started in on what he would and would not allow the 7-year-old to do in his house. They are turning their lives upside down to come and stay and help them out, and he is saying he can't tolerate the 7 year old. If it were me, I'd tell them never mind - stay in the nursing home. I am so frustrated with this whole situation. I can't say that they were very good parents when I grew up. They provided custodial care but somehow seemed unable to express love. I knew they loved me and now that they are older they seem to want to show love, but that doesn't make up for a childhood of not feeling loved. In a way I would like to treat them the same way they treated me; as a kid they were there physically with food and shelter, but not emotionally. Any hurts that I had, they didn't seem to care. I remember feeling very abandoned. So I struggle with feeling why should I care about them now? Especially when I heard about my dad basically biting the hand that is trying to help them by saying he can't live with their daughter. Honestly, I hope I die before I get like that. And I will make sure I have arrangements made so my kids never have to go through this. I have spent $420 in gas in the last two weeks running back and forth to "be there" for them. That is besides all the work I have missed in the last two weeks. And then they commented how nice it is that my brother is there every second he can be, even though he travels out of town for work for over a week at a time. And the 7 year old made a picture for her grandma saying she hopes she gets better, and brought her 2 bracelets she had made. No one even said "thank you" to the little girl. I'm fed up with my parents.

Anonymous said...

I am estranged from my parents. Toxic and abusive people. For my own mental and emotional health, I have quarantined them from my life. I am an only child.

Most of the posters feel a moral responsibility to care for their parents, which leaves them hamstrung. My question is, what is my LEGAL responsibility.

Years ago out of concern and a need to clarify what my own future duties or financial responsibilities would be, I asked my mother what her end-of-life wishes were. She basically told me to F*** right off and she could take care of herself, thank you very much. I think she was offended that I was starting to think of such things, because she did not want to view herself as old. Still in her 60s at that time.

But I'm taking her at her word. She's told me to F off, not to butt in? (she's done it more than once) I'm going to respect those wishes. If I get any phone calls from anybody, even if she's becoming a danger to herself and others, or a pawn to a confidence trickster, I won't take it on. There are worse things than becoming a ward of the state, if that's what it comes to. If she has made no preparations, then that too is a choice, a choice she made a long time ago, when she was compos mentis.

I'm not going to protect her from the consequences of her own choices. Choosing the way one exits this life is still their choice. It can be painful and protracted, it can be narcissistic and self-absorbed, it can be disrespectful to others, it can be damaging to others, it can be unnecessarily financially costly. It's still their choice. How they do it is up to them. Limiting their ability to be damaging to my life and well-being is up to me.

The distinction between moral responsibility (which is yours, and only yours, to decide) and legal responsibility is an important one. Don't let guilt cloud your ability to do right by yourself.

Anonymous said...

This blog is so old, I don't know if anyone is still on it, but thank you for leaving it up as it was really helpful for me to read. My mother has been cognitively impaired all her life due to not getting enough oxygen to her brain during her mother's labor. Now she is experiencing the onset of dementia. My only sister is also cognitively impaired and my father was an abusive tyrant. I've been in the lifelong position of being responsible but not having the authority to effect very many useful solutions. The situation continues, but I have temporary conservatorship now and, hopefully soon, permanent conservatorship, which (hopefully) will help me protect and take care of her.

MicheleO said...

This blog should continue, as there are many children of elderly parents that need to ask for advice and/or vent their frustrations on this subject. My father passed away recently, and I always knew that the responsibility to take my Mom in would fall on me (my 2 brothers live 265 miles away). So far, we are working together, and my brothers and I have the best of intentions to provide the best care for my mother, and also to make sure we preserve our close relationship to each other. The only problem I currently have is figuring out a fair amount of room and board for my mother to pay me for her stay in my home. She suffers from dementia, and needs 24/7 supervision. She has the money, so the amount is the only hangup. It would cost at least $3900. for her to be in a supervised group home in the area, and even more for a nursing home facility. I live in the DC area, and would like to know how others handle this. I do not work much outside of the home right now, as I lost my job last year...but I was hoping to go back to work full time soon. Now, I would either need to pay myself a reasonable amount for her care, or bring someone in. I hope there is someone out there can share their experience with this?

Anonymous said...

poiwOW..... 2012 AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED.. my sisters and I are going through this now with our 88yr old parents, who live at home and DRIVE. I could list all the problems but just read all the posts and you will see what we are going through.. thank you for the insight

Anonymous said...

I can identify with MOST everything people have posted here. My parents are in their mid-80's. They moved 2 1/2 hrs from their hometown to be near my brother a few years ago; but my dad HAD to move back to his hometown, even though my brother did all he could to help them. After a few years of living in their hometown again, I convinced them to move 2 1/2 hrs in the opposite direction to be close to me and my husband. My father was miserable the whole time he was here, even though we constantly offered to do things with them and I cooked them meals every weekend or brought in food (my husband and both work full-time). Once again, my father moved he and my mother back to their hometown a few months ago (my mother now has dementia). Right after he moved back 'home', he had hip replacement surgery at a hospital 1 hour from his home and it has been HELL on us since then (mainly my brother, since he took 2 weeks to stay with them after the surgery). My father accused the hospital that performed the surgery of abusing him, then when he insisted that he rehab at a place in his hometown and my brother found a place for him there (it's a very small town), he insisted they neglected him there too. Finally he was put in the hospital in his hometown and also insisted they neglected him there also. No one could get him to participate in rehab at all and because he wouldn't get out of bed, he now has 2 bedsores. However, he pestered the staffs so much, they finally released him to home. When my brother and his caseworker tried to discuss assisted living with him, he went ballistic and threatened to not see my brother again. We're both so frustrated and worried. He was released to home yesterday and has to health care workers who stay all day and all night; but at this point in time, I really think he will be sending them away soon and relying solely on my mother for care even though she can't physically handle him. He gets so agitated, that my brother and I have had to finally just leave him to his own devices and call to check on them daily. Anything more than that seems to drive him over the edge. We are at our wits end.

tony murauski said...

In desperation I started searching and found this site. I pity anyone who has to deal with these situations but it is comforting to know I am not the only one. You can find millions of lawyers who for fee will help take care of financial matters - which I do not care about Mom's money is Mom's money - but just try to get concrete input in these matter is non existent.

My mother is 92, still lives on her own, needs alot of help in hygene, food prep, never leaves the apartment, believes people come in a change out things like her TV, and on and on. I have had several local health agencies with mindcare programs come by. If she lets the nurse in thats an accomplishment. ALl have given up. I was advised by one social worker to forcibly take my Mom out of the house for a routine MD appointment. Morally I cannot do that, I also don't want any legal issues.

My wife and I are both in our second careers - still paying off 3 college expenses for 3 kids. We're trying to get ourselves ready for old age since the last 30+ years the focus was raising/educating children. My Mom is blind in one eye and quickly loosing sight in the other. Neither my wife or me can be home all day to watch over her, she refuses any type of nursing home or for that fact in home help. There is no way she'd be safe in my home so thats not possible. So what do I do??

Anonymous said...

Thanks for everyone's input. It's October 2013 and we're in the same place everyone else seems to be. 95 yr old mother who won't admit she needs help. We had her agreement to move into a wonderful assisted living facility and she changed her mind once she got there and sulked and was just miserable and disagreeable for 2 months. We let her move back home, it's been a week and she's already giving us so much grief. She has the neighbors convinced we're awful people and they're ready to call the Elder Abuse Hotline because it took us 5 days to get her phone hooked up. She promised to accept home health care if we moved her back, but, of course has changed her mind. I'm about ready to let her take on all the adult responsibilities she claims she can handle in spite of the fact that we do so much... order meds, shopping, make appts., doctor visits, calls to come fix stuff, straightening up finances she screws up. What happened to the fairly nice lady she used to be? She's not senile enough for the courts to intervene, but she's driving the family away with this awful attitude and behavior. And, as many have said... God forbid I do this to my kids.... Doesn't seem to be an good answer.

Anonymous said...

My mother is 94 years old, & still lives in her own house. Only recently was I able to hire some help for her. She always refused, and refused again, but I hired someone anyway. I picked someone with a personality that would mesh with my mother's, and someone who is kind, etc. I find that you just have to force some of these changes, but let them know that you know that they are still capable people,etc. You need to just take their bills home & pay them on-line, etc. Change their diets. Yes, you will have some screaming matches, but hug them & tell them you are doing this because you love them. Not all facilities are wonderful. The patient-staff ratios are less than ideal, some medicate their patients so they do not have to deal with them, etc. Hire the help to come into the home as long as you can. Our parents are old & feel safer in their own surroundings.Get meals on wheels, medic alert bracelets. When you see something that needs replacing, replace it. Take control.Yes, most of us have had issues with our parents in our childhoods. No one wants to get old, but this is life.They are old, losing their physical health, etc. - they are frightened.Realize that you must treat them with respect, but the parent/child relationship must switch in a loving way.

Anonymous said...

My father is 83. He can't walk, gets confused, and was a neglectful dad for years. I have had to move him six times to six different homes since his second wife died; five of those were because he is so selfish and willful the caregivers kicked him out. He just moved to the state VA home but if he gets himself kicked out of there, I will petition the state to make him a ward of the state. I am his POA but a POA can choose not to continue as POA anytime. This state is NOT a filial responsibility state either so they can't go after me for his care; good thing because I have four kids and a very low income.

If your elderly parent was toxic or is toxic, let the state take care of them. Don't reward their toxic behavior with kindness; just walk away if you are in a state where you can.

Don't let your toxic elderly parents ruin YOUR life again! Walk away.