Financially, Emotionally and Physically Exhausted

by Dee
(Maryland)

Since my mother passed away unexpectedly, my father feels that his adult children should assume his care because he does not want to leave his home.


Since none of us live nearby or even in the same state, we arranged for care in his home a few hours every day and set up a schedule to visit on weekends.

Unfortunately, my sister was diagnosed with cancer so more frequent visits were required.

Eventually, the strain of working full-time and serving as caretaker was too much and I ended up in the hospital. My youngest sister assumed all of the weekend duties until I got better.

It has been almost one year and we cannot keep up this pace. My father is either unwilling or incapable of taking care of himself and his home. He cannot shop, cook, get his own meals or clean and needs some assistance with dressing.

He is living in a large two story home but cannot walk up and down the stairs or keep with the maintenance. We go in every weekend to shop, provide upkeep on his home and prepare food so he just reheat but even this is too much for him.

Financially, he is well-off but he refuses to pay for his groceries, medicines, clothing, etc.

Since he wants to stay close to his church and friends, we suggested that he sell the home and move into assisted living. He is objecting saying that he cannot afford it but I know better.

I am just so tired, angry and frustrated. I think some of my childhood scars from his alcoholism and abuse of my mother have resurfaced. I feel like I did when I was a child...totally helpless and overwhelmed.

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Some practical suggestions for you
by: Gina

Hi Dee, below I have some hopefully useful suggestions for you. My stepfather-in-law gave us a similar fight but in contrast he had no money and was upside down on his mortgage.

He wasn't a very nice SFIL and his own biological sons were estranged from him. But since he was still married to and living with my meek and spineless mother-in-law, and they were both failing at the same time I could see the writing on the wall so I just worked on solutions for their situation (and ours!) a little every day.

I had a no-nonsense (but polite) talk with my SFIL about the realities of their care expectations. But they would not move out of the quad home even though it had stairs they could not navigate.

When he steadfastly refused to give anyone Power of Attorney so that we could help manage their basic daily lives, I informed him that the only logical next step would be for him to become a ward of the state and then NOBODY would control what happened to him, not even he himself (I'm not suggesting this for your situation).

Very long story short, he became a ward of the state and he didn't get to choose where he went and eventually died from his Parkinson's. I didn't feel guilty at all because 1) he did NOTHING to save or plan for retirement; 2) we really didn't have any other options and I was totally honest with him up front, so the outcome was his decision.

If I were in your situation here's what I would do:

- start with an all-family discussion to hash out concerns, perspectives, expectations, etc. I'm talking just your adult siblings and their spouses. Do a phone conference if possible.

If you have difficulty getting people to participate in this, inform all of them that their indifference will mean you are moving forward with how you think things should go down for him. That will get their attention.

Keep it very business-like and keep emotions out of it. If you succeed in having a productive family meeting, the goal should be to come away with an organized and realistic plan about next steps with your Dad. This means a decision is made as to who will be the primary caregiver/planner and this same person should try to get Power of Attorney from you father (he can assign as many PoAs as he wants, but the family should agree who the point person is).

The caregiver and PoA should be the person willing, able and closest in proximity to your Dad. Any travel or other expenses will be covered by the other siblings. If they don't like that, then they either have to participate more or have no say at all. No one should be paying for your Dad's expenses except himself. Period.

- Once a plan is agreed upon, have a meeting with your Dad in person. Yes I know this is an expense, but again, the collective siblings need to kick in for it. Maybe it's just the one point-person and he, as more people might feel overwhelming. Keep it casual.

The tone should be, "We understand your desire to age in place and we want to help you achieve that goal but we also see that you are having trouble keeping up with maintenance, etc " Don't talk about "you" and how hard it is (it's obvious he don't care!) but focus the talk on him. For him to age in place will require him to be financially responsible for that arrangement.

If he continues to listen, inform him (very apologetically but firmly) that, going forward, none of the siblings are able to continue to pay any of his expenses (because you can't afford it, you have kids in school, traveling to see him is very costly, etc.)

Don't accept his guilt-trip if he tries to give you one. Or any other emotional manipulation. If he blows up at this point, you can close the meeting calmly by saying you understand why this is upsetting to him, and you really want to find realistic solutions but the solutions have to work for everyone and paying his expenses doesn't work.

If he is still uncooperative (or abusive) at this point, you can say, "I'm sorry that we can't come to a solution today" and then leave. Or if you think he is calm enough to listen further you should inform him of which services and expenses will no longer be covered, and starting when.

Maybe write down each expense and service and give it a number, then tally it up so that he sees how much it's running. Then you can ask if he wants help in managing these things, but it would require giving someone Durable Power of Attorney since management will need to happen from afar.

You can show him how easy it is for you to place his food delivery orders online or do online banking (that you would do for him). He may lose it at this point. You don't need to endure his abuse so just leave if he's too hot to have a rational discussion.

Your last words to him should be, "Call me tomorrow if you change your mind"

- If he is totally uncooperative, you and siblings will need to come to the understanding that it is out of your control, but STOP paying for anything. DO NOT enable him by paying with your own money.

If he calls and says he needs help setting up a housekeeper, let him know that you don't have the ability to pay for it unless someone has PoA. It will be painful for a while but he might give in little by little.

If he says "no" to giving anyone PoA, you will unfortunately need to watch the train wreck take place...you can't save him from himself when he's not cooperative, whether it's due to dementia or not.

If you become concerned then contact social services to check on him. Seriously, he may need to come to the end of himself before he understands he needs to do the PoA.

When traveling down the Aging road with our elderly, one of the hardest things is to watch them react to changes and realities and try to adjust, and suffer emotionally, mentally or physically.

But don't feel guilty about this: we are all responsible for a mature acceptance that no one lives forever and youth and good health don't last, either. Any other viewpoint is denial. Everyone is in the same boat. It may turn out that he falls and then needs to be hospitalized (like my SFIL).

That may be an opportunity to get him into a good facility where he sees it's not the end of the world and all his needs are taken care of. I understand that he doesn't want to leave his community (loneliness is a bad thing in the aged). But he will need to decide if he wants to live in his community in a safe, manageable environment or if he want to live near family (not with family).

Good luck!

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Not As Easy As Some Think
by: Anonymous

Sometimes unless your parent has been declared incompetent or one of the children has power of attorney, you cannot force he/she to move or sell.

We tried in the midst of our Dad being in a Nursing Center to rehab after being released from the hospital. He checked himself out and moved back to his house.

There was absolutely nothing we could do.

We begged and suggested he at least move into a Retirement Community. He refused. Our Mother is with me - going on 4 years now. She has Lewy Body Dementia. I have burned out so many times.

I am trying to take care of myself better... the cortisol stress hormone seems to be my worst enemy these days. We even had his house inspected. It is a total mess and run down in need of repairs etc.

Still,he is still living there. Mom had lost so much weight and other symptoms were pointing to her being ill : long story short, she came to live with me as I took her to Doctors and finally got diagnosis of her condition. She is getting worse and they do not have long term care insurance - yet she does not qualify for Medicaid.

I also made her a promise that I'd never place her in a nursing home, as she had a fear of being placed in one. I am trying to find ways to cope and to help myself stay healthy. It is hard. Takes a lot of prayer and determination.

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You can do this!
by: Anonymous

Dear Dee,
You are right, you Will Burn Out. My brother and I did (after more than 2 years trying to keep mom at home). The sooner you get the ball rolling to find the right assisted living for your dad the sooner he will adjust to it.

Mom did not 'want' to go into assisted living (who does?) but when we laid out all the facts of money and abilities she saw the truth and agreed to go.

It took her a while and we had to move her 3 times in 3 months (one place raised her rent over 1000.00 a month-other place too big and she fell (A lot!) but she is lovingly cared for now and has been in the same place now for a couple of years.

You can do this, you will feel guilty, it may not be easy but 'this too shall pass'. I have found that our job's not done once our elder is living with help but it is better.

Let us know how it goes.
m-santa rosa ca

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Selfish
by: Anonymous

Please learn to stand up for yourself and put him in assisted living. He is just being selfish as most elderly men are.

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Dear Exhausted
by: kaypasa

Contact some of the assisted living homes in his area for information. Review it all with your siblings and, if you know his financial situation, narrow the choices down for him to just a couple.

Get all of the siblings together and make a visit, with him, to the facility. There will be a social worker there, and, if it's determined he cannot live on his own, and you all are unable to be present often enough, for his own safety, they will help to get him to move.

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