Am I watching the sneak preview of me in my eighties?

I am frightened I am going to end up like my mom.

When my parents had their licenses revoked, their first action was to demand retesting. Today was slated to be the retest day. I picked up my parents at 6:45 a.m. My mom was convinced, and convinced my dad it was for a physical, so they didn’t eat anything. My mom was in a horrible mood.

My dad was to see one doctor, while my mom saw another. They call for my dad first and suggest I go with my mom and then, when they are ready, they will have me sit in with my dad.

By the time we get into to see the doctor, my mom is in a better mood. We are asked if we have questions. My mom’s still confused, so I ask the doctor to help us understand what the testing my mom had already means, and if retesting even makes sense.  We’d like to know what type of dementia she has – that is a pretty vague term.

I’m told she has mixed dementia, some is caused by her stroke, but in looking at her testing and sitting with her, the doctor says she also exhibits some Alzheimer’s type behaviors. Still kinda vague right?

In the midst of this, my mom turns to me and asks me why I haven’t discussed this with her. I tell her we have discussed this many times and the reason I’m concerned is that she doesn’t remember.

The doctor asks me why I am focused on the diagnosis and I tell her that my parents still choose to ignore the prior three doctor recommendations, or accept the concern of their four children. We are concerned for their safety and financial well-being. I tell her the prior doctors have recommended they turn over the checkbook and that we pursue obtaining legal guardianship. As I say those two words, I choke up and start to cry.

Who wants to sue their parents?

My mom sits up straight and is surprised. I am not a crier. She turns to me and says she would love for me to take over the finances.

I’ve heard this before. She won’t remember this and will go back to trying to manage to pay bills and keep their independence. I understand that need.

Looking back. I’m not sure why this made me cry. Was it having to say it in front of my mom knowing that would be hurtful? Or was it much more selfish because I’m frightened that the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree and this will be me in 30 years. Horrified.

6 thoughts on “Am I watching the sneak preview of me in my eighties?

  1. sad sad sad… I’m crying with you as I read it.

    Who knows, if you look after your brain and health as your blog talks about (the things you are going to do differently to your parents), maybe you will avoid it. Definitely worth trying! We are dealt the cards of the pack, with no or little choice in what cards we are given, so the best you can do is be more prepared and have lots of the things you are trying to set up now for your parents, set up in advance, long before you need them. Don’t wait for a nasty diagnosis (not just a dementia), because by then you will be very vulnerable and may not be able to make rational decisions either.

    I think we should make a will, and set up Medical Directives and legal guardianship etc when we get our driving licence, or certainly when we turn 21 because by then, our parents can no longer make decision on our behalf without them. Or maybe when we sign up to vote? My children went through the signing up to vote process when they were at school, so why not discuss soething as important as life… and death then? More important than sex education in some ways. This way, we are doing it when we are not compromised emotionally (or cognitively). So many things to think about, when you just want to have fun and live your life, and at that age when you still believe you are invincible!!

    Sending hugs and love and hope for more peace for you all xox

    1. Thank you Kate for your encouraging words. Many laws in the U.S. make helping someone who is fully prepared very difficult. I wonder if that is why I get to face this challenge?

      I’m still working through how to be a better daughter and make this segment of their life the best it can be — I hope they decide to join me on this task!

  2. As a PWD, I suspect they are thinkng the same thing… when will you all join them? Just another side to the same coin. It is very challenging to take over someone’s life, to get them to accept and understand they are no longer capable to do many of the things they have done for their whole life. It is equally (perhaps more) painful and challenging to relinquish the things you have done all of your life, so very painful to accept you are no longer ‘capable’, especially if you don’t remember from one moment to the next.

    We had to ‘take over’y father in laws ‘life’ and he hated us for it too. I am also a legal guardian for a young friend in aged care, who found this difficult too, but luckily for us (and him), he barely ever recalls his old life. It is also difficult for a parent to accept their children have become the ‘parents’, such a tragic switch of roles for us all. I have parents who fear and hate the idea of me going into aged care, and children (22 and 23) who have already ahd to become ‘carers’ for me some of the time, and a husband who is now more of a ‘carer’ (BUB), than a husband in the true sense of the word.

    Hang onto your love, accept your new roles as best you can, and accept the ‘new truth’ that is now the reality for your parents. And spend time nurturing yourselves, away from yor parents, as you need to look after yourselves and your children first, in order to have the emotional strength to be there for them. With love and hope, always.

  3. I do feel for you as my Mom had Dementia. She was a terrific lady with great anticipation. In 1987 when she still was on her own running a business with no symptoms, she established power of attorney and added me to all her financial acounts with no restrictions. I only appreciated and understood her actions 10 years later when I needed to start taking over for her. She also set me up with a attorney who specializes in elder care to plan way in advance how to set up and financially manage assisted living / nursing home placement if needed. This was done 6-7 years before needed. A very important piece of this care planning. It is a financial necessity for anyone who is NOT independently wealthy. Do try to do this now with your parents ASAP. Good luck. I understand what you are going through.

    1. Thanks Karen! Unfortunately, my mom is too paranoid now to let anyone in. They did do all of their estate planning and we have a trust, POAs and medical directives — however, we are finding so many situations where the POA doesn’t work. Half the time we place the call as if we were my parents (thank goodness I have brothers who can call as my dad.)

      Lots of things I will do differently!

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