A Different Degree of Elder Abuse

checkbookA few years ago, when we didn’t yet have a diagnosis, but knew something was wrong with mom and dad, we were concerned that our parents would be victims of elder-abuse scams. We had a major incident when my mom hired two contractors for the same work, one of which charged 5 times a reasonable rate for the work that needed to be done. Thankfully, we were able to get the contract cancelled in time.

While we wanted our parents to hand over the checkbook and let us help them, my parents refused and were a little angry that we even suggested such a notion. I now understand that keeping control and having a sense of meaning and purpose is not just important to recognize, but a monstrous roadblock for many to overcome.

As my parent’s were losing control of the world around them, the one thing they could do was pay bills and send off donations to the growing number of charities asking for money through the mail. I started to notice that my parents were making a LOT of donations to new charities. For years, they had always done the donations once a year, after doing checks to validate the varied non-profit organizations and their finances. Now, I was watching weekly mailings to new charities I had never heard of.

It seemed that the charities that got money, freely shared the names of donors with others. The mail seemed to grow with more requests for donations. Most of the mailings showed up and looked like bills, or had language on them to the effect of “Here is confirmation of your pledge.”

When I asked my parents, they couldn’t even tell me what most of the charities did. When I asked why they were changing their annual donations to monthly, they brushed off my question.

I still feel like many of these charities took advantage of my parents. They seemed to count on the fact that my parents wouldn’t remember they didn’t “pledge” funds and in a way, coerced them into donating.

I fought with my godly self because many of the charities were indeed well run and regarded and doing good work. But my logical, righteous self grew angry over the ploys and tactics they were using on my parents.

Eventually, the checkbook did get turned over. As I was cleaning up some old files, I came across an old register and more than half of all the checks were to charities. While I still carry a bit of rage over the tactics, now that mom is unable to manage to even sign her name, maybe a few hundred dollars every year to these charities was worth the sense of independence it gave my mom when she could still write a check. Conflicted. 

Have you heard of The CARE Act (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act)?

CAREAARPI attended a caregiving support group at my Mom’s retirement community. One of the members was sharing the horror story about the release of her husband from the hospital. I immediately relived the story of my Dad’s hip surgery and the doctor’s discharge plans.

After breaking his hip on the racquetball court, the doctors were going to release my Dad into the care of my Mom. My Dad had surgery and was in the hospital for 4 days. He was in terrible pain and was unable to get himself to the bathroom unattended. At this time, my Dad was around 200 pounds and my Mom was around 105 pounds. My Dad insisted they release him so he could get back to their 3-level town home. As I sat with my Mom listening to the discharge instructions, I stopped the doctor and told him there was no way my Mom was going to be able to care for Dad. Thankfully, my parents were in a Continuing Care Retirement Community, and they had the ability for my Dad to be cared for in skilled nursing while he rehabilitated.

I thought it was derelict for the doctor to release my Dad into the care of my Mom given his needs. At the time, my Mom was initially unwilling to admit she couldn’t care for my Dad. However, at a glance, it seemed very obvious that my Mom would be unable to help my Dad get out of bed and to the bathroom and ridiculous that he would be able to climb two sets of stairs so soon after his surgery.

While my Dad was angry and hated being in skilled nursing, he needed to be able to get himself to the restroom at minimum. Then he was able to finish his recuperation in their one-level apartment.

I’m not sure the new act if implemented will help, but I’m glad to see some light brought to this topic many of us have already faced. Finally, Some Help For Family Caregivers After Hospital Discharges Interested. 


Additional Related Stories:

Support Seniors and their Family Caregivers AARP

Thank you Gov. Fallin, Legislature for Support Marjorie Lyons


Can we order one of your books?

MemoryBanc RegisterOn the past few visits with my parents I have taken phone calls that were orders for the MemoryBanc Register. My mom let’s out a “hot dang!” then asks “can we order one of your books?”

My brain reels. Try as I might, I’m the kind of gal who has the witty response a day after it would have been useful. My defense for this has been to stick with the truth. So I tell my mom I already have a book for them.

Recently, my mom has been appreciative of the help and telling me now how much she is struggling to put information together. I have never shared with them they have been the inspiration for my business. She has no idea how many MONTHS I spent trying to find all the information on their accounts. She doesn’t know how frustrating it’s been to try and help them. My parent’s do not understand how many things they were failing to manage (bills, household maintenance) and many simple fixes their Power-of-Attorney could have fixed were derailed.

The blessing of the Internet has been that I could set-up online access to act on my parent’s behalf. I had enough personal information and knew what their PINs would be. It’s been over two years since she called me to ask how to put money in the bank. Just last week we uncovered another bank account and a life insurance policy. It’s no wonder that the Washington Post reported that there is over $32 billion dollars of unclaimed funds are sitting in state treasuries just waiting to be claimed.

It’s time to put the book in front of my parents (or a summary at least) so they can see, touch and feel more connected to their own estate. Documented.

Coping with a Resistant Parent

I thought you might find something of use on how to cope with a parent who resists help.

I recently attended an event that discussed the role of Geriatric Care Manager. If you are struggling and need some support, this is an emerging group of care professionals specifically focused on serving those that need help – both the individual and the families of that individual. To learn more you can visit the association: National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers

They also offer a search to allow you to find a list of these professionals in your home town.  Apologies to my international readers – this is only in the U.S.  but I would guess you have some similar groups emerging in your country.

I’m looking forward to the day when I have a little more clarity and success in how to help my parents. Investigated.

Dad got up at 4 a.m. and ate breakfast.

My brother calls to share with me what’s going on at home. At first my mom is very combative about any need to visit a doctor, or even just to give a blood sample.

My brother and sister are staying with my parents while I’m away. We thought this would be the perfect time to have someone help make sure they don’t eat before their blood test. While this seems like a simple task, with no short-term memory and no knowledge or sense of your limitations, my parents have no system to help them manage tasks like this but do not know it.

Our interest is to keep them safe and part of that process is to understand their physical and mental state. Step one was the visit with the psychologist. Step two is a physical. The blood work requested means they need to fast. My brother and sister are with them to ensure they don’t eat before the blood test.

This morning they were going to get the test and my parents said they were on board. However, when my brother gets up, he learns that my dad got up at 4 a.m. and ate breakfast. I am constantly considering how crafty they have become. Was there some element to this action to prevent the blood test from getting done?

We still have Monday. I wish them luck! Foiled.

I can give blood anytime I want to.

While I’m away and my brother and sister are visiting my parents, I’m sharing their stories. They are taking on some things I could not manage that will help with the medical follow-ups so we can get a clearer picture of our parents’ health. Something they have kept hidden from us for several years now. This one is from my brother.

When I called my mom, she was upset. Like she asked, we gave her the report from the psychologist. The three things he recommends she does not like and insists the psychologist has made a mistake and this report is about my dad.

I confirm that this report (with her name on it) is indeed for her. She rejects what I say and insists she has a good memory. She challenges me to give her one example. I give her three.

I reconfirm my arrival into town and the follow-up appointment to get blood drawn. We all agreed the only way to make sure they don’t eat and get this done properly is to have someone in the house with them to manage them through this process.

She immediately denies that there is any medical appointment or need to do this. She says, “I can give blood anytime I want to” and states that she won’t go. I tell her that doesn’t make sense since she needs to fast before the appointment and there is a specific place we need to go to ensure she gets the right blood tests. She turns very combative while I’m staying very neutral. When I ask her why she wouldn’t want to go she just gets more agitated in her responses.

I change the subject to confirm my arrival tomorrow night and tell her I’m looking forward to the visit. I could hear her exhale and she seemed relieved to be ending this phone call.

I know I can’t reason with someone who has lost their ability to reason. I don’t know how to make her remember that she can’t remember. It seems like the more she doesn’t know, the more she fabricates. It’s like an automatic protective reflex now. I wonder how long she has been honing this skill. Flustered.

He just can’t help me anymore.

I’d made plans to play tennis with the neighbor of my parents at their home. There are tennis courts within one block. I invited my parents to come watch, but they said they were going to go out and stay at their retirement community apartment for the rest of the weekend.

When I park my car in the driveway , the warning bell in my head sounds. I need to put a note on the car in case my parents don’t do what they said they were doing.  For so long I would be surprised that my parents said one thing and did another.  I can laugh at myself about this now, since they don’t remember what they say, why was it constantly surprising me?

I leave a note on their door that it’s my car so they don’t show up and call a tow truck.

When I come back from tennis, sure enough, my parents are now at their home. My mom follows me out and says, “He just can’t help me anymore.”

Later that day she calls me again and tells me, “He just can’t help me anymore.”

I explain that the doctors confirmed he has no short-term memory, so any of the tasks she’s thinking he can manage, he just may not be able to do anymore.

She’s quiet.

Both times I tell my mom that I can assist when she needs it. Is there something I can help with today? She comments that she’s doing alright but is just angry that he can’t help her anymore.  Interpreted.