Last Friday I posted Will Wells Fargo Accept Your Power of Attorney? Most people are shocked to hear that many banks will freely, but politely, decline to accept a durable power of attorney (DPOA). This is not the first financial services firm to say no. Three years ago Fidelity told me they would not accept a DPOA more than 2 years old; and a second one declined because it was more than 5 years old. The fact that they are doing this is frustrating and not supposed to happen. It’s complicated. I will continue to recommend you work with an estate lawyer who can help navigate this issue.
My parents did their initial DPOA in 2002. When I started to get the refusals, we worked to update their DPOA. Now that my mom is into a later stage of dementia, I need it to work so I can help continue to get mom the care she needs.
After my post @Ask_WellsFargo responded on April 30 and asked me to private message them my name and phone number. I did that. It’s been a week and no one has reached out to me.
Two days ago, the estate lawyer followed up with a letter asking that they honor my mother’s DPOA and allow me to access her funds so that they can be used for her care.
Dear Wells Fargo, The caregivers journey is already hard. Please don’t make it harder by refusing to accept the tools my mom put in place so that I could help her should she ever need it. Pleaded.
POSTMORTEM After getting no response from the letter to legal department of Wells Fargo, I went into my local branch every week to discuss the issue with the manager. Eventually, they worked with me to contact my siblings who were all named in the Trust to confirm that the money was to be used for my mom’s care. While in Virginia, I could have initiated a law suit, having that on my plate was one more task I wasn’t willing to consider. Thankfully, the employees at the local branch worked with me to help serve mom’s interests.
My caregiving journey has moved from tasks I can manage by myself to a three-ring circus. Under the three tents we have:
The Assisted Living Community: The center ring that has the overarching task of care, but also has the least amount of bandwidth with very busy employees who care for many residents with a wide variety of needs.
Hospice: The second ring that is our resource to help my Mom be comfortable as she moves through the final stages of her dementia.
Personal Daily Assistants (PDA): Now that my Mom is unable to leave her bed, we have hired additional personal assistants who can be with Mom from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to keep her company, comfortable and cared for.
As we move through this change, we are hitting a few bumps in the road. Today an adjustable hospital bed arrives and I start getting calls from all three parties. I was told I would be called when it was scheduled, but was not contacted. In the course of one hour, I speak with all three and we put a plan in place to manage the simple task of removing one bed and inserting the new one until I can drive over.
When I arrive my mom is half asleep. The morning PDA tells me Mom has been up most of the morning with all the bed-moving activity. I sit by her bedside and wait for her to stir.
I made a pledge when this journey started that I would always tell my parents what was going on at least once. I wanted to not just repay them with respect, but treat them as I would want to be treated.
When my Mom wakes I ask her how she’s doing. She starts to ask questions. It’s hard for her to speak now; her voice has changed and she has trouble forming words. She asks where her bed went and what happened to require this new bed.
I tell her that her back hurt so much she didn’t want to get out of bed two weeks ago. All tests came back negative and they tell me it’s osteoporosis. I let her know they ordered this bed in hopes of getting her comfortable. We spend the next hour cycling through her asking to get up but being unable to stand any movement. As soon as we get ready to help her move she yells “Wait a minute, wait a minute.” We never have the chance to really help her move out of the bed, she seems to be afraid that moving will hurt too much. The PDA is with me and we try to arrange the bed to get her more comfortable. She is frustrated at this new development and just wants to do things for herself. She keeps asking how she ended up this way.
In the midst of all this, she states “No one cares about me.” My brain stalls as I imagine how lonely and frightened she must be even now when I’m sitting next to her. She doesn’t always know I’m her daughter, she doesn’t remember that her other daughter just visited and spent three days with her, she doesn’t know that her two sons immediately made plans to visit when I told them that hospice was recommended. My first instinct is to put my hand on her hand and I lean down to give her a kiss on the head and tell her I love her and that all of us care about her. I immediately walk out of the room before the tear falls from my face. Juggled.
For two weeks, my Mom has been relentless on the topic of mail. Some days, she will call more than 5 times in an hour to discuss the topic. “Kay, I’m not getting any mail. Are you getting all of my mail now?” Nothing has changed, so I’m a little confused about her question.
I’ve been in her apartment when the mail is delivered. The remnants of the mail can be found on her bed, the entry hall table, next to her favorite chair, why does she not recognize that she is getting mail? Some days she gets as many as 9 pieces of mail. After a few days of her calls, I ask my Mom what was she expecting and not getting in the mail?
“I’m not getting any condolence notes, where are they going?” Ah-ha! I now understood the question she was really trying to ask, but was unable to verbalize. I start by telling her that Dad died over a month ago, so the letters are going to slow down. “It’s been a month? I didn’t realize it had been that long.” On my next visit, we stack up the letters and cards so I can direct her to the pile to review when she calls. Discovered.
Ask family and friends that send letters and notes to date the mailed items.
When friends ask what they can do to help – suggest they send notes. My Mom loves jokes as well as getting pictures. When sending a picture, tell a story about the event surrounding the picture and make sure to label the back of the picture with the event, date and names of those in the photograph.
Stack received mail in a prominent place near a favorite seating area (and direct them back to the stack of mail if they call you).
Last year at this time, my brothers were in town to take my parent’s car keys. My parents doctor wrote to the DMV regarding their cognitive issues and their licenses were revoked. My parents continued to drive. They really didn’t remember that their licenses were revoked.
I saw my parents say and do so many things that were outside the realm of normal behavior, that I would sometimes end up in tears — however, these were tears of frustration. I was at a loss about how to help my parent’s who were obviously failing, but did not recognize it.
Yesterday was my birthday. For the first time, my parent’s did not mention it. My mom no longer manages the calendar which was her guidebook for the past year. I have been telling myself that my parents are gone — however visiting with them now is pleasant compared to just six months ago. We still have a connection and familiarity and often spend our time chatting about the puzzle they are working on or what we need to go buy at the grocery store. Now they will ask for and easily accept my help.
The fact that they don’t know it’s my birthday reminds me how much of my parent’s I’ve already lost. Dementia is a cruel disease that afflicts us all. Aged.
The hardest part of this journey with my parents is the recurring disappointment. Today I get a call from my dad asking me “Where are you?”
I had no plans to see my parents today. I spent my entire Sunday afternoon with them looking for my mom’s purse and taking them to the grocery store. They wanted a ride to their townhouse so I gave it to them. I was very clear yesterday that I was unable to see them today.
All I can do is apologize “Sorry Dad, I was unaware you were expecting me.”
I have tried to eliminate the word “Remember” from my vocabulary. My typical response would have been “Remember, we discussed this yesterday and you knew I had the day planned with my family?” But of course they don’t remember, so saying that is just frustrating for everyone.
My mom was very depressed for most of the afternoon yesterday. She was frustrated at losing her purse – which happens almost weekly now. I have asked her several times if she wants to go buy a big red purse that will be too big and colorful to miss. She declines. I think we both know she won’t remember that big red purse is hers.
She wants my dad to help her, but he can’t any longer. She mentioned to me that he seems to be wearing the same clothes every day now. She suggested he change, but he declined. She knows that is a very bad sign.
I will continue to do what I can until we can get more permanent and legal support to really help them lead the lives they so wish to live. Surrendered.
My daughter and I show up for breakfast today. My dad always asks questions. However, we have the same conversation every week.
A woman comes in and my dad points her out and says, “That’s the Black Hat Lady.” He tells us that is what he and my mom call her. She comes in every Sunday and she’s always wearing a black hat.
I want to say, “Yeah, I know. We come every Sunday. You point her out to us every Sunday. We have this same conversation about her every Sunday.”
I want to go back to having a real conversation with my parents. I want to be able to have a positive conversation about how we can get my mom to every bridge game she wants to play and to my dad a game plan on how to organize a racquetball game to play every day.
After dinner my husband asks me what’s wrong. I don’t think anything is wrong; it’s just been a busy day. He shakes his head and nicely tells me I kinda have a scowl on my face today.
As I lay in bed it dawns on me that I’m mad. All I want to do is solve this problem. It seems easy enough to quickly give my parents more activities they love. However, my parents don’t know, or won’t admit to me that anything is broken that needs fixing. Constricted.