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Old 01-01-2013, 04:34 PM
Location: Corona the I.E.
10,139 posts, read 15,367,015 times
Reputation: 9074


I am not sure where to put this thread.........?

My Mom has never taken the best care of herself or her home and now she is old, her vision is bad and her health is declining. She can still see and is ambulatory, but she is close to needing to go to assisted living and her driving is dangerous at times, which of course she denies.

I guess I need to vent and get some advice. I am her only son and she named me Power of Attorney. She has been in and out of hospitals the last few years and if it weren't for me wife and I she would be dead. She is ungrateful and difficult a lot of the time. It's like dealing with 10 year old with a driver's license. She has caused my wife and I so much stress and drama over the last few years we want to distance ourselves from her, but she will probably won't make it, because her memory and decision making ability is poor. Her health is bad, and we continue to try our best and we get treated badly, worse than her dog and the cleaning lady because we tell her the truth and she doesn't want to her it. She treated her body badly and she just wants to be enabled to do what she wants. She fell down a couple of nights ago because she wasn't paying attention and then is on the doctor at urgent care about getting pain meds. I had to tell the doctor not to give her many because she has a history of abusing pain meds. She got nasty and verbally abusive. I am telling myself why do I bother? My time is valuable too and yet I feel obligated to help my Mom?

I am very concerned that with me having Power of Attorney that if she injures someone in a car accident I will be sued? I live in CO and her in CA, if that matters? My wife thinks we won't be liable my half brother does ( not his Mom ). She is dangerous to herself and others at times and when it is brought to her attention she just ignores me or gets verbally abusive at times. I want to be removed from Power of Attorney because I don't need this hassle in my life. I know, before you say, it's my Mom and she raised me, but what you don't know is she was not a good parent to me, for most of my life. We have a complicated and dysfunctional relationship which I have tried to better, but she is 70, I am in my 40's, and doesn't want to change.

I know the right thing to do is take her license and put her in assisted living, because we don't get along well enough for her to live with us, but I am already spread very thin in terms of not having and job and having my own problems to deal with, without her drama and lack of gratitude to deal with. I am really sad and depressed about the situation. I love my Mom frankly more than she cares about herself, but when I speak up I get thrown under the bus because she doesn't want to take responsibility for her actions. She prefers to hire people that tell her want she wants to her and then take advantage or her. When we bring it to her attention she doesn't believe us. Frankly she is a bit delusional.

Thanks for listening and hopefully someone has some advice on the legal situation.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:11 PM
4,787 posts, read 10,213,129 times
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I do not believe you are legally responsible if your mother injures someone while driving, unless you own the car and have knowledge of her deficiencies. I'm assuming she's driving her own car so it doesn't impact you. Power of attorney just lets you help with financial things.

I believe that in CA, that after the age of 70, you have to appear in person to renew your driver's license. Then, the state has the ability to require vision tests, can restrict a license, etc.

A power of attorney will not let you put her in an assisted living facility. If she doesn't want to go, you're not getting her there. You would have to apply to the court system to have her declared incompetent and then have someone appointed as her conservator ( that could be you or someone else) . That conservator could have sent her sent to an assisted living facility. But if you think she's difficult now, wait until you try to have her declared incompetent.

Have you tried broaching the assisted living idea with her in person. Maybe showing her some brochures, finding a place that will take her dog too ( many accept a pet). Possibly even visiting several facilities with her. In her mind she may be confusing assisted living with nursing home. She may not understand the difference.

Yes, could have yourself removed as power of attorney. Then you could have a local bank or a trusted lawyer act as her POA for financial reasons.

You should also talk to an attorney in CA about setting up someone as her health care agent who is able to make medical decisions for her in the event she cannot for herself ( due to injury or illness) . A power of attorney does not permit that. Also consider discussing a living will and an advance appointment of conservatorship.

In other words, there's a whole lot of end of life paper work and decisions that should be made now between your mom and others before it is needed.

One last thing - if she has a housekeeper, could you also not use that person to run errands and do shopping for her? Or hire someone similar to drive your mom around.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:15 PM
Location: a primitive state
10,461 posts, read 21,500,929 times
Reputation: 14364
I'd offer her strong pain meds in exchange for the car. If you could up the ante and add the assisted living faculty to the deal, get her a prescription for whatever she wants and be done with it.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:30 PM
3,763 posts, read 7,917,153 times
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Having witnessed the unsafeness of your mother's driving skills, you could talk with her personal physician to express your concerns regarding her having a driver's license. In most states, a physician can take action.

Good luck! Sounds like a pain so hang in there.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:51 PM
Location: The Triad (NC)
31,376 posts, read 69,780,396 times
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You need to find people her own age, ideally friends she knows and trusts...
who can explain how THEY have made the transition.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:54 PM
Location: Florida
2,291 posts, read 5,260,479 times
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You will not be responsible for any lawsuits, as long the car is in her name, and she is the named driver on the insurance policy. A power of attorney is a document that gives one power to make decisions for another, in many cases both medical and monitary,it depends on how the document was written and state statutes. The catch is that it has to be proven that the issuer can no longer manage their affairs, and may have to be court ordered.

With that said, you can, refuse to accept the power of attorney, thus have your name removed. I have done so. An attorney in your area can advise you.

If you want to continue on with her, I would document every event...in detail, talk to an attorney and go from there. Accept that this situation will not improve...my mother is 87, I am dealing with the same issues, it is pure h#ll.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:07 PM
Location: Corona the I.E.
10,139 posts, read 15,367,015 times
Reputation: 9074
Thanks for all of these helpful replies, I really appreciate it. I will definitely look into these ideas. Happy new year all.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:07 PM
Location: Florida
5,329 posts, read 4,775,622 times
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This is very hard to answer. It sounds like you are trying to do the right thing but it looks like what you are doing will not be a benefit to your mother or you. I think I would look for a social worker that works for the state and see if they will investigate to see if she can live alone. Also I would try to see if a local church might be able to offer some assistance. I think the key for success is for you to get a third person involved that has experience with this type of problem. Maybe stop by a few assisted living places and see if they can direct you to someone that can help.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:13 PM
Location: Central Florida
2,689 posts, read 3,434,948 times
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Having power of attorney means you CAN do the things that are listed on the document, not that you HAVE to do anything. Having power of attorney does not mean you can be sued if your mother has a car accident that hurts someone. If you are the owner of the car, or a co-owner of the car, you could be sued.

You can try calling the California Department of Motor Vehicles (or whatever the department that licenses drivers is called in California -- do some googling) and report your mother as an unsafe driver. They may have a procedure for dealing with this, I know there is such a procedure where I live.

You will not be able to force your mother into assisted living. The only way to have someone declared legally incompetent is if you can prove to a judge (in the state where she lives) that she is so far out of it she doesn't know what year it is or where she is -- and from what you've said in your post, she's nowhere near that state.

I believe that you are not obligated to be part of her life simply because she gave birth to you. Decide for yourself how involved you want to be. Fortunately, you're physically far enough away from her that if you want to just cut ties altogether, you can do that and she's not likely to show up on your doorstep.

I wouldn't bother dealing with her doctor and inserting yourself in her problem with pain meds. It sounds like she's had this problem for a long time, and you're not going to solve it for her. I'm all for helping someone who will accept help, but I'm not in favor of trying and trying to help someone who only gives you abuse in return.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:33 PM
Location: Florida -
9,858 posts, read 12,384,988 times
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I've had an almost identical experience with my own mother (also Colorado?); and have also directly helped others with almost identical attitudes (Florida). The behavior you describe is consistent with dementia, but, may also be contributed to by mismanaged medications. In any case, there are a number of considerations at play here and you've already gotten some good advice:

1). Enlist her physician or someone she will listen to. My sister was that person with my mother (she lived in Colorado), but, it almost drove her nuts ... until she learned to not take responsibility for my mother's actions and attitudes. In the other situation/s, I was acting in a ministerial role -- The issue here is removing the emotional baggage obstacle for both of you. You will always be her 'little boy', particularly if she is experiencing stages of dementia ... and 'mother knows best'. Get yourself a 'buffer' for the big stuff. (For example: You really need to be directly involved with her meds, if for no other reason, than having a first-hand knowledge of what she is taking for what ... from different doctors).

2). In most areas, you can locate a 'case manager' who knows their way around the elder care system. They will visit periodically, help or locate a helper to assist with duties your mother is having difficulty with ... and can act as that independent adviser ... who can 'tell the truth' without being emotionally blackmailed.
You or the manager can also find part-time CNA's or assistants who you can pay less to make periodic visits and help with driving, etc. (Watch out for potential 'enablement' of negative behaviors ... if your mother gets the idea she is dealing with an employee).

3). The big fear for her at this point is losing control of her own life. If she is regularly driving and still able to take care of maintenance, there may not be much you can do, except talk with her doctor about her limitations and ask him to take action for her own safety. Consider this, the car can remain a major symbol of independence ... long beyond the point where the person is still a regular driver. In those cases, the best bet is to disable the vehicle (distributor or other) -- and give her a number to call for a ride or if she 'needs to drive', but, can't get the car running. Just having the car parked nearby provides a great sense of 'freedom'.

4). Independently visit a couple of modern Assisted Living Facilities. Then, ask her to go with you just to "Look, in the event she might want to consider one in the future, but, is unable to get out and search for one." Talk with the ALF staff up front about emphasizing things that are important to her (social activities, meals without preparation, house cleaning, etc.). 70 isn't really that old; still, many older folks have a mis-perception of ALF's or Nursing Homes are 'institutional hell holes' ... rather than a great deal like hotels. My mother (and another lady) both hated the idea of going, but, once they got there, they loved it!

(note: You didn't say anything about her finances or yours, but, there is no better time than the present to check this out. Medicare doesn't generally pay for ALF or NH care; If she is eligible for Medicaid, it may take time to work out the finances. Otherwise, you might want to look closely at in-home assistance. (You can find agencies who will do in-home, or seek out your own ... the difference being about $8 additional per hour).

5). Legally, you will want to maintain the power of attorney ... and also get a 'Surrogate health care' in effect. That way, if it is determined (doctor, case worker, other) that she is unable to safely/wisely make her own healthcare decisions, you will be able to step-in and 'work behind the scenes. If a person has dementia, makes poor decisions and often doesn't remember things, it is pointless to try to deal with them as if those conditions did not exist. Pick your 'battles' and stop fighting over small stuff that really doesn't matter.

6). Look for ways to enjoy your mother while you still have her ... and help her enjoy you. Remember, she's transitioning from 'being the parent' to 'being parented by her own children'. It's difficult to acknowledge that she is no longer the person she was just a 'few short years ago' ... for both her ... and you. At this point, she is less able to pro-actively 'change' than you are, so most of the flexibility will likely have to come with you. (For example, you acknowledge that she is in 'denial', but, seem to expect her to act as if her condition and denial don't exist .... "stop denying it" sounds logical, but, do you really expect her to suddenly accept that and 'snap out of it?')

I hope this is in some way helpful. You are facing a difficult situation, but, there is no reason to make it more difficult than you have to.

Last edited by jghorton; 01-01-2013 at 07:52 PM..
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