Hi all, my first time posting here:
I'll try and be brief. My parents are both 80 in upstate NY. I live 3,000 miles away. My brother is 5 hours away and works FT, he has money but is busy.
Father is a retired teacher: smart, stubborn, mean, life-long abuser who takes care of my mother, who is sweet, passive and has early onset dementia, poor short term memory so can't care for herself (can't cook, doesn't clean, needs supervision but knows who everyone is and has ok long term memory). My father is now ill with much pain, and their situation has deteriorated severely: the house is full of clutter, no one is cleaning much, hardly any decent food in the house, no one removing snow, no calls to repairmen when needed, and house clutter is a falling accident waiting to happen not to mention a fire hazard. Dad won't let anyone in the house. Tried to keep my brother away who finally visited for 1st time in 1.5 years. I have not been in 2, I have a chronic illness that keeps me busy.
They are getting plenty of calories but their nutrition sucks, both have heart problems and not in good shape. My father is isolating both of them as his pain and brain fog worsens, and he absolutley refuses to have any caregiver or housekeeper come to the house. When we hire/ send them / send friends / send help from the church he puts on a a bold pretense that all is well and turns them all away. As an abuser he has pretended mental wellness his whole life, he is an expert. The only times he leaves the house now is to get groceries and see the MD. Mom does not drive.
My mom deserves better. They both need help. We are sending them Meals on Wheels, but he will refuse them. What legal recourse or ? do we have when he still has so much control, but is setting them up for a major accident/ disaster/ health crisis?
Many thanks for your thoughts, especially anyone who has been through similar. We are considering an elder care lawyer.
When i was a geriatric care manager, i had a friend/colleague who worked in Adult Protective Services. And she had case after case just like this one, with variations on the theme: dear but stubborn old folks who want their privacy and begin to deteriorate while people try to help. You or your brother COULD anonymously call the APS, and my guess is that your dad will not let them in the door. What might happen is that your dad, or your mom, breaks a hip. Then one of them will go to the hospital. And you and your brother swoop in, busy-ness with illness or life notwithstanding. You hire someone to clean or do it yourself. you stock the pantry and fridge. you mow the lawn and fix the plumbing or replace the washing machine that went kaput.
I hope the situation doesn't come to that.
An elder lawyer will most likely tell you that people have the right to make bad decisions. In order to declare your father incompetent to manage his own health decisions, you need two doctors to look at him within a brief period of time (i think it's within 30 days but it may vary by state.) And declare him incompetent. Very hard to pull this off.
He does go to the doctor, though, right? One thing you could do is reach out to the doctor and maybe schmooze with his nurse. And express your concern for his mental and physical health and that of your mother's. And they might not tell you much because of privacy rules, but that doesn't limit what YOU tell THEM. Send a fax, preferably hand written, and it will find it's way to your dad's chart, so the doc will pay attention. You can say something like:
Dear Dr. ____
My brother and I are concerned about how our parents are doing. I believe that they present as capable senior citizens, but they are... not bathing... live in squalor... (you tell the truth and the whole truth here.) We just want to make sure you have a well rounded picture on how they are.
Feel free to contact either of us....
You might be able to set up a dialogue. Also make sure the doctor's office has your contact info in case one of them does end up in a hospital. You are next of kin. That accounts for something.
You certainly have been lovingly tenacious in your attempts to help. I wonder. Is there ANYONE your father listens to? A minister? A fellow soldier if he's a veteran? My dad, when he had a stroke, was stubborn as all get out until a psychiatrist who was also a retired Colonel ordered him to take Zoloft. And by golly he saluted and did as he was told.