Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This is how life looks to me at the moment. Uphill and around the bend (not sure what's coming next).

My sister and I are trying to help my mom through a difficult time. Mom married Dave in 1996, two years after our father died. They were both in their seventies and healthy. Now they are both in their late eighties. Their health is failing, especially his. He can neither see nor hear well. He is in the early stages of dementia.

When they married, my mom sold her house and moved into Dave's house. She paid off his mortgage from the proceeds from her house, and he put her name on the deed. They made a will to make the survivor the sole owner of the house upon the other's death. They have lived in the house since their marriage in 1996. Over the years the condition of the house has declined. The house is not in good shape now.

My sisters and I have tried for several years to convince them to sell their house and move to a senior facility. They told us all the reasons they didn't want to do that: 1) Dave was too attached to his house after forty years; 2) they didn't think they could afford a senior facility, after all their house was mortgage free; 3) the house was in no shape to sell, they would stay long enough to have it fixed up. Finally, mom's answer was "we are going to let God take care of it".

Well, now you could say God has spoken. A couple of weeks ago, Dave had a stroke. Since then my mom could no longer care for him. Dave's son took him to his house, leaving my mom alone in the house she and Dave had shared since their marriage. They have been living on Social Security, a combination of his and hers. Now that he has moved to his son's house, it seems she will no longer be receiving his share of living expenses. Dave's son came last week to take all of "Dad's financials" including his checkbook (they have kept their finances separate).

Mom called my sister in a panic. How was she going to live? Would Dave be coming back to their house? We said we would call Dave's son to find out what was going on (she says his intimidates her and gets angry if she asks questions: "Don't you trust me?"). When we called him he got very angry and called my mom, saying she was "siccing (sp?) your relatives on me". Yesterday she said Dave's son intends to get power of attorney over Dave and have Dave change their will, cutting her out as sole survivor. We told her it sounds like she might need an attorney; she says she can't afford one.

What a mess. My sister has told Mom she can move in with them (they have a large home with a suite in the basement). My other sister told Mom that she and Dave would have to "spend down" all of their assets so he could qualify for Medicare. Now Mom is afraid they will take all of her savings for this and she will be left with nothing. We are all in a quandary. We have told Mom not to worry, that we are all there for her. My sister told her not to be alone with the son-in-law because he upsets her so badly. (He's a big, gruff, angry guy.)

Of course she does nothing but worry. Now my sisters and I are worried too. We feel powerless to do anything but wait and see what happens to Dave and what his son does. We called a lawyer who will charge $230 an hour and none of us can afford that. Why does everything always come down to money? I guess this is the typical Baby Boomers' dilemma these days; kids asking for money, parents needing money, meanwhile figuring out how to retire.


Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Judy... what a massive, sorry situation... for all. I feel for you. And I hope you are remembering to breath, and find outlets for the strain and stress that builds up. Don't let the hills and bends wear you down.

judy in ky said...

Thank you, Natalie. Hugs do help.

littlemancat said...

Hi Judy, so sorry to hear of your troubles. It is hard enough dealing with aging and illness, and then the discord with the son.

It might be a good idea to discuss this with your mom's local Aging and Adult Services and see if you can get any help from Legal Aide Services? I live in Chester County near Philly and those services have been useful to others in our area. Not sure if they're available where you are? Also, Meals on Wheels for Mom?
I really do feel for you- I've been through some of this with my parents and auntie. It is very hard.
Take care,sorry to be so long-winded here.

judy in ky said...

Mary, thank you so much, and not long-winded at all! My sister and I took Mom to a place called "Senior Connections" that gave us some materials that explain community services in her area. Today I looked up legal aid services, and am planning to call them. By the way, I used to live in the Philly area, too, in Fort Washington... I miss it.

the veg artist said...

What a worrying situation for you all. Hope you get some answers, or at least, some useful leads on how to progress, soon.

Pam said...

Judy I had a situation of conflict a couple of years ago, which needed to be dealt with legally. The idea is to behave beyond reproach in all dealings with the difficult and uncompliant bullying person. Record everything, dates,particulary conversations. Try to get correspondence in writing rather than phone calls always keeping your tone civil no matter how angry you are. It shows up the unreasonable and bullying person for who they are. Your mother has a lot of rights here, and yes definitely access Legal Aid Services. Be prepared for this to escalate - if it doesn't consider it a huge bonus.
You are dealing with a blended family here obviously, and the son is proving he's not on your family's wavelength. It takes just one person to give a whole family nightmares, take it from me. The courts usually recognize this.
You and your family have a right to peace of mind. You may have to advocate for your Mum now.
It could have been so very different if that son worked with you rather than be obstructive. You need an intermediary so that your family is both heard and helped.
I know unasked for advice is a pain,but having been there, and dreading the phone ringing through the entire process, I'd push for Legal Aid representation -they can at least head you in the right direction. Good luck. (Cats purring helps to bring down blood pressure!xx)

judy in ky said...

Pam, thank you, thank you so much for this wise advice. Your words ring true in this situation. In my family we have always been taught to hold a civil tongue, that's why it's so unnerving dealing with someone so uncivil. We are going to hold our ground though, as you say.
And yes, cats help greatly with my mental state!

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