Author Topic: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?  (Read 9114 times)

illy5603

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Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« on: September 10, 2012, 12:44:49 PM »
My grandmother has been the rock of my life for all 41 of my years. I feel blessed that she is still with us, and that she got to see her great grandson grow up and graduate high school. I am blessed, for lack of a better word, that she is still fairly healthy and with us.

But with a long life comes a long list of troubles for me, her "watch dog." I live about 40 miles away from her and the home she has lived in since before I was born. She lets my dead beat cousin and her two children live with her. The cousin is on welfare and the kids are both high maintenance / special needs. The cousin, who has no bank account, cons my grandmother into writing her checks every few days for $150, goes to a check cashing place, buys about $30 worth of groceries and does who knows what (probably drugs) with the rest of it. I try to tell my grandmother not to write her checks, and have offered to do her shopping online and pay to have the groceries delivered by the store but she still continues to write her checks. Lately the home, which was built in 1968 is starting to cost a lot of money in deferred maintenance. I had the roof replaced last month and last year we had about $5000 in plumbing repairs. There is also a constant battle with rats because the cousin won't help keep the garage or yards clean.
 
In a nutshell, she can't afford to live there anymore and I will probably go broke trying to keep her there. I have a whole world of questions to ask and could use advice in a number of areas here.
 
Has anyone had to convince an elderly loved one that maybe it is time to move into a different living situation? I would love to move my grandmother closer to me. Heck, I could probably even arrange a place for her in our house but she would certainly resist.
 
Should I be more aggressive in getting rid of the dead beat cousin? A few years ago a police officer asked me if I wanted to press charges against her for stealing my grandmother's credit card and I declined because we didn't want to have the kids go to their respective dumb ass prison breed baby daddies.
 
Has anyone been in a similar situation, and what have you done?
 
Thanks in advance!


 

tooqk4u22

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2012, 01:36:47 PM »
Obviously this is a very difficult subject and emotionally taxing, but there really is no easy sure fired way to make this happen if your grandmother still has sufficient mental and physical health to take care of herself.  Unfortunately people don't like to leave their houses, or change for that matter, and your grandmother may obligated to help with your cousin and her kids - nobody wants to throw a kid out.  Both of these aspects make it hard if she is not willing. 

So you need to tackle it from a more positive angle that will probably have slower results.  Try to have her stay with you for a week or so and during that time espouse how it would be so great to have her there full time. Bring her to a few senior living places and introduce her to it, spend a day there, maybe there will be one she likes.

On a negative side (and likely emotionally painful to you) - stop helping her and paying for her bills and repairs and such. If she has the money to support three other people then she can support herself.  Unfortunately this will likely lead to further issues with the house, draining her savings, and possibly her deferring her own health to fund the cousin and kids.  But when the money and support runs out there will be no choice for the cousin to go and grandmother to come live with you. 

illy5603

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012, 12:05:35 PM »
Talked to my Uncle today and he is pretty furious at his daughter for what she is doing. We both agree that my grandmother is too attached to the house to remove her so we came up with a plan.

I am heading down there today and basically asking my grandmother's permission to take over all of the finances for the family. We already have a joint checking account but I am talking about physically removing her checkbook and ATM card from the house if she gives me permission. After that, I will take care of the groceries either on line or in bi-weekly visits. I will also refuse to pay the cable / internet bill as my grandmother does not use it as well as cut off payments to my cousin's auto insurance (her license is suspended anyway...) and cell phone. After my grandmother gives me the OK, I will have a  sit down with my cousin (my uncle said to "Take her out back!" lol) and tell her about the new deal.
 
With all of this money being saved by not allowing my cousin to steal it, we will probably be able to keep the house in good repair and keep everyone living in it, yes even the cousin and the kids. It might actually give my cousin incentive to get up in the morning and get a job or at least find something to do other than sit on the internet all day.
 
I will keep you posted.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012, 01:16:58 PM »
Terrific, good luck.  So glad to here that your uncle is on board, probably should make him be part of the discussion witht he cousin.

illy5603

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012, 01:32:23 PM »
Terrific, good luck.  So glad to here that your uncle is on board, probably should make him be part of the discussion witht he cousin.

Yeah, he said he wanted to wait until "After the storm" to let her know that we are unified in this decision. I feel bad for him too. He lives on the opposite coast and is on disability from a broken neck. He is at the age where he should be retiring and enjoying the company of has daughter and grand kids, but no. Come to find out that every time they talk on the phone she asks for money claiming how she "Can't take any more money from Nan..." right...
 

jrhampt

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 09:57:16 AM »
Good luck; sounds like a good plan.  I had a deadbeat hoarder cousin living with my grandmother for a couple of years when I was much younger.  She kept having kids (I think she's up to 6 now), and it was a similar situation where house maintenance was not getting done, she would steal my grandmother's credit cards, etc., but my grandma felt bad for the kids.  Eventually my grandmother died, and the heirs allowed my cousin to continue to stay in the house, provided that she maintained it.  Of course, she did not, and the house was eventually condemned due to fire damage, water damage, and mold, and sold at the bottom of the market, cutting any inheritance by well over 50%.  She moved back with some in-laws until they finally kicked her out, and I think she was evicted for the 3rd time from whatever poor landlord she was renting from a couple of years ago. Last I heard, she was homeless (the in-laws took the kids back in, but not her), but getting various other people to fund a hotel room for her.   

illy5603

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 10:26:03 AM »
Update:

Thanks for sharing Jrhampt! Well I went in with guns not really blazing. I discussed the plan with my grandmother who was confused at first but eventually got the gist of the situation. Her big concern is always "what do I do in an emergency" and I had to assure her that the correct thing to do was to just call me. Grandma's are so stubborn sometimes because, well in my case, she practically raised me! She hates asking me for help!

Anyway, I sat the cousin down and withheld the personal attacks and accusations (hard to do!) and just told her that we couldn't afford to write her checks any longer. I told her that I would be shopping for groceries and that we would no longer be paying for non essential items such as cable and cell phones. She cried but eventually understood that I was on to what was happening and that she was at her final chance with me. I headed out and bought $150 worth of groceries for the family. Healthy lunches, soups, apples, personal pizzas for my nephew as a treat for helping my grandma etc. Though the mustachian in me is not looking forward to the huge commute to take care of this but I will get to see my grandmother more often and will probably stop more that $1000 per month from leaving my grandmother's account. This money will go to long overdue repairs and pest abatement.

gooki

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 06:19:43 PM »
Good result.

jrhampt

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2012, 06:33:51 AM »
Sounds like you did a great job.  Much better to deal with the situation now than to deal with the aftermath a few more years down the road.

mustachecat

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2012, 07:10:57 AM »
Way to go! Your grandma is lucky that you're looking out for her.

I know that you said your uncle is on disability with a broken neck, but I sure hope he gets in gear and has a long, long talk with his daughter. Even if he can't physically be there, he has a responsibility to figuratively step up and do/say something.

grantmeaname

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 05:04:01 PM »
illy5603,
That's really a lot to stomach and it looks like you did an incredible job with it all. How are things going 6-7 weeks later?

illy5603

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2012, 11:45:19 AM »
illy5603,
That's really a lot to stomach and it looks like you did an incredible job with it all. How are things going 6-7 weeks later?

Well, things are going ok... I negotiated a 4 day work week with my employer which is allowing me to keep a closer eye on the situation.

The one thing that is frustrating is just how stubborn the elderly can be, and how little we, as caregivers, can do about it. My grandmother can hardly hear and has a hard time "understanding" anything. For instance, if I get cash out of her account and give it to her, my cousin will have it pilfered in a matter of days. To combat this I just suggested that she only use her credit card, which she has to sign, for all transactions. My grandmother just gets mad and says "But I need money for emergencies." to which I reply "Just use the credit card, or call me." and she just doesn't get it. She has me go get the cash and when I come back 4 days later, it is gone and she has no idea where it went. She just won't adapt.

Another area that is frustrating is that her phone number has fallen into the hands of several scam artists and she keeps buying (or not, sometimes they just send her bills for nothing) these light bulbs and plastic bags over the phone that cost $80 a pop. She thinks it is going to "the crippled children" when it is simply a scam. I cannot convince her to stop doing it and I cannot convince her to change her phone number. 
 
But the big problem is that no matter what is wrong with someone, if they don't want help, there is nothing you can do. I found out about 3 weeks ago that she has this HUGE diabetic ulcer (google it, but not while eating) on her leg and she refused to let anyone take her to the hospital. It took a paramedic team, myself and half of her neighbors to cajole her into letting me take her out to the ER to get it looked at. She is now letting me take her out every week to a wound treatment facility on the Air Force Base where she goes and it is getting much better but it just takes so much work to get her to take care of her own body.
 
So yeah, it is frustrating, I am trying to take care of someone I love dearly who unknowingly makes it extremely difficult on me to do so. It has got me to thinking long and hard about my own long term care. I had to watch my mom drink herself to death (there was nothing I could do there either, legally... she didn't want help, we found her dead in the living room one day) and now I am fighting my grandmother too. I am going to do what I can to make sure my son is not put in this situation on my behalf.

grantmeaname

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2012, 11:52:34 AM »
You're an incredibly dedicated grandson, that's for sure.

The part that really stuck out to me about this as the thing I need to take away:
So yeah, it is frustrating, I am trying to take care of someone I love dearly who unknowingly makes it extremely difficult on me to do so. It has got me to thinking long and hard about my own long term care... I am going to do what I can to make sure my son is not put in this situation on my behalf.
I think making sure that you want to be helped goes a long way towards that goal, but with an end-of-life mental decline there's obviously more to it than just attitude.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

needmyfi

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2012, 03:54:49 PM »
Keep up the good work, you will never regret the time qnd effort you have put in to help her.  I know it is really hard, but in her own way your grandmother just wants what many here on this forum really want, independence and control over our own destinies-the I in FI.  It is difficult for older folks to give up their autonomy,-most have lost alot already. 
As far as needing money for her repairs, is it possible to reverse mortgage her home?  It would also be great if some of that equity could be used to help her out.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 04:27:04 PM by needmyfi »

ErinG

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2012, 06:39:27 PM »
I work in a credit union and one of my elderly members was not caring for his finances properly anymore (Fantastic guy, btw) and his daughter was able to get a judge to grant a conservatorship to her based on him "squandering" his assets. I believe that was the actual reason on the paperwork.

I almost hate the idea of this, personal freedom and all that, but I think the daughter and judge were correct in this case.

Perhaps you can look into this as an option and be better able to protect your Grandma from the abuse by your cousin and scammers.

I have a great uncle who is now housing and supporting GREAT grandchildren. His children and grandchildren are turning his house into a drug-den, total losers! This 76 year old man has gone back to work to keep a roof over the babies heads. Unfortunately, the babies come with crack-heads. I love him so much and respect him completely, but he might help his kid and grand kids by letting them hit rock bottom. If your cousin cleaned up her act, it would really benefit your cousins children. I wish my uncle would take a tough love approach and clear out his crack- head infestation. His good children have tried intervening and one received a broken eye socket from her niece for the effort. He still didn't throw them out.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2012, 07:09:30 PM »
Congratulations on taking a proactive approach to a difficult situation!  Too often, we hear about these situations after they have been unaddressed for years.  You've done a great thing, taking care of your grandmother this way.

I agree with needmyfi that it probably isn't stubbornness, as much as wanting to keep control of her life.  That is the situation with my grandparents right now.  They have been in control of their own lives for about 70 years, since they left their parents' homes, and they don't want to give up control now.  They especially don't want to admit that they can't take care of themselves.  If you keep that in mind, it might be easier.  You're not just taking away her cash, but her independence.  She needs to see that she can be independent without the cash.

Also, you should consider asking her to sign a power of attorney.  Right now she can handle many financial matters herself, but it sounds like there has been some slight cognitive decline, and if it gets worse, you would need to have that place.  At this point, it would be a "just in case" setup, but if you do need it at some point, it might then be too late or very hard to get it.

It's good that you're thinking about your own long term care.  I think about that a lot myself now, after seeing my grandparents' situation.  I hope you can come up with some good options.  Good luck with everything!!

illy5603

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2012, 10:22:06 AM »
Keep up the good work, you will never regret the time qnd effort you have put in to help her.  I know it is really hard, but in her own way your grandmother just wants what many here on this forum really want, independence and control over our own destinies-the I in FI.  It is difficult for older folks to give up their autonomy,-most have lost alot already. 
As far as needing money for her repairs, is it possible to reverse mortgage her home?  It would also be great if some of that equity could be used to help her out.

Actually, we kind of already took care of this last Winter, before I was following MMM but it turned out to be a really MMM style approach. When I finally decided that my Grandma really needed my help, I found that she was several thousand dollars in debt in her credit cards at very high interest and that she was starting to miss basic utility bills because of the cousin I already mentioned conning her into writing checks to her every day.
 
What we ended up doing was getting a 30 year mortgage on the house. We took the money, paid off all of her credit cards, and did a bunch of quality of life repairs on her home. We have invested the rest and the investments more than cover the mortgage. As a matter of fact, her mortgage payments are smaller than her minimum credit card payments were. With that said, I am paying the mortgage out of my account so she doesn't have to deal with it.
 
For full disclosure and honesty, there is a bit of self interest in this approach. My grandmother and I have been joint owners of the property since my Grandfather passed away in 1997. By extracting 80% equity from the home in cash, I figured that left only 20% that my cousin could ruin or get her hands on by means of her deceptions. The extracted monies and investments are managed by me and are all in my name and this is all grandma approved and understood. I use the investment dividends to not only cover the mortgage but also to fund the repairs that are badly needed on the house.
 

follicular

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2012, 03:35:23 PM »
I am not sure if this might have been mentioned, but would you consider a qualified, bonded home health aide to live with your GM on premises or perhaps be with her several hours per day. A qualified aide can do the bookkeeping, keep the check book intact, care for you GM and alert you in a timely fashion to things that need to get done. Even shorter periods of visitation by the aide may be sufficient.
Another alternative is to 'hire' your cousin on fixed salary to watch and care for your GM (maybe encourage the cuz to take some senior caretaker courses at a local community college) and maybe have it turn into a career if not a skilled job experience for cuz--2 birds with 1 stone?

illy5603

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Re: Elder Care... How to help a stubborn loved one?
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2012, 03:55:25 PM »
I am not sure if this might have been mentioned, but would you consider a qualified, bonded home health aide to live with your GM on premises or perhaps be with her several hours per day. A qualified aide can do the bookkeeping, keep the check book intact, care for you GM and alert you in a timely fashion to things that need to get done. Even shorter periods of visitation by the aide may be sufficient.
Another alternative is to 'hire' your cousin on fixed salary to watch and care for your GM (maybe encourage the cuz to take some senior caretaker courses at a local community college) and maybe have it turn into a career if not a skilled job experience for cuz--2 birds with 1 stone?

The cousin, for all the negative things I said about her, does try to help out, especially when I start calling her out on all of her BS. She is back on assistance and is actually buying groceries for the house now. With that said, she just isn't someone I would trust with taking care of my grandma. Also, my Grandmother doesn't really like her, she just lets her stay with her because of the kids. She is also uncomfortable with strangers in the home. I am cool with watching after her, so this isn't really a big deal. There may come a time when she needs more help than I can provide and I will look into it more then.