Author Topic: Did I fail my parents?  (Read 5589 times)

frugalecon

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Did I fail my parents?
« on: October 12, 2014, 10:49:44 AM »
Was just home visiting my parents. Dad has rapidly advancing dementia, which began to manifest itself 4 years ago or so. I have had control of their finances for about 2 years. I spent some time cleaning up and shredding old papers, and discovered that dad had been spending hundreds of dollars per month back in the 2008-2010 timeframe on phony computer security services and investment advisors of the Elliott Wave Theorist ilk. More I had never heard of, like Fabian Investment Newsletter. Dad never wanted any advice from me, but I feel guilty that I didn't do more. Not only did he make terrible investments, he gave thousands of dollars to charlatans. I worry I should have done more. Especially to protect my mom's interests. Dad just never accepted that I knew more than him about anything. It is frustrating.

arebelspy

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2014, 10:59:05 AM »
It sounds to me there's nothing you could have done.

1) You wouldn't have known, because "Dad never wanted any advice from me", and
2) Even if you had known, you probably wouldn't have been listened to, because "Dad just never accepted that I knew more than him about anything"

Given it would have been difficult for you to find out about it, and even if you had you probably couldn't have done anything, but it would have just added aggravation into your life and possibly the relationship, it's best, IMO, to just let it go.
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Allen

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2014, 11:13:30 AM »
My Mom has dementia and also started making bad choices several years ago.  Until it is clear why they are acting insane, you can't be faulted as you don't have control until you are given (or take) control.  Wash your guilt from the previous stuff and just help out moving forward because that is all we can do.

My Mom's total estate is about $400,000 and it would have been about a million if I could have known and acted sooner.

Lyssa

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2014, 11:32:48 AM »
+1 reg every reply posted so far.

Also, patients with early stages of dementia are damn good hiding their decline. When my parents took control over my grandaunt's household they found she had stockpiled the oddest things for years (e.g. a decade's supply of toilet paper) and when she found herself unable to do laundry had collected dirty clothes in plastic bags and hid them away (she had a lot of clothes so it took a long time to get suspicious).

She also got taken advantage of financially on a smaller scale. "Luckily" she did not have big accounts or investments so this was limited to small donations and overpriced greeting cards sold door to door.

StangStache

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2014, 12:10:27 PM »
I'm gonna agree with everyone else in this thread.  You're way too hard on yourself.  It sounds like any attempts to have helped them would have been met with hostility. 

frugalecon

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2014, 12:52:34 PM »
Thanks for the replies, I think I really just needed to vent. Fortunately they still have some assets left to live on.

fb132

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2014, 01:59:04 PM »
You shouldn't feel bad, there is nothing you can do.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2014, 01:46:27 PM by fb132 »

Jules13

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2014, 08:22:37 PM »
You certainly did not fail your parents!  There is only so much a person can do in this situation unless you are standing right there every time they do something.  My mother was in the same situation with my Grandmother.  My Grandmother had dementia and Alzheimers and spent thousands of dollars before my mother was able to do anything about it.  She finally had to take her to court in order to get power of attorney.  It was the only way she could save my Grandmother from herself.  It was awful, but it had to be done.  But, a lot of damage had already been done by that time.  There is just only so much you can do.  The fact that you are even concerned about this shows what a good son you truly are. 

Pigeon

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2014, 10:33:44 AM »
Please don't be so hard on yourself.  It sounds like you are doing what you can, and dementia doesn't develop overnight.  IF he wasn't being open with you and he hadn't been declared incompetent, there isn't a thing you could have done about it.

I'm dealing with the same thing with my MIL.  FIL died a few years ago and had been diagnosed with Alzheimers.  The thing is, the behavior starts long before diagnosis for a lot of people.  MIL herself now has some cognitive impairment, and we help her with finances. She was a very traditional woman and never paid a bill in her life, so even when she knew FIL had problems (he was diagnosed for some time before they told anyone), she still had him handling the finances.


frugalecon

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2014, 10:49:32 AM »
Please don't be so hard on yourself.  It sounds like you are doing what you can, and dementia doesn't develop overnight.  IF he wasn't being open with you and he hadn't been declared incompetent, there isn't a thing you could have done about it.

I'm dealing with the same thing with my MIL.  FIL died a few years ago and had been diagnosed with Alzheimers.  The thing is, the behavior starts long before diagnosis for a lot of people.  MIL herself now has some cognitive impairment, and we help her with finances. She was a very traditional woman and never paid a bill in her life, so even when she knew FIL had problems (he was diagnosed for some time before they told anyone), she still had him handling the finances.

Yes, this was the way my mother was, as well. She has taken over all of the usual bill-paying now, but I am in charge of taxes and other big things. At the time, though, she ceded all responsibility for their investments to him, which was very costly.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2014, 01:42:23 PM »
Also, patients with early stages of dementia are damn good hiding their decline.

My father's mother had Alzheimers later in life and my dad has shown some signs of short-term memory loss, although they might be different since he's had mini-strokes and issues with ammonia buildup, which is basically the body poisoning itself.  In many ways, he would show signs that were similar to what you read about hypoxia: that the victim doesn't actually know anything is wrong, so they continue to function at lower and lower levels, continuing to be unaware that anything has gone wrong.

For example one of the signs something was wrong was that while my mom was away on business, my dad attempted to mail a letter, only to have the post office return it because he did remember to put a stamp and pre-printed return address sticker on it, but the hand-written address was totally unintelligible.  Like, literal giberish scribbled on the envelope.  He had no memory of having done this because his brain was unable to determine there was a problem.

If you read up about hypoxia, you'll see that the first thing that goes is judgement.  Around the same time, the ability to do math in your head goes away.  For pilots who undergo hypoxia training and analysis, one of the things they'll have them do is simple math by hand.  Often times they actually think they are fine and then realize they are unable to do math in their heads anymore.  If the effect is pronounced enough, they will already be too far exposed and just write a wrong answer, blissfully unaware that anything is wrong.  The control observers usually use that as a key to note that the experiment is being failed and they need to be put on oxygen.  I don't doubt that hypoxia's effects are not too far different from dementia and Alzheimer's.  I could easily see someone who can no longer do math in their head and has lost the ability to quickly do judgement calls like "Do I need to spend $300 on software that says it makes my computer run faster?" make the wrong choice, blissfully unaware of there being a problem.

There was another thread on here somewhere regarding healthcare and especially final stages of life.  I don't think I ever did reply in that thread, but ultimately we're reaching a point in the advance of society where we're physically able to keep people alive and functioning who are not able to care for themselves.  This is really a very recent innovation in the ten thousand or so years of organized societies on Earth.  It's something we're going to have to deal with one way or another.

To the OP, I wouldn't beat yourself up.  You are dealing with the same difficult situation that a huge number of people are running in to now, as another recent thing seems to be the notion of old people having huge piles of cash.  Even just a generation ago, like my grandparents age, they didn't build up cash reserves.  They had Social Security, a lot of them had military pensions (being the WWI & WWII generation, with so many veterans) and usually standard pensions too, because that's how it was done from the 1920's through 1960's especially.  People had pensions, even 3 or 4 pensions, each with a modest payout that continued until death.  Now in the modern era with a lot of workers having 401k's and IRA's and personal savings, retirement looks different now from what it did even just 20 years ago.  Now there need to be more safeguards in place for all these new generations of workers with lump sums of cash rather than steady monthly pensions.

Kansas Beachbum

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2014, 02:20:29 PM »
I can feel the pain in your opening post.  Any of us who has, or is currently dealing with failing parents feels the same pain.  I cared for my Mom the last two years of her life, and my only regret is that I didn't / couldn't do more for her.  You have not failed your parents, as everyone else has said.  Focus on the here and now...and don't forget to be good to yourself.  Hang in there...

Elderwood17

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2014, 02:28:04 PM »
Of course you didn't fail your agents but your frustration is understandable.  My parents poor health caused them to have to sell their lake cabin ( finally).  My mother proceeded to blow ave the proceeds on ill advised purchases and home remodeling before I could convince to stop.  I feel your frustration.

MrsPete

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Re: Did I fail my parents?
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2014, 04:38:06 PM »
No, you couldn't have done anything any better, and -- in this case -- guilt is a waste of effort and emotion.  Focus on what you can do NOW to take care of their finances, and let go of the past.