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Thread: Any suggestions on what to do?
12-02-2013, 06:30 PM #1
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Any suggestions on what to do?
Long and probably a little on the rant side but we need suggestions on what to do
My parents do live alone in a small town 30 minutes from the nearest hospital. My dad is a vet and uses the VA system. He has one clinic 1 1/2 hours from home, a VA hospital 2 1/2 hours away and another 5 hours from home. He prefers the one 5 hours from home. Over the last two years his health has been deteriorating and most of the care has been falling to my mom. He can still walk around the house but he can't drive. They are near 70. He refuses to do anything to help himself. He eats what he wants, buys what he wants (he's a spender), refuses to change appointments if there is bad weather on the way (drive 5 hours in a snow storm, he says yes. My mom says no.) even though the basic care he needs right now could easily be done at a clinic but if anybody suggests a change he responds "Fine, just let me die. Nobody cares about my health." Asking him to change the appointment to after the storm passes brought the response "they'll change it to the 12th of Never." The older he has become and the less healthy he has become, the more self-centered he has become. If my mom has a meeting she MUST be at, and it conflicts with what he WANTS to do, he wants her to miss hers to cater to him.
Nothing is ever his fault. She was responsible for taking away his drivers license even though it was because he answered "no" to the doctor's question "can you feel anything in your feet?" He says, she ratted him out to the doctor. He has diabetes. That is a standard question!
He refuses to prepare wills, living wills, medical directives, power of attorneys or anything like that. It is beginning to freak out my mom. OK. She's been worried for a long time but it is really coming to the fore now. They overheard two other vets talking at the VA last time about not having even Medicare part A, - no health insurance - and how if anything happened the spouse or friend could be charged with negligent homicide if the person trying to get them to the hospital didn't do it in a timely manner. I don't know where that came from but it REALLY freaked out my mom because if she had to drive my dad to the VA hospital 5 hours away and he died along the way would she get charged?
Last time my dad had a medical emergency, she drove him to the local hospital 30 minutes away. He got mad at her telling her she should have driven him to his favorite VA hospital. He had a fever. He was in severe pain, could barely walk. It took 15 minutes to get him in the car and it took 2 orderlies to get him out of the car. Yet he still complains.
What can she do legally to prepare? Who can she talk to? I've told her to make sure she is documenting his attitudes and the events. Document advice and phone calls. Document what the doctors say and what they give him. (He's received at least two powers of attorney forms, living will forms, etc from his doctors.) He may not quite be at the level of needing a conservatorship but I think his thinking is getting very skewed. He is trying to retain control over everything he can and making my mom drive 5 hours each way once a week for months is one of them. She hasn't had much experience in standing up to him but she is finally starting. There is a VA adviser, a legal assistant to an attorney, who has been helping them get through VA forms and getting VA reimbursements. I've told her to talk to him. She has a cousin who is a JP/attorney (retired) that I've suggested she talk to. She has been so exhausted that she hasn't been able to but now that his appointments are starting to be every other week or so, she has had a chance to think.
Anything else to think about? I guess, what can she do to prepare herself legally? She doesn't want to be held responsible for his stupid decisions but she also wants the ability to help him if at all possible.
12-02-2013, 07:01 PM #2
Is there a Department of Senior Services or the equivalent in the state where your parents live? If so, could you contact them and talk to a caseworker there? They may know what to do in your mom's situation.
12-02-2013, 08:29 PM #3
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Unless it is a step-family, I wouldn't worry about wills. If he dies, everything goes to mom anyway. She should, however, sock away some money in a bank account that only has her name (about $2000 - $5000). That way she'll have cash to keep her going while the banks switch over the joint accounts. She can name her husband and/or her children on this bank account as beneficiaries. As a matter of fact, beneficiary statements can be added to any bank account.
Encourage your mother to call 9-1-1 the next time there is a medical emergency. A 30-minute drive is too long and it is too dangerous - for both of them - for her to try to drive and be worried about how he is doing during that entire time.
It sounds like he is possibly headed for a major stroke. Changes in personality - his surliness, paranoia and controlling nature paired with a history of diabetes - are possible signs of TIAs which are mini-strokes that change how the brain functions. A history of TIAs suggest a major stroke in his future.
At this point there isn't much you can do. How these things usually progress is either mom or dad end up in an acute hospital for a time. If mom gets sick or injured, dad won't survive on his own and he'll have to do live with one of the adult kids. If mom can't make a full recovery then both of them might end up in a nursing home. If dad gets sick or injured and ends up in an acute hospital, then from there he may go directly to a nursing home.
As far as Medicare, there is no reason why both can't sign up for the "free" forms. I think there is a small charge for part B and part D is optional.
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12-03-2013, 01:07 PM #4
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Thank you all for the suggestions. Fortunately, the weather got bad enough and she pushed enough that he rescheduled his appointment. My mom is taking some time to think about who she could get some legal advice from. There is also a counselor for a support group that she can talk to about things. She does have her own account, so that wouldn't be a problem for money. I can see the stroke problem. I'll suggest the possibility to her.
The problem with forms is he refuses to touch anything. Won't sign. Won't fill out. He ignores them. We'll see what sort of interventions we can come up with.
12-06-2013, 11:03 AM #5
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I agree with Cookie Lee that your mom should dial 9-1-1 next time he is ill. I can understand your dad wanting to go to his favorite VA hospital in bad weather but if I were your mom I would put my foot down and say NO. Yes he can reschedule tell your Mom to speak to the VA patient advocate regarding timely appointments. If he refuses to sign forms there is nothing to be done, instead your mom should prepare herself for come what may.Blessed and Highly Favored!!!!
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12-06-2013, 02:08 PM #6
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Will the patient advocate release info to her? She has tried to call in and unless he is actually admitted to the hospital they won't talk to her because he hasn't allowed anybody else to know anything or do anything. Even when she is with him at the appointments, all questions and answers are directed at my dad, who refuses to change the status quo, so he won't request a change in appointment times or location unless it fits his wants and needs. The only advocate she can talk to is the adviser in the legal office who works with VA claims.
Just a clarification on the time she drove him to the "local" hospital. They didn't know how sick he was. They thought just pain and fever, take him in for a checkup. It did take lots of effort to get him to the car and out again, but he didn't start complaining about where she should have taken him until after he was admitted and in care. But that is generally how he is. He will complain about something and lay blame after the fact because "she should have known" and "she should have been able to figure it out" and "nobody cares what I really need" (in this case, admitting to the VA which ended up not having room anyway). The troubles getting him to the car pretty much convinced her that next time she'll call.
12-06-2013, 10:46 PM #7
It sounds like he knows he is losing his control over his life and is retaliating with those he loves. yes, yes, yes to dialing 911 when there is an emergency. They are trained medical people.
I hope you live close enough that you can give your mom some respite.
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