Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dealing with a Parent With Dementia

If someone had told me what my life was going to be like 10 years ago, I never would have believed them. You see, my mother is 94 with several health issues, one of which is that she suffers from dementia.

The easy part, but one that is actually quite aggravating, is continually having to answer the same question 5 or 10 times in a matter of minutes without losing one's patience. The hard part, however, is that when a lapse or a trigger has the parent convinced for the moment that you stole their money which happened to me just this morning, well then that can turn into a living hell.

It was fortunate that the woman who looks after my mother while I'm at work was able to settle the issue with the bank and called me and that I was able (for the moment) to remind my mother that she had 2 accounts (a checking and a savings account) and that what she was looking at was just the statement for the checking account. Once she realized she had blamed me for doing something I didn't do, then she became embarrassed and as equally as upset as she had when she thought I did her wrong.

I could NEVER steal from my mother, or anyone for that matter. In fact, for the last 2 years, I've been paying 2/3rds of the cost for the aide as well as an additional $1800 to replace her bottom denture which she wasn't going to replace when she accidently lost her top plate. All in all, I've spent about $10,000 of my own money thus far caring for her these past few years, trying to keep her out of a nursing home so that if there is anything left over, I can give it to my sister who has struggled financially all her life. And this year, with the added care she needs, I'll be spending $7300 of my own money. All money that is supposed to have been for my own years of retirement and future medical care.

One of my mother's obsessions is that she thinks she has to "hide" her wallet, etc. and every time I have to write a check or get grocery money, it takes an hour or more of searching for her to remember where she put it. In fact, one time she had put her wallet in a garbage pail that was filled with plastic bags that she uses. I told her that if something had happened to her I would never have looked through it, I would have just pitched it in the dumpster. And the funny part is that she's basically housebound so there isn't any reason for her to have to hide it. As such, I now keep her checkbook and savings account book (she lost her original one about 2 years ago) with me. And I've been dealing with the bills as they come in and don't make a big deal of it any more.

I don't know if any of you have ever read any posts when it comes to food stamps or people on Medicaid going to nursing homes etc., but many times there are "younger" posters who come out and write some pretty nasty things. First of all what they don't know is that assisted living and nursing home care IS expensive. Second, it's usually those with money who know and do protect the money/house so that there parent's bill is paid by Medicaid. Third, not everyone wants the taxpayer to foot the bill for such care, but that money does run out eventually. In my mother's case, in the area where I live and cost of care here, her money would run out in about 16 months. After that, then Medicaid would have to foot the bill. And fourth, there are those of us who have family members who could use the financial help and like me are doing whatever they can to keep the parent out of such facilities for as long as they can hoping that there may be something left over when the parent is gone to give the needy sibling.

Whatever one wants to believe, you will never truly understand what it's like dealing with a situation like this until you're actually in it or close to someone who is going through it. I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year Everyone

Well, here we are, the first day of a new year, 2015.

The passing of a year is bittersweet; we're glad that the experiences that caused us problems and stress are over and we're happy that we have the chance to start off with a clean slate and an optimistic, can-do attitude.

I've not made any resolutions this year, not because I don't meet them which is true, but my focus this year is to try to work on the patience I no longer have so that I can deal with my elderly mother who has dementia. And for those of you who have experienced caring for a person with dementia, you know it is not an easy task and that it only gets worse.

I'm also at that point in my life where I am starting to plan my retirement. I have decided due to the longevity in my family not to start collecting SS until I turn 70 which is 2 years from now. I still work full time and plan to work the additional 2 years, but this may not be possible due to changes currently underway by my employer. It is likely that no move will take place this year so I think, I will have at least 1 full year of working guaranteed; the second year uncertain. A move in the beginning of 2016 rather than at the end would cause me to have to dip into my 401K/IRA a year sooner and take in significant payouts the first year, but one has to do what they need to do.

I also have to concentrate on my health issues. While health is between good and fair, I have been diagnosed as being diabetic so knowing the effect being diabetic has on dementia, I must lose the weight I need to lose. Having dealt with both parents and dementia, there is no way I want to find myself in a similar state.

So, raise your glasses of fresh, clean water . . . Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!!