My older sister has advanced dementia and is unable to care for herself. Her husband, 80, insists on taking care of her by himself – including her personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.
The result’s a disaster with my sister's welfare being abused regarding regular changing of diapers – they’re left out to dry and then reused. There’s urine on the furniture. Clothes aren’t washed properly.
He refuses to involve outside assistance, such as community programs outside the home or a caregiver for some of the time during the week.
We suspect it’s because he doesn't want to spend the money. So she’s constantly under his control.
Their adult sons have power of attorney and we’ve advised them to take control and get outside help since the circumstances are clearly unacceptable.
But they’re reluctant to force the issue, probably because they don’t want to offend their father by usurping his position.
The two daughters-in-law try to visit and do some chores, but they have their own children.
My oldest sister, age 77 and diabetic, lives nearby my brother in-law's house, and feels helpless and depressed seeing her younger sister in such disgusting conditions. She’s threatened my nephews to get professional help or she’ll report our brother-in-law for elder abuse.
How do we convince my nephews to exercise their power of attorney, if that’s the best solution to get help for my sister?
Your nephews haven’t responded to such pleas. It’s a sensitive issue to take over what their father may be trying to handle the best he can at 80. He and his sons may fear that outsiders may decide that your sister is no longer able to stay in her home.
Yet, with the conditions so “unacceptable,” you and your older sister need to find surer footing for challenging this situation.
Look into what’s available regarding community care options – type of care (personal hygiene, housekeeping, visiting nurse?) and the costs.
You likely have some sense of your brother’s ability to pay.
Ask a lawyer what entitlement his wife has to use of that money, or what legal responsibility he has to make her life as comfortable as he can afford, even if it means re-mortgaging his home.
Also, learn what the sons’ legal responsibility is to her under their power of attorney.
So far, you and your sister are dealing with your natural concerns and emotions, along with your own sense of what’s needed.
When you have all the facts, you’ll know what to say and what to do.
FEEDBACK Regarding the bride who wanted both her biological dad and her step-dad to walk her down the aisle (March 22):
Reader – “So the biological dad won’t “share his daughter?” Just think, if the bride decides to go ahead and have just her stepdad walk her down the aisle, people are going to start wondering why the bride's father wasn't taking part.
“Would they think that perhaps the biological father had done something offensive to be left out? It might even make the stepdad look like the good guy.
“I believe that any parent who chooses to put his or her needs ahead of the marrying couple could have this backfire.
“I think that the bride & groom's solution was a very good one and it augurs well for their future together.”
Ellie – Agreed. The fiancé suggested that his bride walks halfway on her own, and he joins her there, because that’s what their marriage will be about - “meeting each other halfway.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandmother who’s threatening the adult daughter she abused in the past, that cutting ties will lead to a court case for access to her grandchildren (March 21):
Reader – “Based on my personal experience, once this narcissistic grandma has threatened to take the family to court for access to her grandkids, it’s time to cut and run.
“I survived three false reports to children’s services and then had to go through a trial involving children's lawyers.
“This isn’t about what’s good for the children, this is Grandma exerting power. I not only lost my extended family, but my wife as well, she died (at 36) due to the stress.
“If Grandma has threatened court, she’s building a case. She can no longer have ANY access to her grandchildren. If she says court, she is challenging parental judgment and authority. Mother or not, stop talking to her!”
Ellie – A harsh case, but fair warning.
Tip of the day:
Suspect elder abuse? Get informed about available resources and legal responsibilities.