My Elderly Mother is Never Happy – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 67 January 6, 2021. On this caregiver radio program, Pamela D Wilson, Caregiving Expert shares tips for Caregivers Who Say My Elderly Mother is Never Happy. Attorney Rose Mary Zapor Answers Questions about the responsibilities of Being a Power of Attorney.
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My Elderly Mother is Never Happy
0:00:04.0 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson. Is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
0:00:38.6 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker. I’m your host on The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and aging parents, all tied together with humor and laughter essential to being a caregiver. The topic for this caregiving program is by caregiver request. It’s called, My Elderly Mother is Never Happy. I’ll offer eight tips for caregivers who ask, why is my elderly mom so mean all the time? Unhappy elderly parents can be a situational concern when there are significant life changes. On the other hand, some elderly parents and elderly mothers have been unhappy all of their lives. How can we, as caregivers, avoid the fate of being an unhappy person? Stay with me to learn how to respond to situations where caregivers say my elderly mother is never happy. And possible thoughts to answer the question, why is my elderly mom so mean?”
Why Won’t My Elderly Mom or Dad Do What’s Good for Them?
0:01:43.8 Pamela D. Wilson: The special guest for this show is Attorney Rose Mary Zapor. She joins us to answer questions about being a power of attorney. Specifically, what are the job responsibilities of a power of attorney? What actions constitute power of attorney abuse? Plus, other essential information that aging adults and caregivers should know about acting in the role of a power of attorney. Attorney Rose Mary Zapor started her legal career in 1987 as a paralegal handling and processing social security and other personal injury claims for attorneys while she was in law school. She’s dealt with matters in both state and federal courts in Colorado and has appeared on television and in newspapers. Rose was a caregiver for her mother, who was blessed to live until the age of 97. Her law practice today focuses on elder law, including Medicaid planning, guardianship and conservatorship, wills and trusts, and probate.
0:02:44.7 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s return to the list of probabilities for caregivers who ask, why is my elderly mom so mean? Number one is negativity. Often mentioned as a reason that my elderly mother is never happy. Negativity is a behavior that can drive people away instead of attracting them. Let’s talk about several ways to deal with negative emotions. The first is the idea of detachment, which can be somewhat tricky. If the only words coming from your elderly mother’s mouth are continually negative, ask yourself, has your elderly mother always been negative, or is this a new behavior? It could be a health issue. If my elderly mother is never happy is a long-standing behavior, it’s probably impossible to expect any substantial change. In this case, detachment is definitely a strategy. Detaching means gaining an understanding that the way that your negative elderly mother acts—has more to do with her instead of you.
0:03:44.0 Pamela D. Wilson: Negativity for all of us can result from thought patterns and experiences. In the case of your mom, you happen to be the person present to witness the behavior. Which probably has you asking the question, why is my elderly mom so mean? Realize that changing the fact that my elderly mother is never happy probably won’t happen. However, you can change the way that you respond. I know it’s easy to say—more difficult to do. Do your best not to take your elderly mother’s negative behaviors personally. Find ways to limit the amount of time you have to be exposed to her negative behaviors. Being around negative people can be draining and can affect all of our moods and outlooks. The next tip for dealing with negativity is not telling your elderly mother to stop being so negative. Instead, be compassionate and empathetic while not allowing your elderly mother, who is negative to take advantage of you.
0:04:42.9 Pamela D. Wilson: Engaging with negative elderly parents can require every last ounce of patience that you have. Do your best to respond calmly. Think of mom as if she was a best friend that you like. You can redirect negative conversations or set a boundary that you will walk away or hang up the phone from conversations if that behavior turns to gossip or criticizing other people. It’s okay to be firm with your boundaries after you make them known. As a caregiver, it’s okay to stand up for your beliefs and limit time spent in emotionally draining interactions. In some relationships, acknowledge that an elderly parent may want you to be unhappy with them. Refuse to be pulled into that negativity swamp. Another possibility for reasons my elderly mother is never happy, is that she is demanding and wants attention that she is not receiving from you or other people. Negative mom may have no idea that her behavior drives you and other people away. Realize that it’s not your job to make your mother happy. More importantly, refuse to let your negative elderly parent douse your self-esteem, reduce your confidence level, or make you doubt your abilities. Continue to be that likable, happy person.
0:06:02.6 Pamela D. Wilson: Be sincere, transparent. and honest. And do your best to understand other people, including your mom, without judging or criticizing. Responding positively to negativity can take daily effort. Think about being likable. Likable people take an interest in others. They’re not attached to their cell phones. Pleasant people don’t seek attention or judge others. They smile. Consider this. Being a happy and likable person might be irritating to a negative mother who wishes that she was happy. All in all, dealing with negative people is a skill that anyone can learn. Imagine this. If you can learn and hone the skill, think about the effect of avoiding negativity on your daily mood and life. You may actually set boundaries and stop reacting to situations that used to upset you. You may become an observer and realize that you have control over how you respond to other people, things in the news, and life situations. Make a choice to be happy.
0:07:09.4 Pamela D. Wilson: We can choose to allow negativity into our lives or send it away. What choice are you making in your relationship with your elderly mother who is never happy? Or putting time into wondering why your elderly mom is so mean. Our lives are the result of where we put our thoughts and our energy. If you focus on wondering why my elderly mother is never happy all the time, you may end up being the person with unhappy behaviors. Set clear boundaries. Do what you can to help elderly parents and monitor the time that you spend in negative interactions with your elderly parents and other people. Look at your workplace. Is that a place where a lot of negativity happens? Plan to spend more time with happy people, with upbeat people, and less time with negative people who honestly sink your mood. We all have a choice in where we put our attention in every single day. We can spend time in happy pursuits or let negativity drag us down.
0:08:11.0 Pamela D. Wilson: The way that we can find a way out of negativity is to listen to music. Do things that we enjoy. Read positive books, positive poems. Have positive sayings that we say every time that a negative thought comes into our mind. Negativity can be so, so draining, and we can fall into these lifelong patterns where we can’t seem to get out of it. Up next, Rose Mary Zapor joins us to answer questions about being a power of attorney. That means medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney. We’re also going to talk a little bit about wills and trusts. She’s going to talk about including whether it’s wise to use power of attorney forms that you can download off the internet. How many of you have actually done that or thought about it? Power of attorney is different in every state in the United States.
0:09:03.2 Pamela D. Wilson: While you can download a form to look at it, it’s usually better to make an appointment to contact an elder law attorney, like Rose. Orr find a probate attorney or a trust attorney in the town where you live, so that you can make sure that whatever those wishes are—whoever that person that you want to appoint to be your medical and your financial power of attorney—that you’re making a good choice for yourself. Sometimes people assume that a family member is the only choice or the best choice. And I can tell you from my experience, that is always not true. A lot of issues can happen when you appoint an adult child or another family member who is irresponsible in carrying out their behaviors.
0:09:47.2 Pamela D. Wilson: Helpful tips for caregivers and aging adults are in my Caring for Aging Parents caregiving blog. It’s on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. I invite you to follow me on Facebook. My Facebook page is PamelaDWilsonCaregiving Expert. There, you can join my online caregiving support group, it’s called The Caregiving Trap. It’s a very safe place to share your experiences, learn and share with caregivers in similar situations. You could actually meet caregivers all over the United States and all over the world. I’m Pamela D. Wilson. We are getting ready to head out to a break. You’re with me on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. We will be right back.
0:10:55.7 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert on The Caring Generation. With us is attorney, Rose Mary Zapor, specializing in elder law, Medicaid, guardianship, conservatorship, wills, trusts, and probate. If you’re in the Denver area and you’d like to contact Rose, her office number is 303-866-0990. Rose, welcome to the show.
0:11:16.2 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Thank you very much, Pamela. It’s good to be here.
0:11:21.7 Pamela D. Wilson: So we’re here to talk about power of attorney. Can you talk about the job of an agent under medical power of attorney?
0:11:28.7 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: You know, everybody says, “Oh, I’m the power of attorney.” Actually, they’re an agent. And just like any other agent, real estate agent, insurance agent, you have a duty to act in the best interest of the person you’re acting for. So, for instance, what we see a lot is people who are taking money from mom because mom “said to.” Mom said it was okay to loan me—however many thousands of dollars. And under Colorado law and under laws of, I think, all 50 states—you’re actually not allowed to do that. You must always act in the best interest of the person you’re acting for. Which means you cannot self-deal or act for yourself.
0:12:18.1 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: You have to follow their wishes, if you know what their wishes are. For instance, if mom wants to have a Do Not Resuscitate order, and you don’t want her to have a Do Not Resuscitate order, you have to do what mom wants. Except in the case of money. [laughter] you don’t take mom’s money—even if she says to.
0:12:49.9 Pamela D. Wilson: So for…
0:12:50.0 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: That can put a person in a lot of trouble.
0:12:52.4 Pamela D. Wilson: So for moms, for parents, how important is it to talk to children or—I mean, do parents even know how to talk to their children about this. To make sure that they’re qualified and they’re willing to do what mom and dad want?
0:13:05.9 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Well, Pam, you knew my mother. And I was very fortunate that my mother spoke with me very honestly about what she wanted and what she didn’t want. And I’ve also had those conversations with my children. And it’s very important to have these very difficult conversations with your children to say, “This is what I want. No, I don’t want to go into a nursing home.” And nobody really wants to go into a nursing home. “I want to be buried, or I want to be cremated, or I want to go to a particular facility. I want to live close to my sister, or I want to live close to my children, or I want to move to Florida.” You have to have those conversations. And there are many people out there. There are social workers, there are attorneys such as myself, there are psychologists who are willing to help with those very difficult conversations. But you’ve got to have them with your kids so that they know what you want. Otherwise, they’re just guessing, and it may not—what their decision is—may not be anything near what you envisioned your life to be.
0:14:28.2 Pamela D. Wilson: Can you give some examples of power of attorney agent abuse by a child or a spouse or a family member?
0:14:36.0 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Well, it happens all the time. And most of the time, the person does not intend to financially abuse their parent. The example I gave earlier of mom loaning money to her children. And the Adult Protective Services comes along and says, “Well, you’re financially abusing your parent.” And the child says, “Well, mom said it was okay.” Well, it’s not okay. If you are an agent under a power of attorney, you have to act in the best interest of your parent. And especially when we’re talking about elderly parents, whether they have dementia or not, they are going to be facing, in the last three years of their life some very, very high medical costs. Whether it’s having to stay at home and having people come in to help out, or whether they end up in a nursing home because they’ve had a major health experience. The expenses in the last three years of life account for almost half of all of the medical expenses a person is going to pay during their lifetime. Unless they’re disabled at an early age. So, it’s got to be—you’ve got to act all of the time in planning for the long-term for your parent, not the short-term of your own personal needs.
0:16:13.2 Pamela D. Wilson: And we’re going to a be heading out to a break, but I want to ask you., You mentioned best interest. So where do caregivers go if they don’t know, “Like, Rose, I have no idea what best interest means.” How do they find out?
0:16:23.7 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Well, how would you raise your child? How would you raise your cat? How would you raise anybody? How would you act for their best interest? If you have a parent who is ill, you don’t want to place them in a situation where they maintain that illness rather than going towards health. If they have financial problems, you don’t want to add to the financial problems. You want to act what’s in their best interest, and usually it’s common sense what their best interest is. It would be the same if it was your own best interest. What would I want in that situation?
0:17:07.5 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you for that. And then, after the break, I’m going ask you, you brought up Adult Protective Services. I have a lot of caregivers, especially in my online groups, who get very upset when APS gets involved. Because—believe it or not, the kids think that their parents’ money is their money, and it’s just shocking to me. Listeners, we are going to continue our conversation with elder law Attorney Rose Mary Zapor after this break. You can listen to podcasts of The Caring Generation on your favorite podcast sites, Apple, Google, Spreaker, Stitcher, Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, Alexa, and more. The shows, along with the show transcripts that you can read, are also on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
0:18:15.9 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Let’s continue our conversation with Attorney Rose Mary Zapor. So, Rose, can you talk about maybe cases where APS has been involved and then when children are asking about the house and Medicaid?
0:18:34.0 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Well, Pamela, APS serves a good function. According to the National Institute on Aging, between 75% and 90% of all financial abuse is done by family members, and there’s a lot of it out there. I’ve had more than one case where the parents, in order to avoid probate, take the advice of putting themselves and the children as joint owners of the home. The children get into financial trouble. They go out—and this has happened five times in my practice—the children go out, sell the house out from under mom and mom is evicted. She doesn’t even know the house has been sold until she gets that eviction notice. So, that’s where APS comes in and says, wait a minute, this can’t happen. That’s actually theft by the way. It’s a criminal matter. And APS comes in to protect people too. I had a case last week where a caregiver was isolating mom from her children. This happens too, and the APS becomes involved again to protect the mother from being physically or emotionally abused—as well as financially abused. And unfortunately, this does happen.
0:20:04.7 Pamela D. Wilson: And can you talk about— I know a lot of people are maybe sometimes hesitant to go see an attorney to get documents done. What are the risks of downloading, like a power of attorney document or a will off the Internet?
0:20:17.8 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Well, every state has different laws regarding powers of attorney. And you may think that downloading a document to do a power of attorney or a will or something along those lines is good. But I’ve had those abused many, many times. For instance, in the powers of attorneys that I draft, if somebody wants to change their power of attorney, I have in my powers of attorneys that it has to be signed by two disinterested witnesses. So that someone can’t come in who is unscrupulous and say, “here honey just sign this, and I’ll help you take care of your money.” I actually had one case where before she came to me—a woman had signed her house and her car and all of her bank accounts over to the Avon lady. I had another case where the kids were on as joint tenants on the home, bank accounts, and the car. Mom went into the hospital and in three days they had sold the house, taken the car, and cleaned out the bank account.
0:21:29.2 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh.
0:21:29.3 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: So… Yes.
0:21:29.5 Pamela D. Wilson: So what can people do about kids who do that? Is there any recourse?
0:21:34.9 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Yes, there is. We went to court and, of course, got everything turned around on the three days. And it’s done soon enough, and in several of the cases where the kids sold the house out from under mom or dad, sometimes they came to me too late and the house had already been sold by that person to another person, to another person, and by that time you can’t undo the original fraudulent sale. And of course, many parents don’t want to do anything. Because it would involve criminal charges against their children, and even though what the children have done is criminal—they don’t want their child going to jail. So, sometimes if I can get called early enough, we can stop the abuse, but it has to be quick, and it has to be very definitive.
0:22:31.7 Pamela D. Wilson: And can you just explain the difference between a power of attorney and then a will and a living will?
0:22:38.5 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: Yes, a power of attorney is something that is signed by a person, giving their agency, giving another person the duty of handling their finances or making medical decisions for them when they can’t. Now, a power of attorney can be revoked at any time. However, a person has to have mental competence to sign a power of attorney. Because it’s basically a contract. So, if you have a mother or father that has advanced dementia, they cannot sign a power of attorney because they don’t know what they’re signing. A will is a person stating on paper how they want their estate handled after they’ve passed away. Power of attorney is only good up until the moment of death. Once a person has passed away, the power of attorney is no longer valid.
0:23:42.6 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: A will then takes over and says, okay, well, this person may have had power or authority over my stuff before I passed away, but now that I’ve passed away—this is what I want—and that’s what a will is. A living will is something that’s very important in our society today. Because a living will is also called an advanced directive. This is you while you are competent—telling your children or your doctors what you want done at the end of your life. If you can’t make those decisions or if you can’t say what it is you want—it’s a very important document that too many people just do not understand. Do you want life support? Do you want to be resuscitated? What is it that you want now while you have the mental capability of saying what it is and how you want to live the end of your life?
0:24:50.4 Pamela D. Wilson: And so, does a person need all of these when they come to you to do documents. Do you normally do them all?
0:24:56.0 Attorney Rose Mary Zapor: When I do a will, I do a will, a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a living will, and a disposition of final remains. You’d be amazed how many times people are fighting over ashes or where to bury their loved one. I also can do revocable living wills if somebody wants one. Which is something I would discuss. But yes, we do all of those documents at one time. Because you not only have to plan for what’s going to happen after you pass away, you have to plan what’s going to happen if you become disabled. And a lot of us will become disabled at some point in our life, and failure to plan for that disability is just as bad, or in some cases worse than not planning for the end of your life. Not planning for your estate after you pass away.
0:26:03.5 Pamela D. Wilson: Rose, thank you so much for joining us and for all the work that you do. I’ll make sure that I make sure that your phone number is in here and a link to your website. Listeners, we are going to head out to a break, I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
0:26:46.3 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation for caregivers and aging adults. Let’s return to the subject of my elderly mother is never happy. The number two topic in this list is elderly parents who are critical of others or who nag. Does anybody have a parent with either of these behaviors? An elderly mother who nags may feel that she isn’t being heard or may want more control over situations or people. Nagging can also involve opposite personalities. A person who nags might be super organized, disciplined, maybe a little obsessive controlling. There you have a couple of really positive traits and a couple of not so good traits. This person who might be your mom could nag a person who has opposite behavior. So somebody who is relaxed. Maybe does things at the last minute and may not be very proactive. So even if you are that caregiver who gets things done—mom may object to the way that you get them done. Then we have criticism, and that is a different form of negativity.
0:27:57.0 Pamela D. Wilson: Tips for responding to my elderly mother who is never happy and critical, include listening and pausing and thinking before you respond. Asking a question like, why do you think that? Or why do you feel that way? Trying to understand the perspective about why is my older mother so mean equals asking the question to yourself—what happened to my mother that she is this way? Most of the time that criticism has nothing to do with you. But more about when an elder—my mother or another person—doesn’t like himself or herself. So for example, people who are sensitive about weight, for example, might make comments about people that they view to be overweight. If you can let that criticism go. It’s not really about you, it’s about the person who’s criticizing.
0:28:46.5 Pamela D. Wilson: Number three for my elderly mother is never happy are attention-seeking, or woe is me statements like, “Oh, you never help me. You never have time for me. You never visit.” These statements indicate that your elderly mother isn’t receiving enough of your time and attention—if you haven’t noticed. Loneliness might be another reason for my elderly mother is never happy. Attention-seeking behavior can also be the result of a personality disorder. If you are a caregiver hearing attention-seeking statements from elderly parents, investigate that cause. If loneliness is the concern, and you have no more time to give, be open-minded to options to involve your brothers or sisters or other family members to see if they can call or visit your elderly parents. Investigate opportunities for socialization for your parents. And in some cases, maybe a mental health therapist would be a good place to look. Most of all, be honest about what you can and what you can’t do.
0:29:47.3 Pamela D. Wilson: You might not have any more time to give to your parents. The best that you can do is involve other people to support the concerns of the fact that my elderly mother is never happy. Number four on this list is guilt. My elderly mother is never happy or if you’re wondering why my elderly mom is so mean—that may have you feeling pretty guilty that you are the cause. Then there are some statements of, “oh, all you want to do is put me in a home. You wanna get rid of me.” While that may be a true statement for any number of reasons, another possibility for why my elderly mother is never happy is that your mom might be feeling a little abandoned or a little isolated. When caregivers who put their lives on hold for years to care for a parent or grandparent—when you want time for yourselves back, parents can feel a little lonely or left out. It’s normal for caregivers who give up their lives to care for elderly parents to want to get your lives back and on track. Caregiving translates into a generational concern. When one generation after another is expected to give up their lives to be a caregiver, your parent expects you to do it, and you expect your children to do it.
0:31:00.4 Pamela D. Wilson: My elderly mother is never happy, also may mean that moving mom to a care home is necessary. Because you may not have enough available time to take care of her. An elderly mother may need more time-consuming hands-on physical care. There might be increasing health issues, a lack of money to pay for care, and daily expenses. There are times when placing an elderly parent in a care home is the only or the best option. If that’s your situation, start talking about care homes long before the subject comes up. When you’re working within the reality of my elderly mother is never happy, the conversations will never be easy. Avoiding that conversation will only prolong the fear and your dread of bringing up the topic.
0:31:43.7 Pamela D. Wilson: Everybody has a part in caregiving relationships. This includes the caregiver or the caregivers who give their time, careers, relationships, and lives for an elderly mother who is never happy—and they actually add to care difficulties through negative behaviors, criticisms, and nagging. While families might feel a duty to care for a problematic elderly parent, there may be a point when caregiving takes an emotional and a physical toll on the life of a caregiving daughter or son. At that point, regardless of concerns of “all you want to do is put me in a care home.” Choose yourself, your health, your family, and your career. If you are the caregiver, find the best situation possible for an elderly parent so you can sleep at night. These discussions are so important, and also ask your parents how to talk about moving to a care community.
0:32:34.3 Pamela D. Wilson: Elderly parents need to understand that it might not always be possible or practical for you to be that caregiver. They may realize one day that they don’t want to have or put you in a position where you are so burdened by their care that they’re willing to do whatever is good for everyone. The more that you know about all of the care options available, including, for example, daycare programs, hiring in-home caregivers, other care services, palliative care, hospice care, and others. The more that you and your family can have these discussions early to be prepared for situations that can arise over time. Especially if the health of your elderly parent is declining or it may continue to decline. More help for caregivers is in my book called The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes. You can find that on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker. You’re with me on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
0:33:56.8 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Let’s return to the topic of my elderly mother is never happy, and the effect this might have on your elderly father. Who may, to your surprise, have hidden your never happy elderly mother’s behaviors from you all of those years until he suddenly passes away. Topic number five is realizing that a parent concealed or managed another parent’s behaviors for most of your adult life, and now all of this is on you. Few families plan for the caregiver passing away before the person who needs care, meaning your father or mother. When a spouse caring for a spouse situation occurs, many times, elderly parents want to retain control and, if possible, not involve children. In these cases, one parent may wish to maintain independence or privacy.
0:34:48.3 Pamela D. Wilson: As a result, the status of health, finances, and other daily aspects may be hidden without a plan to transfer the information to adult children who become caregivers when the first parent passes away. Practical things like medication lists, names of physicians, the location of bank accounts, computer passwords, bills to be paid. Those may not be easy to locate. Especially if the unhappy surviving parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s. These situations happen because adult children view dad or mom as capable of taking care of dad or mom—or maybe you just don’t want to become involved. More focus might be given to the elderly parents with health issues and less on the healthier elderly mother who’s never happy. Not being aware of the stress that mom may be experiencing, might have you believing that your elderly mom is mean.
0:35:40.5 Pamela D. Wilson: The fact that your elderly mother is never happy might be related to caregiver stress, physical illness, or feeling that her life was stolen by becoming a caregiver. Instead, your mom may be saying, “oh, I love my husband, but I don’t want to be a caregiver anymore.” Many elderly parent caregivers are highly stressed and feel that their children have no idea what they’re going through, and some of these parents are right. Suggest that your parent join a caregiver support group. That may allow your parent to vent in a safe environment with other caregivers and result in a better relationship for you if your parent feels like someone is listening. If you are an adult child in a situation where one of your parents is the primary caregiver for the other, don’t be naïve. Find ways to begin the conversations about what happens if, and think about the discussion that we had earlier with Attorney Rose Mary Zapor. When we talked about medical and financial power of attorney and estate planning.
0:36:39.8 Pamela D. Wilson: As children, it really is your responsibility to ask what your parents want, and as parents, it’s your responsibility to tell your children what you want. So, if you’re aging and have children. Everybody get involved today. Create your estate plans, ensure that all those documents are available and in a great location. Talk about money, talk about living costs, assets, savings, how you’re going to pay for care. Don’t leave any of those discussions up in the air until you’re in that emotional thick of situations and you’re dealing with a crisis. So, returning to that question of not what is wrong with mom, but what happened to mom that she is this way? Life happens. Unexpected events happen. Becoming a caregiver is unexpected. Caring for a sick spouse is unexpected.
0:37:25.9 Pamela D. Wilson: Topic number six follows the idea of choice and why my elderly mother is never happy. What adult children think parents should do may be totally opposite of what your parents want to do. It could be a control issue. You could be stuck in refusal mode, realizing that your mother is never happy. But she has the right to make choices that we as children disagree with. The challenge is we may be worried that we’re going to have to deal with the fallout. Maybe yes. Maybe no. This goes back to that care discussion of having boundaries or setting boundaries as a caregiver. If you’re firm in what you can and you can’t do and how you can, and you can’t help, then even if your parents make decisions that you don’t agree with—you can make it clear under which circumstances you will swoop in to help or not.
0:38:11.1 Pamela D. Wilson: Caring for elderly parents who refuse care or who believe that children should put their lives on hold to care for elderly parents—it’s one of the most challenging care situations. Then there are elderly children in their 70s and 80s, who are under a lot of stress caring for elderly parents in their 90s, or 100 years old. Rose’s mom lived to 97. Many of the caregivers in my support groups talk about this emotional tug of war that happens when their lives and their health, and their careers are placed on hold to care for elderly parents. Again, early and honest conversations are the best way to avoid this.
0:38:49.5 Pamela D. Wilson: Topic number seven for my elderly mother is never happy, is the idea of a parent who continues to live at home, but whose health or mental state, maybe because of dementia or Alzheimer’s is worrisome. They’re not safe there. You as that caregiver may be losing sleep over what’s going on, and you might worry that if something happens to your parent, they’re going to be even more unhappy when something serious happens. Because when memory loss exists or balance issues exist, something will eventually happen that can result in care that can be a lot more expensive instead of all of the preventive steps that could have been taken if you had conversations with your elderly mother or your elderly father about the risks of living alone with memory loss. About the risks of poor balance and the likelihood of falling, of breaking a hip, of having to go to a nursing home and then a hospital, and then trying to figure out if you can come back home. Nutrition is another issue with elderly parents. If you notice that your elderly parents are losing, is losing weight, do something about it. Do not wait.
0:39:58.4 Pamela D. Wilson: When elderly parents start to lose weight, it can actually lead to a condition called failure to thrive. Which then makes all the other health issues that they have—whether it’s heart disease or breathing concerns or something else—that failure to thrive condition puts everything in a downward spiral where more medical care is needed. Like Rose talked about, the last three years of life are the most expensive for medical care for elderly parents. The more proactive that you can be to notice those little things—those little signs that your elderly parent is getting worse, the better off that you will be. Listeners, we’re going to continue this conversation after the break. You can follow me on Facebook at PamelaDWilsoncaregivingexpert, where you can join my online caregiver support group. It’s called The Caregiving Trap. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker. You are with me on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
0:41:13.5 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, consultant, and speaker. I’m your host. We’re back to talk about my elderly mother is never happy. Number eight is having a parent who becomes financially dependent on you. Put yourself in the place of an elderly parent. Wondering why my elderly mom is so mean may not be such a surprise if you control the budget. Let’s say that mom has moved in with you or your mom’s financial power of attorney, and you’re having to budget for her care costs. Because there isn’t a lot of money. Maybe mom used to do whatever she wanted to do. Now all of her costs of care are taking every penny of that budget, and maybe even taking part of your income. In that situation, nobody may be happy. I mean, care costs for my elderly mother is never happy make everybody in the family stressed. It may be time to talk about care through the Medicaid program.
0:42:02.0 Pamela D. Wilson: Early on caregivers may be able to come into the home, or you may be able to be that paid family caregiver who helps your elderly mother. But eventually mom’s care might be more than what you can do. That takes us back to conversations about outliving money and living in a care community on Medicaid. Having those conversations before it happens is usually less stressful, and you can be more realistic and less emotional and maybe talk more practically moving into a care community. A lot of caregivers will ask about the right time to move an elderly parent to a care community. The answer is that it depends on the family situation and the care needs. But when an elderly parent is healthy enough to still provide some of that care—when they can socialize and make friends, that’s usually the best time to make a move. Although at that point, there still may be a little fear and a little hesitation. But if your elderly mother is never happy, she may not be happy in your home, in her home, living with you, or living in a care community. Nothing may create happiness.
0:43:06.8 Pamela D. Wilson: So, adjust and work through all of those kinks so that you as the caregiver can have more time for yourself. The caveat, though, is that communities reimbursed by Medicaid may have long waitlists. Planning ahead—two or three years, if possible, is super wise. If you’re forced to choose or find a Medicaid community at the last minute for my elderly mother, who is never happy, you might be forced to accept a community with a sub-standard level of care. If we’re all honest, communities who don’t take good care of the elderly exist. There are also excellent Medicaid communities. But those are usually the communities where the elderly can move in and spend down their funds for a year or two until they qualify for Medicaid. Receiving quality care for my elderly mother who is never happy takes a little bit of planning and usually planning several years in advance. Talk about these uncomfortable subjects like running out of money or having to move to a care community.
0:44:02.3 Pamela D. Wilson: If you do, you may be able to make a better plan for the care of elderly parents. I appreciate all you caregivers who continue to complete the caregiver assessment on my website. It’s at www.PamelaDWilson.com. Go to the contact button and scroll down to find that survey. Sharing your stories helps me create articles,and these shows for you every single week. Invite your elderly parents, your spouses, your friends, and family to check out the helpful information on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com, and if you’re having difficulty initiating care conversations, you can add a podcast app to the cellphone of elderly parents and a link to the show The Caring Generation. I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker. God bless all of you caregivers, sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.
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