My parents, because of my dad, were woefully unprepared for the legalities of aging. They did not have a trust, nor a will, and none of us had power of attorney to act on their behalf for anything. This was not because we did not want to get it done, but because we couldn’t get Dad to cooperate. He still has no will (the lawyer quit on him because he wouldn’t cooperate). We only have a DPOA because APS come in for a year and twisted his arm, though he did revoke it at one very important bank, with the help of one very unethical hired caregiver.
However, even with us having a POA, my dad is still legally able to act on his own behalf, unless we go to court and get a court order to be his guardians and not allow him to make these decisions because he is not competent. We have been unwilling to do that, because of the fight and the rift this would cause, as well as the expense. We also have previously asked his PCP for note and she wanted the full neurological workup, which my dad would not do. In fact, getting him to any doctor’s appointment is very difficult, particularly with his heightened paranoia. We have been legally stuck, trying to manage however we can.
I believe, that we need two doctors to sign non-competency. I need to revisit that now.
In June, we had an appointment with Dad’s vascular surgeon. Dad has a growing abdominal aneurysm which, in a healthy young individual, would need to be operated on. However, Dad is a terrible candidate for surgery, which he doesn’t understand. For years, he has been unable to make proper evaluations and decisions, including for healthcare. Finally, in June in the middle of the appointment with the surgeon, the doctor turned to me, and said, “Oh, there’s no competence here.” Yep, finally, we have a doctor willing to say this out loud. So, this is now noted in Dad’s record, also that he is not a candidate for this surgery, even if the aneurysm bursts (which was agreed upon between the doctor, Sister and I).
Dad actually had an appointment with his PCP the other day. When Sister went to pick him up, he talked about not being able to get any sleep because someone kept calling all night, and he said they kept singing itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini (there were no calls on his phone log on the website). He kicked my sister out of the appointment, but we believe he had similar incoherency when talking with his PCP. My sister asked the doctor to make good notes, and the doctor seemed to understand what was meant by that, so I am looking forward to getting the notes from that appointment.
With Mom’s dementia, she welcomed help, she mostly trusted us, and even though she had fears, they were not fears of us. This mirrored how we interacted with her throughout her lifetime. With Dad’s dementia, his paranoia is overwhelming, and his hallucinations are more damaging. He imagines terrible things about us and what we are doing. Being able to manage things for him, and to act on his behalf, has taken up so much of our energy, and he has made things so difficult.
Everyone should ensure that their loved ones are not in this position should something happen to them, please have your affairs in order – who is going to take care and advocate for you, and do they have the authority to do this????
I follow the blog of Kay H. Bransford: Dealing with Dementia (https://dealingwithdementia.wordpress.com/). In addition to her insightful posts about the journey through dementia that she took with her parents, she discusses many important aspects of organizing information that will help people take care of you or your affairs. I definitely recommend her blog.