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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Darker Side of Dementia – Precious Memories 7

Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.            NCOA – National Council On Aging 


There are parts of our story, that I may never share here or anywhere else. There is a darker side, with many complicated details that are painful. Some days I still cannot wrap my mind around them. I don’t know if the anger or shock ever subsides, when you walk through something like this.   

While this isn't a "precious" memory, it is part of our story, unfortunately.  Our story, like so many, has a side of betrayal, lies, and elder abuse/neglect. 

All of this came from the very one who was supposed to be in charge of her care. The one she personally selected and sought out, years ago.   The one person she (and we) thought we could trust, to do right by her if the need arose, to handle her care.

We were wrong.   
We are not alone.

According to the National Council On Aging, 1 in 10 Americans 60+, have experienced some form of elder abuse. About 1 in 14 cases are actually reported. Ours was one of the reported cases, however, I am not at liberty to share all of the details.

What I can share is that in her own voice and of her own free will, my mother was able to name her abusers. She consistently repeated the details.  Once given the opportunity, and in a safe place, she told medical professionals, our dementia specialist, social workers, police, and caregivers.  She never wavered when relaying those details. Times, dates, and names didn’t change or become mixed up.


She never needed coaching or prompting.  This was in the earlier stages of the disease.  While she may not have remembered everything she had for lunch, the abuse was burned into her mind.  She suffered from PTSD, as well as from emotional abuse and “taunting”, and we had to adjust her care accordingly. She had been intimidated and ridiculed.  I felt sick (and still do) every time I heard her tell the story.  There were certain people she was no longer comfortable around, and we made sure no contact was made again.

She began telling her story, prior to the dementia taking over completely. The geriatric specialist and other qualified medical professionals found her competent enough to speak to an attorney and state her last wishes. They all believed her and we also had proof in the form of pictures, witnesses, documents, and medical evidence. An attorney was able to help us set her affairs back in order, and obtain court assistance in making sure her wishes and legal decisions were not changed again. 

The only comfort I really have is that I believe that those who violated her and were cruel, will face God.  I will let Him deal with them. 


While I was devastated emotionally and mentally, I pulled myself together and maintained a laser focus on making sure NO ONE would ever hurt my mom again.  This is when the “pit bull” instincts kicked in, as I have mentioned in other posts. I didn’t care who it was. After what took place within our family, I didn't trust anyone with her, at least not completely. I was all over my mom’s care, and to the best of my ability, made sure nothing was overlooked, neglected, or slighted. I chose to focus my time and energy on her and with her. I would not allow the lowest of the low, to take anything more than what they had already stolen from her (and me).


Once we caught on to what was happening, and had proof, we became consumed with setting things right, as much as we possibly could. My mother was socially isolated over a long period of time.  She was physically neglected, and emotionally and mentally abused.  Her mail and calls were monitored, and mind games were played.  Gifts disappeared or simply never arrived.  This was a slow, subtle process that wasn’t easy to figure out.  The abusers were calculated and sly.



Her power of attorney abused not only her, but also their “power”, and changed documents to financially benefit themselves.  We may never even know the full effects of the abuse.  



One lesson learned?  Be very, very careful who you assign as your power of attorney.  

What a nightmare it was to wade through all of that, while trying to bring her medical care current.  We were lied to about many things, including her care and doctor's visits. For those of you who aren’t aware, you cannot just walk into your loved one's doctor’s office and expect the staff to speak with you. HIPPA laws are very rigid and you must have HIPPA authorization to speak with medical personnel. This authorization must be signed by the patient and/or the power of attorney (to my knowledge.)  This paperwork is easily changed, with a signature.  In our case, this was not to our benefit.

The original HIPPA authorization my mother gave me, was quietly changed per the Power of Attorney so that I was unable to obtain medical updates.  I didn't find this out, until we were in the thick of it all.  I had no idea that the copy of the paperwork *I* had, was not current.

So why am I sharing this?   Because I want you to be alert and watchful.


If you are in a situation like this and are facing any of the things I have mentioned, please seek legal counsel.   I am not authorized to give legal advice, I am simply sharing my story.  It took days, weeks, and many hours to sort through finances, health issues, medical records, all gone awry.   To find out legal documents had been changed, to the benefit of one was maddening.  Who does this? 



I will never understand what motivates someone to lie about medical care, or what benefit they received, from abusing someone who was quickly becoming helpless.



The only explanation I have is pure evil.   

And this doesn't begin to include the mental, emotional, and physical toll it took on my mom, and myself. Though she had counseling, and was in a good place up until the time she passed away, I never allowed myself to relax.  I was always looking over my shoulder, ready to go to war if need be, should her abusers attempt to make contact again.  

Please don’t walk away from this post and judge us.  It happens in every demographic, and socio-economic status.  It happens to the closest of families and the most broken ones.  No one ever would have believed, it would have happened to ours.  I didn’t want to believe it, and sometimes still can’t.  Never say never.


Please be the voice and the advocate, for your loved one.    
 
I am including some links, if you wish to explore this further:



















 *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother, who battled Alzheimer's.   I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.

Precious Memories Part 1 
Precious Memories Part 2
Precious Memories Part 3 
Precious Memories Part 4
Precious Memories Part 5
Precious Memories Part 6

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