Questions and Insights with Joy Loverde


As the author of The Complete Eldercare Planner and online elder care columnist geared toward people who are caring for aging parents, I’ve been asked some interesting questions. The depth of where our caregiving journeys will lead us never ceases to amaze me. This blog offers insights into the complex elder care process.

Question: My Mom is 83 and has had "mental problems" in the past (40 yrs ago had an "episode") which has largely gone untreated. Everyone has always "walked on eggshells" with her. She is a very volatile and controlling person and expects everyone to "wait on her/do for her".

That said, she has spent $40,000 in CD's including her "burial $", she has run up her credit card to $16,000 ($505 pymt per month). She recently suffered a complete Flood Loss of her rugs in her basement condo and spent the $ that FEMA gave her to help replace said rugs.  She came to live with me 6 weeks ago because she realized at that time that her $ had run out (her SS & my deceased dads' pension cannot cover all her expenses - she comes up short approximately $300 each and every month with her spending habits which she refuses to change) with the premise she would sell her condo and get rid of her credit card debt.

She has now reverted to her "crazy" personality and is insisting that she go back to her condo.  Should I just let her go and let the chips fall where they may?  Elderly Services told me that she is an adult and as long as no doctor has declared her incompetent she can do what she wants.   I can see where this is heading but I don't know how to get thru to her.  She feels (screams & yells) that I am trying to steal her $$.  She has not eaten any food except goldfish crackers for over a week and lied to the doctor that she was fine when my aunt took her the other day.  She had not taken a bath in 2 weeks and when she did take one (in prep for the doctor) the water turned BLACK!!   Everyone (including her sisters) tell me to take her back to the condo and let her fall on her face - to let her just do what she wants.  I don't want her to get hurt but I cannot tolerate her abusive and passive aggressive behavior toward me.  My aunt says she is "punishing me" because I found out the extent of her spending away all her cash assets.   Any Advice?

Answer: Elderly Services is right. Your mom is an adult and as long as no doctor has declared her incompetent she can do what she wants.