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Tumor causing poor decision making...

ncgrl84
Posts: 14
Joined: Apr 2012

My mom was diagnosed in April with GBM4. Since then, her memory and decision making has been extremely poor. She has a hard time performing simple tasks such as cooking, bathing, cleaning up after herself... she gets about half way through and forgets what she was doing. Naturally, I took over power of attorney so I could make decisions for her.

Not thinking it would be a problem, I let her keep her purse and all her credit cards and bank card... Big mistake! I had no idea she has been going online and randomly putting in her bank card info for "free trials". Because she didn't call and cancel these trials within a certain amount of time, these companies started charging her astronomical fees. The bank put a block on her account! My name is also on the account and I was NEVER contacted about this. We noticed when I tried to order a pizza for her, the bank card wouldn't work. I called the bank and they explained everything. They gave me the phone number to every company trying to pull money out and I called them all. NONE of them will waive the charges. She signed up for a bunch of "free trials" and never received anything from any of them and I tried to explain that. I even explained her situation, and let them know I was with her 24/7 and never received anything in her mail from any of these companies... I got absolutely nowhere. Now I'm stuck and I don't know what to do. This isn't like my mom, she's always been a cautious spender...

I'm forced to take her credit cards, check books, and bank cards away and she's FURIOUS with me. I'm taking, yet, another piece of her independence. It breaks my heart, but I just can't keep up with what she's doing with her money when she's online.

She says I treat her like a child, but in my defense, I have to. I let her cook one day, just to see what would happen... sure enough, she walked away and left the food there cooking. Had I not been there, I'm sure it would have caught fire and burned her house down. She's so angry with me about this and I'm having a hard time coping with it.

She's even called several of her family members to "give" them stuff. She told her sister she could have her car!!! All her family is out of state, so I never talk to them. In the 28 years I've been alive, I've never met most of them... And they are so ready to take these things from her without question!!! How do I explain to her family that she may sound fine on the phone, but she's NOT okay? Nobody seems to understand what's going on even though I've attempted to explain the GBM4.

This is a freakin nightmare! This disease is absolutely devastating! I'm her only caregiver, and sometimes I wonder if I can really handle it. I don't know what to do. My mom is completely aware of what's going on, but unable to control it. She knows she makes poor decisions, and I know it's hard for her... but I'm having a hard time watching her cry and rage inside when I have to take things from her.

I guess I'm seeking advice, support... something, anything... Thanks for listening.

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

It's always hard when the roles reverse and the parent becomes the child. My elderly mother does not have cancer but my husband and I are now caring for her. While our situation does not compare with yours, I do understand a little something about how hard this role reversal is for everyone.

First I would try to get her into some kind of family counseling which you could attend with her. Perhaps she will listen to others if they recommend letting you take over her financial affairs, and maybe they can help her to understand that you are acting in her best interest and you are not the enemy.

If it gets worse then I think at some point you might have to consider speaking with a lawyer about becoming a legal guardian for her. I'm not a legal expert and I have no idea of what is involved with that, but a lawyer s/b able to explain your options to you.

I am so sorry for what you are going through and I wish you well.

4theloveofmysis's picture
4theloveofmysis
Posts: 248
Joined: Apr 2011

Im sorry, I just dont know what else to said. GMB4 sucks...and there isnt anything we can do about it. Its heartbreaking. One minute I would think my sister was ok,and the next,Im wondering why she did something she did. It was so hard because she was so bright that she could fool someone that didnt know her. She continued to try to take care of things. She paid bills more that once and didnt pay others. She was a very in control person, and it was unbearable to watch this happen to her.
I remember her sitting in her hospital bed with a bag full of bills and making phone calls and trying to figure out what needed to be paid.Getting upset because she was late on something, my sister was never late on anything before. Im crying inside because I couldnt just tell her what to do because Im the little sister and I didnt want her to feel bad. I still remember the look in her eyes when she handed me the bills to take home and pay.My heart was bleeding for her.
I know that when we went to radiation there was a social worker that worked with her to get things in order. Maybe you could start with her social worker and they could hook you up with some resources. Help you with a plan.
Take care
Brenda

DaltonFiske
Posts: 4
Joined: May 2012

I'm so sorry to hear about your troubles. All of these family members need to be brought in the loop, and both you and her need a support network. It's too much to handle all alone, I'm sure your mom wouldn't want that for you. Reach out, get help, and try and keep some kind of balance in your life. All the best of luck, with all my heart.

sippican
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2010

yes, we have had the same experience; my husband SEEMS like he is ok but he was constantly missing payments and eventually I found out we were in foreclosure. I have had to step in and take control and even had to declare bankruptcy myself to protect my life insurance from our mortgage lenders. He still has a hard time with me running the show, paying bills etc. (and I will admit it is not my forte) But with his memory and brain processes he cannot remember to take care of things. Please do get power of attorney and make sure your mother's affairs are all in order to avoid probate court and issues regarding end of life, even if she lives several more years you will both have peace of mind knowing things are in place. Is there a supportive services dept. at your hospital or palliative care?-perhaps they can refer you to extra support, we have a "brain buddies" meeting once a month that puts people together facing the same issues..... Best of luck, my heart goes out to you, this is not easy.

Bennette
Posts: 65
Joined: Mar 2012

Hello! I am the caregiver for my 70 yr old mother who has kidney cancer with brain mets. I have found that the best way to handle this "role reversal" is allow your mom to help out, if she can't do something totally on her own. My mom helps me with dinner, rather than doing it on her own or if your mom is capable of cooking something and just forgets about it - you can try getting her in the habit of using a clip on timer. She would set it when she starts cooking something and then clip it to herself, that way if she walks away it will go off and remind her. My mom only uses the microwave to warm things up, anything else and she just helps me with food prep, stirring, etc.

I have found the easiest way to handle my mom is to have plenty of pre-set up activities so she always has something she can just go do. We have a 500 piece puzzle on one table, her easel and paints set up in an another area, her computer in her room and today we are setting up her sewing machine. I find her attention span is short, plus since she has difficulty thinking, sometimes she just gets frustrated with one thing and needs to move onto something else. Today she is writing names on old photos so the rest of us will know who the people are. The important thing is to give her some independence in the things that she can do on her on or with things she is capable of helping with.

Also, in regards to taking care of herself. Baby steps - one thing at a time. I find that my mom looses her train of thought or gets tired and so just goes and lays down. So I start her off hours before we need to leave and give her one thing to do. Example: I set up everything she needs in the shower and then have her take a shower. Then I go find her when she should be done and give her another thing to do, like clean your dentures, then get dressed, fix your hair, etc. One item at a time and she does well with this. I also always ask her if she needs help with anything I have told her to do, she usually says no, but it reconfirms that she is going to do that thing herself.

I handle her bills and accounts, but they are still in her name, we discussed it and she agreed it was better for me to handle it so she didn't make a mistake in the math or forget to pay something that needed to be paid. So I do it for her, but I always tell her what I did (if I schedule a payment on line) or I have her sign her checks and I send them. This way she always knows what is going on and if she wants to buy something or treat for lunch, she has an idea of what she has (from me keeping her informed) or she just asks if there is enough to pay for whatever it is.

As for giving things away - we have talked about this after the first time I noticed her doing this, which I think comes from the fact that she has a condition which will end up taking her life. I convinced her that it would be best to write down what she wants to give away and to whom, this way she will not accidentally promise the same thing to two different people and this way she can refer back to it and make changes if she decides to and that we will wait and let people know when we get closer to that stage and it will be easy, because she has a list. You can do this in a journal or a notebook.

I know it is hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and it may change from time to time, depending on her treatments and reactions to them. So what works today may not work in 2 weeks - so relax and be flexible, always thinking how can I make this easier on myself and on her. That is how I made it through the initial rough spots.

I wish you the best and if you need to talk or need more specific ideas, don't hesitate to ask. I think it was an eaier transition for me because I care for my almost 4 year old grandson during the day M - F, so I used the same tactics I use with him, on my mom and it worked. All 3 of us make lunch together and sometimes the two of them play a game together or paint together. She is pretty good at helping him learn to draw and practicing writing his numbers and letters. So, you just need to find things your mom is good at doing and encourage her to do those things and to help you out with other things.

I think it is important to remember, no one wants to feel useless or helpless, so figure out how to give her things to do that make her feel needed and wanted.

Hope some of this helps.

Bennette

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