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Wife unsure of what to do about husband’s dementia

Posted: May 17, 2013 3:13 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Dear Annie: I’ve been married to "Ned" for 25 years, and each year it seems to get worse. When we married, he told me I could do whatever I wanted with the house, but he never said I’d be the one paying.

The house was barely furnished, the bedding had holes in it, the carpet was a mess, and the curtains were stained. I replaced all of that, but Ned wouldn’t contribute a dime.

Aside from being cheap, he never mowed the lawn, raked the leaves or cleaned the garage. He only wanted to fish. I did the maintenance as long as I could, and now we pay someone else to do it.

Here’s the current problem: Ned has dementia and doesn’t realize that his kids have control of his money. His kids have told him he can drive to get his mail. Of course, he then drives all over town. He’s been in three accidents already. I saw a lawyer to get my name removed from the car title in case Ned injures someone. I don’t want to be financially or criminally responsible.

I don’t know how much more I can take. I spend all my money on the upkeep of the house. What can I do? --Second Wife

Dear Wife:

Dear Annie:

Last month, a staff person said, in front of residents and visitors, "Your mom really wants to go to church. She cries about it." I was embarrassed and said, "Fine." By Sunday, however, Mom said she didn’t want to go. This is how it is with her for every occasion. When I do convince her to go, she procrastinates and we arrive late. She then falls asleep and later complains that she didn’t have a good time. Part of this is dementia, but it’s also her personality. She has always been a manipulator.

What Mom really wants is for me to be with her 24/7. She has even suggested that I sleep on the tiled floor next to her bed. The staff members don’t see this. So, please do not humiliate the adult children. This public berating, no matter how sweetly delivered, leaves my mother unhappier than before. If you need to consult with us, please do so in private. – Her Daughter

Dear Daughter:

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmail box@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

All such suggestions should be done privately. Please cut this out of your newspaper (or print it from the website) and bring it to the nursing home where the staff can see it. They mean well, but this is not appropriate.
My mom is in an excellent skilled nursing facility. The staff is great, but they sometimes say things that are not helpful.
Please notify your police department or the Department of Motor Vehicles that Ned has dementia and should not have a driver’s license. Ned’s doctor can help. When Ned is in an accident, do not repair the car unless you need it yourself. Let his kids fix it, or allow the car to become too damaged to run. Talk to your lawyer about Ned’s will. Does he have a health care power of attorney? Who owns the house? Can you stay there if Ned dies? You need to sort this out and see what your options are.

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