Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feeling very alone

Over a year ago, when Mum started to get noticeably worse and need me to be at her house for hours every day, my brother was still in occasional contact with her.

He's never bothered with her much. He doesn't send her a card on her birthday, mothers' day or Christmas. He doesn't ring her up. She has always had to ring him. I don't know what his problem is with her, although he did admit once that during his child custody case, he didn't like the evidence Mum gave that my former sister in law was not a bad mother. Mum said she'd never kick someone when they're down and my sister in law had been suffering from a nervous condition.

So Mum got worse and she would tell my brother conflicting things on the phone. He took this to be 'lying' and began to dislike her. I think he decided she was turning into a 'liar' in her old age. For example, I was there once sitting in the lounge room as Mum was talking to him. He asked her if I was there. She said no. Then, a minute later, she called out to ask me something. He said, "Stop lying Mum, she is there," and hung up on her. She just hadn't remembered that I was in the house.

I have never understood why my brother won't talk to me. I don't recall ever having done anything wrong. I would take Mum to his house several hundred kms away 5-10 times every year so she could visit him, but he'd never say a word to me. I learnt to live with it.

In December Mum suffered a blackout on a plane coming home. She was taken to hospital in Sydney. She wasn't conscious. I thought she was dying. I called my brother and asked him to come. I even offered to transfer money for petrol to him so he could afford to drive the four hours to Sydney.

My brother phoned the hospital to inquire about her and they put Mum on the phone. She was by then conscious again. It's thought she suffered a seizure, something that's common in people with dementia. He asked her how she was. She said she was fine. She said, "I'm going home now, the doctor is discharging me. Don't worry, there's nothing wrong with me." He asked if she'd been unconscious. She said no. She had no idea where she was or what was happening so nothing she said was true, but he believed it.

He got his daughter to drive to Sydney instead with a view to taking Mum away from me permanently, since I was making up stories about her being sick when she wasn't. By the time she got there, Mum was sitting up in bed drinking tea. She'd been hallucinating though, and nurses had found her wandering in a corridor as she'd got lost, but my niece didn't know this.

Mum was released from hospital the next day and my niece told me she'd take Mum to my brother's place for a couple of days' break. I found this a bit unusual as he hadn't wanted her staying there ever before, but I wasn't suspicious. I let her go, though she was reluctant, not wanting to leave her cat.

As soon as she got to my brother's place, all contact with me was cut off. My niece, when I rang to inquire about Mum, said, "You are a liar and I'm not talking to you ever again." My brother and his de facto wife just hung up the phone on me as soon as they answered. I didn't know what the hell was going on.

Over the next few days I spoke to Mum quite a few times on her mobile phone. She can still use it, which is great. I have programmed it so that she only has to press down number 3 to get me, or 2 to get my daughter, or 4 for my son.

Mum had been taken to the bank to inquire how much money was in there and to get statements. As soon as I heard this, I went online to her account and transferred $3000 to another of her accounts, inaccessible by keycard, for safety. Sure enough, my de facto sister in law tried to withdraw that money, then sent me an angry email when she couldn't get the money out. She said she needed that money for Mum's 'board and lodgings'. She said I had 'stolen' the $3000.

My niece wrote on Facebook, for all my friends and other family members to see, that I was a liar and a thief and had taken $3000 from my mother.

Next Mum told me she was being taken for a brain scan. I rang my brother again to find out why. He hung up on me.

Mum couldn't remember why she was having a brain scan, so it was no use asking her. I was very alarmed by this time. She was being financially abused and taken for unnecessary tests and doctors' appointments. She said to me over and over, "I just want to go home to my house and my cat. Please come and get me."

Emails to my brother's house asking when I could collect her got no response.

I discussed the problem with several family members and Mum's friends and they all said I must drive to my brother's country town, go to the local police and ask them to help me get her back.

So this is what happened. I got Mum back home. She was very glad to be home.

I thought that would be the end of it, as my brother had no interest in Mum and had barely ever lifted a finger to help her with anything.

But he turned up at her house unannounced a few days later with his de facto wife. I had arrived to do my day's work at Mum's place and he was there. He was shouting and being nasty, telling her I was after her money and telling people lies that she had dementia. I asked him to leave. I said, "I have Guardianship and I won't have you talking to Mum like this. I want you to go."

He then assaulted me and left. I called the police and an Apprehend Violence Order was issued. What a terrible way for things to turn out. I had hoped for help from my brother with Mum's problems and this is what happened.

My brother notified police he would not accept the AVO and would contest it in court. So this happened on Monday.

It was terrible. I had to give evidence. I didn't tell lies, but they did. They had got together and concocted various stories. The magistrate saw no reason for an AVO since my brother stated in court, "I have hated my sister for 30 years and I never want to see her again, so I won't be any problem to her in the future." The magistrate accepted this.

How horrible to hear in court that your brother has hated you for 30 years.

He also said that I was telling lies that Mum has dementia. He said he had taken her to his doctor, who tested her and found no sign of dementia. He'd then got a brain scan done, which showed no sign of a problem. He told the court I was inventing the dementia in order to get control of Mum's assets.

My de facto sister in law stated I stole $3000 from Mum. The magistrate said he was going to ignore that evidence as he was not in any position to make a decision on what happened to the $3000.

They both said terrible things about me. They told dreadful lies. I didn't care that there's no longer an AVO, but I didn't like hearing those things said.

So now I am on my own. I do have my 22 year old son living with me, so that's a bit of a help. My daughter is too far away to help.

I have lost my eldest niece, I will never see my brother again (probably a good thing) and I am on my own as far as caring for Mum.

I don't understand why any of this happened. Why would my brother disbelieve me when I said Mum has problems with her memory and behaviour? I know she always managed to pull herself together and act normally in his presence.

I think he knows something is wrong and he doesn't want anything to do with the situation. He doesn't want to see Mum go downhill and so he's made up a reason never to see her or me again. He has not contacted her in six months and has changed his phone numbers so she can't ring him.

She cries all the time about it. Her grand daughter hates her too and calls her a liar as well as me. Mum has a great grandchild on the way that she will never see.

I have heard these kinds of things happen in many families after a person has been found to have dementia.

The magistrate was good in his summing up of the case. He began by saying positive things about me. He said, "It is plain to see that the defendant's mother is in need of assistance. In my experience, when an elderly person suffers from dementia, the burden is placed on the shoulders of one person, and in this case that person is the defendant's sister. It is clear to me that the defendant has done nothing for his mother in recent years."

He said other things, too, that supported me, but at the end he said that since my brother hates me and will never see me again and never intends to visit the town to visit his mother either, there is no point in having an Apprehend Violence Order.

29 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear about this and will be praying for you and your Mum. Glad you had a judge who could accurately read the situation.

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  2. So sorry you've had to experience this with your family. It seems in most families, it's one person that ends up being the 'only caretaker'......a very hard job.
    You're in my thoughts and prayers....

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  3. Dementia/Alzheimers can be such a disease of the moment. Anyone who has random contact with them can be fooled to think nothing is wrong. I think the Alzheimers person tries hard to appear normal to people they hardly see. This has happened with my Mom when her brother comes to visit on occasion.

    Its a shame yes, but you can only worry about one thing at a time. Cut your loss with your brother and his family and concentrate on your Mum and your own. WITHOUT guilt (if you can)

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  4. Louise, please email me at carol.wright@comcast.net
    I commented on your post to alzheimer's Reading room today.

    want to use your isolated situatation as an "example" on another column I am writing, which will have wide circulation and support of very famous author. More later. Prepare for stuff to happen...You'll see...
    Carol Wright

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  5. I am going through something so similar..I really appreciate your taking the time to write this out. It does feel like the world is against you..I've always been the one to be there for my mom but she has spent the past year convincing relatives I'm out to take her money, etc. At first I didn't understand why she would do this, but after doing a little research online she has so many symptoms of dementia it has to be that. I'm unlike you though as I do not have contact..I can't stay sane and have contact with her. It's a shame because she lives just a mile away, and I have two daughters..I don't know how to make the relatives see I'm not trying to harm her or take her things. It really hurts to know they believe this.

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