My father, who suffers from dementia, recently crashed and totaled his car. The good news: he only caused property damage and didn't kill or injure anyone. He's a bit bruised and scratched, but relatively unhurt.
The bad news: My parents still owe $7,000 on the car and it's totaled. Additionally, I'm worried that the insurance company will deny the claim based upon the fact that his physical impairments were never disclosed. I'm also concerned that Medicare won't cover all or some of his hospital stay.
Although my parents won't admit it, they are looking for a bail-out from my sister and me. And I'm not just talking about a financial bail-out. During this ordeal, my mother expected my sister, who now lives in a neighboring city (approx. 45 minutes away), to serve as her personal chauffeur, since she refuses to rent a car to drive herself around. My sister, as a result, has had to spend entire weekends and time off of work to deal with my parents' affairs, including, dealing with doctors, insurance company, the impound lot, etc.
When my sister and I asked my mother why she would allow my father to drive in his condition, she said he looked forward to driving on the weekends. He would have fought her attempts to prevent him from driving. She said he was beyond her control.
As you can expect, my mother does not take to my sister and my questioning her very kindly. She is very defensive and mired in self-pity. She refuses to take any responsibility for any of her failures, her lack of initiative, her lack of motivation, etc. A prime example of one of my mother's failure includes her refusal to learn to speak or write English fluently although she's lived in this country for 40 years. She blames this failure on her "sacrifice" for her family. She also blames her parents for "forcing" her to marry a "loser" like my dad. (I just find it difficult to believe that if she totally despised my father back then as she claims, she would have had two children with the man. But I digress.)
My mother complained of my father's lack of self-reliance. When I pointed our her hypocrisy, her emotions ran the gamut of anger, self-pity, defeatist and accusatory. Some of the things she said included:
- "Oh, now I see you and your sister just want your dad and me dead!"
- "Fine! I won't EVER ask you or your sister for help!" (I rolled my eyes with this one.)
- "I've done NOTHING wrong in my life to deserve this!"
- "I've sacrificed EVERYTHING for you girls and this is how you treat me!"
- "I've done EVERYTHING to not burden you girls, and there's NOTHING more I can do."
- "Don't you see that being a burden to you girls is tearing me apart?"
- "I just pray for death everyday!"
My sister and I agreed that we are going to make our father voluntarily relinquish his driver's license. He will no longer be allowed to drive. Hopefully, with this accident, my father will agree without a fuss.
My mother now claims she is "too scared" to drive. My parents live in the desert, which means that during the summer, it would be very difficult for them to get around without a car. I told my mother, "If you choose not to drive, that's your decision. But you shouldn't expect my sister to chauffeur you around." (Of course, my mother took offense to this.)
In the event that my parents' auto insurance denies their claim, my sister and I agreed that we will not pay off their car loan or any judgment from the property damage. My parents will need to file for bankruptcy and have their credit cards taken away.
I am also considering exercising my power of attorney and taking control of my parents' finances. For once, perhaps, my sister and I can force them to live within their means.
I'll be traveling back-and-forth to my parents' and I will be taking a break while my sister and I sort through my parents' affairs.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.