Advice on parent suffering dementia

This case is ongoing and hasn’t been finalised yet but comes as a big warning to families who have elderly parents suffering with dementia. Baby boomers of the future also need to be prepared. We are your average family taking care of parents as they age, living in the same town doing gardens and lawns cooking meals and baking, shopping, car rides, appointments lots of hospital visits plus household work as required. Organising meals on wheels, medical blister packs etc. Working part-time I usually popped around in the afternoons.. Trying to explain we were never estranged and accepted declining bad behaviour.

As the years progressed my remaining parent who was both physically and mentally unwell began doing some alarming things, as I had Power of Attorney and was also main carer I went and saw Parent’s lawyer. I was told verbatim that there’s no law against doing stupid things if there were half the population would be in jail. And it’s very, very hard to prove some-one is mentally incompetent. There were no questions asked about Parent or what my concerns were. I never used the word stupid.

I left feeling inadequate and believing this was the law. (Hindsight) I have since learned it’s relatively easy to get a diagnosis and being naive does you no favours. Gradually Parent declined to the extent they were placed in a care home because of some imaginary paranoia my Power of Attorney was cancelled. During all this time Parent, although no longer understanding bank accounts, still had control of theirs. Remember I was told it was impossible to do anything. Because the lawyer wasn’t alarmed and hadn’t contacted me I naively thought, let it be. I had also been informed that Parent was dying. I was still the main carer – this never changed.

Although Parent was often difficult and non responsive we continued to visit weekly bringing treats and baking. This was especially hard on grandchildren. Old friends refused to visit preferring to remember Parent as they had been.

Imagine the shock finding out once Parent was deceased, that while in care, Parent had changed their original will, which had left everything to the siblings but now to charity. Contesting the will we were informed by our new lawyer that it would be an easy matter. There was no written document as to reason, plus parent had vascular dementia.

But no the will was sent to probate 2 and 1/2 years later we are still contesting, mainly because Parent had never been assessed the irony. So far the only person benefiting from all this is the lawyer who as the Trustee seems to be helping themselves to Parent’s bank account for rather large fees. The same lawyer who informed his new clients we were only the stepchildren. Not many people knew this as we were raised from the ages of five and one, I was informed that court is expensive and as there’s not big amounts of money it’s not worth it. I have found this whole procedure morally offensive and I have one question if I had been the spouse would all of this have occurred?

There’s been a lot in the news about mental health and dementia lately absolutely nothing when all this happened. So lawyers, listen to your clients and don’t misinform them.