Another thing to worry about

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Nell, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    My dad died recently and since then my brother has been regularly (weekly) asking my Mum (with AD) for money. He has a drug and alcohol problem (life long) and is very manipulative. All his life he has been Mum's favourite child and she will not hear a word against him. This is fair enough, but he tells her anything she wants to hear (such as "I hardly touch a drop" or "I'm not taking drugs now") and naturally she believes him. Like most (all?) addicts he lies constantly and without compunction.

    My Mum and Dad have supported him to a very large extent throughout his adult life (he is 53) but when Dad was alive, Dad would "put the brakes on" a bit. Now he isn't around, my brother is (not to put too fine a point on things) "conning" my Mum out of her money. (I estimate about $A1500 in six weeks.)

    He has complained to Mum that I will know she is giving him money (!!!) because I handle all her bills. She told him not to worry about that because "it is her money". I have POA and enduring guardianship but I have tried very very hard to make Mum feel I'm only there to help, not to take over. This has worked well until now.

    Now I face the unpalatable issue of insisting that, as POA, I take over her finances completely and thereby protect her from my brother's depradations. Apart from the fact that she cannot possibly afford the money (at this rate it would amount to about $A13, 000 a year (approx. eight and one half thousand english pounds), I'm also concerned that she doesn't remember she has (very recently) given him money. She told me this week "I gave him some money for his birthday". When I said "Well, you gave him some money for his birthday last week too", she couldn't remember it.

    For the first time in her whole life (she is 84) Mum is in a comfortable position financially. As anyone can see, this won't last long if my brother is allowed continual access to her funds. She says (and rightly so) "It's my money", but I truly believe she is not acting in her own best interests.

    It is complicated by the fact that all four of her children (including me) inherit equally on her death. My sisters and I really believe my Mum should do as she likes with her money and we DON'T want her to think we are just trying to protect our inheritance. To some extent this is true, but we also recognise that giving large sums of money to an addict is only making his addictions more dangerous for him.

    I am very conflicted by feeling (on the one hand) that Mum should be free to spend her money any way she wishes; on the other hand resenting like anything that my brother is (yet again) benefitting in ways that will leave me and my sisters with nothing. This seems very mercenary to me at times, yet at other times I feel it is very unfair for him to get EVERYTHING - especially after the thousands and thousands of dollars Mum and Dad have already given him / spent on him over the last 35 years.:(

    I am SO angry with my brother because I can see that my relationship with Mum will be severely damaged if I enforce the POA. I am the major caregiver and am supported by my sisters (thank goodness!) but I really DO NOT need this added burden. I'm still grieving deeply for Dad (it is only 6 weeks since his death).

    Have any other TPers faced similar situations, and if so, how did you handle them?? I know what I have to do, but I would very much appreciate your words of wisdom.
    Thanks, Nell
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Sorry Nell, I can`t offer any comparative advice but really do sympathize with you and your sisters.

    All I can suggest is you tell your mother she`ll have nothing left for her old age, if she keeps giving your brother so much money.

    I`m not being flippant, but it just might help your mother realize the pot is not bottomless.

    I hope you get it sorted.
  3. daughter

    daughter Registered User

    Mar 16, 2005
    Off the wall idea?

    Hi Nell,

    This is a tough one. I don't know what your relationship with your brother is like but is there any chance of actually talking to him about this? Assuming you could arrange a time/location to meet him and discuss. Do you believe he knows the extent of your Mum's condition? What would he do if you were to confront him with the truth - pour out your feelings about your Dad and Mum to him, (assuming you would even want to do this). Tell him how you believe you will have to take over your Mum's finances very soon because she just cannot manage by herself - also about how you worry about his health - would he respond with any kind of compassion and understanding and resolve to get some help for himself?

    Perhaps I already know the answer, so sorry if I've said anything that does not apply - the situation is probably much too complex for this to succeed, but it was just a wild thought. Gosh Nell, you really don't need all this on top of everything else. {{Hugs}}
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Having some (family) experience with addicts, I think it's unlikely that confronting your brother regarding your Mother's inability to continually fund him will be met with any permanent change in behaviour (as I suspect you're already aware). I don't know how the Australian system works, but I suspect that if you DIDN"T try to stop his "attacks" on your Mother's estate, you'd be in trouble. It's not going to be pleasant for any of you, but I think you'll have to remove your Mother's ability to keep handing over the cash. The only consolation is that once the major runctions about it are over, your mother will probably not remember them (although I realise that he's not going to give up his attempts). Prepare yourself for items of value to "disappear" when you do this.

  5. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Well, it must be the night for wild thoughts …. So I’ll share mine….

    I (maybe naively) believe that mums, being mums, want the best for their children…. So, on the basis of my naivety I would have to say that if your mum truly understood that she was ‘feeding’ her son’s addiction she would be horrified… perhaps if she knew or thought she was providing funds for ‘rehab’ it might be a different story …..(for her and you and your sisters).

    Following on that train of thought (Karen’s logic, sorry) whilst acting as POA/EPA (as I understand it in the UK) means acting in best financial interests for the ‘donor’) that at times, in my personal view, becomes interwoven with acting (more holistically) in a mum’s (or dad’s or partner’s) best interests to act in the best interests of their child(ren). So, hypothetically, if my mum’s finances could pay for say, a life saving operation for my brother, where no other funds were available, would I not be justified in using her resources in order to preserve his life for the sake of my mother…..???? Were I to buy him a bottle of whisky a day and claim it as ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses wouldn’t that be viewed somewhat differently?

    My gut feeling is that as enforcing POA you are not only protecting your mother (which is its primary purpose?) but also doing the best for your brother …. and yes, he will probably hate you for it (sorry, I am stereotyping ‘addicts’) whether that means withdrawing the funds he is ‘conning’ from your mum to feed his habits… and /or ideally making him face the responsibilities he should for his own welfare….. and in both cases, as I see it, you are acting in compassion for his as well as your mother’s well-being.

    The question of inheritance is a horrid one - I know when I last spoke to mum’s solicitor I said I felt like by acting in her best interests it could be seen that I am potentially looking after mine - (assuming I don’t actually pre-decease!) but who’s to know there will be any inheritance anyway if care and nursing fees come into play? One of the most horrid aspects of this disease - to me - is the ethical and emotional dilemmas we are forced to face on top of the practical caring. You certainly have more than your fair share.

    Strikes me Nell, you are acting as ‘mum and dad’ - especially for your brother - when you are grieving in different ways for your own mum and dad.

    Do you have professional advice (including about your brother) as well as support here?

    Much love, Karen, x
  6. alfjess

    alfjess Registered User

    Jul 10, 2006
    south lanarkshire
    Hi Nell
    I can sympathise with you. I have a brother (and his wife) who are former?? :rolleyes: addicts.
    All they appear to be interested in is their inheritance and immediate money. I have POA, which my brother, a couple of years ago agreed, and Mum and Dad granted.
    Now everything I try to do for Mum and Dad is critisized and if I spend money on them, it causes an argument and stress I can do without.
    When Mum and Dad lived in their own home in Glasgow, my brother visited everyday and I know that whenever he needed money, they gave it to him, (supposedly a loan) but I had no way of knowing if it was ever paid back probably not, they didn't remember and because they have always supported him, wouldn't complain anyway .
    Now of course, as my parents are living next to me, the access to the same "bank" is not as easy or undetected, so I think, Brother and Wife are trying to persuade my parents to go back to Glasgow. Everytime they visit Mum and Dad are more unsettled and anxious.
    I asked my brother to bring Mum's jewellery, so that she could wear it, instead of all the cheap C--p, with stones missing, dress stuff, she was wearing, only to be told, NO, she would only lose it and he had hidden it!!!
    Sorry, I don't have any answers for you, but I do know, you will not be doing your brother any good by giving him easy access to Mum's money.
    Again sorry to have put my problems on your thread, but I recognised a bit of similarity in our situations
    Hope you get it sorted
  7. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi Nell

    You are having a bad time of it. I think you have had some good advice from our friends here.

    Personally I think it comes down to exercising 'tough love' to protect your mum, and to a degree your brother in putting a stop to the finances to feed his addiction.

    Good luck and best wishes
  8. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    Thank you so much to all of you. I agonised about putting something so personal on TP but finally decided that TPers are the only people who really understand and I knew I could count on some good advice. And you have all proved this to be true, so thanks so much!

    Grannie G: you are so right! The pot is certainly not bottomless! Unfortunately, the fact that Mum is actually better off now than at any previous time in her life (it is so sad that she can't enjoy it) coupled with the AD means her understanding of her resources is very limited.

    Hazel: think it is a good idea to talk to my brother - and I will have todoit. I'm hoping mysisters will agree to a "family conference" so it doesn't seem so much like me being the ogre! My youngest sister (the family peacemaker!) has the best relationship with him. My other sister and I are both so "over" him (!! as the young ones say!) because of the constant problems he has caused. Telling him we are worried about his health makes good sense, but sadly I think he is in such denial about his addictions that he won't agree that he needs to be protected from them.

    Jennifer: I think you are absolutely right. You say you have some experience of addicts so you can see quite clearly what might happen. I hadn't thought about objects of value, but you are quite right - these will start disappearing if he has no access to cash. I feel sick to think my own brother might steal from our Mum but I know it is very much on the cards.

    Karen: I really appreciated what you said. Yes, the decision making involved as well as the caring is a huge burden - perhaps when we are least able to find the strengthg to do it. I totally agree with you and Jennifer that I MUST act to prevent him accessing the money for my brother's sake as well as Mum's. I guess I just feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that it will arouse all sorts of ill feeling and arguments at a time when we can all do without them. (Well, let's face it - we can always do without them! I guess I just mean I feel less able to cope at present.)

    Alfjess: I often feel a connection to you when I've read your posts - and never more so than with this one. I'm so sorry you have a similar experience to mine - but it is reassuring to me to know I'm not the only one.

    Cate: thanks for your "tough love" suggestion - I think if I look on it in this light I'll be better able to deal with it all. As Karen says, the question of inheritance is an ugly one - tends to cloud your judgement. It helps to know that I'm acting in everyone's best interests because it can feel a bit like I',m just protecting my own.

    Above all I really appreciate the caring and the support you have all offered.
    God Bless the TPers!
    Thanks from the bottom of my heart! Nell
  9. nicetotalk

    nicetotalk Registered User

    Sep 22, 2006
    Hi nell

    sorry to hear what you have had to deal with it that was me i would just go ahead and deal with your mums finances yourself. Its just awful he is takeing advantage of your mum. If that was me i would do all i can to make sure he does not get a penny to feed his addiction. This is so unfair on your mother as she probably does not remember giving him the money. He is 53 not 15 time he stood on his own to feet. Tough love iam afraid its the only thing that works sometimes.

  10. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I just wanted to say that I didn't necessarily mean that your brother would steal from your Mother (although it's possible), but if she doesn't actually have cash to give him she may well give things to him - supporting a child (even a child over 50) is a hard habit to break.

  11. alfjess

    alfjess Registered User

    Jul 10, 2006
    south lanarkshire
    Hi Nell
    Although we are in different parts of the world, I have also felt the connection. Maybe we have a lot of similarities in our situation.
    Don't let your brother bleed your Mother of what little she has. She can't make a sensible decision, so you have to make it for her.
    Best of luck, it won't be easy, but you will be doing the right thing
  12. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    I would make very very sure that whoever is to administer the will knows exactly how much he has already conned out of your Mother and ensure that any inheritance is MINUS that amount

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