My mother's husband is abusing here and we need help dealing with it.

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 62 yr moms health is rapidly deteriorating, she is completely bent over at 90 degree due to her scoliosis, she is on lots of medication, she hasn't any teeth and losing weight rapidly. Her husband completely ignores her. She stays on the couch in living room due to the height of the bed his oxygen machine and the living room has a big tv and is closer to bathroom and kitchen. He has been having an affair online with an old classmate and has told my mom he hasn't loved her for 15 years of their 22 year marriage. But he says he doesn't want to divorce her. He has taken her credit cards and laptop and ID and said it was stolen but it's obvious a robber would have taken the whole purse and he doesn't want to make a report. I live in another part of the state and have made recent trips to stay with her and try to help. She had fallen and called him on his cell for 4 hours and he was in the computer room and wouldn't answer and actually complained about her calling. In his emails to his mistress he states that he has control of her money and wedding proposals. He doesn't say hello or goodbye. He doesn't make sure she has food, my sister had been living there for the past 5 years and just recently moved out but still takes her to her Dr. appointments, but we fear for her safety and health. We have closed her bank accounts that she had added his name to and open new ones, replaced her ID and credit cards. She gets disability and has insurance provided by her husband who is military. She is terrified that she will lose health care if she divorces him but I think she may qualify to more assistance without his income being considered. I am going down again to figure what care I get for her by either forcing him to pay for it or filing for divorce. We can't force him to move, we've heard of reverse mortgage but like I said he doesn't want a divorce. I want to make sure that her assets and the family property stays in the family when she passes, so I'm hoping a living trust will be adequate. Any advice or suggestions are appreciated, I've never been married so I am inexperienced. He is still working and stashing away his money and carrying on with this other woman just waiting for my mom to die. My mom is depressed and sometimes over medicated and doesn't have the strength or the mental capacity to debate with him. We have been trying to get her to realize that we are not going to just hang around to see her get worse and worse because she isn't being cared for. Help.....


Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of AgingParents.com.

The situation you describe appears to be elder abuse by your mom's spouse. You should not wait any longer to report it to the adult protective services in your area. It is dangerous for your mom. The most upsetting part of what you wrote is that she fell and he ignored her for hours, and complained that she called him, and that she may not have enough food. I would make every effort to get your mother out of the house as soon as possible. Your worries about a trust, her insurance and all other details are secondary to the obvious urgent need to protect your mother from harm. Please get her away from the abuse if there is any way you can move her.

You will need to seek the advice of an elder law attorney to discuss the possibilities for your mom qualifying for Medicaid without her husband's insurance. I would also seek the advice of a family law attorney to determine what options, including divorce, will best protect your mom from this dangerous situation. If you don't want "to hang around to see her get worse and worse" take immediate steps to change things. It's up to you, not your mom. She is too debilitated by her illnesses and depression to protect herself.


Community Answers

Vkggrlz answered...

I did make a report and the worker came out and said it was just a bad marriage and she needs to decide whether or not she want to stay in the marriage the way it is or whatever. The last time I was down there I stayed 5 weeks just taking care of her trying to get the house cleaned and feeding and bathing her getting her bank cards back. She was doing real well. I live 3 hours away as soon as I left she took a turn for the worse and her legs swelled and I had a friend go there and take her to the hospital. My mom didn't want an ambulance. They kept her for a few days and then sent someone to her house when she went home and they have been coming a couple times a week. I've given my notice and putting my belongings in storage and am going down to figure out her care. I just want her assets such as the house possibly used for her care. She doesn't want to move, the trust and insurance and such I thought could be used for her health care. I plan on contacting lawyers and such. I was just hoping there was more information before I pay for an attorney and I want to educate myself as much as possibly regarding options and laws. Thanks