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My Dad remarried about 7 years after our Mom passed away in 1987. Little by little, his wife separated him from me and my sisters. But there was little she could do to break the strong family ties we shared. That is, util my Dad started to suffer the effects of dementia. They have lived in Florida for several years. My Dad is 86 now. Beginning about 3 years ago, angered by us taking our Dad back to Massachusetts to care for him (he was unable to live on his own and take care of his basic needs) while she was in the hospital for several months, recuperating and rehabbing from a stroke, she completely cut him off from us once she was home, and he returned to Florida. Our Dad would have never stood for this type of treatment before his dementia took hold of his mind. Now, he feels helpless to do anything about the situation. He has been completely manipulated and emotionally and psychologically abused . Our phone calls are blocked and visits are not allowed in their gated community. We have hired lawyers, filed complaints, written letters. All to no avail. My Dad appears to those who do not see him frequently, to be capable of making his own decisions. But this is not so. Only those who know his nature and his history would be able to see the effect this manipulation has had on him. We fear that we will not know if something happens to him. We need for there to be some law in place that says we have a right to visit our Dad and spend time with him . I’m hoping that through this foundation, we will soon have that right.
My story began at the beginning of 1985 when my grandpa William W. Shields died. During the early 80’s, my grandparents made the fatal mistake of making my uncle (Kenneth W. Shields) the ‘guardian’ of their affairs. That error came back to bite my grandma later on in her life.
When my grandpa passed in 1985, he made sure that everything was updated and fixed in their house so that my grandma would have years of comfort in a home that they owned in Kansas City, MO since 1941. That wasn’t meant to be though, as after my grandpa’s passing, my uncle did little (if ANYTHING) to keep my grandma in a home that was fully repaired, as he allowed my grandma to use her bathroom sink to take baths with, as he didn’t want to get her bathtub repaired. Along with that, he replaced the locks on her front and back entrances with three different kinds of locks after a freak robbery, so that she had to use THREE different keys to get in and out of the place! He also kept promising to get her enclosed porch repaired, along with getting her house a new coat of paint, but he always had the excuse that he’d have it done when ‘his people’ got around to it. Funny thing was that ‘his people’ found PLENTY of time to repair a 1979 Toyota Cressida that got totaled from a freak accident my grandma had with the vehicle in 1993, and he kept it in her garage to taunt her, making her think that the accident was her fault, when in reality, she had to get up for an early dental appointment, and she happened to hit a blind spot which temporarily blinded her, making her unable to see the red light at a left turn signal. For the final years of her life, she kept blaming herself that the accident was her fault, and my uncle was ‘nice enough’ to take her to court to get her driver’s license revoked! He also wouldn’t allow me to have someone come and clean her basement, even though it was filled with junk that had no use whatsoever, so it stayed in there cluttering up the place until she passed in 1998.
Besides his lack of concern for keeping up my grandma’s home, my uncle Ken was also EXTREMELY jealous for me helping her out with her many doctors visits, and repairs around the home. If it weren’t for me, a new set of blinds bought by my grandpa in the mid 80’s would still have been sitting under his bed instead of on the windows after I installed them! He was also hellbent on thinking that everything he did was right, as when we questioned him about a light fixture being installed upside down, he went ballistic on me and my mom, thinking we didn’t know anything about home repair! This same man also went nuts about me buying flood lights for my grandma’s outdoor fixtures, even though I got them for half the price that regular stores charged. I also had to get my grandma away from ‘crackpot doctors’ my uncle used for her health, as the eye doctor that removed her cataracts was a quack, as she never could see correctly after the procedure was done, and I finally told her after the last visit to that office that I’d take her to her regular eye doctor of 40 years, but not to that person, and she agreed, which really pissed him off! She also went to a medical doctor who didn’t diagnose her colon cancer correctly, so she had to deal with going to the bathroom constantly for five years without knowing a definitive answer to her health problem – she didn’t know the diagnosis until a month prior to her untimely death with another doctor! I could have killed that man for that! He also didn’t like the fact that I suggested she use non-carbonated checks, as she thought they were easier to use, even though he liked them so he could check up on her spending. He also despised the fact that I helped her get better appliances when she needed them, as well as me and my mom helping her out on a bi-weekly basis with regular chores! His family wasn’t much better to her, as my cousin got married on her birthday without even consulting her about it, invited her sister up for a visit when she told everyone for years that she didn’t get along with her well in person, and finally, my uncle thought she didn’t know about training her pet dogs, and blamed her for their problems instead of doing something to fix them. My cousin also gave my grandma a cat in which he rarely got groomed, therefore, the cat’s feces were hanging from the bottom of its rear fairly often, and she was left cleaning up after the mess most of the time!
The thing that hurt me the most were two phone calls my uncle made to my grandma in which he was literally yelling at her, just because I was there at her home either helping her out, or just spending time with her – you could hear him yelling at her from across the room, almost being able to make out each word that he was saying! I will never forget one of the last words she had to say about him before her untimely passing in 1998, “If he’s the guardian, then what the hell is he guarding me from?”
My grandma’s funeral in June of 1998 was a farce, in that music was played that she would never listen to, she was made up to almost look like a clown, and the person talking about her didn’t know one damn thing about her, as she never knew her in life! My uncle and his family went through her home like a tornado after she passed, and it really made me want to cry to see a home that I loved dearly was being torn apart like that!
Kudos to Kerri Kasem for bringing elder abuse to light – if I knew about that back then, I would have sued to take the guardianship away from my Uncle Ken, and my grandma could have lived a longer (and more healthier) life because of it!
Thank you for proving a forum to vent on things like this Kerri – it’s greatly appreciated!