Businesses, government agencies, doctors: DEMENTIA IS COMING! Get your shit together. I'm tired of doing your work for you.
Oh, and about restrooms...
I'm in a venting mood. And I don't mean vacuuming the cat hair out of the vents kind of venting. I'm talking volcano'ing Kilauea-style my boiling frustration with businesses, government entities, and medical professionals who are completely unprepared to serve their clients with severe cognitive impairment.
If you are a power of attorney for your care partner, you know it's never simple to get business done on their behalf. The level of difficulty varies depending on the business/organization. For instance, Oregon DMV is actually pretty easy and super helpful on procedural questions (I sold one of Mom's vehicles for her a couple months ago). On the other hand, California DMV is nothing but roadblocks and "can't-be-done" bullshit (I sold the vehicle to a guy in California).
I don't mind assisting a helpful person who is trying to pull their head out of their ass when it comes to processing a death certificate (Dad's), or power of attorney (Mom's); I've been doing this for a couple years now so I know some of the tricks they need on their end to move the task along.
However, when some idiot is putting up mountains of resistance requiring me to forcibly plunge elbow deep into their rectum in an attempt to yank their intellect out of their buttocks so we can "for-the-love-of-gawd!" move forward, I get a tad pissed off. I had better things to do that day, you know.
In the last few months, I've had three separate legal teams initially deny Mom's POA because it doesn't literally say "durable." I finally contacted Mom's lawyer who told us the exact verbiage, on the exact page, that makes it a durable POA and passed it on to the lazy f%@ks. That shut 'em up. I had someone else tell me to "just get a new POA done that's says durable." I was speechless for a moment then schooled them on how utterly impossible that would be because Mom can no longer legally make her own decisions, how no lawyer in the world would deem her legally competent, and if that wasn't enough reasoning for them, why should Mom pay a lawyer to draw up a new POA just because their legal team didn't take the time to read the first one?
Despite repeatedly telling financial officers and government workers that my mother can no longer sign her name WHICH IS WHY SHE HAS A POA SO I CAN DO IT FOR HER, I had a loan officer come back and insist we supply a letter from Mom, signed by her, explaining a two-year old transaction.
I finally just took a screen shot of her signature from a few years ago, pasted it into a word document, and sent it along. It was clearly a screen shot of a signature from a few years ago, and yet, they accepted it over abiding by the terms of a durable power of attorney.
Even Mom's doctor somtimes fails her.
Mom's health care team has been pretty terrific (except for the nurse who insists on directing the pre-visit health survey questions at Mom even though we tell her each time Mom literally can't answer the questions, so stop embarrassing her and just ask us for the answers). But recently a financial institution was insisting on a letter from Mom's doctor, saying that she was competent at the time she signed the POA. The request itself got my panties in a bunch because it meant these assjacks were making two assumptions: 1) while my mother was still cognizant and able to make legal decisions she just didn't (Because... what? She was getting her hair done that day? She was just lazy? Women are too stupid to plan for their futures?). And 2) Mom's lawyer must of been so unethical he drew up a POA for someone who could no longer make legal decisions for herself, then convinced a notary and witnesses to go along with the plan.
As this was the fourth such illogical and unnecessary request I had received from them, I was furious, but Mom's doctor had supplied notes to us in the past to help us jump through other institution's hoops so I made the request. She came back saying since Mom was diagnosed two years prior to creating her POA, she could not verify Mom's mental competency. I couldn't believe it. This doctor has known Mom for her entire dementia diagnosis, also knew my father, and now my sister and I as a family with Mom's best interest at heart. All I was trying to do was get a loan refinanced to a better interest rate for my mother and her doctor joined the growing list of people who jumped at the chance to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Listen up businesses, government agencies, and medical offices: My mother is just the tip of the iceberg. Dementia is coming, so you better get your shit together. The baby boomers have only just begun their stampede to your door.
If you do not educate your legal teams, customer service reps, doctors and nurses on how to serve your clients with severe cognitive impairment, and those legally bound to assist them, you are missing out on a quickly multiplying swath of the population who are still consumers, citizens, and patients. Believe me, my mother can no longer fill out a Yelp review, but me and The Other Girl can. I can also write blog posts relaying positive and negative experiences, so others dealing with dementia know who's got an "absolutely not" attitude and who's going to make an already challenging life easier.
p.s. I found an excellent article: Preventing Challenges to Your Financial Power of Attorney - all things I wished Dad, Mom, and I would have known when they were drawing up their legal docs. It's a quick read and I recommend adopting every single suggestion in it if there is still time to do so.
Okay, and about them bathrooms...
So, since I'm just vomitting grievances willy nilly, and you've stuck with me this far, can I just say how frustrating automatic flush toilets, electrical sensor water faucets/soap dispensers, and hand blower-only bathrooms are for dementia people and their care partners? Is anyone else having problems with these eco-friendly, dementia-disastrous restrooms? I don't know what it is about auto-flush toilets but they seem to flush 100 decibels louder than normal toilets, startling and distracting Mom to a degree that I can't get her to focus on getting her pants back up.
Getting the soap from a sensor soap dispenser on her hands is like performing a Marx Brother's routine; outsmarted by the dispenser that spits it's contents out every time Mom's hands have pulled away from it (Groucho), all I can do is crack jokes while secretly fuming (Chico), while Mom, mute with puzzlement begins placing her hands everywhere but under the soap dispenser (Harpo).
She won't put her hands in water she can't see, so I will trip the faucet sensor, then have to pull her hands quickly into the water, only to have the water turn off because nothing was tripping the sensor for those few seconds, then start the process all over again. If there's no paper towel option, I've got to do the same thing with the hand blower, which also feels cold on her wet hands (always cold to start with) and makes her shiver, complain, and finally just wipe her hands on her pants. Ten minutes after we leave the restroom I am still explaining to her why her pants are damp.
Alright, enough spitting and kicking from me. What gets your knickers in a twist? As you can tell from my off-the-deep-end diatribe, no complaint is too petty!