1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!

dealing with dementia/alzheimer customers

Discussion in 'Personnel' started by Randy88, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,647
    Location:
    iowa
    I have several customers who have early onset alzheimer's symptoms, and a few others who have had a stroke and are now having memory/personality issues.

    These are both customers and friends, whom I've done work for them for decades, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business over the years, not just a few thousands dollars and they are still trying to actively operate their business's.

    All but one over the years have someone to take up the slack for them, a spouse, or in most cases it were son's who I could go to and talk with about the situation I've been dealing with on my end and all were or are very good to work with, most were aware of the situation, but were hesitant to say anything to me and were glad I came to them to talk about the issue and we worked out an arrangement to still do work for them, but have the work preauthorized by someone behind the scenes so the speak, so everyone was aware of what was going on, without embarrassing or undermining the person with memory issues. Never in all the years in business has it been an issue till this year, most in a very short time take care of the problem on their end, either there is someone to take over the operation or changes are made to lessen the responsibility on the one with issues.

    The latest one has me stumped, I went to the wife and son's, and got nowhere with them on the issue, they refused to step up to the plate and do anything period. Its a long story and gets very complicated fast, but the guy in question is abusive to his family, nothing new, I've known for years, we've never has that issue with him on our end, but his family has, he's had a stroke, a fatal one is pending, as in any day, has far more health issues, and now can't remember one minute to the next what he authorized or not, to be paid as of yet has not been an issue, but soon might the way this is going. We've always done things verbally, to write things down, we've tried, but to get a signature it seems is difficult if not impossible, all we can figure out is he's illiterate and can only sign his name from what we've gathered, and that isn't legible to anyone but himself.

    I told his wife and one son, if something isn't worked out, I'm done and will refuse to do anything more for them period. The son I can deal with, he is very good to get along with and knows exactly what's going on and is involved, I'm not sure if he won't step up or just can't yet. The wife begged and pleaded with me to keep talking and working for him and promised I'd be paid for whatever I did, basically she's afraid of him and is fearful if I quit working or dealing with him, he'll take it out on her, but at the same time refused to preauthorize anything or take any of his authority away, I'm not sure she can might be a guess. I'm sure there's plenty I don't know about that's going on within the operation, but at the same time, not sure why they haven't done something about the issue.

    I told her I'm a dirt worker, not a therapist or medical person or marriage counselor, I just see what's wrong and report them to the family, its up to them to do what's needed for him. He shouldn't be driving, should not operate equipment of any sort, should be in a hospital or nursing home that specializes in getting the help and care he needs.

    I've worked with a lot of families over the years, but never one who refused to do anything, any suggestions as to how else to handle this situation or what you'd do if you have to deal with a good customer who's no longer able to run a business and thinks he can.

    Not sure money is the issue on this, but last week I went to look at 40k worth of work,...................the next day he was wondering when I was coming up to look at his projects, he had no clue or knowledge I'd been there the day before and had showed them to me and we discussed them for two hours, and he authorized the work to be done. Two days ago he was wondering when I was coming, but to a complete different farm to do work we've already done a couple years ago, when I corrected him and explained it to him, the discussion went somewhere very strange and I'm not sure if he even understood what I was telling him.

    I'm not sure I want to do anything he authorized, even a portion of it the way this is going.

    Any experience or advice anyone would like to share??
     
    DMiller and td25c like this.
  2. thepumpguysc

    thepumpguysc Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,712
    Occupation:
    Master Inj.Pump rebuilder
    Location:
    Sunny South Carolina
    DAAAAMMM.. That's Horrible.. I feel for ya.. but like you said above>> YOUR NOT a marriage counselor & you run a business..
    WHO's signing the checks? I'd have 1 more run at the son & if nothing is resolved, walk.
    Maybe even start to get "partial" payments?? "I need $$ for parts before I get started"..
    There was 1 fella on here that when he was doing a large, drawn out job, he would get paid on Friday or every other Friday.. just like an employee..
    Look at it this way.. are you willing to put a lean on the equipment, if he does have the "big one" ??
     
    DMiller likes this.
  3. Reccymech

    Reccymech Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Occupation:
    Heavy Diesel Fitter
    Location:
    Australia
    I won’t pretty this up...ya gotta be hard but fair. Your in business to make money not friends.

    I’ll be honest and say I haven’t had my own business, closest is being a supervisor for a National OEM and sending out invoices...then dealing with phone calls regarding having maintenance denied till the invoice is paid.

    I left in the end, couldn’t put up with the tales of woe, be it legit or bullsh1t.

    Probably doesn’t answer your predicament but I reckon you just gotta ‘steel yourself’ for the inevitable to tell ‘em pay up or your withdrawing services.
    Yeah, it sucks.
     
  4. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,647
    Location:
    iowa
    Right now he doesn't owe me anything, I've not done any of the work he's authorized yet, not sure I will as of now, I don't think the issue is money, even if he did pass on while I was working, the work is needed and even the son agree's we'll continue on once he's passed away. I think within his family and business, its got more to do with what legally can be done, I don't think the son can take charge as of yet, but just a guess.

    The major issue is dealing with him, when we did the last job for him, in two days time once we were there, he changed his mind and the job criteria 7 times, mainly due to not being able to remember what he wanted and authorized or what he knew was going on and getting so many things confused together.

    Its sad to see anyone degrees so badly in health and mind over a short time, I don't think its got anywhere to go but downhill.

    I've got other customers who have similar issues and have been steady in decline for over ten years, just this week I've dealt with three, where the family authorizes the work before we start, which is great, I talk to the owner and then the family just so everyone is informed and life seems to work out fine.

    This case is the only one that is different, the owner doesn't want his family to know what he's doing, he just tells them later, if at all, his wife writes the checks, always has and up till now its worked fine.

    I asked the wife and one son is they wanted stuff in writing beforehand and they said no, nothing that might implicate them in knowing anything that he might find, they didn't even want a phone call, they just told me to continue on like nothing's changed..............

    I asked how I was supposed to do that, the answer was simple, do anything I wanted the way I see fit for it to be done and submit the bill just like before??

    Has anyone run into a situation like this before?? I can't imagine anyone running a huge business like this and thinking it'll continue on long term.
     
  5. hosspuller

    hosspuller Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2014
    Messages:
    658
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Best advice is a legal one in your city/state. Legal cost in $40 k of work BEFORE trouble is nothing compared to the legal cost & hassle after the work is done. If owner is incompetent, he can't be bound by a contract, so his signature is worthless.

    The lawyer may suggest the wife (spouses have legal rights an adult child does not) sign a pre-authorization for work up to a certain number. You have the paper, he doesn't see it. But it protects your interests.

    Again … pay for some legal help.
     
    CM1995 and Jeckyl1920 like this.
  6. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    5,072
    Occupation:
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    Location:
    Northwest
    I have two sides to this.

    First thing is in my state, only a doctor or a court can declare someone incompetent. One costs a lot of money and the doctors are loath to be put in that decision. When that happens someone has to be declared a guardian. That means the person is now considered like a juvenile and cannot make their own decisions. I am facing that right now and it is not a comfortable thing to have to deal with. The contrary nature of someone with a can do attitude all their lives comes out in spades. I can understand both the wife and son's reluctance to face up to that.

    As for the work side of the situation I have a client sort of in a similar situation with the memory loss and really an odd assortment of future plans with no set goal for each piece of equipment he wants me to fix. He has never failed to make payment and has been a great customer for decades. The thing that I go on is the equipment will have to be operational, should he suddenly decline or pass, and have to be sold off. Luckily for me I'm not looking at the kind of numbers you are facing. Still I only do one project at a time and wait for payment before taking on the next item. I believe hosspuller has the best suggestion about an attorney even though I loath seeking them out and having to pay them. Probably your best plan is staying on good terms with the wife and son.
     
    DMiller and td25c like this.
  7. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,741
    Location:
    indiana
    Yeah Randy , I had a similar situation with a customer only opposite .

    Family farm that we had worked for years . All kinds of jobs & got along great . :)

    That is when the father was running the operation . The Old Man was & still is sharp as a tack . He's retired & now the son is in charge , well kind of .:eek:

    I get along great with the son but let's just say " he got some different ideas ":confused:

    The boy has made one bad decision after the other for the last 5 years .

    He will not listen or take advice from anyone !

    Isolated himself from friends & neighbors .

    It got to the point we did not take any more jobs with the boy as I did not want to be a part of the madness .

    Don't think he has any substance abuse issues but has issues of some kind?

    It's really gut wrenching to watch someone ya care about go into " self destruct mode " .

    I fear this is his last year to farm . The good news is his Old Man still controls all the farm ground in a Land Trust . At least the boy wont be able to loose the ground .

    My advice Randy ….. Set back and wait for the dust to settle before taking that job .
     
    DMiller and RZucker like this.
  8. hosspuller

    hosspuller Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2014
    Messages:
    658
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Not a lawyer but I read a lot. One doesn't have to be declared incompetent to sign a contract. Anybody (even a kid) can sign a contract... but will it be legally binding? The problem happens when you have a verbal agreement or signed contract for work done, then the court / MD declares the person was mentally incompetent at the time of agreement/signing. You'll have a bit of trouble enforcing the contract for payment. You may be able to put a mechanic's lien on the machines, but you won't get paid until it's sold and it's condition years later may not be worth much.

    Best to avoid the issues altogether. Pay a lawyer for sound advice instead of free internet advice. It's worth what you pay for it :rolleyes:
     
    DMiller likes this.
  9. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,741
    Location:
    indiana
    I generally go with instinct . If the deal stinks pass on it & move on :)

    Randy is getting that funky feeling in his gut about the situation .

    That's Instinct . Part of it comes from experience & some people just naturally have it .

    Survival skill . Reading people & having a third eye in your head .


    Job's have enough issues without adding drama in the mix .

    Randy don't need an attorney for the job . He already knows the danger .

    The family he's looking at working the job for needs an attorney to plan out the estate given the situation with the father . Someone else needs to be in charge .


    Then Randy can proceed if interested .
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
    CM1995 and DMiller like this.
  10. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,647
    Location:
    iowa
    Guys the work needs doing, the owner knows it, the only issues come from the fact, the owner can't remember one minute to the next or one day to the next or how much or how little he's authorized, one day the work will be done, it might not be today or even this year, but it will get done......eventually.

    I don't think the issue of getting paid is even the issue to be concerned with today, the issue is how to deal with someone who's no longer able to make the decisions he's always made, who's still trying his best to do what he's always done, but doing it very poorly compared to how he did it before, and losing control over himself and his mind and is beyond frustrated and taking it out on those closest to him, not sure he's even aware he's doing it and how to NOT complicate the situation and be part of the problem, but rather be part of the solution and the transition that will come. That's the sad summary of how I view it and where I'm at.

    Its hard to keep business separate from personal when it comes to being a part of an operation and watch it grow from a distance, helping and doing the work that allowed it expand and grow and helping them along the way that got them to where they are today...............only to watch it disintegrate and being powerless to stop it or slow it, knowing the bleak outcome the owner is facing near the end of his life.

    You don't do work for anyone year in and year out, many times per year for decades on end not to figure out something about the person or people your working for, it just doesn't happen that way, as they say you know too much about the whole operation.

    I'm not sure how to view a few things, when the wife pleaded with me to continue, should I because I think I know what she might go through if I don't, or she felt I'd do what was right and it would mean one less thing for her to worry or deal with??

    The son said continue on like before, does that mean one less thing for him to deal with today or if its today or next year, I'm going to be doing the work the very same way and its one less thing for him to deal with after the fact, not sure how to view it.

    I just figured once I said something, they'd step up and take it over, but John is right, some are really tough and refuse to give an inch, let alone give up or change, and some when confronted with adversity, do what they do best, hang on no matter what to the only thing they know, in this case, doing what he's always done, its worked before and his rewards were great to him and he can't give it up, its all he's got left.

    No matter how this proceeds, the only thing I can say is, it sucks to watch anyone's life unfold in such a horrific way, let alone be involved, even from the outside, as it happens and no life isn't fair for some who have worked their butts off and made the sacrifice and took the risks only to lose their most vital asset in the end, their mind and their memories, that's the real tragedy in this all, not the money.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  11. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,741
    Location:
    indiana
    Help them figure out an estate plan Randy .

    Have a " Walk & talk " with the mother & son .

    This is about protecting assets .
     
    CM1995 and DMiller like this.
  12. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    2,210
    Location:
    Grass Valley, Ca
    I like the "paid every Friday" idea. Tell them you are changing the terms and you will also need money up front for materials. You can blame it on yourself if need be. Say your finances/bank are tight and you need to keep very short accounts at the moment. Then if the worst happens, all you will be out is a couple days labor and not any materials. You can open up terms again later if the situation stabilizes.
     
  13. AzIron

    AzIron Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2016
    Messages:
    276
    Location:
    Az
    There is no right answer
    But when the the job requirements become a moving target it wont end well they never do with a person that remembers moving the finish line let alone someone who doesn't

    Is the heart ache worth the pay out cause it sounds like getting paid is not going to be the struggle getting the work completed will be cause it's going to change every day so it will end up costing much more

    Just decide were you draw the line to deal with it or walk and if you fell that you can't walk away from it then you definitely need to cause your already to close

    Not an expert but some experience of similar circumstances
     
    DMiller and hosspuller like this.
  14. bam1968

    bam1968 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2014
    Messages:
    259
    Occupation:
    Excavating Contractor
    Location:
    IA
    I don't think Randy needs to worry about the money. If 'push comes to shove' he can put a lean on the ground he did the work on.

    Randy I honestly think they are telling you to go on with the work as you have in the past because it is one less thing they have to deal with. You have worked for them for years and they have faith and trust in you and your work.

    We recently had to deal with an alzheimer situation. He was a longtime owner/ operator that pulled one of our livestock trailers. It's heartbreaking to see a good man and friend deteriorate like he did. We were very lucky that we got him off the road with only a handfull of minor incidents. One thing that I thought was interesting was that his ability actually drive the truck was not affected at all. He just couldn't remember how to get to feedlots and packing houses that he had been to hundreds of times.

    It's just simply heartbreaking!!!!
     
    DMiller and Vetech63 like this.
  15. thepumpguysc

    thepumpguysc Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,712
    Occupation:
    Master Inj.Pump rebuilder
    Location:
    Sunny South Carolina
    How about talking to the "OLD MAN".. "Look BOB, its getting to the point that your memory is failing.. its not YOUR FAULT.. its life.. it happens to everyone.. Remember last moth you told me to fix the IH?? WELL, YOU DID.. & I did it.. How about from now on.. we WRITE this stuff down?? OR I WILL.. You tell me to fix something, I write it down & you put your "X" by it.. how bout that??
    Then after about 4 or 5 times you have to "pull your book out".. he might just come to the realization he's "lost the plot".. ya never know, you just might be solving the problem for the whole family?? Good luck.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  16. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    4,947
    Location:
    WI
    TPG, if he hasn't read for all his life, he's not going to start now. The problem is he's always done things seat of the pants and it's worked, now Randy needs to keep him reasonable (constant changes, questions, whatever) and the written contract, family agreement, third party witness, all won't work with this guy because he didn't need that when he had a memory.

    I don't know what kind of projects we're talking about and if it would be possible to make a model. If it was drainage, invest in a poster sized satelite photo of the plot and put everything on it in marker. Then any question goes back to the map for explanation. Kind of like a written contract he can understand. Possibly record the conversations where you layout the scope of work and amount to be paid for it. There are legal protections short of a written contract, and as long as you're doing reasonable work (not like TD25, helping the guy dig his own grave), you aren't particularly taking on risk by his failure to remember. Now if he dies and DOES have a good estate plan, and a devious family, they might be able to cut you out, but that doesn't seem to be the issue here.
     
  17. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,741
    Location:
    indiana
    Negative !

    This thread is about a long time friend & customer that's having some mental issues .

    Best thing anyone could do for his situation & family is step in and make some suggestions about securing there farm & assets .

    Like I stated..... Someone else needs to be in charge making the decisions .

    Once that is complete any work Randy might do will be clear as a bell .

    Take care of the customer and they will take care of you ! ;)
     
  18. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    4,947
    Location:
    WI
    Sorry TD, I was referring to the son in your post #7, not talking to the family. If the family will talk to you then that's great. It sounds like the family has some dynamics going on beyond what Randy can handle, and the owner has some memory issues beyond what Randy wants to deal with.
     
  19. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,647
    Location:
    iowa
    I've have to deal with a few in similar conditions before, the one thing I've learned is, they are living in the past, when things made sense to them and life was good, not the present, if I were to do anything different than I did with them a decade or so before, they don't trust you and things get ugly fast, so if I were to try a contract, drawings or anything else, its new to them and it only confuses them more.

    The jobs are pretty straight forward, some tiling, terracing, fence cleaning, waterway shaping, demo of some old buildings, shape some driveways, building a few ponds and the list continues, nothing high tech and nothing I haven't done for him many times over.

    The issue comes when he wants a pond built, then when we started, he was wondering why I doing that when he said he wanted some tile put in and waterways shaped and had said nothing about building a pond?? OK we'll start shaping waterways instead and the same day he was wanting to know why i left the pond undone and was shaping waterways when all reality he wanted everything done on his list and had ok'd it all, supplies sitting in his yard and equipment on site and the fence installer on his way as well and no fence out yet because he forgot he had called him and never told me they'd be there that afternoon, and when they showed up, he wanted to know why they were there at all and the list goes on and on so we just quit and left till the family stepped up and gave some orders, which hasn't happened, so jobs are started, nothing done and equipment now moved out to different jobs for others and no time to go back, too much time spent moving equipment and dealing with uncertainty and too far behind on scheduled work elsewhere.

    The building demo, is to make room for a new building which is ordered and about to be delivered, but no site to build it on yet and no electricity or water to it yet, and no cement poured and some feel its my fault the site is not done and ready.

    So many phone calls later to explain and apparently some others are having issues as well and things can sit till someone steps up to call the shots, yet nobody is going to do that and nobody is going to pressure anyone anywhere, as they say everything's paid for and sitting, so who can be mad?? or better yet, how mad can anyone dare get??

    Don't forget custom harvesters who have to deal with it all, ditches due to rain and crops to soon come out and none of the repairs done yet, but were told it would be before harvest starts, which at this point will never happen with the weather as it is.

    Couple it all together with a four or five person operation, with one not doing management and the others taking up the slack, and also putting out fires due to someone's mind not working, doctors and hospitals to go to for tests and the stress of it all and as they say, not sure how to proceed let alone even have the time to do so now at this stage of the game, so is doing the work and ignore the owner the best option, or stand back and watch and wait, or just walk away till changes are made in management??

    I'm not the owner, not in charge, don't think today the family can take charge, not sure they want to and just want to avoid drama and as the son said, "we're waiting for the hammer to drop" and then life can continue? Not so sure there is a lender involved, as in enough money to cover it all, nobody else involved to pressure anyone and while it all is on hold, I'm busy with so many other jobs I can easily live without any of this and doubt anyone else will step in and do any of the work at this stage and it goes on and on.

    Couple it all together with the many calls I'm screening by many who are upset I'm not getting things done and don't really have the right to explain everything to everyone as to what's going on or not going on and I'm sure there's plenty of blame games going around for everyone and I'm still wondering where the family is and how long this can continue before something bad happens to someone and also what happens if the hammer doesn't drop anytime soon, these conditions can go for months or years before the inevitable happens.

    I think I've done my part, talked to the family, more than once, done far too much talking and explaining to many who are waiting for me to get my end done so today I'm sitting and waiting, but while sitting and waiting, busy elsewhere and moving on with other work. Will it get done eventually, yes, doubt its looking like this year, but who knows. Am I wrong, not sure, should I just go do it and keep things flowing, not really sure, do I know more than anyone else on the outside looking in, yes, am I responsible to do anything, don't think so, should I do it for a long term customer and friend, not sure, should someone step up and take over, yes, can they, don't know, are they trying, I'd guess yes, will they succeed, doubtful in time for this year and the list keeps going on and on. Am I upset, not sure, baffled is maybe more the word, wondering is another great word, along with maybe its best to not know at this point.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  20. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,741
    Location:
    indiana
    Yeah Delmer , got that .

    The situation on post # 7 summed up short ……... ' The horse has been led to the water multiple times but he aint gonna take a drink ' . :(