I have a huge problem with my 82-yr-old mom. 10 years ago she moved into a perfectly fine basement apartment I had constructed in my house for her. Today it is unfit for human habitation -- full of mold, unwashed dishes that sit in the sink for years, never does laundry, does not want to bathe, etc. She also accuses me and my husband of stealing things (including money) from her.
She was recently diagnosed with cancer and will need to do post-op rehab at an assisted-living facility. I want her to make the move to assisted living permanent. My three siblings agree, but they believe once she is there, she will want to stay voluntarily. This is despite her constant statements to the contrary. Their proposal is to see if she volunteers to stay, and if not, then tell her she can't move back in with me. (None of them is willing to take her into their homes.)
Unfortunately, her primary doctor says her dementia is mild. This despite her not being able to tell him her address, phone number, the current year or even the current season, and not being able to remember a simple list of three items and repeat it back to him. So he is of no help in advising her to make the move.
She has temporarily moved in with my sister to be closer to her doctors. (We couldn't find a doctor in my neighborhood because for 10 years she refused. Now no one will take a new Medicare patient. My sister's family physician did so as a favor.But this is the same doc who says her dementia is mild.) I have her financial POA and my siblings want me to make a check out to the assisted-living facility for a long-term stay. But she has not been officially informed that she can not move back into my house.
I really want to tell her before making the check out. I believe it is the honest thing to do, despite the fact she will pitch a fit and heap the guilt on 10 miles high. My siblings all disagree and just tell me to let them handle it, and assure me they will never allow her to move back into my house, and to make a check out to the facility without her prior knowledge. But even with her POA, I do not even know if it is legal. She still very much believes that after rehab she is moving back in with me and returning to life as it was.
My family's life has been very hard with her here, particularly the last few years. She really needs to move for her own health but also for the mental health of my family. I am feeling that a conservatorship is the way to go here, but not all my siblings want this. Also, if the doctor won't say it's necessary, would I even stand a chance with a probate judge? The nurse at the assisted-living facility evaluated her and actually says she could not even go into the "low-maintenance" wing because she obviously requires supervision and extra care. I don't know if that would carry any weight with the judge as my siblings would call in her doc to counter that opinion.
Anyone out there experienced with what probate judges look for in conservatorship cases? Also, should the court fail me, would I actually have to go through a legal eviction process to make her move? Would hate that, but she is stubborn as all heck.
I don't know how the legal ramifications go, but in general once she is in the assisted living facility where they can see the level of care she needs and they know that no one in the family is up to giving it they are not going to let her move out and make herself homeless. They understand the situation even if she doesn't (and they deal with this all the time).
I might ask the doctor if she is competent or incompetent to handle business affairs instead of what stage she is in. Mild does not necessarily mean that she can still handle her business, it is more that she is still able to do most of her own self care (dressing, toileting, eating, bathing...though it sounds like that one needs a good bit of prompting, but you aren't in the room yet helping her figure out what soap is). It maybe that the doctor doesn't want to get into it because he isn't quite sure how to do it or just doesn't want to deal with the forms.
Between her mental and physical condition it is clear that she does need extra care, though I am not sure you need to take it as far as a court case to get the results you want. When I worked as a mental health counselor in a nursing home out of all the clients I had (and a number of mine had dementia and accompanying mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety) in only one did the family actually have anything beyond POAs (and I think that was guardianship...not sure if that is the same as what you are talking about. That lady had a LONG history of serious mental illness and then got dementia in addition to it).
I think once she is physically moved, she has moved. If she were in good enough mental shape she could try to find a lawyer to sue you for illegal eviction, but all you would have to do would be to show that she moved for her health, and then you decided not to open your basement again. I really doubt you will ever be in any legal problems over this since all your siblings are in agreement about where she should be (and she is not in good enough mental state to sue you or anyone else for anything).
You might be able to compromise on what to tell her and instead of directly telling her she can't come back, tell her that there is a better rate at the facility if she goes in as "long term" instead of "short term" and that you would prefer to get her the better deal (assuming it is a better rate...I hope it is). Hopefully she would agree to that. I have to agree with the idea of not mentioning the "eviction" since my Grandparents promptly forgot they had ever lived next door to us (they were there for about 7 years) once they lived in assisted living for a while. It doesn't work out that nicely for everyone, but it can happen so the blowup you are dreading may not actually happen. Sometimes the horrible memory can end up working in your favor.
Mary, your sincere compassion is so very evident and I thank you so very much for your perspective. Yes, great idea saying long-term was a "better deal." She does love a bargain!
Visited mom yesterday at my sister's. She was kind of spacey (deer-in-headlights/trance-like), but over the last year many of our family members have noticed this tendency. Half the time she spoke like she lived with my sister, and the other half she spoke like she still lives with me. Asked strange questions, such as, "So how is my t.v.?" as if the television were a person....
Anyway, had an informal consult with an attorney who said Mom's doctor primary probably sees that she has three caring daughters and as you said, didn't want to get involved with the forms, etc. Apparently this is not at all uncommon. Attorney suggested having a conservatorship (guardianship) drawn up after she has moved into the facility. This is easy to do at the facility, since assisted-living places apparently keep a roster of geriatric psychologists who know exactly what to look for, as opposed to a young primary doc who is actually more concerned with her physical health. The geriatric psychologist could examine her right on the premises, fill out the probate form, and make the arrangement legal. Mom would never even need to know about it unless she started making noise about leaving the facility. Attorney said this is the kindest route in that Mom would definitely get the care she needs, and it would also relieve me of the hanging legal worry that I acted improperly by moving her.
And you are right...I can't imagine her even being able to dial the phone, much less pick up a phone book and find an attorney. All the "what ifs..." are probably for naught, as you so nicely pointed out.
Thanks again for your kind and wise answer! I will keep the discussion group posted.
With my Grandma we never ended up needing anything more than the POAs (she had seperate financial and healthcare since she and Grandpa were spreading the responsibility out among their kids). Those worked fine for us in every facility she was ever in.
If it helps your peace of mind to get it done legally then go for it, but it probably isn't necessary. You can ask the facility how many people get it done and get the list of doctors from them if you want to pursue it at that point.
I can remember Grandpa asking questions similar to the "How's my TV?" as if it were a person or a pet. I generally just answered in kind that the TV (or whatever) is doing fine. If she asks about the same thing a lot you may want to tell her that when you can get her settled in somewhere for her rehab you will try to bring it to her so that it will feel more like home while she is there (just don't specify how long that is). The more of her "home" things that she misses that show up the less likely she is to realize that this is not "home".
03/07/2010 04:31 PM
Posts: 5 New Member
Thanks again Mary. Great minds must think alike -- we have moved the t.v. already! LOL!
The reason I am concerned about the POA possibly not being enough is that my mom crossed so many things off of it...like authority to make healthcare decisions....
Basically all she left on there was the authority to sign her checks/pay her bills/do her taxes.
I do have a separate Advance Directives notarized document, but that seems to be only for if she is "incapacitated" and needs life support...
But as you said before, the move is occurring for health reasons in the first place and hopefully all I would have to say is that I choose not to re-open my basement to her (which would be very unhealthy given the mold that has grown in the conditions she created). I probably should have tended to this years ago....
Thanks again! Hope I can help others some day as I have been helped through this forum.
03/08/2010 08:51 AM
Posts: 4122 Group Leader
If no one has healthcare POA at this point then maybe you do want to get the papers just so that if there were crisis (infection, pneumonia, ect) there would be no confusion or slowing down the process trying to get her consent for something, you could just wave your papers and get things done.
I am remembering the days when we tried to get Grandma to sign papers for herself, and how it could take 20-30 minutes to get her signature on something because she couldn't find the line and she wouldn't remember what it was and then she would sign the wrong place...and that wasn't even when she was sick or in pain. So maybe the papers would be good, for healthcare reasons if not for financial.
I don't see her being able to check herself out of the facility once you put her in either way, so I don't think it is that urgent. It is more a matter of future considerations.
I am glad she has her tv now. Hopefully that will help do the trick to make her feel at home and forget all about your basement.
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