Dad feels abandoned

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We can't find any information that deals with placing a parent in dementia assisted living and how to handle the transition. We we're able to discuss this in advance because Dad never wanted to live if he couldn't take care of himself (normal extremely independent Dad). Now he feels out of control and abandoned. He tries to give people money to buy his way out. He just wants to go home.

Any advice out there? This is killing my sister and me.

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Bigsister--Sorry to take such a very long time to acknowledge your post. A couple of days after I wrote my long post, I went to Georgia to spend the last few days of his life with my father who passed away on June 9th. Since returning in mid-June, I've been playing catch-up with my work.

I was sorry to hear that your father’s girlfriend and his attorney have turned your father against you. I am wondering if there have been any further developments in your situation that you’d like to share. (Also, want to say that my comment that your dad might do well at home with care from gf was an indication that I hadn’t read your earlier posts as carefully as I should have before responding. Your comments about your father doing so well because of the consistent care he was receiving were important, though they appear to have been lost on his attorney and gf.)

Also, want to say to others who may have been following this story that not all guardianship/conservatorship cases are difficult or complex…some are very straightforward. At times this is the only way to go.

Finally, thanks very much, Carol, for your condolences…it was as peaceful a passing as possible. Though I miss Dad very much, it is a comfort to me to know that he is finally in a place where he feels totally accepted…a state of being that he was never able to fully enter during his 90-years on this earth. --Janie
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What makes this so frustrating is that these "well-meaning" individuals (attorney, girlfriend, neighbor) have poisoned my Dad's mind that my sister and I were trying to "put him away and steal all his money". They have stolen my Dad's and my sister's and my family. Now we have the worry about what's going to happen to Dad with no input or control over the situation. Dad hates us. These other individuals have "won" and they won't take care of Dad when the going gets rough. He may or maynot (probably not) have money left to take care of himself. For my sister and I, it was never about the money. He only had enough to take care of himself for a few years anyway. It's not like there was going to be any left for us. How very very cruel and unfair.
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Janie- I am so glad that you explained about guardinship because a frien told me that with her husband years ago she was able to get it done in two weeks even though her husband was able to make decisions at the time and I told her things had changed and now it is very hard to do and it would not work for me because my husband is considered by others to be alert.
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Dear Janet, I posted to your wall.
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JanieO, thank you for your expertise! This is such tricky territory and the system is so overtaxed that often the elder's best interest is missed. You background is a boon to all of us.

Our condolences to you regarding your father's poor health. Many of us have been in your shoes. We'll be thinking of you.
Take care,
Carol
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Bigsister--I am a public guardian, court visitor, and elder advocate that has been looking closely at the issues your are now facing for the past three years. I am now involved in a case that has been in the Probate Court for the past 3 years.

Unfortunately, I am also dealing with my father’s imminent death at the moment so this will probably be the only thing I’ll be able to post for awhile (though I think I am doing this now because it’s nice to take a break from the sorrow). I am a new member to this wonderful group and believe that another member advised you to look for archived posts on guardianship. That’s a good idea. Hopefully, other members who have taken a journey through “guardianshipland” can advise you as well.

First, let me say that I am a bit surprised that your attorney is saying that, as the petitioner, you would have to pay for the guardianship/conservatorship proceedings (I’ll use G/C from now on). In most states, payment comes out of the alleged incapacitated person's estate, unless they are indigent (in which case, if you’re lucky, your State Office of Guardianship will cover the cost of the proceedings [my state does so, for example (conservatorship is not considered to be an issue when the alleged incapacitated individual is indigent; though conflict related to Rep Payeeship or VA fiduciary benefits, etc., etc., very often arise]). If you look on the web, there are many sites that are set up to allow individuals to vent and take action against the corrupt “guardianship system.” IMHO, many of these sites look at this issue simplistically and in a biased fashion. Let me, quickly, describe some of the issues as they relate to your father.

An estate can be, and too often is, completely wiped out by guardianship proceedings when there is disagreement about the individual’s competence or, when, more than one individual is vying to become G/C. To understand a bit more about how “competence” is viewed by the legal system and how complex this issue is, I’d suggest that you go onto the American Bar Association’s website, go to the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging section, and download (free) the handbooks that they’ve written regarding G/C (there’s a different one for judges, lawyers, and psychologists).

If your father’s lawyer is ethical, and your father demonstrated even the slightest signs of dementia when he was revoking his POA and/or changing his will, he would not have proceeded without obtaining an evaluation by a competent neuropsychologist or other qualified health professional who had done a thorough examination and testing of your father and obtained a thorough history (competence cannot be determined out of context). When your own attorney advised you that it might be difficult to obtain guardianship for your father because he is high functioning, he was speaking to the issue of “areas of competence.” Probate Court judges are supposed to bend over backwards to preserve the civil rights of an alleged incapacitated individual and, in many states, they will write orders that give a guardian authority over some areas of a person’s life, but not others (a limited guardianship). This is a good thing, but it often means that you’ll have to keep returning to court to request additional authority as your father’s condition deteriorates. Because our judiciary is so overtaxed, judges will often appoint a “plenary” or full guardianship simply to avoid such an eventuality. That’s not a good reason to take away virtually all of someone’s civil rights; however, there are times when, as a court visitor, I do recommend full, rather than, limited guardianship. One of these is when it appears that there are individuals in the elder’s life who are trying to exploit them financially and are exerting undue influence over them in order to do so. If I am clear that this is happening, I will strongly recommend that the court give a family member who has integrity or, if none exists, a professional guardian, full authority to act.

Unfortunately, even if the judge agrees that there is a problem and appoints a guardian, the guardian may have to spend an inordinate amount of time contending with an attorney whom the elder has “hired” (generally an attorney who was hired by the person that’s taking advantage of the elder) who may fight to remain in place and bilk his/her estate out of tens of thousands of dollars in order, “ostensibly,” to protect the elder's rights. If Adult Protective Services were better funded and had many more, and much better trained, staff who did not believe that an elder’s civil rights were more important then their safety and protection from exploitation, I would not have to make such a recommendation. People could, instead, simply would be completed and take steps to protect the elder. In the situations that I’ve been involved in, APS been less than helpful in this regard and this has been the experience of many others across the country so I know it is not limited to New Mexico.

It sounds to me as if your father might be able to do pretty well at home with sufficient care and the girlfriend might be providing that; however, if she were handling this in an ethical or moral manner, she would not be engaged in any attempt to obtain funds, apart from those which are needed for his care, from your father’s estate (of course, I am assuming a lot here from the little information you have provided).

I need to take a break from this, but will try to come back later to write a bit more if you’d like. Before I stop, however, I will attach a few bits and pieces from a recent court visit report that I wrote in order to provide you and your sister with some validation and support as those who have the most authority to deal with this situation. Please feel free to quote from this in order to bolster your position, if needed; however, if you do so, please credit my source—“The Natural Authority of Families” by Michael Kendrick, CRUcial Times, Issue 6, July, 1996. (Even the initials are changed below.)

"The other most obvious cause of the conflict that has developed in Mr. B’s case relates to misperceptions on the part of the caregivers that were hired by Ms. C---, and, to some extent, on the part of Ms. C---, herself, regarding their differing roles in Mr. B’s life and who has authority to assume responsibility for his care.
………………..
Somewhere along the way, the intrusion of ongoing legal proceedings in this case appears to have warped understanding of what one normally does when an aging parent or other close relative becomes so frail and/or confused that they are no longer able to adequately meet their own needs. Unless it is absolutely necessary which, admittedly, at times it is, families do not seek a guardianship and conservatorship. Instead, they step in, either to take care of their loved one themselves, or to hire others to care for them, generally under their close supervision. When Judge M--- did not appoint a guardian for Mr. B---, his family was placed in just such a position. They needed to either care for him themselves, or hire and supervise, caregivers who could do so; again, under their close supervision.
……………………
…………a clear lack of recognition of the natural authority, indeed some would argue obligation, of families to care for their ailing members on the part of even those of S’s caregivers whose intentions have been well-meaning, has had unfortunate consequences for all involved in this case.
....................
It appears to have been lost on Ms. F---, and other caregivers, that families have authority to assume responsibility in the life of their loved ones because it is they who have known that individual the most fully over the longest period of time. Their authority arises from long-term observation of, and insight into the behavior and values of, their family member with whom they share a close, personal relationship. It is they, as well, when all is said and done, that will have to live with the consequences of misguided actions of caregivers and service agencies (a thought that was not lost on the Visitor, when Ms. F--- announced that she had taken S--- to the dog pound last week, where he adopted a puppy).

More importantly, it appears that, almost from the beginning of their employment as Mr. B’s caregivers, Ms. F--- and other caregivers, such as G--- A--- and D--- M---, strongly resisted the authority that Ms. C--- has, not as Mr. B’s conservator, but as the family member who has been most involved in his care over the past five years, to supervise their work. Actions that these women took to defy her authority—under the guise of meeting Mr. B’s needs and preserving his right to self-determination—were the factors which provoked Ms. C’s intense anger and distrust of these women."

I hope this has been helpful and not simply discouraging...JanieO
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Well, because of the twists and turns in our journey, I guess our situation has strayed from my original topic. Dad's attorney advised him he could revoke our POA and medical advocate and go home-so he did. We asked for a change of venue for the guardianship and conservator. We had an additional meeting with our attorney who advised that the petitioner is responsible for trial expenses of as much as $30,000 because our case was going to be hard because Dad was so high functioning. We can be absolutely 100% right, pay the expenses and still loose.

We don't know of any way to verify that while Dad was revoking our POA, that he probably named the girlfriend as his new POA and also probably changed his will to leave her the money. This is the money that was supposed to take care of Dad. Is there any way to make this determination without asking for it to be addressed in court during the trial?

Our attorney advised that even if we choose to pursue the guardianship, it's hard to go back and change back wills etc. Any experience out there?

Thanks, Bigsister
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Can you imagine that nursing home letting that man have use of the phone -I can I have seen and heard things in nursing homes that make me shake my head-like doors that open up when you stand in front of them and nothing is done until a pt. walks out in the middle of the night then they start to lock the doors at night- I was going to work one morning years ago and a lady was walking along the road with a fur coat bearfoot in the winter and took off her coat and she was nude- a cop came along while I was getting ready to go to the nearest police station-it was before I had a cell phone. The next day it was in the paper she was from the nursing home nearby.
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BigSister, Your dad's behavior is understandable from his view, but horrible for you. I knew a man with Alzheimer's who used to call auto dealerships and give the address of the nursing home. He sounded perfectly fine, and someone from the dealership would show up to let him try the car - imagine when they discovered it was a nursing home! Funny, but that is a great example of how far they will go to get around controls placed on them by family, doctors and anyone else.

The feeling of being abandoned is common and sad. But their safety and the safety of others is primary. Eventually, they adjust. For some, it takes longer than others. And it's heartbreaking for the loving family.

Take care,
Carol
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Dear Bigsister, Mitzi is correct, prayer is your number one priority! You have options, so all is not lost, but this is a precarious situation, as you are more than aware. Say Dad goes and marries this woman, which is a very real possibility. (Sorry, I have a wild imagination...so correct me if I'm wrong...) But if he did, you'd probably lose further control of the situation. Pray God's will be done. Pray your Dad gets the help he needs, not just an enabler. And pray you and your siblings have pure motives for Dad's best interests. God is still in the miracle business, and he loves to answer the prayers of his people. But be prepared, because answers often come in unexpected ways. We'll definitely be praying for you and your family, as well. Take care of you and your Dad, and wear out the carpet with your knees! Mitzi's suggestion for a second opinion (Elder Law Attorney) was good. You may want to plead with Dad's Physician, and possibly contact Social Services as well. You can file a police report if he's driving, (not file charges, but a report), and contact the Secretary of State as well. Documentation is helpful, including pictures and voice recordings (must tell Dad you're recording to cover yourself legally), as these may help you righteous cause. Above all, be sensitive to your Dad. This is a difficult situation. Let us know how all goes.
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