Husband with dementia wants to sue hospital because he fell at nursing home while staying there for therapy following surgery.


He does not remember where or how he fell. He thinks he fell out of bed at the hospital; other version: a man was carrying him, dropped him and fell on him and broke his hip. Neither is true. He fell transferring from a chair to his wheel chair, did not ask for help. He called atty. Atty. office sent questionnaire to wife who explained the situation to the atty. office, who told her, under the circumstances, just ignore the questionnaire; they would not consider this under the circumstances. Husband now upset with wife since form was not completed and has threatened wife that he will have a supoena serverd on her to force her to compltete the questionnaire.

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I hate when spouses try to intimidate their mates! Star, does your husband know the attorney's address? If not, just fill out the form, stamp it, and send it to a close friend or relative who has been clued in on the problem. When hubby asks about results, just tell him you never received an answer. True!
Giving hugs!

This is probably a man who was accustomed to a certain amount of power prior to dementia. He's likely feeling frustrated by his lack of control over things in his current state. Really, the wife could fill the form out to placate him (she might be used to placating him). Let it be the attorney's office who refuses the case to him directly.
I know an elderly woman with dementia who is constantly writing to the newspaper and her state rep and calling attorneys, for one perceived injustice or another. At first, her son frantically tried to intercept or stop her letters and calls. He couldn't for the most part, and eventually discovered that he'd have to let those on the receiving end deal with his mom directly. We can't be completely responsible for our parents' behavior. Though they're of diminished capacity, they are still adults. We can only do our best.

What's the question, really? How to keep the husband from being upset with the wife for not filling out the form? So, give him the form! Let him try to fill it out, or dictate his answers, if he can't write. Then toss it and tell him what's already the truth: the lawyers turned down the case. (If you want to send it to them and ask for an official letter saying that, call first to check that they won't charge..) If the question is the larger one, how to give a man what he wants when it's not possible, then you have the same problem as with a child or anybody else who wants what's not possible: validate the desire. "Gee! I can hear that you're angry about what happened at the hospital. I wish it were possible to get satisfaction. The lawyers won't take it as a legal case. How about writing the whole story down anyway, and then we can think what else to do -- maybe we can send it as a letter to your case manager....."

Hi: As a wife I would help husband complete the form and send a note telling the attorney what you know of the incident. Ask the attorney to respond to your husband.
The facts are people fall where ever they are: hospital, NH; home and it is nobody's fault.
Then, I would respond to his feelings anger, feeling helpless, fear etc. and ask how he would like to heal from this "horrible experience" and "move on" and how "we" can prevent future falls. The wife can emphasize that she is so relieved that he was not seriously injured and how much she cares about him.

This gentleman cannot be allowed to threaten his wife and she needs to set strong limits. If he is verbally threatening leave the room and say "I need some space." If he is violent, this is another issue and he needs further medical evaluation. The wife needs to seek more support for herself from family and community resources.

One possibility: "Well, dear, do what you think you have to do. I am so very sorry that you fell. After looking into it a little the attorney told me not to fill out the form. He is trying to save us some money. You don't have enough proof to win in court and paying the expensive attorney fees would be a waste of money. Having a supoena served would cost, too."

Another approach: Fill out the form, honestly. Send it in. (Perhaps attach a note referencing the phone conversation you had.) Let the attorney's office be the bad guys who drop the ball.

I hope other will have creative suggestions, too!

Good luck.

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