Who gets to decide where senior should live?

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My 81-yr-old MIL lives alone and independently, and is absolutely determined to continue to do so. She has well-controlled hypertension and mild dementia (some forgetfulness, but not a danger to self or others). DH and I think that, at least for now, she can continue to safely live independently with appropriate help (PERS, pill dispenser to keep meds straight, weekly nurse visits to oversee meds, etc.) , for which we are willing to pay. Her other children want to immediately move her into assisted living.

Can they force her to move, even though she doesn't want to? As long as she is legally competent (and we do have a Dr.'s evaluation to support our judgement that she is), doesn't she have the right to decide for herself (regardless of what anyone else may think)?

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I'm not an expert, and I really, really hope one of the site experts will weigh in here. But my first step in this situation would be to consult an elderlaw specialist and lay out the whole sequence of events, as you have here, with as much supporting documentation as you can muster. Look for an attorney who actually specializes in elder law, not just estate planning. (We made that mistake at first.) There's a professional group called the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. that our attorney suggested as a possible resource for finding this kind of attorney. (If by any remote change you're looking for one in WI, I can give you the name of our attorney.)

If your MIL no longer has access to her assets, you will probably end up having to pay for this yourself. If your MIL is a ward of the court, I wonder if you could petition the court to appoint a professional conservator to manage her assets and see to her care, rather than letting the daughter run amok? Conservators can be pretty expensive, but it sounds like it couldn't be worse than what's going on now. Or if the finding of incompetence was in error, I wonder if perhaps there would be a way to overturn it? POA can be revoked, but I would assume your MIL would have to be proven once again competent before she could do it.

In my MIL's case, she has never been legally found incompetent, although her other children are operating on the assumption that she is. The law assumes you are competent unless you have been proven incompetent. Nevertheless, we have scheduled a comprehensive geropsych eval to provide authoritative evidence for her competence. After that, we will see a Geriatric Care Manager to develop the plan for her living arrangements. We're doing this to protect ourselves, as well as to protect her.

You need some authoritative advice as to what your options are, and also what pursuing them will cost. I can tell you from personal experience that you may be looking at some serious out-of-pocket expense. This is a very difficult situation, and my heart really goes out to you. I just don't understand why so many adult offspring view an elderly parent's decline as their cue to immediately abandon all ethics, morality, and civility, and start behaving like selfish monsters. I've seen this in both my and my husband's families. I find it incomprehensible.

Good luck. Please let us know what happens. Your MIL is really lucky to have a DIL like you. If anybody deserves a big hug, you do!
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I can totally understand your issue. I am a daughter in law married to the youngest son in the family. Mother is 91 yrs
Daughter has power of attorney has had her mother declared incompetent (she is not) She had surgery for a blood clot in her arm. While she was on pain medication and less than 48 hrs after the trauma her daughter had her diagnosed with dementia.
Daughter has dumped her in nursing home. Daughter is now selling off her car and other items. Mother had over $60,000 in bank accounts and her $100,000 home and her car all paid for. Daughter has taken bank accounts got a lawyer and made Mother a Ward of the Court. She has taken all but $1500.00 out of bank and buried it so state cannot get it. She refuses to use the money for Mothers care (she says it is her inheritance) Mother has always favored Daughter thinks daughter can do no wrong. Daughter is lying to mother telling her she has no control now.
We want Mother to go home. I am the lowest on the pole. However I have told everyone involved I will help her. I told daughter repeatedly give me a schedule I will do what is needed. Daughter is happy Mother is in a home ( it is a hospital bed with curtains around it, she has no window cannot watch tv room mate objects to tv. has to share bathroom with 4 people. Showers down the hall. Her pride and independence has been stripped away. Daughter thinks Mother is in a college dorm. When daughter visits she does not stay in the room with Mother she is off "visiting" with nurses playing the part of a dutiful daughter However she has informed them she does not want mother to go home. When she sold her car we all told her she needed to tell her Mother her answer was "Mother will never know" Mother is getting stronger everyday. I visit her twice a day play games take books treats etc. How can we get her home? How do I fight this daughter?
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I think they just want to park her someplace where they can tell themselves "the AL facility will take care of Mom" and they can forget about her.

No, she's never been declared legally incompetent, and no one has legal guardianship over her. But how can we prove that she is competent? She's lived with us for over a month now, and there's no question in our minds that she is--but how can we prove it? We've being threatened with a report to the state Elder Abuse hotline if we let her go home. I spoke with someone at the hotline, and they said that, as long as the person is mentally competent, they are entitled to make their own choices, even choices that others might not agree with. So it's all going to hinge on being able to prove that she is mentally competent. How do we do that? Should we take her to a neurologist? Should we take her to a psychiatrist? Who is able to make a legally decisive judgement on this question?

I have tremendous sympathy for all the folks on these boards who are struggling to take over for elderly parents who really can't make decisions anymore. It's ironic that we're fighting the opposite battle!

Thanks in advance for your help!
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If there are legitimate concerns for her health or safety, then a care facility may be warranted. However, if they are found to be of sound mind and can live independently, then the family should respect their wishes. (Has anyone ever asked the fam what their motivation is in placing her in AL?)
Sometimes family members want to do what is "expedient" and what relieves them of responsibility. Also, in the past, what was deemed as senior "forgetfulness" is often attributed to "dementia" by doctors and family members who are less than qualified to assess cognitive abilities. I just had two family members who placed their parents in NHs - they got the doctor to sign off on a dementia diagnosis. I find this behavior just horrific.
Continue to advocate for your MIL's wishes and RIGHTS. She has the last say and the others should just back off.
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The answer to your question really depends on the senior's cognitive abiliteis. If your mom or dad is of sound mind, and able to make decisions for themselves, where they live is ultimately their choice. Family and friends can influence that decision (a lot or a little depending on the family dynamics and the senior's personality).
If the senior has been declared mentally incompetent, due to dementia or some other condition, then whoever has guardianship for the senion can make the decision for living arrangements.
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