Can a person with dementia leave a nursing facility against doctors' orders?

Asked by

My 75 yrs old Mother had a heart attack and 2 stokes in Aug. 2011. She stayed 1 month in the hospital, and 6 months in a nursing home doing rehab. She has been diagnose with dementia. She gets around mostly in a wheel chair she can manage a walker in small areas. She is refusing to stay in a nursing center. She wants to go home. She sayes she is going at the end of Feb. 2012 even if the Dr doesn't release her. My Mother is very stubborn, how she has always got her way in life is to wear people down till they give in. My 2 sister and 1 brother and my self have refused to take her home from the nursing center. The nursing center said that if she leaves without the Dr. ok that she can not have home health aid come in to help. Our problem as far as her going home is that home health aid only does 2 hours a day 4 days a week. So that leaves a good 20 hrs that Mom will be there by her self. There will be no one to give her her medicine, she is on 4 heart med. for blood pressure and cumin which has to be tested weekly. Not including the 7 others I can't spell. My Mother has decided that she doesn't need to wear depends. So you know what that means. My brother doesn't live here and me and 1 sister work full time and wouldn't be able to do any help until after 6 in the evening. That is when we are usally home cooking dinner and taking care of our family. So that leave 1 sister whos schedule is more free and her husband work 4 weeks out of town and 1 week home. She leaves alot to go stay with him. I just feel like the nursing home is dropping the ball. Shouldn't they know how to deal with people like her. Instead their trying to get us to take home a person that can't take care of her self.

Answers 1 to 10 of 42
The nursing home should be backing you up and not working against you for they will be liable for making such an unsafe discharge. Who has medical and durable POA for your mother? Is her dementia bad enough for he to be considered incompetent to manage her affairs in a business like manner? You might need a lawyer.
The person who has the POA and health proxy makes the decisions as to whether she can be realeased without dr. approval. If you do not have this, you need to seek guardianship. I agree...see a lawyer. If you do, however have her health proxy....it is up to you to make the right decision in her care. That would mean that she chose you to make the right decisions while she still had her wits about her.
You should be discussing this with her doctor at the very least. If she is a resident in this facility - she is THEIR responsibility and they should not be allowing their residents to just 'leave.'. It would be irresponsible of them to allow someone in her condition to just 'leave.' Our local NH has a code that must be keyed in before someone can leave and it is high enough on the wall that someone in a wheelchair cannot reach the key pad. Definitely get your ducks in a row and FAST. You need answers PRONTO. IF your mom goes home ALL her care will fall onto your one sister - SO UNFAIR - been there, done that. You just cannot allow that to happen - for your mom's sake as well as your sister's. Please let us know how this all works out for your family. Hoping for the best. This is never easy.
I've been through similar situation with my mother. The doctor had her health care proxy invoked stating she is incapable of making decisions for herself. My mother had left rehabs. before against medical advice and yes, you do lose home health care if you are AMA. She required 24 hour care and would not allow her to leave. Sandysandy gave great advice above. This is a difficult situation and my heart goes out to you. Take care.
My Mom and I are in the same situation. My mom is 91 with heart, stroke and dementia issues. I have her POA and am her Health Care surrogate. I also have control of all her finances. She is aware of this, so when she says "today I am getting out of here", I know she can't, as she has no means of paying for anything. Besides that, my Mom has no place to go. Her dementia is such that she doesn't remember where her last place of residence was. She just knows that she wants to be the way she used to be. For her that means driving a car and being on her own, making her own decisions. I live a long distance away and cannot visit with her, but I call about every other day and reassure her that she needs to be where she is because of her fragile health conditions. I can empathize with your situation and I believe you are doing right by making sure that your Mom is in a safe and secure environment. Unless she/you have the means and willingness to pay for full time care, I don't see an alternative. My Mom would not allow anyone into her home to assist her so I had to opt for the Nursing Home. This is such a tough time for you. Hugs and hang in there.
She can not go home if she has no place to go and no one to take care of her -talk to the doc and social service let them know this and you could threaten to call the local TV network they would love this story it is even better than Kennedy trying to kidnap his baby and take the 3 day old baby out to get fresh air and hitting two nurses in order to get his wayin the local hospital.
If you have the POA get the NH social worker, the county Area of Aging social worker and the doctor involved in this. It 's pretty obvious from her description she can't function on her own.
My mother left a nursing home before it was recommended. She had had knee replacement surgery and the rehab was awful. We had to hire caretakers 24 hours a day for a few weeks. Then I hired someone to come in on a daily basis for 8 hours a day. This was cheaper than the nursing home and better for her. But if she had had dementia as well I would have been very concerned.

One big problem is we had to pay for her care, but her insurance would pay for the nursing home.

Good luck.
I took my 97 yr old grandmother out of a nursing home w/dementia, schizophrenia, and diabetes from CA to move her to my home in GA. I had no clue what my grandmother was subjected to when I took her out until I brought her home. I quit my job to do all this because she is my family and does not deserve the care of strangers. Since making this decision I have had to ween her off two meds, because she was suddated all day, was bound to a wheel chair from sun up to sun down, and if she didn't eat it was acceptable. She now enjoys family, walks all she wants, and eats meals prepared with love. The elderly are our families who took care of us when we couldn't and now we need to take care of them when they need us most. This world is a mess without our help, so why mess it up more. I pray that you are all at peace with God and that your loved ones have all of your support vs. the nursing homes.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8
See if there is somone in Social service who can help you. Don't count on the nursing home. My father-in-law repeatedly said he wanted to go home. But it wasn't possible. One day we had him out for a Dr. appt. We got back rather late because the cabulance got stuck in traffic. When we wheeled him in we were told he had been released while we were at the Dr. appt. When we checked he indeed had been released by his primary care Dr. who had been in the nursing home that afternoon. The staff told him he wanted to go home and he signed the release. I must add he wasn't the Dr. who had ordered his stay in the first place. That had been his surgeon who said he still needed to be there. We yelled and he was reinstated promptly. But they wanted to be rid of him. A short hospital stay promted them to do it again.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support