I've had no problems with managing mom's care or finances since I've been DPOA for a number of years and have been her only caregiver. There were numerous instances where she fell for scams or was taken advantage of by unscrupulous businesses as she lacks critical thinking skills, but I've mostly been able to save her from those errors and the last year have taken over her finances completely. Five years ago when she was only diagnosed with MCI she and her lawyer created a new trust for her and designated me as DPOA and Guardian if she becomes incapacitated. Her previous trust also designated me, so with that history I've felt somewhat secure about the legal basis. My mom now has moderate dementia/Alzheimer's and is living in a board and care home. I've heard that professional guardians can suddenly take over or even unscrupulous care home owners seek legal guardianship and abuse that. I read the guardianship document and it says it goes into effect if three doctors agree she's incapacitated, but I'm hesitant to ask the doctors too soon. She has a neurologist and primary doctor, but there's no third doctor so I'm not sure how to manage finding a third one to actually process a legal guardianship. Mom has moderate dementia. Her long term memory (childhood, younger years and work years) is fairly good but she's not accurate when reporting her medical history or conditions, so her doctors ask me to always accompany her. Her memory of recent situations is a bit fuzzy, but she also has occasional hallucinations and paranoia about people taking her things. It's so sad! Despite that, she generally presents well and has lack of insight (anosognosia,) so believes she's perfectly fine. You have to have known her to know how much she's declined or to spend enough time with her to notice she doesn't remember who was there the day before or even the same day and is confused at times. My question is, is her condition and decreased cognitive function sufficient to be considered incapacitated, is it time to ask doctors for that confirmation or is it too soon?

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
I’ve been through that exact same set of facts. What I can tell you is dimentia, memory loss, nighttime hallucinations, paranoia are not “incompetence.” As we all age, we will all get nighttime hallucinations and become more paranoid. It’s actually normal aging.

I so get that it’s all exhausting and scary to deal with. But do the opposite of what most people want if you want your life easier to care for her in future.

mist people want so much to be in charge of dimentia patients financiers and legal rights for personal reasons. But then they and you will spend hours a day doing record keeping, bank consolidation and so much more as is legally required. Delay that as much as possible. It’s over whelming.

you can still take good care of dimentia patients without them being “certified” as incompetent. Once that happens your life changes for worst not the dementia patients.

you see some companies, some govt agencies, some assisted, memory care and residential care facilities will need you to get a court order saying he or she is incompetent if the doctors certified they are. This will cost you thousands and it’s not reimburseable because YOU are asking for the court to make YOU thr conservator and legally responsible.

Instead, just ensure her bills are in autopsy, her mail is handled which should be little of importance if everything is on autopay. Ensure you take knobs off stove, oven, ask for her permission BEFORE doctor’s say she’s incompetent, to get inside camera in living area and at front door so you can check she is safe. Blink offers inexpensive and way to set up camera on wifi. And order Melas on Wheels for her. They either deliver each day or drop off week at a time to freeze.

And if she cannot get to door to get Meals on Wheels she need Residential Home or Assisted living. They will not accept her if she’s deemed incompetent. She has to give CONSENT to stay there or a Court order from you that you legally decide if her POA only springs into affect upon certifying of incompetence.

She and you have more flexibility to help her wo doctors certifying her as incompetent. Most people are after money so want a certification of incompetence to get into dimentia patient’s finances not to actually care. They don’t need a doctor or conservatorship to properly care for a dimentia patient. They want money. And it’s expensive to care for others. I’m not suggesting that is your angle. You seem like me. Exactly like me,

Id she has to sell her home and doesn’t want to to go into safer assisted or memory care and she refuses,You definitely need doctors’ certification.

An attorney told us, it is anyone’s decision, including the elderly, to make their own bad decisions. That stops if the decision is unsafe or they are declared incompetent by two doctors.

Just food for thought. Much good luck and prayers for you.

Also. Not being able to drive is not grounds for “incompetence.” Some older people were never food drivers. Also “competence” is irrelevant to DMVs. Only DMV can give and take a drivers license away. They never asked anyone for a “competence” letter from their doctor when we all got our DL’s. They don’t care. They care only about SAFE driving. People can be competence and unsafe drivers and incompetent and safe drivers.

if you feel her driving is UNSAFE then report her to DMV. They will invite her for an interview. They will redo eye tests, written test. If she is really incompetent and unsafe she will be unable to pass the written test. This eliminates need for a doctor to have to get involved to remove her license. There are many who drive ehi have altered vehicles to drive bc they have brain medical issues. Dimentia is brain issue. So dimentia Ireland isn’t disqualifying of driving. Being unsafe and unable to pass DMV tests is. It’s a work around to get her license pulled if she is unsafe. She will probably nit rant to show up for thr DMV tests if in fact she is incompetent. Hence, her lic will be voided in computer and notice sent.

Another faster option is to take away keys, lic, help her get a DMV ID instead, and undo battery. If person is drinking alcohol, others have this same right to take away their keys and prevent driving wo a POA or Conservatorship. It’s not about incompetence but safety. Driving is NOT a right. It’s a “privilege” accd to govt DMV’s.

No, it is NOT considered legally “incompetent” if one has moderate dimentia. BC patient has dimentia doesn’t mean they’re automatically incompetent, unable to have legal/financial rts. Families, caretakers are too eager too to strip dimentia patients of their legal/financial rights, bc they don’t act way family thinks they should or have moderate memory issues.That’s elder abuse.

dimentia patients don’t know what day it is, can’t count backyards by 7, can’t do Five Daily living acts; so what, that doesn’t mean they have no financial/legal rights. Date, math problems, memory issues, inability to dress, eat are not indicators of mental incompetence for dimentia by competent educated doctors. Under Probate codified Law, there are very differnt legal standards before you can strip legal rights off Dimentia patients that have nothing to do with Five Daily Living Acts or knowing dates.

Dimentia and incompetence are completely different and have different legal meanings and consequences. People need to stop mislabeling dementia victims “incompetent” merely bc person had diagnosis of dimentia or family and caretaker think they have dimentia. What they all think is 100% irrelevant. Only what two licensed medical doctors say after hours, private eval and interview is what matters-NOT based on what others tell Dr. patient does or doesn’t. This is hard truth.

Evidence: My Mother has moderate Dimentia per brain scan after fall to eliminate stroke yet her regular doctor signed doc that she is FULLY able to make all her own legal and financial decisions. She met Probate Code/law reqs to keep her legal and financial rights even though she acts like she has dimentia. Sure I take knobs off oven, She doesn’t drive, her bills are all autopay. She has online US mail. She/we doesn’t need her POA to be active yet.

This is not a case of “everyone is different.” You want dimentia patients to keep rights or you cannot legally get them into Assisted living for safety ine day wo their consent. You would have to go to Court w doctor’s certificate to become conservatorship. This costs YOU tens of thousands for Court’s interviewing of all family and tests.

Dementia doesn’t mean incompetence for legal reasons. It’s time people understand and respect this. Stop rushing to get their legal rts. US Mail and Bills are all on online autopay so generally dementia patients didn’t need financial POA yet unless you change things.

In CA, only if two medical doctors “certify” their patient is unable to know 1.Where they are-acquainted to place and time. 2.Who their family members are. 3.What their assets are. 4.Consequences of their decisions, can doctor certify patient as unable to make own Financial/legal decisions per Probate Code. Family, caretakers saying patient has dimentia or giving conduct of such is 100% irrelevant to stripping one’s legal rights even if true. Only lic medical doctors, can certify patient to loss their legal rights and then, only Judge can legally take away their rights. There is NO exception to this except POA effective immediately or on a date. Usually they are springing based on Doctors’ cert.

People here word “dementia” to falsely automatically assume patient is therefor unable to make legal/financial decisions and/or incompetent. Wrong. Family is behaving as unlicensed medical doctors, and as Judge encouraging patient to lose rights-elder abuse. It’s between patient, their doctors and a Judge.

Being unable to do Five Daily activities of life is also irrelevant. People paralyzed, bedbound, in wheelchairs also can’t do many of those acts, yet they don’t lose their rights and are not incompetent. Think it out.

Even if Radiology MD confirms via CT scan patient has moderate dementia does NOT mean patient is incompetent or can have legal/ financial rights stripped. That test cannot be used wo licensed, regular doctor who had years of interacting, knowing patient, giving hour long in person eval wo others present.

She might be determined incompetent for one thing but not another. For instance, not competent to drive now but capable of understanding what she is signing in a certain document.

Call the attorney and ask the question. Take mom to another doctor for a second opinion. It does not sound like three doctors would be able to agree she is incapacitated yet.

@lealonnie1 Thanks so much for your reply! I answered some of your questions in a previous reply, so in the sake of brevity, I hope you can see those. At her last neurologist appointment the doctor said she's declined noticeably and is definitely now in the moderate stages of Alzheimer's. She's no longer in independent living but is in a lovely board and care home comparable to where she was living prior to downsizing to the senior community. The senior community has a memory care section but she said she did not want to go there. Where she is now offers much better care and she likes it there. I think I need to update my profile here! It is several years old now :)

Thank you all for your explanations. That helps me understand a bit better. The POA has been working fine for several years and gives me full power of attorney, and also I have POA for Health Care for her. When I said I was designated as her guardian, I'm referring to the legal, notarized document drawn up by her lawyer at the same time as her trust, will and the POA years ago. It is titled Designation of Guardianship, in which my mom expresses her wish that I be appointed her guardian if she's ever incapacitated.

While my mom had been living in independent living community prior to an injury, her neurologist and her primary and the doctor at the rehab where she was at all say she's not safe to live in independent living anymore, and so since I am physically unable to be caretaker, they discharged her to a board and care home where she's getting home health care and physical therapy. That was the best decision financially since she needs 24 hour care now and the cost to have that at her home was prohibitive, it was 3X more expensive. My three siblings don't visit or help, don't get along with my mom, are hostile to both my mom and I, are mainly interested in their eventual inheritance and don't like seeing it reduced by her housing costs. I understand their concern, but my point of view is that it is important for her to be in a good place where she is happy, gets good care and can live her best life, however long that will be. She set up a trust years ago, I'm the trustee, and am a careful administrator of her funds so they'll last at least as long as she could potentially live. I take my fiduciary duty very seriously. Our family tends to be long-lived and she's 96 now. She's not in the cheapest board and care home and not in the most expensive place either but in a place she likes and is similar to how she was living before, which made it an easier transition for her. It's her money, not mine and if there's any left after she's enjoyed her life, fine. If not, I'm ok with that, too. I 'm hoping I don't need to be concerned about not having legal guardianship, but can't help but wonder if I should seek it to prevent anyone unscrupulous from doing so. At the same time, I know my siblings would have to be notified and I really don't want to stir them up because they'd likely be opposed to my guardianship just out of sheer orneriness.

Those of you who have good relationships with your siblings are so blessed!

Not sure what designated guardianship means. My sister designated my brother for my nephew before she passed but my brother still had to go to court to be assigned by tge State. My other brother and I had to sign paperwork that we did not contest my sister's wishes. So IMO designated does not make it legal.

"I've heard that professional guardians can suddenly take over or even unscrupulous care home owners seek legal guardianship and abuse that."

I think this is what OP is worried about. And this could override her POA.

Yes, you Mom is incapacitated. It usually is "incompetent to make informed decisions". Having 3 doctors was a little much. Does her PCP have another Dr in his practice that can sign off that he finds her "incapacitated". Maybe ur PCP can send you to another doctor to confirm his finding.

You have to do what the POA calls for, for her to be incapacitated under the POA. With that, it doesn't mean she isn't functionally incapacitated and that the POA cannot be used at times when it is accepted by individuals/businesses. It just says she isn't incapacitated under the POA for the full benefits of the guardianship to be in effect.

That might be confusing so let me put it like this:

A POA is JUST a very, very fancy contract between you and your mother within the laws of the land. And as such, contains the contract details. In this instance, the contract requires three doctors to declare her incapacitated so it takes three doctors (or as an alternative option -- the court) to declare her incapacitated. Whether or not the POA has been accepted in use or helping by other means (like her Doctor has implied consent), the POA incapacity part has definitely not been met based on your post.

In our case, we used the POA until we couldn't and then went for the incapacity guardianship and that worked in our favor.

" her condition and decreased cognitive function sufficient to be considered incapacitated" -- well, if three doctors say yes, then she is. Why would you want the guardianship activated if the POA is working just fine?

Why do you feel it's necessary to have guardianship kick in for your mother? Are there decisions you want to make for her that you're being prevented from making b/c you don't have 'guardianship'? Maybe this has to do with the financial 'trust' issues, I don't know.

I would think it's time now for you to get that third doctor to put in his or her opinion because moderate dementia/Alzheimer's is considered being 'incapacitated', or 'incompetent', I'm sure. When is 'too soon' to ask for such documentation and if she's not deemed incompetent now, that can change later on down the road anyway, right? If she's in a board & care home, is there not a doctor who visits the residents there and can act as this 'third' doctor you need to document her dementia/incapacitation?

My mother lived in Memory Care (and regular AL) before that, as my dad did; I held POA (both financial and health) for both of them, and never needed 'guardianship' to make all necessary decisions for either one of them. Memory Care AL staff and doctors didn't do anything w/o my express agreement b/c mom was unable to make ANY decisions with dementia in force.

*I see from your profile that: "She is accustomed to living in a large home and has chosen an independent living community (in a continuing care community) with large cottages, as she believes she is "just fine" and wants to age in place." That situation may prevent the doctors from deeming her 'incompetent' or 'incapacitated' if she's living alone. I would also question her having 'moderate dementia' and living alone myself; b/c by the time my mother had moderate dementia, she was incontinent, needed help with showers, couldn't use electronics, had all sorts of trouble with ADLs, etc. If your mom is capable of living alone, she may just be in the early stages of dementia right now.

The nature of the dementias is such that their long term memory stays pretty much intact until the VERY late stages of the disease; it's only the short term memory that's grossly affected.

Good luck.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Start a Discussion
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter