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My sister called from a nursing home where she was placed due to seemingly losing her mind. As it turns out, this was due to a medication she has been on for 12 years, lorazepam.


She wanted to go home, but her children said no, she could not and if she did, they would no longer help her.


I took her into my home to help her get the medical care she needed. Now, almost 2 months later, she is off the medication, her mind is clear, and she wants to go back to her apartment and live on her own.


Her doctor and psychiatrist both have cleared her to do so, but her children are telling her that I am responsible for anything that happens to her in the future when she is living on her own.


I am not her POA nor guardian. My question is, CAN I be held liable or responsible for her if something happens since I took her from the nursing home?

Your updates paint a picture of a toxic family relationship and I doubt that happened overnight, I think that it is in your best interest to step away from this as much as possible. Once your sister leaves your home try to leave the caregiver role behind, stepping into the middle of this mess will only cause you continuing grief.
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Valcra Apr 21, 2021
Thats exactly what I want to do, and yes it is VERY toxic. I want to speak to my sister, but nothing further. I intend to distance myself from her children completely. They have made me sick and I want no part of them. I won't help my sister again, but I will continue to speak with her.
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Lorazepam isn't given for twelve years for no reason. Possible reasons include bipolar disorder and treatment of seizures related to alcohol withdrawal. That combined with the fact that her adult offspring are telling you they refuse to take responsibility for her if she's off her meds and free to do as she pleases should tell you that her history with them includes a lot of heartache and pain. Perhaps you'd be better off actually asking them what their concerns are, rather than writing them off as jerks.
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cwillie Apr 21, 2021
Unfortunately lorazepam and it's relatives are prescribed for "years with no reason" far too often. A short term need easily becomes an addiction that causes symptoms convincing the patient they need the medication, and some doctors are satisfied to keep the prescriptions coming indefinitely.
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My aunt also became unsafe to live alone and ultimately ended up in care due to the abuse of prescription medications and in my opinion the doctor was complicit in that since her prescriptions were routinely extended despite her running out at shorter and shorter intervals. In your sister's case I would be concerned that she may once again fall into the pattern of overusing her medication once she returns to her own home and perhaps her children feel the same way 🤔. Although I agree you are not your sister's keeper perhaps you are in the position to offer her a compromise that may be acceptable to everyone, like a move to an Independent Living apartment with medication management and the possibility of a higher level of care in the future.
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jacobsonbob Apr 23, 2021
Does Valcra's sister still take that kind of medication, or a similar one, at all? If not, then the possibility of abuse should be minimal if any. Perhaps she's currently taking completely-different kinds of medications, for completely-unrelated issues. I hope Valcra provides additional details for clarification.
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Valcra, it is possible that you are wrong in thinking that your nephews took ‘the easy way out’ to ‘discard their elderly mother’. If you start from that point of view, it isn’t likely that you can have a good co-operative talk with them about their mother’s needs, and the best options for her as your sister. Try to look behind your own best guesses, for the sake of everyone involved. These situation are hard for everyone, and blame makes most things even harder. Be kind! None of us are likely to be 100% right.
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Valcra Apr 21, 2021
I wish a cooperative talk could be had, but they told both my sister and myself in no uncertain terms that they wanted nothing to do with either of us.

I would be extremely happy if they at least come back to talking with my sister and loving their mother again. As for my part, I could care less about contact with them for my sake. We've never had much contact since adulthood and they see me as sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong, but she is my sister and I wanted to help. Now they literally hate me for it and could seek revenge for it. I just want to be sure legally I'm safe. If they attack physically, me, my husband or my property, I can take care of that.
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Valcra, if sister's doctors say she is cleared to go home (and yes, I would confirm that the docs are actually saying that) the question is then "how much support does she need there?"

Can your sister request an evauation of her ability to care for herself INDEPENDENTLY and an evaluation of her home (grab bars and the like)?

Does your sister have a plan for how she will keep herself fed, clean and properly dressed?

Can she get groceries? Can she manage her own medications? How about home maintenance and cleaning? Asking her about these isssues may give you valuable insight into her ability to plan her future. If she says "oh, you will take care if that" or "the kids can take care of my meds" then you have a clue that she isn't thinking realistically.

I think that I would want to know how and why she came to be taking Ativan in the first place and who was prescribing toxic doses. If she is suffering from anxiety and that issue is not addressed, she will go down the same path.

A lot of adult kids here find that the ONLY control they have over not getting sucked into providing full time hands on care for their parents is to step away and stop propping up an elder who is putting up a charade of independence.

I had to threaten to do this with my own mom, so I know whereof I speak.
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First I have to say, Wow, what a scary story about your sister and her medication. It makes me wonder how many other people have been misdiagnosed, because of the medication they're taking.
Now I will say, you are not responsible for your sister, and what might happen to her if she goes to live on her own. Like you said, you are not her POA or guardian(although I hope she has someone designated as such for the future)and so if she wants to try living on her own, and her Dr. and psychiatrist are behind it, then I say more power to her. Let her go live her life as she sees fit. She deserves that much after what she's been through and the years that she lost because of the medication.
Her children are just trying to guilt you into something that is not your responsibility, as they obviously don't want to deal with her. It's always sad when you get to see family members true colors, when push comes to shove. I wish you the best.
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Valcra Apr 20, 2021
It is very sad. Thank you!
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I agree. Let sister go home to try. She is now deemed competent by her Doctors to make her own decisions.

This would be the *least restrictive practice*. This term is used by Social Workers & explained on the Gov Health social services webpage in my state as:
"Work with the older person and their family and carers to promote dignity of risk and trial least restrictive alternatives".

If she does have trouble being independent, point her back towards her Doctor for a Social Worker referral or Area of Aging to assist with home services.

A possible danger would be if sister wants the OP to 'take over' everything she cannot manage OR if the OP had that helping 'taking over' nature. That could lead down a slippery slope...

It's possible her son's found themselves heading down that slope ?? so have had to use some real 'tough love' approaches.

But with an independent spirit & new clarity hopefully the sister will thrive back in her home ☺️
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No, you can't.

Your sister's doctor and psychiatrist have cleared your sister to live on her own in her home. Your sister is now officially a competent adult, able to make her own decisions. You not only are not responsible for her, you have no right to prevent her - and neither has anybody else.

Do you understand why the children have such serious reservations? What's the history that might make them so chary about all this?
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Valcra Apr 21, 2021
Her children are just very uncaring. Since their father died they have just been very mean with her. I just truly believe that they would be much happier if she passed and they wouldn't have to deal with her anymore.
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No - you aren't any more responsible for her now than you were prior to all this happening. Dr cleared her so there's no reason she can't go back home (if it's still available). Assuming she doesn't need any help now.

Let her go home. The kids have told her they won't help her, so if you already know she needs help doing something - help her come up with a plan that doesnt involve her kids. Good luck to her.

Edit - If you're alone and so is she - y'all might want to consider living together to split the bills. Would have more money between the two of you to take trips or have a little fun.
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3 things:

1-Have her children threatened you physically? If so, this should be documented with the authorities.

2-Your sister wants to go home in part because of her children. If they refuse to accept her home, she may become despondent again. Have that discussion with her and make a plan.

3-I come from a small town. Sounds like she does too. Few resources and doctors. I hope she can rely on her new doctor. She will eventually have a UTI or something that alters her mentally. She needs a geriatrician not a pill pusher.

Good luck.
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