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My mother has Alzheimer’s and COPD requiring oxygen 24/7. She refuses any sort of help. Refuses to go into assisted living or live with a family member. She doesn’t remember anything from one minute to the next. At her last pulmonologist appt….the doctor told my mother I could be arrested if she should fall or injure herself and end up in the hospital. That DCF (department of children and families) would get involved and that I could end up in jail since I know of my mothers issues. My mother and I DO NOT get along. We never have. But, I am taking her to her doctors, getting her medicine, groceries, etc. No doubt she should not be living alone anymore. But, what is a person to do? Or, does anyone know if being arrested is a reality if my mother got hurt somehow? I also have a 27 year old with autism…..taking care of him is a cake walk compared to my mother. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Oh, my mother has no money either. No savings, no house to sell to get money. Just her SS and retirement from the school district. She makes too much to qualify for Medicaid but no savings for assisted living or nursing home. I really just don’t know what to do. There is a lot of bad history between my mother and I. Mostly on her part….I could never do anything right. I’m almost at the stage of just cutting her out of my life and letting her or someone else deal with it for my own sanity, marriage and being the kind mother I need to be for my son. I have a brother in the next state, but he comes up with every excuse under the son not to come and help. I am mentally wiped out. Thanks for reading. I certainly didn’t intend to type out this much.

It gets me so aggravated when I hear of a doctor saying such things to a daughter or son who's trying SO hard to do their best for a stubborn parent who refuses to do ONE single thing to stay safe! That pulmonologist should be reported for his inappropriate comment, in my opinion. If he'd have said such a thing to me I'd have had a FIT right there on the spot and let him have it! You were taking your mother to an appointment, for petesake, and here he is telling your mother you'll get arrested if she were to fall & be hospitalized? What a horrible thing to say.

If I were you, I'd go get a free consult with an Elder Care attorney and get all your ducks lined up now. Before a crisis hits, and a crisis WILL hit b/c your mother is stubborn as an ox and has dementia which will only worsen with time. Your brother is of no help at all (aka useless) and you have enough on your hands as it is caring for a child with special needs. Let the EC atty tell you what to do/not do, and how to go about it all. I went to see one back in 2014 after my father fell & broke his hip and that meeting was priceless. The atty advised me about getting dad VA benefits and all sorts of things about Medicaid down the road, etc.

It blows my mind how exhausting these women are and how wiped out WE become as a result of their shenanigans. My mother is 94+ and lives in Memory Care AL the past 2 years, and regular AL before that (since 2014). We have a difficult relationship (to put it mildly) and she wears me out after ONE phone call. The head games she plays, even with moderately advanced dementia, are horrible, and I spent 20 minutes on the phone with the ED this morning about her latest crisis du jour. I feel like I need a nap just from that. Sigh.

Wishing you the best of luck and some level of PEACE with all of this. Stay in touch with this group b/c it's a great source of support from lots of people who 'get it.' Sending you a hug and a prayer today, my friend.
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mstrbill Jun 29, 2021
agree 100%. The Doctor was completely inappropriate, even if his intentions were good.
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No, I do not believe you can be put in jail. Are you POA? If so, resign the position.
EVEN if you know that ANY ADULT is not safe (alcoholism, dementia, etc) you are not responsible to make them safe. The doctor is lying and should be reported for his lies.
If you feel your Mother is unsafe then what you need to do is call Adult Protective Services in your area and report her as a "senior at risk". Tell them you are the daughter, that your mother will not allow you to intervene and that there is nothing you can do for her, and that you request a wellness check. Tell them that you do not believe your Mom is competent, believe she is a danger to herself and possibly others, but cannot and will not be handling the situation. Tell them that if your Mother requires guardianship you are not going to do it because you are neither "mentally, physically or emotionally able to do it". Request guardianship by the state. Know that at that point your Mom, is adjudged as incompetent, will be appointed a fiduciary in the court system; that person will have her evaluated and placed if necessary or arrange with home support if they believe that appropriate. They will arrange where placed. You will have ZERO to say about anything at all, which I assume is your wish (and which I most heartily agree with).
I wish you luck. Your parents are responsible for you until you are of age. You are not responsible for them or their actions at any age.
This doctor should be ashamed of himself. Tell him I, as a nurse, said so.
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Mjgiordano Jun 28, 2021
Thank you so much. This is what I what I had been looking into before I took her to her doctor appointment. I’m not sure if her doctor said this to scare her a bit. But, she also didn’t pull me aside at the end of the appointment to let me know that was indeed what she was doing. It was the end of last week so there was no one I could call to find out this information, so it scared me a bit as well.
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Mjgiordano, no you cannot be arrested if your Mom should fall and get injured. If that was the case, then everyone here would be in jail right now.

Also, think of it this way, how many parents are put in jail when their child falls?

I remember numerous times I was with my Dad in the ER due to a fall. Not once was I ever quizzed about my part in his fall. My Mom [late 90's] was in the hospital twice for her falls, even one time where she spent her final few months in a nursing home.

You mentioned your Mom is 75 years old, that is so young.

Call your local Agency on Aging and ask for some advice. Maybe your State might have "waivers" that can used along with your Mom's retirement so she could be placed in a memory care facility. At this stage of her condition, it isn't her choice anymore since she is unable to make a clear choice. You need to do what is best for her, and what is best for your family. Hope everything works out.
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Mjgiordano Jun 28, 2021
Thank you.
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Others here in the past have suggested an "ER dump." You call an ambulance, have her taken to the ER, and tell them she has no safe place to return to. You refuse to take her no matter how much they offer to help you work it out, and you leave.

Your mother isn't competent to make the decision whether to go to a facility or not, but if you don't have power of attorney or a conservatorship, you can't force her either. You'll have to turn her over to the county, and they'll find a place for her.

Tell your brother you're done, and the ER dump is your next step. If he doesn't want to deal with her, then take her to the hospital.
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disgustedtoo Jun 28, 2021
FYI to all:

POA doesn't give us the "power" to make that decision either (facility or other move.) Too often others will say get POA to facilitate the move, but this is NOT what POAs are for/about.

POAs give us legal ability to manage certain issues like finances, medical treatment/access to medical info, signing legal documents, etc. if/when the time comes that it is needed (some will specify what criteria must be met to become active.)

When my mother refused to allow the aides in (less that 2 months at 1hr/day weekdays only), we needed to move her. She REFUSED to consider moving anywhere, esp not AL. The EC atty told me we CAN'T force her to move and suggested guardianship. I doubt she would have fully qualified for guardianship, as she wasn't that far down the dementia path, but far enough that it wasn't safe for her to remain alone. It was irrelevant anyway, as the MC place selected would not accept a committal. Thankfully a big fib worked.

Just trying to clarify for anyone out there who is in this kind of bind - a POA isn't likely going to help you. The courts/laws consider that we all have rights and choices to make and that we can't be "forced" to do what we are refusing to do, dementia or not. Even staff at mom's MC told me they are not allowed to force any resident to do anything they refuse. You just have to get adept at working around the refusal, coax them into it, get them to think it's their idea, or use a fib that will work.
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Who told you the Dr. said that to your mother? It certainly is not the case so someone is lying. I can't imagine a Dr. would say such a thing. If the Dr. really had concerns, he should have contacted APS. That is what he is obligated to do. What you can do yourself is contact APS and report a vulnerable adult. You are in no way obligated to care for her if you can't or don't want to. Let the social worker know you can only do so much and not anymore than that. The State will help.
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Mjgiordano Jun 28, 2021
Yes, her pulmonologist said that to her during her appointment. I was sitting there with her.
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To lakin1013 re APS: I was threatened with APS and it scared the heck out of me. I was an unpaid, volunteer caregiver who was just trying to help out in a desperate situation. However, the lady's needs FAR exceeded what I was capable of doing long term and I somehow ended up in charge - even though I did not have POA. (Lady had 2 sons - both basically useless). I was killing myself just trying to help when one of the "professionals" involved blindsided me with a threat to call APS and report me. She was coming at it from the standpoint that I was neglecting the person, so it was clearly that she was reporting ME and not just making record of the situation and trying to get us some help. Trust me, I was already well aware that the situation was unsustainable, but no one would help me! I pleaded with her for solutions, but she told me to shape up or she would report me. There was no neglect - just a set of problems that were much larger than I could handle. I even had a needs assessment done (Dept of Aging, I think) and that woman seemed to have an agenda against nursing homes and told elder that "no one can force you into a nursing home" and then she left. Where's all the help I was hoping to get??

So, I had the Dept of Aging telling me it's no problem for elder to live alone & maybe we can get some meals delivered or something and promising elder there would be no nursing home... ?????? I then had another entity threatening me with an APS report for neglect.

Yes, both of these things happened within the same short time frame. How could both be true at the same time where one entity says she's fine and one entity is threatening to have me investigated? Not sure, but that's how it happened.

I can vouch for the fact that it's highly unnerving to be threatened with an investigation of any kind. Even if I were declared "innocent" at the end, the investigation itself would have crippled me and I was already so damaged just from the caregiving I provided. Plus, who will care for elder while I'm being looked into? If I had enough people to help me, there would be no question about the care elder was getting.

As it turned out, elder's life alert called 911 for her after an unwitnessed fall. Long story short, I refused to bring her home. Her POA just rubber-stamped anything I said. The whole process was shockingly revealing as to how dysfunctional our elder care system is. It's scary that a person who's doing all the work can then so easily get blamed for the whole thing - based on one person's word.
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mstrbill Jun 30, 2021
Thank you for sharing Mystershopper, and you're right, parts of our eldercare system ARE highly dysfunctional. I had a similar experience where "professonals" did nothing to help or advise but were quick to mention APS, and I understand completely how you feel, especially when you know you are doing everything you can and are getting no help from anyone. This is why I continue to try to help others here and usually advise extricating yourself from these situations as quickly as possible before it gets too deep. Unfortunately, since there often no other solutions, this sometimes means an "ER dump" may be in order.
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I also don't think you need to worry about jail. Certainly if something untoward happened and mother couldn't explain, they might look to you for answers, but you don't live with her or she with you, and it seems the doctor already knows she refuses your/any help.

"...the doctor told my mother I could be arrested if she should fall or injure herself and end up in the hospital."

Playing another side of the coin... Perhaps he was trying to get HER to comply? You say he told HER, not you. This sounds more like a concerned doc who might be trying to help you, but it doesn't sound like it's working.

If you have POA, resign, in writing. If she is truly someone in need, the doctor should be alerting proper authorities to get her help. APS would be a possible source for help if you and doctor can report her as a vulnerable adult. IF they choose to go check on her and she refuses to let them in, they may not be able to do anything. However, if a medical professional reports her, they should do more.
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BurntCaregiver Jun 30, 2021
disgustedtoo,

That's not a concerned doctor trying to help the caregiver out by making threats against them to the patient. This is a doctor who should have a complaint made against him to the Medical Licensing Board for inappropriate conduct.
How disgusting to make a veiled threat like that.
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Did the doctor tell her this in your presence or are you getting this comment second hand?

Without knowing the context, the best interpretation I can put on it is that the doctor is trying to influence her to accept residential care rather than put her daughter at risk.

With no assets to speak of, she should be able to qualify for Medicaid. Her SS, pension, and any other income will go towards her care with a small personal needs allowance remaining available to her.
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JoAnn29 Jun 28, 2021
Not if her combined SS and pension are over the cap. In my State its a little more than $2300. Anything over that amt disqualifies you for Medicaid.
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I feel for you!

So no one has POA for her? When you say, " She refuses any sort of help. Refuses to go into assisted living or live with a family member." I hope you haven't offered YOUR home!

That pulmonologist should be ashamed of himself! I found that when a child accompanied the elder to an appointment, that as long as the MD knew there was a child somewhere in the picture, that they figured out that child should take care of things. It was the subtle implication.

At one appt. with my mother, I told the MD about her anxiety and obsessiveness, and said weren't there meds for that? The MD replied that she didn't like to put her older patients on those meds, and said that my mother needs someone every day to contact her to ask what she wants. ?! (No) thanks, Doc! (The MD was from Nepal, and in Nepal people take in their elders.)

There is so much expectation from society that the elder's family will take care of them.
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You say mom is living in Independent Living. I am surprised with a diagnosis of dementia that they have not suggested a transfer to Memory Care.
Along with all the other suggestions talk to an Elder Care Attorney, or you could talk to the Social Worker and go about getting a Court Appointed Guardian. This way you are not responsible. the draw back is that you will have no say in if or where she gets transferred, her medical decisions. The court will notify relatives and if no one steps up to become her Guardian then the Court will appoint one.
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Mjgiordano Jun 29, 2021
She lives totally on her own in an apartment. Not in any assisted living. She refuses to go into any facility. She cannot get out of her apartment to shop, get her mail or take her garbage out because it’s so hot here in Florida, that she can’t breathe. She has COPD. She can’t get to doctors, pick up her meds. I would say right now she is basically homebound.
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