What can I do if my stepfather is refusing to pick up my estranged mother from the hospital?

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I just got a call from my sister who told me our stepfather took my mother to the hospital and told them they needed to fix her. Hes refusing to come back to get her. She is estranged from all 7 of us kids. She was cruel and neglectful and once we were old enough we all broke contact with her. I believe shes bipolor or has some other mental illness that was never properly diagnosed, or treated. A few days ago the police contacted us stating she is accusing him of trying to kill her. She locks herself in the bathroom and wont come out. My stepfather who I havent talked to in years now suddenly wants us to take care of our mother. He said hes done with it. She apparently is saying hes stolen all her jewelry to either sell for money or to give to his girlfriend. My mother is quite older than him, shes a diabetic, has one kidney and lots of other health issues. Shes on a lot of meds and doesnt taken them when she should. Though shes not been in my life, i dont want her to suffer. I have no idea her medical info and dont know where to begin to even help her out. My younger sister feels the same as I. Our question is if hes legally married to her, shouldnt he be looking into getting her either help at home or placed in a home. He's saying right now he doesnt want her back in the house.

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Thanks for the update. Your husband's instincts not to get involved are understandable and on target. Your desire to see that she is treated decently is also understandable and noble.

You need some professional input. Adult Protective Services is a good start. Have either you or your sister talked to the hospital's social worker assigned to your mother? I really would start there. You will find out what the options are. You might also want to consult an Edler Law attorney, but start with the professional readily available to you at no cost to you.

Some options might depend on the stage of her cancer and how it is/will be treated.

Wherever she winds up (NOT your home or your sister's), she will need public assistance to pay for it. That means filling out applications, etc. Since you would not know most of the answers and do not have access to her financial records, etc., the data will probably have to come from her husband. How it is obtained is not your problem -- that may be a role APS can play. I don't know, fortunately not having to experience that. Again, I think the hospital social worker can give you some guidance.

Do be the dutiful daughter, since that is your inclination, and do what you can to see that she is settled into a facility that will care for her and look after her medical needs. But reread some of those letters you've kept if you are tempted to go beyond that role. Keep your marriage strong. Respect your husband's needs as well as your own.

You may well be correct that if her mental illness had been diagnosed and treated many years ago all of your lives would have turned out different. She is, perhaps, a victim herself, of mental illness and failure to have that addressed appropriately. That may give you grounds for forgiving her. It is NOT grounds to put your own mental health and the welfare of your family at risk. You are not going to be able to fix what broke long ago. Deal with the present, compassionately but at a distance.

Hugs to you and your sister. This isn't going to be easy. It may bring some closure on a painful childhood. Sincere best wishes to you as you deal with this difficult situation.
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Today my sister was able to find out that my mother does have cancer of the lymph nodes as well as a cancerous mass in her left lung. My stepfather has used all but four dollars of their money. I am unaware of what their financial status is or was prior to this. He still is insisting that she is not welcome home and we need to deal with her. He has stated he still needs her social security check that comes in next week or so to pay the rent on their home. My sister has informed the bank of the situation. We are also contacting Adult Protective Services. She gets such a small amount of social security I don't understand how she is supposed to survive on it. My sister went to visit her, I have not and there are extenuating circumstances for me. I have tried to have a relationship with her throughout the years but she would only want it on her terms. I invited her over when my daughters were two and three. She bit the three year old for accidentally stepping on the two year olds hand. I feel like I have done all I can. We still received horrible letters from her for years. I kept these to remind me of how cruel she could be and anytime I felt I missed her and needed to see her, I would just read a few of the letters and the sadness would be replaced with anger and hurt. My husband feels we have done more than enough. He's told me she is not welcome in our home and wants nothing to do with it (which includes my help). I do understand where he's coming from. This is someone that could be so cold and cruel when she wanted to be. I never felt love from her as a child, more of an inconvenience. We were a possession of hers, more of a trinket she showed off when it suited her.
Though she has not been a good mother, I still feel she should be treated with decency, respect and with care. To just be basically thrown out on the street while her husband has their vehicle, all of their belongings, everything she owns, isnt fair. I truly believe she has a mental condition and had she been diagnosed, could have been properly treated. She is after all still my mother and because of her I am here as well as my beautiful children.
I appreciate anything anyone has to offer for information on how to handle this.
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For all I know, he stole all her jewelry, sold half and gave the other half to his girlfriend and now he is trying to kill her. But it is just as likely that your mother's paranoia is talking. I guess the police need to sort that out.

Do you know what state she was in when she arrived at the hosptial? Was she having a manic episode? Was her diabetes in crisis mode? Any clues about what he expected them to "fix"? Do you know how she is being treated? For example, is she getting a thorough psychiatric workup? Are they going to keep her a few days until they get her blood sugar stabilized and then send her home? What is the situation?

I don't think you have any legal obligation to get involved. (But I'm not a lawyer.) Whether you have a desire to get involved or an ethical obligation is your decision, and I imagine it is a hard decision to make. Don't rush into it. Think it through.

If I were you I would start by speaking to the hospital's social worker. He or she may not be able to give you details about your mother, but could talk to you in general terms. What is the hospital's policy about discharging someone who has no relatives willling to take over arranging for the patient's care?

Whatever you do, DO NOT consider bringing this mentally ill stranger you are estranged from into your home. You can decide what level of involvement you are willing to have (if any) in arranging care for her. You can visit her twice a day if you want to. But draw the line at your front door. If you wonder why I say this, spend a few hours reading posts on these discussion boards.

Good luck to you as you deal with this very complicated situation.
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