A few months ago my mother was placed in a nursing home somewhere in Kansas City. She and my 93-yr.old stepfather have been married for over 45 (fairly hostile) years. I've been told she has end stage dementia. I learn everything third-hand. When she started losing it, he started editing the information he gave hospitals on her behalf. He gave his son's name - instead of mine - as her only child. I learned that about five years ago when he left her alone in their REMOTE northern Michigan home and went to KC for a few weeks; she wound up in the hospital and I was unable to get information on her condition. I cannot fully express the heartbreak of that level of betrayal. Both of my stepfather's sons have died in the past four months. Recently he has been feeding my son lies about my mother's condition and the location of her nursing home ... to keep us away. Finally last week my son and DIL were invited (by a third party) to drive 12 hours and retrieve a few boxes of her belongings. After a brief conversation (on why they'd been cut out of his will) they were taken to the nursing home by the third party and led through the password-protected doors. They learned my mother has always been in this particular nursing home. (My stepfather had previously told my son that she was violent and had been placed in an 'extreme psych facility' at some remote northern location. How Game of Thrones.) They found out she's having 'minor' brain hemorrhages. She didn't know them, of course, but was so lonely when they hugged her she didn't want to let go. They don't remember the name of the home. They don't want to ask for details because my stepfather will blow a gasket. I don't know what that matters at this point. But the family has been damaged enough, I'm not going to push it. I want to see my mother and I want my name on file as her daughter. I need to be in the loop, the first call when he dies. I know it's not wise to change homes at this stage of the game, but I want my connection back. I want to be able to visit without asking permission. I want to give her longer hugs. God help us... does Missouri have some kind of database or do I have to do a Google search and pick up the phone. Are they able to verify having her as a patient if I ask? Is there a directory of some kind? How can I find her?

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Thanks for all the guidance. I need it.
Helpful Answer (1)

As long as your mother and stepfather are married, he is her next of kin. Spouses trump children.

Having said that, spouses can't just decide that children don't exist. Your mother has a daughter. Her husband doesn't have the right to pretend that she hasn't.

You will have more trouble persuading the nursing home that you have any right to be kept informed; but you shouldn't have any trouble convincing them that your mother has a right to be made aware, as far as possible, of your continuing concern for her. And they can't prevent your visiting her without formal instructions from her primary caregiver, who in turn will have to provide valid reasons for excluding you - all of which would take time and trouble that your stepfather is unlikely to go to.

So do approach the nursing home, courteously and matter-of-factly, and make sure they put you on record. I hope you're able to make progress.
Helpful Answer (2)


Sounds like your mom is in a dementia/memory care facility.

When you call on Monday ask to speak to the administrator of the facility. Explain the entire situation. Ask the administrator for help and for a contact person (it may be the ombudsman).
You have valid cause for concern with his verbal abuse along with his other bizarre behaviors.

These statements you made raise HUGE red flags with me:
"Recently he has been feeding my son lies about my mother's condition and the location of her nursing home ... to keep us away"
"It has been rumored that my stepfather is considering divorce to 'get off the hook' for her care. He is determined to 'take it with him."

Document everything you know for fact or have 'learned' third party.

It's possible your step-father is slipping away himself.

"I've been told she has end stage dementia. I learn everything third-hand"
Don't assume this dx to be true unless you've seen the documentation yourself.

Also, don't assume your step-father has a legal POA or DPOA. Just because they are married doesn't automatically make him 'the boss' of her legal affairs. (Writing your son out of his grandmother's will comes to mind) If he has a fiduciary POA and is threatening to divorce your mom that can be considered fiduciary abuse.

Good luck.
Helpful Answer (2)

My mother hasn't known me in three years. Anything he had her sign during that time, she would have been clueless.

As for seeing someone with dementia, I went through this with my grandmother. She didn't know me, but I saw her every week for years and I like to think it gave her as much comfort as she gave me. I miss her terribly.

About the third party - she was my stepbrother's girlfriend. I don't think they ever married. He lived with her for decades. My stepfather decided he wanted to live with them and paid off her house. 

My stepfather is verbally abusive. My mother didn't sleep, required 24/7 attention ... both of them were too much for anyone to handle. My stepbrother died recently (who wouldn't); my mother's subsequent emotional outbursts led to my stepfather and the mourning girlfriend finding a nursing home on the fly.

My stepfather's behavior has since worsened to the point where she has suggested he leave.

Still, we're not sure of her loyalties, but have NO desire to involve her in a potential situation.

She knows nobody paid more attention to or worked harder on behalf of my parents than my son; who my stepfather brutally cut out of the will for no good reason. It's a really ugly situation. My son is devastated.

Update - I asked my son to check his Google Maps, as we all save locations we know we'll need in the future. 

He felt like he was betraying his grandfather. That's how loyal he is.

Finally he found it and gave it to me. I used the address to find the name of the home and sent an initial message. I'll call Monday. I'll fly in if I have to. 

At the very least I should be on file as my mother's next of kin when he dies.

It has been rumored that my stepfather is considering divorce to 'get off the hook' for her care. He is determined to 'take it with him.'

I imagine it would singe where he's going.
Helpful Answer (1)

Your best bet, the one person in this terribly sad history who seems to have kept a grip on normal humanity, is the third party, surely?

It seems improbable to me that your son and DIL would actually have forgotten the name of the nursing home. Rather likelier that they might have given your stepfather an undertaking that they would not give the details to you, as a condition of his agreeing to your son's seeing his grandmother, perhaps.

But they must surely have contact details for the third party. I should try an appeal to that person. I would expect the person to seek similar assurances that you will not at this stage in your mother's life do anything that will distress or confuse her. Which would include coming into conflict with your stepfather.

Your situation is heart-rending and I feel for you terribly. There may be some consolation in the thought that your mother's current state of mind suggests that she is not feeling it as keenly as you do. Nevertheless, the point to focus on is that your mother has a right to contact with her daughter if she is able to comprehend it; or, to look at it another way, that your stepfather has no right to discard his wife's daughter on her behalf.

It isn't that I don't understand why you would want to re-establish the connection: you must want to desperately. But how long is it since you were in contact? Is your mother realistically going to be able to benefit?
Helpful Answer (2)

My heart aches for you. No, under HIPAA laws, if you are not listed as having permission for information or listed as a child, the nursing home cannot legally tell you if your mother is a patient. There is no "directory of patients" - this prevents individuals with bad motives or journalists looking for juicy bits from finding people whose privacy is being protected. It's tragic that in this situation your mother is being kept from you. Your son and DIL were able to reassure you that she is in facility, alive and not being abused. Unless you are willing to go to court and pay a LOT of money trying to get guardianship, you are subject to the whims of her spouse (your stepfather) that she married and who has legal custody of your mother's person. I guess you could hire a private detective to find her location, but you are still restricted from seeing your mother if the person with power of attorney has banned you and your mother is not legally competent to request to see you. Perhaps you could write a letter and have your son give it to the third party to deliver to your mother, but your options are VERY limited. Password protected facilities means they take the security of residents seriously, and the facility will not talk with you without permission. It's possible that if your stepfather dies first, the facility will seek you out as a relation in order to protect your mother's rights; but right now you cannot just seek her out at facility and demand to see her. They will turn you away at the door and you could have real legal trouble. Keep the door open with your son - perhaps stepfather will contact him again if he needs help since his own sons are gone.
Helpful Answer (4)

Who's the third party, and can you contact him or her?
Helpful Answer (0)

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