Follow
Share

My dad (96 yr old) is insisting on traveling to his birthplace (Erie PA) and a nearby cultural function by himself. He normally needs to use a motorized wheelchair, and can no longer walk. He uses his walker as a 'scooter" to get around his assisted living apt. We did a "last hurrah" trip last year to the same place, and I went with him to help out with basic needs and take part in festivities. The event location is not handicap friendly and has a VERY DIFFICULT bathroom access, and he's on diuretics for congestive heart failure. His choices are to take his meds, requiring at least 10 difficult trips to the bathroom daily, wear Depends (which he refuses to do), or skipping his meds. Last year he skipped his meds and he landed in the hospital the week we got back, with cellulitis due to the excessive leg swelling (because he didn't take his meds). Now he wants to go again in about 6 weeks from now, and I've told him that I would not go this year with him, hoping that would dissuade him from going. He insists on going by himself, by plane, which requires a change in flights that is hard enough to do if you're healthy. He also has no accessible place to live--his old home (now owned by a friend of his) is not set up for him in his current state. The motel he wants to stay at is not accessible either, has steps that he won't be able to navigate and narrow spaces in the room that he won't be able to get around either. My worry is that he'll insist on going by himself, and then falling into a health issue that would require a lengthy hospital stay in Erie, and we live in MN. All his money is in a joint account that I can manage, but up to this point I've allowed him the dignity of managing his own money. He is generally of sound mind, but he is 96 and isn’t quite as sharp as he used to be, and his body is betraying him. I am an only child and have both his legal POA and his health care directive. I would consider taking guardianship but I consider this a last resort. Can I legally stop him from traveling, and do I have any other options?

Would love to know how this worked out
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Look.

#1 If your father is really in terrible physical shape, he is not going to be able even to get to the airport without active assistance. Either he is mentally organised enough to arrange that assistance, in which case he is competent; or he isn't, in which case he won't be going.

#2 If your father is in full possession of his faculties to the extent that he can plan and implement this trip, then he is demonstrably an autonomous, consenting adult. He does not require your permission to do whatever he likes and can arrange; you have no authority to prevent him from doing as he pleases.

#3 If you have no authority to prevent his travelling, you cannot be held responsible for the consequences. If you like, you can write a waiver and ask him to sign it.

#4 You need to be careful about disclosing confidential medical information. You can talk to his doctor, obviously, and it would be sensible to; but when it comes to *your* conversations with insurers, watch it.

#5 Having said that, you can spell out to your father that failure to disclose information can invalidate insurance and could mean that if he needs to make a claim he will discover that he is expensively uninsured. (i) His health insurer needs to be told about his plans to travel. (ii) His travel insurer needs to be told about his health. As an autonomous adult, it is entirely his responsibility to ensure that he has not failed to disclose all relevant information to his insurers. Look him in the eye and ask him if he has done this, and if not stand over him until it's done.

This won't necessarily be a problem, by the way. People with all kinds of disabilities and chronic illnesses travel worldwide all the time. Keep an open mind, but listen in and make sure he's not weaselling out of any questions, or suddenly going all vague about them either.

I still think your best first step is to speak to the event organisers and see if your father can be accompanied. Maybe they'd know of more user-friendly accommodation, too. You may find that if you are seen to be trying to help, your father is more likely to accept defeat if the logistical problems prove insurmountable.

Speaking as someone who nearly passed out when I saw the photographs of my mother bobbing about in an open boat in Antarctica, smiling happily with the rest of the penguin-pesterers doing this optional extra on the cruise; and who was in the doghouse for weeks for "snitching" after I asked the geriatrician if it might be best to postpone a trip through the Panama Canal - mind you, it was worth it for the expression on the geriatrician's face - I do fully appreciate your wish that your father would be content with his memories of *successful* expeditions.

But consider. Just suppose, God forbid, the worse did come to the very worst. Is it better to crash and burn in the attempt, or to wither safely in your facility?
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

twinsfam, I remember those times when my parents wanted to travel from the east coast out to Dad's home town in the midwest. They were in their 90's... why on earth didn't they do this a few years ago when they were much more mobile, when they could see, and when they could hear, and long before using Depends.

One thing I had noticed that for every birthday my parents would age another 10 years. And they only remembered how easy flying was back then. Well, things have changed big time with air travel. Mom probably would slap a TSA Office who was patting her down or trying to search through her purse... Mom's name would be on the "do not fly" list rather quickly.

Many times my parents were in denial about their age and their ability. So in their mind they think they were much younger. I remember when my parents were doing volunteer work at a local hospital at the information desk, Dad said "this old guy came up looking for the ER".... Mom said "the old guy was much younger than Dad".

Twimfam, I agree with other writers above, get the help from your Dad's doctors, that is if your Dad is strict about following doctor's orders. Let the doctor be the bad guy saying no your Dad cannot travel, not even by Uber.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to freqflyer
Report

As to your second question, posted while I was creating my tome, this is one of the reasons I suggested seeing if a doctor's statement would be required by the airlines. I really doubt any doctor (especially a cardiologist) would support the planned travel, and that may be the final consideration right then and there.

You might even go into some detail with the airline about the medical consequences to "encourage" them to recommend that he not consider flying with that particular airline. Segue into the conversation with snippets about his past hospitalization and the airlines' collective radar will go on alert. I wouldn't think they would knowingly want to accept a passenger who might have a medically catastrophic accident mid flight.

OTOH, it wouldn't hurt to ask him to sign a waiver of responsibility for you and your family. If he really is intent on doing this, you do need to protect yourself. If you have an attorney, ask him/her to prepare a waiver. Or contact a county or state bar elder law agency and ask about liability waivers for family.

I hate to suggest that an attorney get involved in something like this, but his plan has disaster written all over it.

Maybe one of his doctors could persuade him this is unwise?
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to GardenArtist
Report

These desires for a "Last Hurrah" experience can be challenging beyond belief.

This is one suggestion, with 3 options, for discouraging him, but replacing the event with something easier. (As I've posted before, I like the Indiana Jones style of conserving treasures in balanced systems by replacing them with something of less value. Remember the first scene in the first Indy movie?)

I would suggest two options, first the trip, and secondly an alternate by which he could gain some aspect of the camaraderie he would enjoy.

I think these Last Hurrah trips are recognition that his days are diminishing, and he wants to see things, people, and engage in activities before he's completely unable to do so.

So the real questions are how to make him realize he's at the stage of being travel constrained, and how to substitute the real experience for as close as possible to a substitute experience.

1. Contact the airlines that fly to Erie or close city and ask what arrangements can be pre-made to accommodate someone with incontinence, need for bathroom assistance, and a motorized wheelchair. I suspect wheelchair accommodations can be made, but I doubt if an airline would provide bathroom assistance.

Importantly, ask if they would (hopefully) require a doctor's assistance that he could travel safely. (That might be the solution right there.)

2. So he'd probably have to be accompanied by someone to help him back and forth to the bathroom facilities, which on an airplane are notoriously small and cramped (based on my last trip recollection). I can easily imagine a fall and emergency occurring in an airplane bathroom. Ask if they're aware of any services the airline might offer (for pay, probably), or if a private duty caregiver would suffice.

Ask how a fall and fracture would be treated: would the plane land at the closest city with a hospital that could accommodate leg fractures? Or would he have to wait until the plane landed in NY?

3. If the airline would require an assistant, start pricing private duty costs to accompany him on the flight. If the airline reps state this is mandatory, make that clear as your father will probably feel he doesn't need the assistance.

4. If either of these two issues can be accommodated, then search for paratransit assistance to a motel or hotel. Expect this to be expensive, as there will be a trip from the airport to a motel, then to the cultural center and back (and possibly waiting time inbetween), then back to the airport for the return.

5. Research handicapped motels or hotels, even if they're not close to the cultural center. He'll have to stay somewhere, and the farther away the more the transit costs increase. Ask them the same questions about wheelchair accommodation, private duty assistant/nurse accommodation, etc.

6. Be sure to ask about extra costs for all these services, and whether or not they accept charge. I'm surprised to find that some businesses still only want cash or check. And cost out an estimate to present to him for consideration. He'll probably think he could find resources cheaper, so let him have that opportunity. (If you lowball the costs a bit, he'll find that they're actually more expensive and will eventually be less inclined to challenge your estimates.)

7. Ask if they require waivers of liability to accommodate someone with limitations. I suspect an airline might want indemnification or at least a waiver of liability.

8. Present him with the information gathered, and allow him to make his own calls, choices and arrangements. He may get frustrated just trying to do so, especially if he gets blowback about the wheelchair or bathroom issue.


In the meantime, two other options:

1. Are there any similar cultural events in his area, and if so, could you either take him or arrange for transportation for him to attend? He probably has friends he wants to see, so consider the next suggestion.

2. Contact the cultural center and people who are planning the event. Ask if they can record a video for him, or arrange for skyping by which he could speak and interact with his old friends?

3. If skyping could work, arrange for a similar buffet or food choices to have a "party" in his AL apartment . Or, better yet, perhaps the management at the AL site can help facilitate this, and other residents can enjoy it as well. A group gathering of friends at AL could make the event more like a party. You might even consider some aspects of a memorial service, with photos of his childhood activities and home, military duty, etc. Make it like a reunion, just with new friends.

4. I would research the AL option discreetly, so that he doesn't know of an alternate plan, then present it when he becomes frustrated making the arrangements to travel. Substitute another (actually better) idea for the failed trip plans.

This sounds cruel, but it's not; it's just strategizing when some factors aren't realistic, and offering an alternative that is. And the alternative (if videoed) can be enjoyed repeatedly, not just once.



Additional Option:

1. I suspect though that he wants to visit his birthplace, so I would also consider a video for that, something he can keep and review over and over, even during those cold Minnesota winters.

2. Are there any relatives or friends who could create such a video of his childhood home, school, neighborhood? If not, you might consider a professional company.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to GardenArtist
Report

There was a similar post where a daughter wanted to take the mother on a plane trip to see an 80 year old sister. The woman had pretty much the same thing wrong with her that Dad has. When Mother was asked ahat she would do about bathrooms she said she would not take her water pills. One poster said this would be a no no since she would be sitting in a cramped plane and her legs would swell. Also, oxygen was in question, can't be used on the plane. Only those new models and they only have a battery life of 2 hrs. I read that if you can't walk 100 yds and climb 12 steps, its not recommended you fly. Does your Dad show signs of Dementia? There was a thread like this a few months back. You really need to be firm and tell Dad sorry this isn't happening and remind him all he went thru the last time. If he has Dementia then invoke your POA. Guardianship will take a while. Get his doctor involved. Hopefully, someone who has been thru this can chime in.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Suppose he goes against our wishes--and has a major medical issue while gone. Can we be held legally responsible for "neglect"?
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to anonymous255032
Report

Thinking purely in terms of practical logistics, how far do you think your father is likely to get without your assistance?

I mean, you'd be surprised. Long after she was really up to this kind of travel my mother made it to India and out to the wildlife lodge where she slipped in the shower and broke her collar bone...

Not that I mean to depress you.

What about suggesting or arranging something much more local for your father to attend himself, as a kind of trial run, which will either pleasantly surprise you about how resourceful he still can be, or demonstrate to him with comparatively little loss of face that it might be better to send his good wishes to his old friends and let them toast him in his absence.

The thing is. If your father is of sound mind, and it sounds as you believe he is, then apart from your being extremely reluctant to do it anyway a guardianship application would not be successful.

And without that, or without his demonstrably being incompetent, you can't stop him doing what he wants to do.

Alternatives... in case... do you know anyone else who's attending? Could you, maybe, set up some sort of relay of support ready to stand by and assist?
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report