My father, 97, lives alone and has never given POA to anyone. He is in good physical health, but has dementia. I am seeking legal guardianship in order to better care for him- hiring caregivers, house cleaners, and ultimately to be able to make healthcare decisions for him. I have opted to be the one to tell him about the upcoming legal proceedings. Has anyone been through this? What is the kindest way to approach it? Any advice on how to word it so as to help him receive it better? Thank you!

When i noticed my mom's condition was worsening i decided to seek for legal advise and quickly found out that not all lawyers are suited to present POAs'. You see there are different personalities. And if mom percieves a person as nongrata during her moment of lucidness. That she won't forget. So, i visited my lawyer with my mom after mentioning his name during many short conversations. And, as expected, she forgot. But, i continued to mention my lawyers name in a friendly way until i asked her if she would like to meet my lawyer friend. By then, this lawyer and i became friends because of his circumstances with his mom. To my surprise she agreed.
That first time he introduced himself he talked to my mom about his mom and how he did everything within his possibilities to accomodate her and protect her from unforeseen circumstances. He actually put himself in my shoes and she in turn became aquainted with demeanor. At first, i thought she would simply forget the conversation, But, then she looked at me and said that i was all she had and that there was nobody else. That i should do the same thing he did. When my lawyer heard that, he asked her if she would agree to give me POA over her wellbeing. And she agreed.
This may seem like a long story. But, finding the right lawyer takes time and perserverance. It's like finding the right surgeon. I hope this helps some of you.
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Reply to newworlds88
gdaughter Oct 28, 2018
Could not agree more about finding the right attorney. I made a dreadful mistake the first time in picking someone with a public and known reputation but up close and personal she was a witch. She used information I shared prior to foster her own belief system like I was a greedy daughter looking to exploit the situation and she did nothing to educate my father with whom she met privately. This was probably due to the tedious nature of communicating with him since he is deaf and uses an iphone. We were ripped off horribly and she had the nerve to charge if I asked a simple question via was called RRR (for read, review and respond). At full rates. She wrote ONE SENTENCE that technically/legally prevented me from writing checks to charitable organizations that my father WANTED ME TO. This was caught by the new attorney, and resulted in the whole form needing to be redone. So yes, the new attorney made more profit, and yes it crossed my mind to sue the witch prior, but the grief and stress would have been not worth the costs in the end. I can only hope she gets what is coming to her and I let everyone know she is not the person the community thinks she is. So much of the legal efforts are educating all of us. And you also nailed the approach...letting your loved one feel in control of the decision making.
I think you'd better take legal advice on what you MUST tell him in order to fulfil legal requirements. Your father has a right to object to this application, and the right to be represented in court.

You're approaching it, naturally enough, as though the only problem might be his hurt or angry feelings. But you've yet to establish that a) guardianship is in his best interests; and b) you are the right person to be his guardian. If you haven't explained clearly what is happening, with due tact and kindness for sure but clarity is the thing, you're going to run into trouble. Don't make any assumptions.

It might be better after all to ask an experienced lawyer to do this job for or at least with you.
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Reply to Countrymouse
Deciquesi Oct 27, 2018
Countrymouse, you say “you’ve yet to establish that (a)....,and (b)....” To whom? Do you mean to my lawyer, or to my father? I have established these points toy lawyer. I’m assuming you meant that I need to estsblish these points to my father. I’ve begun to discuss these things with him over the last year. Unfortunately, any gains made are forgotten within the next day. He believes he is just fine. Admirable, I suppose, yet very difficult to deal with. Thank you for your wise words.
I’d suggest that you make it about the future, not about what he needs right now. Find a story about someone else who was fine, just like him, then had a problem, and everyone was in difficulty because there was nothing in place. This someone had a stroke and couldn’t speak? Fell and broke a leg? You can work it out. Don’t tell him about changes that you are planning to make immediately, and don’t suggest that he isn’t capable now. And probably don’t make changes immediately, as it will make you a liar – leave it a month or two. That’s my best suggestion, kindest to both of you. I hope that there are other ideas, too.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

Oh sweetie.

It is the COURT that will decide whether or not guardianship is the best way to serve your father. The judge may not agree that it's necessary. Or, the judge may agree that it is necessary but that you are not the best choice of guardian. Or, the judge may tell you all to go away and work out the POA. Or, the judge may approve your application exactly as you hope, and perhaps pat you on the head for taking prompt and conscientious action. It all depends. One way of gaining the judge's approval, though, is to pay the closest possible attention to the ethics of what you're doing.

What the court will not do is listen to you and not care what your father has to say about things solely on the grounds that you and his doctor say he's demented.

And if you put yourself in your father's position for a moment, you will see that it is just as well that courts prefer to judge these things for themselves. How would you like it if other people pronounced you barmy and were able on their own say-so to take over your entire life?

Your father will receive notice from the court about the proceedings. If he is unable to understand the information, and/or ignores it, the court will still want to know why he is not either there himself or represented by his own advocate. This could be a lawyer, or it could be a guardian ad litem.

Has your lawyer suggested, perhaps, that it might be a good idea to find independent legal counsel for your father? The important thing is that your father is represented by someone who has no other client. It doesn't mean you can't have a good working relationship with them, because at the end of the day *everybody* wants your father to be well-supported and happy, but you want somebody there whose only job is to speak on your father's behalf.

Um. I don't know your father. He could be howling at the moon for all I know. But on the not making assumptions point, with your father being resistant and then forgetful during discussions about POA, I think you would be wise to consider just the possibility that it's not so much he doesn't understand, as that he doesn't agree and doesn't care to talk about it.
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Reply to Countrymouse
Deciquesi Oct 30, 2018
Countrymouse, my father certainly “doesn’t agree and doesn’t care to talk about it”. He has always been very independent, intelligent, managing his own financial affairs without the help of others. Even at 97 he still believes he is actively managing his stock portfolio. He’s able to move around his home slowly, gets the morning paper, makes coffee. But it’s the routine that is propping him up, the established routine of 50 years living at home. But I’m seeing the signs of failing and know it’s only a matter of WHEN, not IF he can no longer continue like this. This is why he needs a guardian. And, bring his closest relative, it has fallen to me to figure things out. I will ask my attorney about finding a lawyer to represent my father, exploring if it would be a good idea. I want this to be squeaky-clean, honest, above-board. I only want to protect my father’s interests.
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You could be describing my father. He just kept passing all assessments because he has a high IQ, and was a salesman. He knows how to say what people want to hear.

He said what your father says, “I will ask for help when I need it, not when you say I need it. “
Here is what we had to do. We had to let him fail. What that meant, was only going to take him to the store every two weeks. Letting him make doctor appointments, and using the senior shuttle to go to them. He was not capable of doing this.
Not cleaning his apartment-he didn’t want anyone to touch his stuff anyhow.
He refused in-home help from anyone, even his kids. He refused any help for anything. He was furious that doctors diagnosed him with dementia.
Well, very quickly things went downhill, and we got guardianship after many incidents.
How to tell him what you are doing? We did not tell him until he was diagnosed as not having the capacity to handle his decisions.
We did not tell him until we had to.

I finally told him we were seeking guardianship because we loved him and wanted his life to be less complicated. That we were really afraid for his safety and others safety. I told him I was on his side.

I asked him,” If we don’t do this, the state will, as APS has been called three times by your neighbor’s. Wouldn’t you rather have someone that loves you and will watch out for you be your guardian? “
He got very agitated, but he did not remember it a few days later. He is not angry at anyone now-he still thinks he is in charge. He is safe and clean and not hallucinating or afraid now.
There is that little kid in all of us that goes through this. We have not been “in charge” of our parents. But our parents did not have dementia when we were growing up. Now they need our love and help to live their last years under our protection and love. It means doing what we feel is right, as they have a damaged brain and are not capable of managing.
Hugs to you-you know him, you love him, you will do what is best for him.
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Reply to PrairieLake
Babs75 Oct 28, 2018
My dad contested the guardianship and so a court date was set. Neither of the attorneys thought it was a good idea that he went to court (he has a high state of anxiety. Either he would have totally lost it or he would have put himself together, which he is capable of doing when needed.) My fear was that he would be having one of those good days and then guardianship wouldn't be awarded so we were able to reach an agreement out of court before the court date. But I don't agree with him staying in his house, even with care, because when they leave he is alone again. But I can't move him without a physican's referral (that was one way he agreed to the guardianship - I can't move him without a doctor's note) and we're not quite there yet. One day at a time with this one. Then there's him wanting control of the money. That's another long story.....
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I was a bit forced into going for guardianship for my dad by our care manager, the doctor, the hospital, and APS. I was awarded in August. Initially, I didn't discuss this with dad but finally had to tell him what I was doing when he was served papers. There was also a court visitor appointment. I did end up telling him about being forced into this (it is not something I necessarily wanted) but also twisted it around a bit by telling him we were preparing for the future and that not much would change right now. That's where I have left it. I have had have full access to his financial situation over the last few years but when it came time for me to go through his files to do the financial inventory, he freaked out. It has been baby steps with him but ALWAYS emphasizing that I am 'preparing for the future'. I am currently dealing with his wanting to control the incoming money. (IRA checks, pension checks, etc). Since he likes spreadsheets that I make for tracking other things, I have created one that we will record the incoming money on so he can still be part of the process. He's a bit of a control freak.......
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Reply to Babs75
Deciquesi Oct 26, 2018
Babs, my father is especially guarded about his finances. A few years ago he actually agreed to add my name to his checking acct, but when the next statement arrived, he became very angry at seeing my name added. He had forgotten that he had been in full agreement. I like the idea of taking myself out of this decision, by saying that it is something I’m being forced to do. Thank you.
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Margaret, that is really good advice.

I told my dad that it was about being able to make sure that if something happens to him I will be able to ensure that his wishes are fulfilled. Without DPOA his future would be in the hands of complete strangers that could care less about his desires.

Then I told him what happened when he was in the hospital near death. A hospitalist actually said that my dad requested a DNR, this was added to his chart and because I had no authority (POA/Guardian) I could not get it removed, so that was what made him realize that he could be dead if I didn't have the authority to speak for him. It was never removed but I fought tooth and nail to make sure he got good care, he would have died had I not been willing to raise the roof. It is frightening that you bring someone that is so sick to a hospital and a "Dr." In private, no witnesses says that this person said no resuscitation and it sticks.

Perhaps telling him my story will help him understand that it is really about ensuring his safety and wishes.

I aged 10 years in the 10 days he was so near death and I had to fight tooth and nail to make sure he was being treated medically and not just being allowed to die. There were no heroic measures taken, just good medical care. He lived and is now enjoying some quality life.

Hugs 2 u and dad, this is a hard situation to be in.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

As my mother lay dying in the hospital only a few weeks ago, we kept having to remind her why she was there. (heart attack and series of v-tach events). Most of the memory issues were the drugs she was on. We waited until she had a period off the drugs and was quite coherent to ask if she would give me POA. My mother was strong willed and independent, but I was surprised how readily she consented. You mzy have the same experience.
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Reply to Jimbosticks

How far into Dementia is he? Does he do well at this point. For guardianship you need a doctor maybe two to say he can no longer care for himself.

Will Dad understand what you are saying? Or forget it within a few minutes or the next day. If yes to what I have said, then I wouldn't say anything.
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Reply to JoAnn29

you probably won't be able to get guardianship without a court order. you father has to have his full wits to assign a POA. you definitely need to see an eldercare attorney.
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Reply to cetude

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