My Mom forced into nursing home by state not by family. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mom forced into nursing home by state not by family. Any advice?

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I am my mothers only son. Currently I am in Afghanistan as a civilian working for Socom. My mothers diabetes recently got out of control, She lives alone but two of my close friends and my Godmother help her and visit her as much as possible. She recently went to the hospital due to her insulin levels and was assigned a Social worker. After about 3 visits the social worker went to my mothers house with a police officer and forced her into a nursing home. How is it possible in this free nation for the government to come into your home and force you out and imprison you in a facility without your consent? She still has her mental capacity. She is just elderly and needs assistance with tasks such as driving and home maintenance. She does NOT need to be held against her will. The social worker never even bothered to call me to let me know what she was working. She even told my friend that was taking care of my mother that if he intervened he would go to jail! I am currently in search of a Elder Law attorney to help my mother and get her out of this situation. If my mother is deemed not able to live alone we have plenty of good friends that will help or and or take her in with them until my return to the states. ANY advice would be much appreciated.

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This happened to my mother in the state of Massachusetts. You have to tread lightly because they are in charge. Once they know a lawyer is involved, they get a bit nicer.

1. Call an Elder Care Attorney - they've been through this. They know what to do. State to him you/her you can't get information from anyone.

2. Call her PCP (Primary Care Physician). After you talk with him/her, tell her the SW is not returning your calls and does s/he know what to do about this.

3. Call the Nursing Home (which may also be serving as a REHAB). Ask how your mother is doing. They may be trying to get her back on track with medications. Also, tell them the SW is not returning calls. Try to talk with the highest person on board.

For your own information: Go on Medicare.gov to find out the rating of the nursing home. It may help you understand where and how she is.

I'm thinking your mother's diabetic numbers were out of control which causes confusion which in turn causes non compliance with medications. It was probably a matter of covering her/his butt because of lawsuits that could result if your mom was found dead. We all believe our parents are 'okay' because they never tell us they're not. It's not anyone's fault. It's life.

Hopefully you're okay. When you are speaking with these people, do not show your anger or how upset you are. It will only make things worse and they won't call you back.
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It sounds like adult protective services in San Antonio got involved and after a few visits decided that your mother's health required an emergency guardian to handle her medical care and are probably managing her finances as well.

Something must have triggered them to have moved as quickly as they did to move her into a place where she would have 24/7 care. This may be only a temporary move to get her stabilized until other arrangements can be worked out.

How long have you been gone from the states? When did she last see her doctor and did the doctor say anything about her living by herself at home with only people visiting her as much as possible?

How recent did her blood sugar get out of control and the social worker have your mother placed in a facility? Is it difficult to reach you in your work with Socom? Did your friend tell the social worker that you are her son and are oversees with Socom in Afghanistan?

You can search for an elder law attorney form this site to find someone to contact. They need to be your contact person to find out the whole story, get back with you and create a plan as to what to do next until you return to the states.

There's really not a whole lot you can do while you're in Afghanistan. How much longer will you be there?

Adult protective services does have the authority to do that for elderly whom they perceive are at risk either because of self-neglect or the neglect of others not providing the level of care that the medical people perceive that they need at the time.

I don't know why the social worker did not contact you. Nor does it make sense that they told your friend not to intervene and threatened them with jail.

Is there a family member who lives in the area who has medical and durable POA for her that was overseeing her care while you are oversees? If so, it sounds like Adult Protective Services has overtaken those responsibilities.

If you are her POA, then there was no one there with the durable and medical authority to deal with that emergency and so in your being absent, they must of deemed in necessary to just step in and take over.

I don't know why all this went down like it did, but my gut reaction to this is there must be more information about this and to find that out will take hiring a lawyer.

Take care and keep in touch.
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Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and kind words. To answer some of the questions asked :
I have been in contact by phone with my mother every day since she had her high blood sugar incident.
This was caused by her staying up too late one day and missing her morning meds.
She was taken to the ER when one of her neighbors came by to check on her.
After her stay at the hospital she was sent to rehab for a week and then dropped off at her house. No follow up.
While at rehab they took away several of her meds. Why I have no idea but the only meds they allowed her to keep where her insulin and her blood pressure meds.
This caused her to feel ill and one of my friends that assists her took my mother to the hospital.
During all this time I was in touch with the doctors and nurses. They would even call me at my office number here in Afgh, to give me updates. I spoke to the case worker at the hospital and she told me that other than my mother being diabetic she see's no reason to keep her away from her home.
Fast forward to now:
New social worker which I have never spoken too until last night.
Believe me when I say that I trust my friend when he tells me that this SW's only motive from day one was to get my mother out of her home and into a NH.
Talking ( or trying to talk without being interrupted constantly ) by this social worker makes it clear to me that my friend is being honest with me.
Every answer she gave me for any of my questions involved telling me to hire a attorney. She would not even give me a number to the probate court.
She also claims she had no idea how to contact me. Very hard to believe since I had called her a couple times and left voicemails on her cellphone. Not to mention the fact that the nurses at the hospitals where she was seen also had my contact info. So too did the 1st case worker my mother had.
I am very sad to say but the more I see what is going on the more it seems to me this is being run as a business and not something with the patients best interests in mind.
Currently I am working on having a close friend petition for guardianship while at the same time seeking legal counsel.
Thanks again every one.
I am sorry if I missed some questions asked of me but I am operating on very little sleep for the last couple of days.
I truly appreciate all the input and advice from every one here.
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Have you spoken to the social worker, or to the administration of the nursing home to ascertain the facts? With all due respect, I think you need to find out the other side of this story.
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I agree with "cmagnum" that something must have happened in your mother's health situation to have triggered this sudden move. The health of an elderly person can go downhill very suddenly - and you were not there to witness it. It's possible that she has developed diabetes-related dementia and Adult Protective Services felt that it was not safe for her to live alone. If she had no healthcare proxy, no durable power of attorney, etc. then there was nobody who could speak on her behalf - so the state did not have a lot of choice.

I highly recommend getting ALL OF THE FACTS before making a rash decision. Since you have been far away, things may have changed dramatically with your mother's health status and you would not even realize it.
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I was re-reading your original post and your follow up post. A couple of things jumped out at me.

Your statement: "I am my mother's only SON". Do you have sisters? Are they a part of your mother's caregiving? Could they be?

The part about arresting the friend. Was he belligerent? In my limited experience with social workers, I've never seen one threaten jail to someone who was trying to get along. You see, your friends, helpful as they may be, probably don't have any legal status. So, they are essentially useless in an emergency. And out of control diabetes is an emergency. If there is no one at home to give the level of care deemed proper for the situation, then your mother would be placed in a facility (not necessarily one that YOU would choose even given a choice), but a safe place for her to stay and get stable.

I know you are mad at yourself for not being there for her when she needed you. But with the job that you hold, what ever it is, being out of the country for months/years at a time means that you and your mother needs to make sure there are some legal guardians stateside that can help her make decisions. You can do temporary POA's I believe, that can be rescinded when you return. While you are talking to a lawyer, ask about that. Hopefully you will retain an attorney that specializes in senior law and not one that is essentially an ambulance chaser "out to get the bad guy".

Good luck and stay safe.
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There are different definitions of "fine". To most casual observers, my mom is "fine" but if a clinically trained person asks her questions that assess her reasoning ability, you see a different picture. Hope this works out for the best.
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I am assuming you have spoken with your mother. Otherwise you would be assuming that she is, in fact, being held against her will.

It may be that she is relieved to be in safe environment, where her medicine will be controlled and good, diabetic friendly meals will be prepared for her. Maybe taking care of the house got to be too much for her. Maybe preparing healthy meals got to be too much. Obviously, for her insulin to be out of whack, and her diabetes to be out of control, something was amiss. Maybe the friends visiting "as much as possible" wasn't enough?

I know this is frustrating and frightening, especially with you being so far away and the time zone differences and all - but you can get more done if you are calm and collected and not a blustering hothead. I don't know you and don't know if that description fits you or not - but it's just a suggestion. I know that most of the men in my family would just charge in and try to "fix" any given situation, oftentimes without even knowing all the facts.

Personally, I would be happy to know that my mother is safe and being taken care of by trained professionals. In May, or whenever you return, you can always change the living arrangements.
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I imagine that you are worried, being so far away, having to deal with state agencies is at best - not good. I would not hire an attorney at this point but look to a good friend or family member that is willing to do the footwork for you - you will need to know this all anyway should you decide to hire an attorney later. Dealing with these people by phone is difficult, frustrating, time consuming and more often than not gets you nowhere. I would make sure that your advocate has the proper consent forms signed by both you and your mother giving them the authority to discuss her and her medical and social issues, have them make an appointment to visit in person with the social services director at the nursing facility where your mother is - that is going to give you the answers to your questions and give you what you need to know to proceed - make sure to give your advocate a list of questions that you want answered, why did they feel they needed to place her and what needs to be done to get her released, etc. I think from what you say that her placement had to do with her mismanagement of her medication for the diabetes and this is very common with seniors - many take the medication when and how they want and do the same with diet. It could be a simple fix, your mother needs to be evaluated to she if she is able to be trained to take her blood sugar readings, medication and dietary changes to maintain her diabetes by herself or that she needs some in home help with it, or indeed needs to be in the nursing facility. Have your advocate take lots of notes along with phone numbers and names. I would think that a primary care doctors recommendation was required for them to place her in nursing home, so that would be the next visit, and again an in person visit is going to get much more information than trying to deal with folks over the phone. Since you are so far away but want and need to know what is going on - I would have your advocate request email addresses for everyone possible - so you are able to continue any dialogue with them - email addresses are not something that doctors - nursing homes etc are readily willing to give out, but I have found that a good reason (you being out of the country) and a bit of persistence can indeed get the emails. The emails are great because then you have a record of what is being discussed.

In the meantime, your mother while she may not be happy, is safe and has no choice but to remain where she is for now, and by getting things started now you may be able to resolve the issue quickly once you return.

Should you need more help - be aware that this state agency is there to help,

Ombudsman

Contact Us

The Office of the Ombudsman is ready to assist the public with issues or complaints about health and human services programs, agencies or personnel.

If you have a problem or complaint, we encourage you to first discuss it with the person, program or office involved. Many times they can explain a specific policy or correct the problem immediately.

Clients who need assistance or information about local resources or program are encouraged to:

Call 2-1-1 for access to information about health and human services in your community including information on the location and phone number of your local agency offices.

If you have problems or complaints about a state agency health and human service or program that is not resolved to your satisfaction, there are four (4) ways to send a question or file a complaint:

Call:1-877-787-8999 (toll-free). People who have a hearing or speech disability can call any HHSC office by using the toll-free Relay Texas service at 7-1-1 or 1-800-735-2989.
Online: Online Submission Form (only works in Internet Explorer)
Mail: Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Office of the Ombudsman, MC H-700
P O Box 13247
Austin, TX 78711-3247
Fax: 1-888-780-8099 (Toll-Free)

As you can see, they also recommend starting with the agency to see if you can resolve it, I would call the 800 # to get an email address as well for them and cc them on any email discussions that you have with the nursing home, health and social services etc, they do seem to pay a bit more attention knowing that the office of the Ombudsman is involved.

Good luck, I would tread carefully at first, your Mother is under the states care and that decision was made by someone who was following the rules. You owe it to yourself and your Mother to find out all the facts prior to proceeding.
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txcamper makes a really good point regarding contacting an area Long Term Care Ombudsman. They are really amazing advocates regarding people's rights in long term care settings. You can probably get the contact info for the LTC Ombuds in your mother's area by contacting the local Area Agency on Aging. The Ombuds might be able to help you figure out what happened, what your mother's rights are, and help steer you in a direction to get her out of there. Maybe if you were able to get a plan of care in place for her to be at home she could return home. Again, I agree with what everyone else is saying--it's important to gather information first rather than go on the attack. You might save a lot of worry, time and money this way, as there may be a fairly simple solution.
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