Mother and her lawyer are contesting guardianship. Does anyone have any advice? - AgingCare.com

Mother and her lawyer are contesting guardianship. Does anyone have any advice?

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My mother was diagnosed with dementia after a hellish couple of weeks where she kept calling the ambulance, spent time in the ER and hospital, and had both hallucinations and delusions. She is now in memory care assisted living. I obtained emergency guardianship and was set for full guardianship, with a hearing next week. My only sibling lives out of state. She appears fairly normal to those who don't know or spend a short amount of time with her. Her lawyer deemed her perfectly fine. We have reports from several doctors that say otherwise. Besides dementia, she has macular degeneration, and COPD. She has been on a low dose of Haldol after trying to strike a nurse early in the process. She is also 95 years old. Now, she is demanding to go home and will not agree to the guardianship, and her lawyer is backing this. I can't believe anyone would send her home, but stranger things have happened. The hearing will be rescheduled for a longer one where witnesses will be called. I think it will get ugly and only upset her more. Does anyone have any advice?

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I'd confirm that your lawyer has experience in handling contested cases like this. Her lawyer's job is to do what his client says. That may not be what really needs to be done.

Also, normally, the court appoints a temporary, independent guardian, whose job is to represent the Ward. Their job is to be more objective and tell the court just what is going on and what needs to be done. It could go either way, but, it's not the final decision.

 The judge or clerk who hears these cases have normally seen many of them. They may also appoint their own independent person to review the Ward, the family members, doctor records and conduct their own evaluation. Sometimes, the evidence has to be presented and a ruling made. But, ultimately, it's up to the court. I'd make sure you prepare with your lawyer and have your evidence ready for what you need to prove.
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You have poa over financial. Does mother have the funds to pay for care services to keep her at home if that is her wish?

If meds have her stabilized, and if she truly wishes to be at home, I'd hire a geriatric care manager to coordinate this.
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What was the Allen test done for?

I'm not sure how valid the standard MME would be in a person with significant loss of vision. Have you had further, more specific evaluations done?

Since you ask, my advice would be that you at least consider your mother's wishes. She wants to go home. Granted you think that's a very bad idea and your view is shared by at least one set of professionals, nevertheless how would you make it possible?

Here's the thing. If you go to court and say my mother is out of her mind and she obviously can't live alone, you are placing yourself entirely in direct conflict with her - and you know that she does have the support of her community, other family members and other professionals who, while not medically trained, do all the same owe her a duty of care and are answerable for the advice they give her. Yes it will get ugly, and if your application is successful she will never forgive you.

If on the other hand you go to court and say we have taken her wishes seriously, we have looked at her care requirements, this is what it would take to support her at home, and even with the best will in the world a) these are the resources it would take which are simply not available in her home location; and b) this care plan would still leave her at serious risk of A, B, C... X, Y and Z: do that, and you are demonstrating that you wish to work with your mother to achieve the best possible balance between respecting her rights and safeguarding her welfare.

It's even possible that you might find her situation is not as hopeless as you first thought. But in any case, at least you'll be able to show her that you tried, which will go down a lot better than an adversarial approach.
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Gladiamhere, no she only had a will. That is part of the problem. My brother and I had POA on bank accounts, and that is all - no health directive and nothing else. She never believed in doing those things. As far as how advanced her dementia is, she was a 4 on the Allen test and a 9/30 on the MME. She can usually remember names and dates and such, and she presents very well. She keeps up her physical appearance, and that alone fools a lot of people. But higher order thinking and decision making and such are poor. The casual observer doesn't see that. Heck, I didn't even believe it at first - I was sure there was some other cause, but nothing surfaced. Some of her neighbors and her sisters think I am just being mean sticking her in a memory care facility when they think she is fine. So, I think she could certainly fool a judge.
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Good luck with this. How advanced is her dementia? I would think that the doc's testimony will help. But incompetence may be difficult for a judge to determine. I would expect that the judge would take her into chambers to have a one on one discussion with her in order to develop her own opinion. If mom's showtiming is good she may convince the judge that she is competent. Does mom not have POA and other documents in place?
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Continue as you are, working for Mother's best interests, no matter whom it upsets or how ugly it gets. If you are not made guardian at least you will know in your heart you did your best.

If you lose this petition (I certainly hope not!) I think you will simply have to let go of any attempt to make decisions for her. You absolutely don't have to help her carry out her decisions (such as moving). I hope you can find a way to remain in touch with her. She is still your mother and I'm sure you still love her. But let's hope this is not the scenario you are facing.

Mars, we learn from each other on this forum, and it would be very helpful to us if you return and let us know how this works out.
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I'd have my attorney send a letter to Mom's attorney threatening legal action if he keeps her from getting appropriate care.
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I do have a lawyer, but am still concerned. It seems that the medical diagnosis should have been enough to move ahead and get the guardianship approved. She is 95, for heaven's sake. She can't be alone at home. She doesn't even live in town.
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Documents from medical professionals should top the opinion of her lawyer, but don't go into this without being represented by your own legal counsel.
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If your guardianship petition is denied, walk away. She's been deemed "competent" if the petition is denied.  If that happens, you have NO responsibility.

Let the professionals ( APS, AAA) take over when something untoward happens.

You can't help folks who don't want to be helped.
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