I am legally responsible if Mom gets hurt, and I had to move in with her. Advice?

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I am legally responsible if Mom gets hurt, since I moved out, after being told - by her ANP Cardiologist - I had to move in with her? 2 weeks ago, moms cardiologist ANP said to her she had issues with erratic BP. Her BP could drop quickly upon standing from laying down or even sitting. After conferring with the doctor, the ANP told mom that she could no longer live alone. The ANP told her I was moving in until she found live in help or found an assisted living. Mom was in denial and my being there did not help. She made no moves toward finding help or a place to live. We took her to a few places, but needed time to decide, No matter what I tried, said or did, it was wrong. My sister, via a text, basically said the situation was not sustainable and I needed to move out, so I did. I am feeling horrible guilt, yet I agree there was tension in the house. That was not good for either of us. My question is one of legality. Since I was told by her doctor to move in with her - can I be held responsible if she falls and gets hurt? I am her Durable Power of Healthcare Attorney , but (as pointed out) that does not take effect until she is declared with having diminished mental capacity. While she has early dementia, my sibling feel she is sound of mind. If you do not have the answer, perhaps you could guide me to a website I can learn from.



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I never heard of anyone being 'ordered' to go live with someone else, a doctor has no power to do this! You must take reasonable precautions for her safety. A caregiver checking in a couple times a day, food prepared and available, the house made as safe as possible, knobs taken off the stove, rugs picked up, and of course car keys and car taken away. A medic alert device may be helpful. Your mother won't stay safe or sound of mind, she will start falling and going into the inevitable decline of dementia, so you might as well start looking for a place for her and at least get on the waiting list.
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We go tomorrow to sign papers. I think she will be happy. Thanks everyone, for your help!
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Oh dear. It's an "I wouldn't start from here…" answer - your mother's doctors and team have told your mother she can't live alone. But they did not force you to accept the Durable Healthcare responsibilities and they could not force you to move in and live with your mother. What you might have done instead was use the advocacy authority your mother gave you to insist on either in-home care provision or a move to a facility: if she was competent and refused either option, you would not have been responsible and could have taken the opportunity to resign your Representative status; if she was deemed no longer competent, you could have made the arrangements on your own authority and bodily carried her into a home if need be.

Still, you are where you are. Now you're there, and aware of the risks, and appear to have accepted responsibility for managing them, you cannot just vote with your feet and walk out. You say it is your brother who objects to your living there - so, is he volunteering to take over caregiving responsibilities as well as financial POA? Thought not. What is his plan?

So I'm relieved to hear that your mother is actively considering ALFs - encourage her all you can, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that she finds a good one.
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I understand that you are not her DPOA but can legally make health deconstruction for her. That is probably only binding when she is unable to make those decisions for herself, leaving you off the hook for now legally. If you can get an agency alertred that loojs out for the protectiob of the elderly, I would expect they would suggest a paid companion in lieu of her living where care is available.
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No one can make you move in and live with anyone else. The only possible exception I can think of would be a parent with minor children. Even a guardian can live seperatly as long as they make responsible, legal arrangments for their ward. At most, being both of you are of legal age AND your mother has not been declared legally incompetent, you could be responsible to ensure your mothers safety and well being. That can be accomplished by hiring legal, certified, qualified caregivers or placing your mother in an assisted living setting. However, I think that is a stretch. Your mother is of age, legally mentally competent - no one has the right to force her to live her life any way other than her choosing.
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GailHanna, I sympathize with what you're going through. My father was a seemingly mild mannered man who didn't want eat, drink, go outside, or go to the doctor. I wondered what my legal responsibility would be. Would I be culpable because he chose not to do these things?

Then I realized I could not make him do them. I could not sit on his chest and force food into him or drag him out the door to enjoy the sunshine. It would have been seen as elder abuse if I had forced him to do things against his will.

He had reached his final years and wanted to sit in his chair and look out the window. He didn't want to live forever. He sometimes said that he was ready to die. The only thing we can do is to make sure they get reasonable care for their stage in life and otherwise let them live in peace. Since your mother and you don't live well together, the Life Alert sounds like a very good idea. They also have pill boxes that have alarms on them.

We do what we can. Many times they won't let us do more.
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Many people fight having to leave their home and go to an AL center. It is, in their eyes, another loss of independence. Try to be empathetic and put yourself in her shoes. WIth that said, if she is unsafe at home she needs to have either the proper care at home or move to a place where she can get the care she needs - a given. This is often easier to hear from someone outside the family. Get in contact with a social service agency for assistance. You would surly not want to get a call that she has fallen and is in the hospital. If she is having syncopy episodes ( BP dropping when she stands) she is an extreme fall risk. I agree w/ the DementiaRN2. I work in the geriatric field and you will probalby not be held directly responsible if she falls however APS would get involved and things can then get VERY sticky. Move in for a short while and get in-home care to help you out while you get things straightened out. Someone needs to be her advocate whether she resists or not. Take a deep breath and think about what the long range goals are for you mom. She will thank you for it later even if she acts like she is angry at you now.
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Unless your sibling is a neurologist or doctor who specializes in dementia, I would not take their word for her condition. Yes, you will be responsible and if you do not want to take on that legal responsibility perhaps you can appoint your sibling. When a doctor tells you of a serious condition, then if something untoward were to happen to her, you might be held liable depending on your state and what happened. Be safe, move in with her or get professional help for her.
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While laws vary somewhat from state to state, I know of NO state where a person is responsible for someone else's choices unless they have been appointed as guardian by a judge. The law heavily favors the rights of all individuals to determine their own fate. So no, absolutely not would you be held responsible for the consequences of your mother's choices. That said, it would be prudent for you to make her MD aware that your mother has not complied with his/her recommendation to avoid living alone. It then becomes an issue between your mother and her physician. Good luck; here's hoping she chooses to move ASAP so all can rest more easily.
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It's best that you consult with a lawyer to make sure you are meeting your legal responsibilities. However, my experience and knowledge of DPOA says that you are not legally responsible for living with your mother nor if she should fall. You should work with your brother to make sure she has either adequate in-home help that allows her to safely remain in her home or find an assisted living community you can move your mom to. I used to be the POA for an elderly friend. I worked with his doctors to make sure he had adequate care. Early into my POA the doctor told him he couldn't live alone anymore. I totally disagreed and went against the doctor's advise in that instance. I assisted him in remaining in his home. About 5 years down the road the situation changed and I did, as his POA, make steps toward moving him out of his apartment and into an assisted living community. Good luck with your mom's care.
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