Can I legally stop her from going home and if I let her and something happens am I liable?

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My answer is going to be different from others. This was from our experience with this situation. We also sold the house after grandchildren came and picked what they would like. We also brought sone of my MIL’s things to put in the room we set up for her. We turned a spare bedroom also into a sitting room for her. Hired a companion while we were at work. The companion was responsible to find back up, agency was not reliable. This worked great.
1-Do not remind her you sold the house
2-Do not ask her what she considers home
3- Come up with sayings.
”Mom a storm is coming in today, lets wait”
”Mom it’s late in the day, just stay another day”
”Mom I am enjoying having you visit, how about staying another day”
”Mom I thought we would do an outing today”

We did this for 5 years with my mom. It also avoids conflict with Dementia/Alzheimer’s.
Helpful Answer (18)

I hope this is the legal answer you want. You appear to have no legal authority to stop your mother going anywhere. However you have no legal obligation to help her do it. If she is capable of calling a taxi and can pay for it, it’s on her own head. However you can call APS about your concerns as soon as she has done it.
Helpful Answer (17)

My mother lives in Memory Care Assisted Living and always talks about wanting to "go home". Home can mean anything from going back to New York to Florida to a "different hotel" than the one she thinks she's living in right now.

Home is a place in time rather than a brick and mortar building. Most elders with dementia talk about going home constantly. They have no idea where it is or what it means, in most cases. We may take it literally when what they're saying is entirely figurative.

Letting your mother return to her house and be alone is neglectful, unless you hire someone to be with her 24/7 which defeats the purpose of her going home to begin with.

What she wants is her old life back, when she was 60 and running around doing as she pleased. You can't give her that, naturally. But you can keep her safe in your house, safe in her house with live in help if she can afford it, or safe in a Memory Care Assisted Living ALF and her home can be sold to finance her stay there.

Those are her choices. If she wants to get nasty and mean, you'll leave her presence and she can rail at the walls. If she wants to go on a hunger strike, she'll eat when her stomach tells her it's hungry enough.

I tell my mother the same thing: these are your choices mom because I can't fix your age or your health conditions. Stay in your memory care ALF or go to the Skilled Nursing Facility and deal with a roommate. She's wheelchair bound with advanced dementia and tons of other issues way beyond what I can deal with alone at home. All I can do is all I can do. Same goes for you. If either of us had a magic wand, God knows we'd have waved the damn thing by now and fixed this mess we're ALL dealing with! 🤐

Wishing you the best of luck with a difficult situation. I wish all of us peace and patience to face the daily trials and tribulations that are hurled at us.
Helpful Answer (15)
Babs75 Jul 2021
You nailed it. Exactly what I go through with my dad. "What she wants is her old life back, when she was 60 and running around doing as she pleased." My dad was very active. Climbed mountains, went hiking, skiing. His yard was beautiful. Drove himself everywhere. Still talks about his car almost every time I see him. Unfortunately, I will end up being the same way.
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What Margaret said: can you rely on your mother's not actually being able to take herself home? It's a kind of bluff-calling - you say "go ahead mother, if that's your choice" but you don't do anything to enable the move.

The thing is, dementia is not an on-off switch and we can't know anything about your mother's level of day-to-day function. If she has reached the point where she cannot think through a decision and its consequences, then she can't be considered responsible and (by implication) you become responsible - but that too depends on what type of POA you have.

Think this through for her. She orders herself a cab and high-tails it home to her empty house. What happens next? Is there milk in the fridge? Is the bed made? Can she even find her key and operate the front door lock? You know and we can't know what the scene would be. And then - never mind legal liability, you don't want poor mother found lost and scared in her own back yard two days later.

As for *stopping* her - well, not directly, not if she isn't considered incompetent. But you don't have to help carry out a decision you believe is not in her best interests.
Helpful Answer (12)
MargaretMcKen Jul 2021
Yeah! If she gets the taxi, perhaps go around an hour or so later to check what's happened. Take her back if it's a disaster, call APS if she's in and settled (and you think APS is justified).
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I agree, if mom is considered competent you can't legally keep her from going home; HOWEVER you know it isn't safe for her to live on her own, which is why she is in your home. Get the ball rolling on having her doctor/s give their opinion that she is unsafe to live on her own - she is not competent to live on her own.

Whether the authorities can hold you responsible if she does go home and something happens to her is another questions - maybe - even if you are not held responsible, there may be an investigation done that would be unpleasant.

Your main job now is to keep mom safe - especially from herself.

If you have to tell her that her home is in need of repair - the plumbing is shot - or whatever. Learn to give vague answers. When she expresses a desire to return home try and determine what home means to her - is she talking about a specific home; a specific time? You will also need to learn to visit her world in order to soothe her anxieties or agitations.

Good luck.
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Moomoomilkdud Jul 2021
Thank you
It's sounds like you want validation to take her back home, to be honest.

You know it's the dementia talking. So ignore that demand. How would she even get there?

You wouldn't let a 5-year-old play in the street even if they demanded you let them, right? Same with mother. You're the one looking after her now and you have to be in charge of her safety. She gets mad and spiteful when told "no"? Too bad. You can't let her be in danger.

Ignore the hunger strike threat. She has not starved to death yet and she won't now. It's just a manipulation tactic. And a childish one at that.

Finally... no one can blame you for not wanting Mother living in your home. I wouldn't be able to handle it either! But as others have said, there is a reason she isn't living there alone anymore. You could hire aides to come by, but I'm thinking your mother won't be compliant. She won't let them in, or will send them away permanently soon after.

Besides, she needs more than aides to "come check on her". If she has no short term memory then she needs 24/7 monitoring. I know of one woman with dementia who almost burned down her house when she set a pot of something on the stove, turned it on high, and then forgot it was there. Up until then, her family thought she was safe at home alone and just needed to be checked with.

It may be time to look into medication. A good doctor prescribe the right amount of an antidepressant or anti-anxiety med. Part of her "I want go home" is anxiety of not being home, if that makes sense. The goal is not to tranquilize her or numb her. Only to take the edge off and lessen the anxiety/stress.
Helpful Answer (8)
Moomoomilkdud Jul 2021
I agree 100%. My next step is to talk with mom’s doctor and see if medication can help.
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You know 'home' to me is my comfiest chair, a throw rug, a cuppa, that 'hygge' feeling. Being able to RELAX.

Having a book of old favorite photos, an old fashioned teacup, maybe some old songs from her 20's may not be 'home' but worth a go? (Maybe add a little Dr prescribed mood medication??). My DH & I have decided if we need a pill to get that 'home' feeling when we are 90 we will take it.
Helpful Answer (7)

You do not need to take her "home" just because she asks. If she lives with you, why does she even still have a house? Is she still deemed to be competent? If so, at some point maybe a new evaluation to determine if that is still true. Once she is incompetent, you can legally make decisions for her.

If would be, I'm pretty sure, unsafe for her to go home and be alone. I'm sure there's a lot of good reasons why she is no longer living there alone.

Come up with some canned, vague responses to her request to go home. Don't argue, don't explain, don't try to convince her. "I know you want to go home. Maybe next week?" "The doctor wants you to live here now" IDK, just have something ready and then change the subject. Hopefully she'll get off this kick soon and move on to something else.
Helpful Answer (6)

It is understandable to want to be on the right side of the law. To avoid liability.

It is understandanble to want to keep your Mother safe.

It is understandable to want to please her.

But (you knew it that was coming)... First, common sense.

Risk assessment 101:
Can Mother get herself 'home'? Walk, drive, catch a bus, order a taxi independently?

My Mother can do none of those so regardless of what she says, I know the risk of her esconding is zero. Her only method to go home is WORDS (used to request nicely or nag continually). Some will use manipulation, threats, abuse or guilt. A hunger strike - ok that's a new one. Crafty gal!

Risk assessment 102:
IF Mother COULD get herself home, had keys to get in. To sit in an unheated or uncooled house with no food. People do this. Maybe the neighbour will call you, or the Police. You pick her up & return her to your home. (She may cry & be overwhelmed. Or she may forgot the next day & try again...) Depending on how likely that would be & how dangerous that scenario could be would equal whether you actively stopped that from happening. Sneakily if needed. (Locks on doors, location tracker on her phone or handbag).

I met one man who would escond via taxi from his AL. Great tech skills, some money skills but due to memory issues, would lose ID, lose track of time, get lost & be unable to find his way back. Brought back by Police many times.
The AL solutions were to preorder an Uber for him (so they knew his destination), to ensure his name & AL phone number was on his clothing for ID & gave him many cards with the ALs number so he could call them to arrange his Uber back. Or helpful passersby would. Tricky eh? But legal.

Social Worker called this method of *least restriction*.
Moomoo, maybe that's what the Senior Consultant you spoke to meant? To add in as much safety (legally) as you can - just my guess?

To me your issue seems less legal - more emotional.

"Must you honour her request?"

ie must you always do what your Mother asks? The answer is no.

Now IF this is it, let us know.
Helpful Answer (6)
Moomoomilkdud Jul 2021
Thank you for your response.

I just want to do what’s right. I have family members who would love for me to fail miserably at caring for my mother. Maybe, to the point of hiring a lawyer. However, they offer no help in caring for her.
I know my mother is struggling with her loss of independence. And saying “no” to her is difficult for me. She seems so unhappy. I want what is left of her life to be filled with love and peace.
I just seem to be second guessing myself all the time.
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I’m with the others that she should not go back to the house… that’s she’s wanting to in actuality wanting to go back in time. Unless she can on her own get Uber or a cab, she’s not getting there . You do not have to take her as it’s empty and not a secure & safe environment.

But I’ve got to ask, just what exactly is going on with her home?
So she has moved out and living with you, right? So is her home vacant and listed with a Realtor to sell? If so, does your POA allow for you to sign off at the Act of Sale?
Or is It just shuttered down and the plan is to let it sit till she dies then divvy it & moms stuff as per her will?
Or are your siblings / family or their kids planning on moving in? Your posts imply that they are interfering with your POA allowed decisions, so are they doing this as they want house to live in perhaps for free?

Her home has costs…. taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc., how are these items getting paid?
Is home in an area w fabulous neighbors who look out for it and no worry on vagrants or woodland creatures setting up in it?
Should mom need a higher level of care in the future, does she have enough $$$$ to pay for care in a MC or NH for 2.5 years (average stay in the US) and also pay all costs on the home? At 91, she’s outlived all the actuarial tables on life expectancy, she could go another decade.
Helpful Answer (6)
disgustedtoo Jul 2021
Additionally most home owner's insurance does NOT cover a vacant home. It will need special insurance to be covered while vacant. We had to find other insurance for mom's condo (it took me about 2.75 years to get it clear, clean and repaired - initially there was talk of renting it, but since I was managing everything else, including most of the work on it, I decided I did NOT want to be a landlord too! The EC atty questioned the sale, but considering between utils, RE taxes and condo fees, it was sucking down about $14k a year, it didn't make sense to let it sit! The repairs were ridiculous as well - new heating/AC system and replacing the glass in all the damn windows which were blowing seals!)

I would check on the insurance - if not covered when vacant and something happens, ouch! Unless the other family members have ANY legal say in disposition of the house, I'd recommend selling it. Maintenance, taxes, repairs, insurance, utils are sucking down assets for no good reason. If you are the sole POA, you do NOT answer to them. You are doing what's best for your mother.
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