My step mom is making wrong choices for my dad with dementia, which would have a bad out come on him. Is there anything I can do stop it? Do I have any legal rights on my dad's well being?

We are also in the position of watching the POA make decisions with which we disagree. We have found that the patient's safety is the overriding concern to the agencies that protect the rights of the elderly. That the patient could be more comfortable or more safe doesn't really factor into it. If the decisions made are not putting the patient In an unsafe position, there is not a lot we can do.

I assume that your stepmother was given the power to make financial and health decisions for your dad while he was legally competent and that he is no longer legally competent. If that is the case, you can try to get a court to appoint you as guardian. You would have to show that your stepmother's decisions were putting your dad in an unsafe position. It costs money to file for guardianship and there is no guarantee the court would choose you to make decisions going forward.

What we have done is keep in touch with the person who is making the decisions and offer as much support to them as we can. We take every opportunity to encourage him to make different decisions and have asked others in his life to do the same. It is an extremely difficult time for everyone concerned. My advice is to try to be supportive of his wife and try to influence her decisions as much as you can.

This is really hard. It's hard to be the one making the decisions. It's hard to watch from the sidelines with no power to help. It's hard on everyone.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to anonymous594015

If you father is 81, with dementia, in nursing home, he should have multiple people who are observing him, like a doctor, nurse, NH staff, etc. Have any of them expressed any concern about his health care? If you don't agree with your stepmother, I might do some research to see if there are sound reasons for her choice. Like, does father have an Advanced Healthcare Directive, where he has stated how he wants decisions made regarding end of life decisions? Some people have requested Palliative Care at a certain point, where they don't want life saving measures, but, comfort care only. I'd explore why things may be a certain way, before coming to any conclusions about her decisions. They could be in line with medical advice and his wishes, before he got dementia.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1

More comfortable? More safe?

The job of POA is difficult, it is not a decision by majority rule. It is done usually by one person.

You do not have any legal responsibility or authority. You could file for guardianship which would be difficult to win.

Dad assigned step mom. That is his choice. Now see what you can do for dad and start by offering support to step mom.
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Reply to gladimhere

My late husband's two sons from his first marriage were furious when I refused a gastric feeding tube for their father, who had mild vascular dementia and had had a major stroke that left him unable to swallow, walk, or even read and watch TV because the stroke left him without central vision. However, we both had advance directives saying we didn't want gastric tube--we had watched my stepfather slowly go crazy when he was given one. My husband died in hospice peacefully after three weeks, I have no regrets, but my husband's family now have nothing to do with me. I would say that your father's wife is going through a difficult time, and if she is POA which is normal for a spouse even if there is no legal document, she is making the hard calls and I hope you will accept them.
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Reply to Arleeda
robinr Jan 22, 2019
It is possible this caring daughter knows her father and what his wishes would be better than the divorcing wife.
If you are not yet in an adversarial situation with SM, you may at least have a chance to finesse recommendations in that may help to make your dad’s circumstances more acceptable to you.
If SM thinks she has come up with some positive solutions that were actually suggested by you, dad benefits and nobody loses.
Hard to do, I know, but maybe worth a try.
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Reply to AnnReid

It's hard to know, from your brief description, what to suggest or what the problems are.

What 'wrong choices' is she making? What 'bad outcome' do you anticipate?

It's fine to call or meet with his doctor, but be aware that the doctor can't tell you anything without the patient's permission, usually in writing, under the law. The fact that you're the patient's child does NOT automatically give you permission. In most states in the US, the official order of Next of Kin goes spouse first, then parents, then kids. So if you have a stepmother, you're NOT entitled to his medical info. That said, many doctors are open to a family meeting with the patient and next-of-kin giving their permission.

You CAN tell the doctor your concerns, you CAN tell the doctor what you observe about your dad's condition and what you fear about his future. And many doctors would be grateful for your input. But mostly all the doctor will be allowed to do is receive that info without comment.

Some questions to consider:

How long have they been married? How long have they lived together? Did he formally name her in an Advance Directive or Health-care Proxy?

How often do you see him? Do you live in the same area or are you living far away?

What choices is she making, and what would you prefer she do instead?
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to maggiebea

I am bumping you up. Afraid you may get lost in the shuffle.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Sorry you need to sit on the sideline and watch and get your self stressed and hurt your health. This stree will harm your health so bad that you will age fast and mess up your immune system. Take courage and confront the situation with some middle person and family members. Meet with your step mom and discuss about their care and how you can help them. Get the durable power of attorney signed. If not walk back and stay at a distance and not hurt your self. It is their destiny. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Sankarrph
worriedinCali Jan 22, 2019
She can’t get a durable POA now. Her dad has dementia. If step mom is now in control, dad is not competent and can’t sign anything.
I do not see detail as to how your dad is being harmed or what your step mother has done but if this is urgent you can attempt to gain Guardianship.
This may be an involved process and you really should talk to an Eldercare Attorney to help you.
If the decisions your Step Mom have mad endanger your father then there is a good chance that you could gain guardianship.
This will necessitate going to court. Stating that your father is not competent. Possibly stating that your Step mom is either incompetent herself or abusive. (If she is doing things that are harmful to your father knowingly then that could be construed as abusive, if she is doing things that she is unaware are harmful that could mean she is not competent so this could get nasty! Particularly if you have step siblings)
If he is in danger for your fathers safety you need to step in somehow.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Grandma1954

you Know for sure she is Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Adult, Contact Adult Protective Services to Do a Check and Begin a File Here. Other than that, She has the Authority, Unless you are Power of Attorney or his Guardian.
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Reply to Parise

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