What are the rights of adult grandchildren, who do not have POA, when the POA purposely discludes them? - AgingCare.com

What are the rights of adult grandchildren, who do not have POA, when the POA purposely discludes them?

Follow
Share

A number of years ago my grandmother began having major memory problems which spiralled into what was eventually diagnosed as dementia. At the time I was barely a teenager and the circumstances and symptoms were annoyances rather than worries (trying to cut up food, treating me like a very young child...my parents and I had lived with her for the first few years of my life so it simply seemed she wanted to return to that). My mother, my grandmother's favorite child, died during my preteen years. I don't know whether she had POA for my grandmother. (My mother's parents had long been not-so-amicably divorced by the time of my mother's death so I know it was not my maternal grandfather.)

After my mother's death, my uncle - my mother's younger brother - was thrust into being the primary caregiver for both his parents. He's nowhere near as competent at diffusing tension as my mother, and that has not helped. My father was unable - and, I suspect, unwilling - to care for either of my maternal grandparents, a fact that my uncle did not 'understand' or accept. He also believed that I needed to take more responsibility in communicating with my aging grandparents, but I was easily exhausted by talking to them and my father refused to discipline me on the matter since they were not his parents.

My grandfather then died, about two years after my mother. He'd not changed his will after my mother's death, for whatever reason, so his financial assets were divided in thirds: his girlfriend, my uncle, and my mother - who had specified in her own will that any assets of hers were to, by default, be mine. My uncle had recently lost his job, and in managing his father's assets managed to squander much of what would have been mine since he was angry about the fact that a 14yo would 'have' that inheritance. (Which was then in my father's name until I was 18; now it is mine.)

My grandmother has always been skinny, and during my high school years her physical health swiftly declined, and her mental health only slightly more slowly. After a couple of falls in her condo my uncle coerced her into moving from Michigan to Florida to live with him and his wife. (She could not care for herself, but would not agree to a nursing home; that was their compromise.)

We stayed somewhat in touch after that, but I went to boarding school and did not see or talk to them as much as they wanted, which only made my uncle more bitter, which I noticed even when visiting. I wrote it off as stress - after all, I was a high school senior, and knew all about that.

Over the course of another year, calls I make to their house - for a while, more than weekly; now, perhaps once a month - went from very brief calls to the phone going unanswered.

My uncle now refuses to even speak with most of my grandmother's friends - many of whom are women who are on the brinks of their own deaths, and a couple of whom helped raise him and my mother!

I eventually sought my father's help, and he managed to reach one friend of my grandmother's, who with struggle got my uncle to say that he'd admitted my grandmother to a nursing home. He did not tell her the name or where it was, and responds to no one at all, at least no one whose phone number my father or I have. I still occasionally call my uncle's home phone; the voicemail is the same as it's been since I was a child, which means, presumably, that he and my aunt are still living there.

Most of my grandmother's friends and their caregivers are not willing to get into an argument with my uncle. He's a funny guy but is irrational, narcissistic, and aggressive. As much as I do not want an argument either, he and my grandmother are relatives who are important to me and we are the only close biological family of my mother's who are still alive, and I am now an adult, who is determined to have at least some semblance of an adult relationship with them, at the very least with my grandmother before she dies. If nothing else, I would like to see her one last time.

However, I don't know what right I have to challenge my uncle. He has POA and at this point I doubt my grandmother has much, if any, lucidity or sanity. I do not know where she lives and cannot even find my aunt at her former place of employment.

Does my uncle's POA give him total control over whether I am privy to information about my grandmother, and whether I can see her?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
6

Answers

Show:
The first thing you need to do is find out where Grandma is. You can't do much without that information. APS should be able to help you with that. You don't need to accuse your uncle of anything, other than that you can't get a hold of him to find this out. She is in a nursing home. You have no reason to question her safety or the appropriateness of her placement. You just want to know where she is so that you can send her cards and pictures and perhaps visit her. You are not trying to get anyone in trouble. Approach your contact with APS in that spirit. You'll do fine.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

lamericain - no need to apologize. I was asking to try to get a better picture of your end goal and expectations regarding any type of relationship with your grandmother and uncle. I think ohJude gave you great suggestions and certainly a good idea of where to start. Best of luck!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Thank you, that's helpful (and you are totally understandable, at least to me.)

I think part of why I've not done something like going to APS has been mostly that a) I'm a very young adult and don't have that much experience with adult things, b) I'm very reluctant to say anything to someone, especially an authority figure, that I don't believe or might not be true, and c) I've continued to want to believe the best of my uncle. I want to believe he's doing the best he knows how and that he wouldn't mishandle her finances or make a healthcare decision that's clearly detrimental to her. But getting the government involved, since none of her friends have any specific information, does seem like a reasonable next step.

(But yes, as much as I want to believe the best of him, I'm not expecting a quick turnaround. He stopped learning new tricks when he was a puppy, and he's an old dog now, so...)

I know that she does have dementia, and I do think there's a possibility it could unsettle her, especially since she's been isolated from her friends and other family for so long, but if that's believed to be the case, I want to hear it from a licensed medical professional. Again, as much as I want to believe my uncle, I'm honestly not going to write off the possibility of my finally getting in touch with him and then him declaring that it wouldn't be good for her to see me and trying to leave it at that as though I'm not going to question him.

(Of course, as a child, I wouldn't have questioned him - he convinced me of a number of mildly ridiculous things. Nothing malicious, though - things like his neighbor being a spy for Santa and us being directly related to Italian royalty...and Dick Van Dyke. I'm still not sure how that last one came about, though.)

At this point he's shown that he can't really handle treating me as an adult - he didn't even know how to treat me like a teenager rather than a child - but I do intend to push him as close to it as I can.

Thanks! (And thank you to rainmom, too - I realize I didn't do so.)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

This could be tricky. Your grandmother cannot be isolated by the actions of others (that is abuse) unless there is a medical reason or a (hmm not sure what you would call it in USA) lets call it an associated risk.

If your uncle refuses to speak with you, you may have more luck going through APS or social services and expressing concern for her emotional welfare and the potential mishandling of her finances.

At least you might be able to find out where your grandmother is. Be gentle in your approach initially - you attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.

Explain that she is your only living relative aside from an uncle who refuses to speak to you but you do not know why. Explain that you live a very long way from your Grandmother but want to come and visit her.

Don't mention any words like duty or one last time whatever you do. Explain that no-one has been able to get information despite you going through a variety of routes and that her friends are anxious about her well-being too.

Tell them you worry that she must feel isolated and cut off. If they can't help you then ask them who could. They are best placed to tell you the route to follow.

As for your uncle....Hmph best not say what I think of him. I am so glad that you are ballsy enough to tackle him but don't expect updates from him - aint ever going to happen.

If the NH think that she would be unsettled to the point of damage to her health if you visited, then you may have to take this on the chin. Unless you pay for a psych evaluation and even then, if she does have dementia, it would be a very special doctor who could 'prove' anything - so very little is really known about dementia - most of it is still guesswork Im afraid and it manifests itself differently for each person.

I am British so apologies if that seems a little odd in terminology but I know others on here will chip in - we all worry about loved ones or at least we all SHOULD worry about them
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Yes, those probably were not quite the right words. Hmm.

As to my grandmother's state, even well over a year ago when I last saw her, she only registered that I was *me* part of the time - often she thought that I was either my mother in her youth (and thought that it was the sixties and legitimately did not recognize cell phones) or knew it was me but seemed to be unable to acknowledge that I had grown past early childhood, back when I'd lived with her. It was a gamble, and of the month or so total I've seen her in the past three years, there was maybe a week of that where she knew that I was me and the age I was. So I'm assuming it's continued to worsen as she's grown older.

I'm no longer trying to fool myself into thinking I can form a proper relationship with her - or even with my uncle - wherein both of us are adults and we communicate as such over any extended period of time. Even in my mid/late-teens, none of them (my aunt included) had any idea how to treat me - whether to treat me like a child or not, and they generally leaned towards the former, except in situations where they wanted me to 'play my mother', either by literally thinking I was her or by expecting me to act precisely as she would. I'd like to think my aunt and uncle could get used to me as a young woman rather than a clone of my mother, but I'm not lulled into thinking that will actually work in practice.

But I want him to act like an adult, who is able to realize that as my grandmother's son and her POA it is his duty to act in her best interest, and the long-standing dislike he's had for my father, and jealousy of my mother for being their parents' favorite, and what of all that has passed to me, is factually not my fault or responsibility. And I want him to realize that just as he is her relative, I am also her relative, and now as an adult I am capable of making reasonable decisions and am entitled to see my grandmother whether he wants me to or not.

(If it were that a doctor of hers had ruled that it would be too difficult for her psychologically to handle my visiting, then I would want that stated and proven, and at least periodic updates from my uncle. I'm entirely uncertain at the present moment that he'd even tell me if she'd died, because he simply is shutting me out, along with many others (who are also hurt by this, but as I say above, not willing to try to challenge him).) Unluckily, perhaps, for him, the quality I've most inherited from my mother, outside of physical features, is what my grandfather calls gumption.

I'm not sure if that will really clear anything up for you. I tried to convey as much of the situation as I could but even just my own lifespan is 20+ years to summarize, so I apologize for anything confusing that I wrote above.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

- still thinking about your situation and questions. But there is something that kind of jumps out at me that I'm wondering about - you say you think your grandmother is "senile" by now, why do you think that? You also say you'd like to have an "adult relationship" with her - that doesn't make a lot of sense if you have already assumed the worst regarding her state of mind...is there something more to this? Are you suspicious that your uncle may be abusing his POA role? I may be totally off base here but it does seem odd to me.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions