This is not something I’m eager for or about but when is the right time? My grandmother has dementia, she’s somewhere in the middle stages and it’s been a truly confusing, upsetting journey for my mom and I who are her unofficial caretakers. At the beginning of the year she was having constant falls & would forget about them or dismiss them. fortunately that has stopped. She has incontinence issues. She cannot walk much and moves from her bed to her living room recliner and that’s most of her activity. She cannot wash her own clothes, she showers using a seat but needs help getting in and out and to the bathroom. She no longer cooks or can feed herself. She either forgets to eat or that she has already eaten. She cannot clean after herself or her house. She does not understand any of her financial matters. She would not take her prescribed medication if not given to her by me or my mom, and my mom is her medical proxy.

We have meddling family that there have been issues with. When she sees them she is very performative and they don’t see what we handle on a daily basis ( we live with her in her home) we feed her, help her get clean, clean after her, give her all her medications and deal with all her health issues. We feel that her doctor doesn’t see how much she has declined because how can you get all of that in a 20 minute dr visit. But she unfortunately and sadly cannot live by herself or deal w her own affairs confidently. We don’t want family that hasn’t taken care of her for nearly 2 years to come and disrupt the work we’ve done with her. We don’t feel she’s mentally stable to deal w things medically or financially and she also speaks no english and many of the facilities we visit either have weak translators or none at all. When is the right time to get her declared incompetent? We don’t want to do it prematurely but we also don’t want to wait around if it’s something we should do. if it does sound like the right time. Where do we start? How complicated is it in the state of California? and any advice would be immensely appreciated
a very stressed but willing caretaker

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Why do you need her declared incompetent? To pay bills, access the bank accounts, etc? Does she have other children besides your mom?? What do you think other relatives are going to come and 'undo'?
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Reply to my2cents

To provide you with a bit of background, when somebody has decision-making capacity, they are able to use a POA document (power of attorney) to appoint an agent to make decisions on their behalf. There is a financial POA and medical POA, and both can be effective immediately (while they still retain capacity), which avoids the requirement of anyone needing to give an opinion on your grandmother's capacity. Decision-making capacity is task specific, meaning that even if she may not be able to manage her finances, she may still have the capacity to choose who she wants to make those decisions for her. Generally speaking, if someone understands the nature and consequences of the decision they are making, they have the capacity to make it.

I'd say if she has lucid moments, get her to sign the POA documents as soon as possible during that time. You can use two witnesses or a notary. There are restrictions on who the witnesses can be so you'll want to be sure to follow the rules.

If it's too late for POA, you'll need to consult an attorney and possibly seek conservatorship in court. If you Google "California Handbook for Conservators" it will give a good idea of what's involved.
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Reply to tempoe

Seek the answer from a neurologist.
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Reply to Llamalover47

I answer from the patients perspective. I was diagnosed with Early Onset Alz one month before my 57th birthday, which was three years ago. After receiving my diagnosis, I hired an Attorney specializing in SS Disability. I had received all of the medical tests results, MRI, Neuropsych exam etc. I was approved and received my first check two and a half months after my diagnosis, 52 days after the attorney filed the SS Disability claim. Good work and worth every penny.
I then filed for benefits on behalf of my minor children as instructed by SS. I went to apply for their benefits and was told I couldn't, the diagnosis of ALZ, meant that I was legally incompetent as far as the Federal Govt was concerned and my DW had to sign paperwork agreeing to be Representative Payee, for my minor children's benefits. The doctors themselves did not advise me of the incompetence status, I about fell out of my chair in the SS office. I asked my doctors about the competency issue, and they told me yes it is true.
We were in the process of setting up our Estate when I received the diagnosis and had everything in place four months after my diagnosis, including a Trust in my DW's name, granted DPOA privileges, Medical Proxy and Medical Directives, Pour Over Wills and desired funeral arrangements, set up by an Estate Attorney, we then had it reviewed by an Elder Law Attorney, who told me yes in Virginia with a diagnosis of ALZ yes, I was considered by the state as incompetent.
Next we visited with an Elder Law Attorney who reviewed everything done by the Estate Attorney, and we were told, the attorney that set up the Estate etc. had done everything perfectly and in sync with the laws of the state of Virginia. She suggested we do a review every three years to make sure we were still in compliance with current Virginia state laws. The review took 45 minutes and cost 150.00. Money well spent in addition to the cost of the Trust etc.
I encourage all readers if you have not set up your legal affairs yet. Do so, it will save your family any heartache in the future. My DW and I sleep well, knowing all the bases have been covered, and we just accept the changes as they come along. We have both noticed significant decline in the last few months, we keep talking and staying in touch and their are no arguments. We've never had a fight during the two years we were dating and 23, that we've been married.
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Reply to jfbctc
Llamalover47 Jun 25, 2019
jf: I commend you on getting all that accomplished! Great job!
Speaking from experience getting a POA, and medical professionals involved will get ball rolling to being able to assist grandmother.
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Reply to Kitty19

If The Writing on the Wall and All, Is Saying, "Go to Court and do Guardianship," Get her Doctor Involved and Get the Ball and All In Motion.
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Reply to Parise

You don't need to have your mom declared incompetent if she has executed a PoA giving you authority to act on her behalf. Do you have her PoA? If not than you will need to be appointed guardian. Get the advice of an elder-care attorney and try yourself to understand your state's laws on what this will entail. If her GP seems uninformed about dementia, have your mother examined by a geriatrician/neurologist. He/she will be able to determine the level of your mom's cognitive loss and give a statement to the court, who will have you appointed guardian. You might want to video your mom in typical situations in which her cognitive issues and confusion are evident. Other family members have a right to oppose your application to be appointed guardian so you need to have your ducks in order: document what you've been doing for your mom and for how long. If there is evidence of unpaid bills, missed appointments, hospitalizations, etc., bring this to the guardianship hearing. If others can back you up on your mother's confusion and forgetfulness and your integrity in handling her assets, ask them to submit statements. Guardianship represents a great loss for the person and courts rightly are careful about declaring a person incompetent. Visit the NCLER website, they have offered wonderful webinars on guardianship and these may still be available.
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Reply to thepianist

What language does Grandma speak?
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Reply to Sendhelp

My mom made me POA many years before Alzheimer's struck, so there was no need to declare her incompetent. If she did not make provisions prior to illness, you do indeed have a mess, because this will have to be done by the Court. See an eldercare attorney -- that's your first step to petition the court. You may just want to stick her in assisted living or nursing home and be done with it. That's your best choice in my opinion. Trust me caregiving is a very soul-destroying process and it will suck your life savings...I've been taking care of mom for 20 years, and now her Alzheimer's disease is at the very end stages -- she is often dead weight and I even get injured taking care of her. Still at it. Two brothers and I get no help from anybody.
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Reply to cetude
Beekee Jun 25, 2019
Tell it!
It is not complicated to file for conservatorship in California. It is very complicated if you become appointed. You are required to do an accounting of the estate assets on a bi annual basis.
This is an ordeal in some probate courts. My friend was subjected to the worst possible scrutiny. You see, the Courts look upon family caregivers with disdain and even insisted she pay rent to her mother while trying to care for her mother
The courts would rather you pay a high dollar caretaker than for you to receive any compensation.
They are terrible and unrealistic. If your Loved one has any assets they will be squeezed dry from court costs and attorney fees. NOT A GOOD IDEA.
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Reply to jrfrye1

Well I think I would first look for a certified elder care attorney that may speak Spanish or have have an assistant that does. If not, than I would ask if he can hire one to assist. Many know where to find a translator. The attorney, thru the translator, would explain everything to her. If he feels she is incompetnent, he may know of a specialist that speaks Spanish to assist in having her declared incompetent.
Then it would be a matter of preparing the paper work to go to court to have her declared incompetent.
There are simple tests to help the PCP understand how bad she is. these are very simple tests that do not require any invasive procedures.
Ours just Luz a couple of questions and determined she need more of these tests. After she failed the tests her referred her to a neurologist for treatment.
None of it hurt more than I my feelings, including the CT scan to see what was going on with her brain. The neurologist was very surprised at how bad she was.
From that point on it was up to the lawyer and the courts.
I filed for guardianship to protect Luz from the nefarious type out there that would take her away from me and do her no good.
I wish you the very best in your endeavors.
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Reply to OldSailor

You can not have someone declared incompetent without going through the court system.

The doctor can say she is not competent to care for herself and needs 24 hour care, but to be declared incompetent is something only a judge can do.

Does your mom have financial POA as well as Medical? If not, and you believe that family will try to intervene and take over her care not fully understanding how ill she is, then it is probably a good time to seek guardianship. Any person declared incompetent requires a guardian that will help protect them and insure their care. You will be required to report to the courts and all of her money can only be used for her care. The courts will explain everything that you would need to know. You could Google the California guardianship rules to figure out the steps to take.

If family tries to interfere please direct them to do some research on dementia and to try to understand what she is going through before they jump and potentially throw her into a downward spiral.

Good for you and mom being proactive in caring for grandma.

What is her language? If it is Spanish have you thought about checking into facilities in Mexico? I understand that there are some nice facilities in boarder towns and language would not be an issue.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Your gma is incompetent. She can no longer take care of herself. You can take her to her PCP to have her declared or to neurologist for testing.
Sorry, don't remember if u have POA? If so, with that you cpold get her into LTC with Medicaid if she qualifies.
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Reply to JoAnn29

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