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My father in-law was diagnosed a couple yrs ago with dementia which happened after he had a brain aneurysm in 2013. He recovered well from the aneurysm but as time went by things started to change. He would lose his way while driving around in a town he grew up in. Then he would end up doing things completely out of character. As time would go by it was becoming evident something else was wrong.
One day he took off in his truck around 3pm and became lost. We located him six hours later. We found out he took off driving down a highway and ended up several counties away from us. Thankfully the sheriff department had him in Newton county after he walked into somebody elses house and set off the alarm. The people who lived there were gone on vacation so their alarm notified the sheriff.


Fast forward to 2019. He can no longer drive since the last time he drove anywhere he ran through a round about and totaled his car. He was still living at home with his wife. However, unfortunately, she didn't want to deal with him so she got him in the car and dropped him off at one of her daughters (my sister in-law) apartment. This apartment didn't have very good living conditions. No furniture and he slept on the floor.
Come Thanksgiving of 2019, everyone comes to our house for dinner. He is here also. Me and my wife find out that he had been sleeping on the floor and not eating like he should. We told him he was going to stay with us for now so he could be taken care of and fed better with a nice bed to sleep in.
My mother in-law won't have anything to do with him. Me and my wife had made an appointment with an elder law attorney and my mother in-law was involved in this appointment. We told my mother in-law that what we were doing was to get everything set in place so that she would be protected by any financial issues once we see about applying for a Medicaid waiver for my father in-law. We thought everything was okay until one day this elder law lawyer told me and my wife they could no longer discuss anything with us at the request of my mother in-law. Client confidentiality.
It has been since Thanksgiving of 2019 that my father in-law has been with us. We feel our hands are tied with no avenues to pursue. We care about him but my wife and I both work and can't always be around to keep an eye on him. We know he is starting to get into things around the house plus now he is starting to wander outside the house. We are gambling with him everyday we are not here and he is alone.
He does have the Lewy body dementia which we have heard is the more worse kind. My mother in-law says she is working with the lawyer to get things in place for him when it's time for nursing care but we think she may just be saying that and not doing anything since he is with us. In other words, not worried about it, out of mind out of sight.


Since my mother in-law is still alive, my wife cannot become his POA. And we need to be a POA in order to get his medicare waiver applied for.
We are basically stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Can anyone tell me if we have any sort of rights here? We need to be able to get him into a facility for mental care but right now we have no legal right to make those decisions.


Any suggestions of what you would do in our place would be greatly appreciated.

Find Care & Housing
What I'd do is send him back to MIL. That is his home. If she's not agreeable to that, well, tell her you'd be happy to help place him in a memory care facility and even be his POA if she so desired and let the attorney communicate with you, but he simply cannot stay with you any longer. It is unsafe. If she doesn't want to cooperate, so be it, call APS and report a vulnerable adult. I realize this sounds harsh, but I think this threat is warranted to escalate the situation. MIL simply cannot just dump her husband somewhere for others to care for him who do not have any legal authority to act on his behalf. Since she holds the cards, she needs to play the hand.
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Reply to mstrbill
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rovana Dec 25, 2020
Yes, definitely act to force the situation. MIL will not do anything as long as she is happy with the situation as is. And look into his financial situation for sure. His money should go to his care.
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I would deliver him back to his wife and then contact Adult Protective Services and report a vulnerable senior that needs additional care that his wife is disregarding and dropping him off to family.

As long as you guys take care of him, you will get no help from anyone, because he is okay with you. As hard as it is you have to return him to his wife and step away to let the system work.

I am so sorry that you guys are going through this, it is so difficult.

Edit: has she been giving his social security check to you for his care? If not report her for stealing his ss. They don't allow anyone to just take a social security check and not use it for the support of the recipient.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Steve, do I understand correctly that the attorney you saw was consulting your MIL before you and your wife consulted him?  If so, then it is correct that she was his client and can preclude him from sharing information with you.  

But if YOU and your wife consulted him, and MIL kind of  "came along for the ride", then he's YOUR attorney, not hers, and she would be the one to be left out.

If the former situation is accurate, you do have the right to find counsel for yourself, and given the situation (which seems to be one of MIL stalling), I think that might be a good idea.

I do agree with others that you may have to initiate guardianship proceedings, but if you do, you should discuss with your own counsel how to get MIL to release any funds (such as his SS) to be available for his care.

Contacting APS is another alternative.    You should mention that MIL dropped him off, literally abandoning him, and that he had to sleep on the floor.   That is TOTALLY inexcusable!  

It is very sad though that MIL is interfering with finding good care for her husband.     That's extremely selfish, and disgusting.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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100%, your MIL either has responsibility or hasn’t, and each of the contributions here states a variation of the same thing.

Management of elderly people with dementia is an awkward painful exhausting chore, whether of a dearly loved family member or a cantankerous curmudgeon or anyone between.

You have stepped in and filled the breech, but sometimes if you fill it too well, other obligated “fillers”will take advantage. Sadly, in your situation, he may wind up being the relative who gets placed and no one visits, but that too will ultimately be, as it MUST BE, your MIL’s call.

Remember as you move forward that there are never “good” or “easy” or “comfortable” solutions in the situations we as caregivers encounter, and sometimes “the best we can” is just that.

If your decisions are made with love and compassion and kindness, be at peace with them.
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Reply to AnnReid
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You could pursue guardianship. Maybe just the threat of that will get MIL to do something. If he needs hospitalization, do not bring him back home. Tell them he is not safe there and that his residence is MIL's decision. That will force her hand.
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Reply to gladimhere
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If MIL is not caring for him and hindering any process that you are going through to help him I think you should consult another Elder Care Attorney and seek Guardianship.
MIL will probably fight it and in that case you can then say that you want FIL out of your house, you will no longer support him.
The goal here would be to get him into a facility where he can be cared for safely.
And I am surprised at the first lawyer. If you made the appointment, if you paid for the appointment YOU are the client NOT your MIL she should be the one that has to consult with another attorney.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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MIL needs to take responsibility here.

I am NOT suggesting she has to LIVE with him or provide hands-on care. But she does have responsibility for her husband, legally & morally. Sounds like she basically freaked out & dumped him. With better support hopefully she can take on the responsibility she needs to. SHE needs to get this support. Talk to Doctor, get assessmets done, talk with Social Worker etc.

LB Dementia is tough & she may be scared. She may have even been threatened or worse by him & actually scared to have him in the house. I would suggest finding this out as a priority.
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Reply to Beatty
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What you need to do is protect his assets. See a lawyer about getting 50% of what they have to pay for his care in either an AL or LTC. Have ur lawyer confer with her lawyer to see what has been done so far. You can use his money.

Your MIL will get the house and a car. The SS and/or pension will be split so she is not impoverished. Once he goes thru his assets, Medicaid can be applied for.

I wonder if there are laws that cover abandoning a spouse. I mean you do take vows for better or worse. If MIL doesn't want to physically care for him thats OK. But to me, she is obligated as his wife to find him a safe place. I may just pack him up and leave him on her doorstep.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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You need to get the county or the court system involved. She is controlling his assets but not providing for his care. Is the MIL your wife's mother or stepmother?
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Reply to EmotionallyNumb
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He can no longer confer POA on ANYONE. One must be fully mentally capable to give POA to another. His wife currently will serve as his next of kin, and were guardianship needed she would likely be appointed his guardian. You can apply for guardianship especially if you are taking care of him.
Where does his Social Security go? Who is paying for his care.
To be frank, should you go through an attorney to get guardianship the wife would likely step in and demand to have it.
There are really only two choices here. Speak to his wife and let her know what they are. Either she takes care of him, becomes his guardian, places him in care, or you do.
Currently you are simply an unpaid baby sitter with no rights whatsoever. See an elder law attorney. Your father's/FIL's estate should pay for this consultation. This has all apparently been in limbo for over a year? I don't quite understand that. Speak with his wife; tell her it is time for her to place her husband in care. You can also consider the ER dump if it is necessary. FIL taken to hospital ER and left there with wife phone number; then the social workers will swing in to speak with her about getting temporary emergency guardianship and placement for her husband, while separating out assets for her own care. You would be in a position then simply to say "Sorry, he cannot come back here; we cannot mentally or physically care for him; you have no rights to make decisions in his care." If the wife will not accept him the Social Worker can make a call to a judge to get you temporary guardianship. Then mediation can be arranged with wife to ascertain who will assume care of FIL.
This will be a long decision making process. It starts with a family conference early in the New Year. If no one will attend then you need to tell them Dad will be in the ER and as next of kin the wife will be called, so she should begin to get her plans in order.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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rovana Dec 25, 2020
Alva, I suspect the wife wants to go on as is - with her husband off her hands, using all the marital assets herself and the daughter and son-in-law covering care and costs. I rather doubt that she will be cooperative unless forced to. So contacting a lawyer for dad is #1 to protect him.
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