1. so heres my problem, my sister has control of a trust fund left from my grandmother for the well being of my mother, she gets the remaining money when my mother dies,
    my mother is no longer allowed to live on her own because of her mental capacity,
    but she is refusing to take her insulin, refusing meals, sneaking candy, refusing to shower,
    and threatening to urinate on the furniture,

    she needs to be put in a home, but if i do that, my sister will just pull her back out
    (when we first got the news from the doctor and rehab facility that she couldnt be
    left alone, my sister immediately dropped her back off at her apartment alone because
    she didnt want to deal with her),

    she currently has her blocked so my mother has to go through her ex husband (my father)
    to request anything (he has nothing to do with the situation other then hes the only one not blocked)

    even when mother was living with sister, she had such large problems i voiced my concern,

    my sister replied all was fine,

    next day mother was in hospital with bloodsugar in the 600’s for long periods of time
    (now diagnosed with not just diabetes 2 but also that thing that effects her mind from it)

    so i drove up to oklahoma and took possession of mother to care for her, but as
    previously stated this task is not reasonable, what can i do? i dont want my mother harmed,
    and if my sister gets her back i know shell be dead in a year, what can i do?

    • ontop of that my sister dumped all responsibility for her care into my lap, with no information about doctors medicine or care, then blocked me

    • That sounds like such a heart-wrenching situation and I’m sorry your family is going through that. It can be very complicated caring for an older parent whne siblings don’t see eye to eye.

      I would strongly recommend Dr. K’s new book: When Your Older Parent Starts Needing Help: a geriatrician’s step-by-step guide to memory loss, resistance, safety worries, and more. You can find out more about it here. There are specific parts of the book that can be used to guide interactions with difficult siblings.

      I don’t have a legal background, but I wonder if a guardianship would be something that would be appropriate in a case like yours. If an aging parent isn’t capable, a child could petition for guardianship, and make decisions about shelter for the parent. A sibling could challenge this, but there would likely be a hearing where a person could share all of the information about the parent’s health and wellbeing.

      There’s no easy way to get through a dilemma like the one you’re facing, but I’m glad to hear that your mom is safe with you for now. I wish you the best.

  2. The problem I have is one parent (Dad) is having continence probs and Mom is late on the bills and often lashes out at me for what I hope is temporary schizophrenia talking to myself. I have one fellow from a recent job here and , well, im not sure about him but Mom is infatuated at 81 with his worky worky stuff, but it does cause confusion and derision in the house. See Mom forgets alot as the onset of dementia, and has an explosive temper from what I believe we all 3 have ( parasite rage). Gas lighting, its very possible and because of the ex employer having money she has messed up my Doctors visits negating parasites, no problem , but why wont she quit sending her ones in her care to glory, and help people like she promised us is the rub.

    Torment is the word, Dad and I have to watch what we say around Mom she dissects and cuts at us about anything, she is so outta line its hopeless and dangerous with her persecution complex.

    • That sounds like a difficult situation for sure, although I’m not sure I followed all of that.

      You and your dad definitely need support if your mom is living with dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Association can be a great resource. They can give you some guidance on how to navigate the behavior changes you’re seeing.

      It might be helpful to get an assessment by a Geriatrician or Geriatric Psychiatrist as well.

      Dr. K has recently published a book called: “When Your Aging Parent Needs Help: a geriatrician’s step-by-step guide to memory loss, resistance, safety worries, and more”. This is a practical guide to how to start helping an aging parent, even when you don’t know where to start. You can learn more here. The book can help you to set small goals and make progress towards helping your mom.

  3. I have a question. My fiance was 35 when she had a stroke. In the paperwork the doctors marked that she is unable to make her own decisions. Would that be all decisions? I’m asking because only a couple months after her stroke, her attorney had her enter a guilty plea on a case and she doesnt even understand what is going on. She can hardly follow a conversation let alone understand a court proceeding.

    • That must be a frightening situation.

      In my experience, it’s rare for someone to be globally incapable, that is not competent to make any decisions for themselves. In a legal case, it would probably be up to the court to decide if a person is capable of entering a plea for themselves or to take advice from a lawyer without some accommodation. It would likely be vital that the court be aware of the person’s health issues if they could affect the proceedings. I would have a dialogue with the lawyer to make sure they understand the client’s consition.

  4. How do we approach a situation where one sibling has taken power of attorney, not given capable mom a say in moving her to assisted living, and who (siblings) have all her financial and legal and personal document and belongings at their house. Do we have to bring suit to challenge and watch over what they do with her money and belongings? She’s competent.

    • I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a capable person could not be forced to move, even if someone has a durable power of attorney for personal care. If your mom doesn’t agree to move to assisted living, she can move out, if she’s competent. If someone challenges her capacity and applies for a guardianship of her, there would probably be a hearing.

      The laws around capacity vary depending on your geographic region, so getting legal advice from someone in your jurisdiction is a good idea. I’m sorry your family is struggling with this and I hope you can get a resolution soon.

  5. Hi:
    I have a brother with guilian barret syndrome , which has him incapacitated to move from the head down , he also cant talk since he hs a tracheotomy , but the doctor says he understands everything and he can comunicate by reading his lips , he can say yes and no , or can communicate by other means like using a board and stuff like that , my question is this , his son has taken the desicion to not let any other family member talk to him in face time or even ask how he is doing , not even to my own mother , I think this is a violation of his rights , because i think if someone go and ask him if he wants to speak to his mother of course he is going to say yes , is like he is being kidnapped by his oen son and the hospital . What can we do in this situation ?? We only want to see him and see how he is doing .

    • That sounds very frustrating. It’s hard to know what’s going on, whether your brother has requested a break from talking to other family members, or your nephew is making this change of his own accord. If your brother is in the hospital, it might be reasonable to share this information with the hospital staff and someone there (like a social worker) can check in with your brother to see if he needs help connecting with you or your mom.

  6. I’ve gleaned much from your blog posts, TY. I took one piece of advice and contacted my 85 year-old mother’s (new, never before seen) PCP/Geriatrician to _give_ them information about her. She has been having paranoid delusions, which are causing her to make bad decisions as a result. I stressed that I was only giving info. and that it be held in confidence as it was a sensitive subject with my mother and not one she’d bring up; and, also to protect the trust relationship with her. I asked them to a.) evaluate her for dementia/LB; b.) address a months-long untreated UTI; b.) explain to her about assigning a health surrogate so that I could legally discuss her condition/treatment with healthcare providers.

    Spoke with my mother about the visit. She reported that first thing out of the doctor’s mouth was: “Tell your daughter not to call here. It is a HIPPA violation.” I had to backpeddle about why I called, but the damage has been done.

    Not only did he not even evaluate her*, but now he has broken her trust in me. A case worker that has been assigned her for 2 weeks (only) told me that my mother told her that she had no family (she has me and an abusive/estranged son). They knew better and asked about her daughter. Her reply was that I was trying to have her commited and said that I hope she dies.

    The opposite is true, but where does this leave me? The people assigned to her are making incorrect/incomplete judgements about her, and I’m feeling helpless. I live out of state and cannot move to where she is. She refuses to move from ‘her home’.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your experience – it must be frustrating and stressful.

      First of all, I usually advise being careful when one is only getting one side of the story (for example, in this case: your mother’s interpretation of what happened) and the truth might be something different than what she is relating to you. I’m not aware that you sharing information would violate HIPAA, so that is unusual. It might be worth verifying that with the provider’s staff.

      It is great that your mom is linked with this provider and has a case worker assigned to her, though, and it sounds like that case worker is able to share information with you to some extent. If that worker has some Geriatrics experience, they are probably aware that information gathering with older adults is a lengthy process, that involves getting data from multiple sources.

      The goals that you list are all reasonable, but might be more than could be covered in a single encounter, and might be different to your mother’s goals. It’s a journey.

      I would recommend looking into getting Dr. Kernisan’s book, co-authored by Paula Spencer Scott. It’s entitled: “When Your Aging Parent Needs Help: A Geriatrician’s Step-by-Step Guide to Memory Loss, Resistance, Safety Worries, & More” , and it really is a step-by-step handbook that has very practical information about where you can go from here. You can watch my interview with Dr. Kernisan here. I hope you find it helpful, and thanks for sharing your comments!

  7. My father is in his 90s and has been diagnosed with dementia for quite some time now.

    I am the power of attorney for him and began living with him 5 years ago. In his will and in years before the onset of dementia he had wanted his home to go to my family and I.

    By moving in and supporting his needs he progressively has felt as if we are taking away his freedoms and taking over his home and this has turned into him now distrusting our intentions and our concerns for him. He has gone behind our backs and with the help of a step child (who would actually benefit from this change) is making an effort to have his will changed.

    We have seen similar lacks of trust with his doctors recently. He denies medical diagnoses that are given to him.

    He no longer drives, cannot make payments to debtors, or keep track of writing checks to family as gifts, he cannot remember grandchildren’s names, or if he took the morning medicine, or eaten a meal. I of course handle all these for him as his son and caregiver.

    Many things confuse him, like where water is coming from in his backyard during a rain storm, or how did a spill get on his floor, or if it’s the sunlight that is illuminating the room, or the lamp.

    He has exhibited sundowning this year a few times and we will need to place a motion detector in the house now to make sure he doesn’t harm himself when we are asleep.

    His logic when he first signed the will was that our family had struggled the most, we have a young child with a mental disability, and that we have taken care of and been there for him and his wife the most often. Several of his other children have homes, are comfortably retired, employed, or receiving benefits, and have self-sufficient healthy adult children.

    He recently was told the value of his home in a real estate flyer and it caught him by surprise. His value scale has stopped many years ago, still thinking that anything above $.10 for a cup of coffee is bank robbery. So giving anyone a house away at this modern price now seemed preposterous to him.

    When I bring up what the plans were that were written in both his will and his deceased wife’s, he tells me those were never the plans and that it was ever written like that.

    My wife and I are at wits end. When we bring up the topic and express our sorrow he becomes very angry with us, only to seem calm and friendly minutes later. I am clearly depressed and saddened every waking minute and he doesn’t recognize it on my face and by my demeanor at all.

    We know if we question his competence that could spur him to write us out completely, but we also don’t want to regret not doing anything.

    Is there a subtle way to deliver our concerns to his doctors?

    What is the likelihood we’d have to take this to court even with doctors in agreement?

    He is moving fast on getting all this completed, would we be able to make a case after the documents are signed?

    Also, I am his transportation and he will have to rely on me to get him to the lawyers office. Do I pull the lawyer aside and tell him that I have second thoughts about my father’s judgement or by allowing him to go there under his free will and saying nothing am I allowing him to do this and accepting his competence?

    • I’m so sorry to hear about this and I can understand your anguish in this situation.

      The mental capacity to change a will is called “testamentary capacity” , and I found some information about the capacity needed to make a will in your state, here on the California Law website:

      My understanding is that the lawyer who is drawing up the will should ensure that the person is capable to do so. This lawyer may benefit from knowing about the medical condition of the person who is changing the will, i.e that the person has dementia, whether they are incapable in other domains of life (like managing finances, managing medications, driving and so on). A person who is making a will also has to have an understanding of their assets, so that if a person doesn’t know the approximate value of their home or other assets, this could point to incapacity as well.

      In such a situation, I would not advise the subtle approach. I would advise the family member to write a letter to the doctor, and perhaps to the lawyer as well, outlining the concerns as you have in this comment, and consider also giving information verbally to the lawyer.

      Unfortunately, these situations are not uncommon and it’s often necessary for the parties to get legal representation, and things end up in court. That is almost always a very painful and costly way to go, so any action that could settle things down without going that route would be better. As a Geriatrician, I am often asked to weigh in on financial capacity, or capacity in general, so getting a consultation with a geriatrics time may be a good idea.

      I hope you can find some peace and I wish you the best.

  8. Hi. Thanks for the useful information. My 92 year old Mom who was living alone got Covid. She went to the hospital but hospital sent here home . My sister in law who has Power of Attorney has stuck her in a nursing home and wont let her go back home and is in control of all the finances. The only document she has is a social worker said Mom might have dementia and a small town doctor who saw her when she had the virus said there might be some mental challenges. everytime I have talked to Mom she was very coherent . Can my sisterlaw do this. Mom owns her own home so accommodations or home care could be made. Thanks so much

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your mom and I hope she gets better soon.

      Usually, a person with power of attorney can only act if the older adult has been found to lack capacity. If a person’s capacity were assessed when they were in a delirium (a sudden worsening of alertness, thinking and concentration that fluctuates, and is due to a medical issue), the attorney may need to step in, but if the delirium gets better, the capacity may return.

      If a capable older adult disagrees with the actions of their attorney, they can take steps to regain control. I would advise that person to get legal advice about how to move forward.

  9. Question: I am helping a family member with her problem. She and exhusband purchased property and a home together about 13 years ago. He is now in nursing home with dementia and she is 73 and needs to sell the home to move near her children in another state due to her health. There is no POA nor will for the exhusband who isnt able to sign or witness anything due to his state of dementia. How does she sell her property without him able to sign off on transaction? What happens regarding the nursing home,
    do they take the home or the profits? Help

    • Hi Julia. I don’t know enough to authoritatively answer this question, but I would start by looking at the terms of the divorce, if there was one, or did they but this home after they were apart? A lawyer will probably be needed to sort this out, but an even split of the proceeds seems like the most likely scenario to me.