Recently one of our newsletter readers submitted a question to “Elder Care Matters” of which I am a member. The question was:
“My mother is 91 years old and has Dementia/Alzheimer’s. She does not know how to read or write, but . . . granted Power of Attorney for her finances to my elder sibling. This was done in secrecy and did not take the rest of the family into consideration. Now my sibling has taken over my mother’s house and her bank funds and has placed my mother in a nursing home where she is kept overmedicated.
I’m concerned about how something like this could have happened. Is there anything I and the rest of my family can do now to have this Legal Directive reversed?”
This scenario plays out daily across our nation. Clearly the questioner can seek medical opinions, go to court, argue his mother was not competent, and possibly win, but he might cause irreparable damage to the family that never heals.
Another solution that many people do not want to embrace, but which avoids many of these issues, is to bring all the family members together and talk. If the elder sibling won’t cooperate, there may not be much the questioner can do but seek redress through the courts. But over the years I’ve found that when families meet, sometimes the answers to their questions surprise them.
The family may find a unified approach that meets the mother’s needs while preserving family harmony.
Sometimes it takes a trained mediator or experienced legal counselor to help family members explain their positions or understand the other member’s positions and guide the family in finding an acceptable alternative, but this should not be a deterrent.
If you encounter a similar situation, this alternative is worth exploring. If it fails, you can always pursue legal action later.