How do I get power of attorney and Medicaid for my mother, who has Alzheimer's?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I recently visited my mother and found her physically neglected and also found her house neglected. My older brother is her neighbor and I spoke with her weekly and had no idea this was happening. I put her on a plane and brought her back with me. I live in Orlando FL and have no relatives here. My brother has all paper work concerning my mother, which he has not handed over to me. I want to get power of attorney and have authority to make decisions for my mother. (I have her best interest at heart)  I also need to find out how to get her on medicaid.She has Alzheimers, but can still make decisions...Please help, I'm overwhelmed...

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You have every reason in the world to feel overwhelmed given all that’s on your plate. Fortunately, you live in a place that offers good help for your needs—and you should be able to access it all through your computer, without having to leave your home, stand in lines, or wade through much red tape.

First, focus on the best legal way to get the authority you need. If you are satisfied that you need a power of attorney to help handle your mother’s finances and personal affairs, you can find a lengthy explanation and form for it on the website of the Florida Bar Association. Bear in mind that a power of attorney may be your best option only if your mother’s mental state allows her the mental capacity to understand the document and what it means.

If your mother’s mental condition is uncertain or if you believe you will need more complete power to deal with her finances and medical care, consider getting a legal guardianship over her. This would require that you petition the court to be appointed—and your brother or other interested family members would be informed and would be able to contest the proceeding. But the court would base its decision on who seems to have your mother’s best interests at heart—and you seem to be the frontrunner there.

Again, your state supplies consumers with good information on this issue, You should be able to find all you need to get started on Florida probate court’s website.

Finally, there is complete information about qualifying and applying for Medicaid at the website operated by the Florida Department of Children and Families.