My grandparents need help but are stubborn!

Mrsa asked...

My Grandparents are not able to take care of themselves any more.They are in and out of the hospital, they both have early signs of dementia, they do not take their medication properly, they do not eat like they should and they are a handful to say the least. The nursing homes will not take them in, they have Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The family isn't helping out, what can be done?

Expert Answer

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of

Your question raises a number of problems, among them the issue of your grandparents needing care but not wanting it. What can be done depends on quite a number of factors.

If your grandparents have "early signs of dementia", I sincerely hope someone has a durable power of attorney for both of them. Without it, there are only two choices: let your grandparents make decisions, even dangerous decisions for themselves, or have them placed under guardianship when that becomes feasible legally.

Nursing homes will take in people who can pay for their own care. Neither Medicare nor their private insurance have ever paid for long term care in nursing homes, beyond a relatively brief period after a hospitalization. If they have no long term care insurance, they would have to pay out of pocket for care, whether it's in their home, in assisted living or in a nursing home. The only exception is if your grandparents run out of money and can qualify for Medicaid, which does pay for nursing home care. You will need to seek the advice of an experienced elder law attorney in their state to find out more about this.

You mention that the family "isn't helping out". I don't know if you mean financially or with caregiving. I suggest a family meeting with all those who are interested in your grandparents' health and safety, to discuss the future with them. If your grandparents are not able to participate meaningfully in such a discussion, have it without them. The point is that your family must step in and take measures to protect them if you want them to have safety and a good quality of life in their remaining years. If your grandparents are still mentally competent (questionable if both have dementia), you can't stop them from making their own decisions, even bad decisions about getting help. If there is a power of attorney, I suggest that the person appointed get moving and start arranging for a way to see that their nutrition is provided for and that someone supervises their taking their medications properly, as a start.

I would guess that there are lots of other issues here. Please get professional advice as soon as possible.