Can I force dad into a care facility if I hold his POA?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad lives in Texas, my brother and I in PA and NJ respectively. I have a general durable power of attorney (for financial & medical)for my father. There is a statement that says "My Attorney-in-fact shall have the power to make all decisions for any and all medical treatment which I may require in the event that I am unable to make said decisions for myself and to make any and all arrangements for my admission into any hospital, nursing home or other medical facility". Over the last 3-4 years, my father has been advised by several of his doctors, other hospital staff and numerous family members that he needs to be in a skilled care facility, but my father refuses to stay in one. He will go for a few weeks until his medicare runs out and then he wants to go live somewhere else.

When my father is in a skilled care facility, he does really well. When he's on his own, he over-medicates himself, because he can't remember if he took certain pills, so he will take them again, which causes him to become confused, belligerent and affects his bowels as well. From the social worker I spoke with at the hospital, if dad is alert and can make decisions for himself, we can't force him to go to a skilled care facility, is that correct?

My uncle in TX thinks my brother & I just need to go down there and bring him up north. We have asked dad on several occasions to move back up here, but he refuses to do so. Even though he is making incredibly poor choices, he still is in a frame of mind to make choices and I don't believe we would be able to have the courts declare him incompetent.

What, if any, options are left for us to do? At this point because of dad's stubborn selfishness, we are ready to just back away and say we tried dad, but if you won't cooperate, there is nothing we can do. Any advice you could share would be greatly appreciated.

Expert Answers

Unfortunately I think you do not have any good options. Unless a court declares him to be legally incompetent he has the power to decide how to he wants to live his life, however foolish or self-destructive his choices are. The fact that you have a POA doesn't give you authority to compel him to move into a care facility, unless he has been declared to be incompetent. Similarly, you can't force him to move from Texas to near you and your brother. Sadly,I suggest that the best thing you can do now is, as you suggest is just back away. Perhaps that might wake your father up, but that's far from certain. Sometimes in life there are problems with no good solution.