Should I donate my father's belongings if there's no hope for a recovery back to independent living?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 14, 2016
Helpneeded asked...

My father was living in independent living. He had a fall in July, for no apparent reason, and his mind has gone downhill since. He is currently in a rehab/nursing center to learn how to feed himself and walk without falling. He will have to move out of his independent living apartment by month-end. Should I store his stuff or give it to charity? I do not think there is any chance for a recovery that will allow him to live independently. But I feel guilty getting rid of this things. Help.


Expert Answers

Nan Hayes is founder of MoveSeniors.com, the national resource network of Certified Relocation and Transition Specialists for seniors, and President of RightSized Living, a senior home transition service in Illinois.

You are coping with a difficult turn of events and some tough decisions and you are not alone. Falls are the number one cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in older adults. Before making decisions about your father's personal property, be sure you fully understand his prognosis. Head injuries can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Most TBIs are mild and don't usually cause long-term disability, although recovery for older adults takes longer and permanent disability can occur in 10% of mild TBIs. If you absolutely have to move by month end and are still unsure when or if recovery may occur, moving your father's possessions to a short term storage facility or storing them with relatives are the best solutions. This will give you some time to locate any legal documents, make sound decisions and gain family consensus. Decisions to sell or donate your parent's personal property should only occur in accordance with his advanced directives or the agent named in his Durable Financial Power of Attorney. If your father is incapacitated and unable to make choices and does not have a living will or has not assigned a legal representative, decisions about his personal property may be turned over to the courts, who will assign a guardian or conservator. The U.S. Administration on Aging offers web tools to help you locate agencies in your area who may be able to help with medical or legal advice.

For our readers who wish to find more information on preventing TBI, the CDC has published this material