Can my Aunt take over as power of attorney, even after Grandpa was diagnosed with dementia?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My Grandpa moved in with my mom in 2009 and was in his right mind drove his own car and everything, but he made my mom his power of attorney..He decided to move to Vandalia, He was living alone there..Then he started to go downhill and got sick, and was confused he was admitted into hospital where the dr's told us he had dementia..He was very confused, and My Aunt admitted him into a nursing home in Vandalia cause he didn't want to move in with my mom again, Well then in April of 2009 without asking or telling anybody My Aunt went and got power of attorney papers and had my gpa sign them.. So she is now power of attorney and they say my moms papers don't matter but gpa was not in right mings when he signed my aunts but was when he signed my moms..Well monday April 4th he was admitted to Springfield hospital for gallbladder surgary and few other reasons, while there he told my mom he wanted to move back in with her and she said ok, but My Aunt called the hospital and Said No he can't he has to go back to nursing home.. So my question is can my Aunt just go and get another power of attorney paper and go behind my moms back and have my gpa sign it while he has dementia and he said Thursday at Hospital that he didn't know that the paper My Aunt had him sign was power of attorney papers he thought my mom was still power of attorney and he wants to go home with her, but we can't help him cause the hopital or nursing home all say My aunt is power of attorney not my mom, he was released Sat April 9th from hospital and sent back to nursing home and is very upset over it..Can She do that i need help please my Grandpa needs out of there he has gotten ten times worse since he has been in that nursing home, and they leave him in bed with pee and poop in his bed will only change him couple times a day, everytime we go see him he stinks like urine and body odor can't hardly walk has lost a whole lot of weight and i am afraid he is going to Die Alone in that nursing home with no family around...

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.

There are a few issues for you to pay attention to here.

One is who holds the valid power of attorney for your grandpa if he is now unable to make decisions for himself.

There's a legal requirement that the person making a power of attorney must be "of sound mind." To satisfy the standard, the person generally must be able to understand what a power of attorney is and does -- and must also be able to understand that he or she is making one. If your grandpa wasn't able to have this kind of understanding when he made that second power of attorney, then it isn't legally valid. The tough part, however, may be proving it. You may need to hire a lawyer for help, which may be time-consuming and expensive. So in the short run, you may want to look at a few other concerns.

It may be important to pay attention to the person at the hospital who insisted that your grandpa go to a nursing home rather than someone else's home to recover. Your mother may be able to get more information about this from the discharge planner or the patient representative at the hospital. She may then be able to figure out exactly what care your grandpa needs"”and whether there is another way he can get it, such as through in-home care providers.

But perhaps the biggest concern you raised is in your description of the bad care your grandpa may now be getting at the nursing home. You'll want to act on that quickly"”and it may be, that takes care of all the other questions about the power of attorney.

The more specific you can get about that care, the better"”how long he is left in an unclean bed, whether staff doesn't respond to call buttons, how much weight he has lost since being admitted. Your mom should first take up these concerns with the nursing home administrators. If that doesn't help, she should contact the person assigned to make sure residents get treated fairly and competently at the nursing home. You can find out contact information for the ombudsman at