Can I force my mom's doctors to put her in a nursing home and stop her drug addiction?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
Sjm1019 asked...

How do I fight the hospital and doctors and force them to place my Mother in nursing home?

My 69 year old Mother is an alcoholic/prescription pill addict (downers mostly). She lives alone but recently played out my prediction of falling in the night and breaking her hip. She went for a week without telling anyone because she knew she would lose her independence. She rehabbed in a nursing home for weeks and they discharged her. She pooped her pants and fell several times on the way home. She had been sneaking pills and supplementing. I've told her doctor 3 times point blank to stop giving my Mother downers. And he continues so badly that she has scripts at 4 different pharmacies she pays cash for. She stopped caring for herself and her place terribly. My brother and I have been forced to try to have her placed against her will. My other brother refuses to call, speak of her, come around, or be involved in any way. I'm disabled from a bad car accident 5 years ago so I cannot physically take care of her. The doctors feel she is competent and doesn't need to be placed but in same breath are asking me "I still don't understand why you can't take your Mother in?" Hospital personnel have resisted us completely, even though there are records there indicating at least 6 hospitalizations in 5 years for substance abuse and at least 6 others for mental health - complete commitments from doctors. We've been doing this for 40 years. Last summer I picked her up drunk, face down, out of the middle of main street at 1 am when she wandered out of her apartment and staggered through the projects looking for more booze. What is the procedure if I can't seem to get PCP on board? This woman is 4'6", 120 lbs. and is prescribed 24 mgs. Suboxone, 3 Doxopin, 3 mgs. of Klonopin, 600 mgs. of Seroquel and 60 mgs. of Celexa every single day and they wonder why she sleeps 23 hours a day and falls all the time???? Now I have to have her committed because they refuse to stop the meds. and she can't be home on all those drugs and not fall. It was only 18-24 months ago she was a full time Social Work student at the local college with a 4.0 gpa. It's sickening. Any advice?


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com 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.

As you know too well, it's very difficult to get a person involuntarily admitted to a care facility"”especially without good information and the strong support of medical practitioners who are involved.

The overriding rule in the medical world is supposed to be that doctor or hospital staff cannot release a person to go home if he or she is unable to get the needed care there. It's mystifying why they are choosing to ignore this wisdom in your mother's case. It could be that she's become pretty cagey at convincing people to do her will and is able to put on a good show"”at least for brief appearances"”that she is able to care for herself.

Try to get the ear of someone else involved in her care who may not be so easily blindsided. Since your mother has had frequent hospitalizations, seek out the hospital's Patient Representative, Ombudsman, Social Worker, or Family Services staffer and ask for an appointment to discuss the situation. Emphasize that your prime concern is your mother's safety and well-being"”and come to the meeting equipped with the strong evidence you have already described here.

If this meeting does not produce a solution, consider contacting the local Adult Protective Services Agency. Most have confidential counseling services and will be willing to discuss options that may be available locally.

Finally, while it's a rather drastic option, you and your brother may want to consider securing a guardianship or conservatorship for your mother, in which another person would be appointed to ensure her safekeeping and medical needs. In some complicated situations such as yours, it is sometimes easier and more effective to get someone outside the family involved in the task. For more detailed information, see Caring.com's Adult Guardian and Conservatorship page at www.caring.com/adult- It's mystifying why they are choosing to ignore this wisdom in your mother's case. It could be that she's become pretty cagey at convincing people to do her will and is able to put on a good show"”at least for brief appearances"”that she is able to care for herself.

Try to get the ear of someone else involved in her care who may not be so easily blindsided. Since your mother has had frequent hospitalizations, seek out the hospital's Patient Representative, Ombudsman, Social Worker, or Family Services staffer and ask for an appointment to discuss the situation. Emphasize that your prime concern is your mother's safety and well-being"”and come to the meeting equipped with the strong evidence you have already described here.

If this meeting does not produce a solution, consider contacting the local Adult Protective Services Agency. Most have confidential counseling services and will be willing to discuss options that may be available locally.

Finally, while it's a rather drastic option, you and your brother may want to consider securing a guardianship or conservatorship for your mother, in which another person would be appointed to ensure her safekeeping and medical needs. In some complicated situations such as yours, it is sometimes easier and more effective to get someone outside the family involved in the task.

For more detailed information, see Caring.com's Adult Guardian and Conservatorship page at www.caring.com/adult-guardianship.


Community Answers

Sjm1019 answered...

Thank you for your reply! It is very helpful information. I did contact the ombudsman and got an obra evaluation and they concur with me. They are puzzled also by the doctors in this case. The doctors and social workers were pressuring me to take her, they just didn't want to have to do the paperwork. I refused to pick her up if they discharged her and they were forced to place her. OBRA recommended to the State of Mich that she be placed in nursing care until her hip is better. Then they strongly suggest she be moved to an assisted living facility and never be allowed to administer her own meds again. I just searched her apartment and found the meds she was hiding. They are cards with pills you punch through the other side straight from the last stay at the nursing home. At that time she had them convinced she needed all these, Suboxone, Klonopin, Seroquel, Doxopin, Celexa, in huge doses. They were dispensed 7/21/10. She was home 2.5 days. There were 18 doses missing of each one. It's almost suicidal. Certainly negligent on the hospital, at best. She's really mad at me and now I have a ton more work to do (disposing of her apt. and all her stuff by end of this month), so it's not been easy for me, especially since I am the only one in my family doing anything for her and I am disabled. I've lost 26 pounds in 2 weeks and I'm exhausted. Thanks again for your advice.