What should I do if 2 of my 3 siblings are blocking my mother's entry into a Residential Care home?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 19, 2016
Eldest son asked...

My 74 year old mother had a series of strokes a year ago, resulting in Vascular Dementia. She lives by herself and is completely supported by her adult children in everything she needs to enable her to stay in her own house. Her condition has recently worsened to such a degree that one brother and I believe that she requires full-time residential nursing care. This will need to be funded by her pension and her house put on a charge to meet the care home bills. It is thought that the rental of the house wil cover this. Unfortunately my other 2 siblings are blocking this change to my mother's care despite independent medical advice. My mother's own medical assessor's have been fooled by my siblings into believing that everything is normal and that there is little that need changing. I need to know where I stand legally to ensure that my mother gets the full-time care that she obviously needs. I honestly believe now that my siblings want their inheritance protected at the expense of my mother's care despite their claims and protests to the contrary. Any advice? Thank you

Expert Answers

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 AgingParents.com.

You mention that your siblings are blocking your mother's entry into a residential care home. This must be frustrating for you. There is not enough information for me to answer all of the issues you raise. For example, I am unfamiliar with the term "medical assessor". You also do not state the reasons why she needs residential care. If she has dementia and is unsafe being by herself, that is a valid reason to place her where she can be properly cared for by others. If it is possible to provide that care at home, it should also be considered. If the home is her only asset and she can't pay for care without rent coming in, then the issue is why your siblings are resisting the move. You have not described "independent medical advice". That needs to be clear, and in writing. If a doctor says your mother is unsafe living alone any longer, and that she needs to be placed in a facility, you should have a written report to that effect. I suggest that you get the written documentation you need first. Present it to your siblings without comment. Then, you can suggest mediation of the dispute by an independent elder mediator (mediator.com is a resource. There are others). If they continue to block getting help, I would seek assistance from professionals in the area. Does your mother have an estate attorney? Is there a clergy person who can meet with all of you? Her doctor? If all else fails, and you believe your mother is in serious and increasing danger staying alone, the last resort is to seek the advice of an elder law attorney who does guardianships (conservatorships in CA). Get advice and get going.

Community Answers

Eldest son answered...

Thank you for replying Carolyn. I should mention that this situation is in the UK. 'medical assessor' - refers to the Community Nurse that specialises in elderly people (presumably an expert in dementia). 'independent medical advice' refers to when my mother's lawyers were instructed to assess my mother as part of a legal case for compensation over my father's untimely death when he was her main carer after her successful cancer treatments. The reasons why I believe that she should be in residential care are because she lives alone in an area with an increasing crime rate / she regularly leaves her front door open / she wanders the streets all day visiting her children who live locally but is now prone to getting lost / she answers her door partially naked / she allows anybody into her house simply because they ring the door bell (so far only legitimate callers have come into the house) / she is now unable to communicate in a coherent manner and recently has shown signs in conversation that she now doesn't know who she is anymore.

thanks you again for your advice. I have now requested and been assigned a Social Worker for my mother and have explained everything to him. Hopefully he will be able to co-ordinate and mediate with all concerned.

Carolyn l. rosenblatt answered...

Dear Eldest Son: Given your description, it is urgent that you take steps to protect your mother. I do not know the law in the UK, but hope that there is means to secure power over the situation so that you can stop the self-neglect and danger to her. She definitely needs care, from what you are saying and you must stand up to your siblings with whatever means the law permits you to get. The effort you put into this is worth it. If there is the equivalent of guardianship in the UK, please seek it.