As promised in the previous post, here is a road map of sorts for seniors and aged adults. IF you are the child of a senior, this is important.
Be sure never to use for profit probate guardianship for their well being, as this is a disaster waiting to happen. There are many loving people who can do this job, but then there are the bad actors out there. FAmily guardianship for adults with disabilities or seniors is a disaster as well, given the nature of what the adult really should be doing. Here is a replacement model I can come up with for the guardian program in Florida and other states still clinging to that warped belief that disabled and senior adults need guardians.
IF you have a Down’s Syndrome or developmentally disabled adult in the home, it is so easy to fall into the guardianship and group home trap. But there is a way out. Jenny Hatch’s case demonstrates the need for autonomy and the right to make choices as a disabled adult. Jenny was forcibly put in a group home, denied contact with friends, and denied a chance to go to church. Now, after the guardianship was removed, Jenny is now living with friends, holds her job at the thrift store, and goes to church on Sunday and can do whatever she wants. This is the life all of us, blind or Down’s or whatever, we should all strive to live the lives that we want, not what a guardian says we need. So the model for Jenny’s case is supportive decision making, and there is a catch. Someone would oversee each aspect of a person’s life, and for seniors, be sure you have more than one supports person in your will or advanced directive so that you don’t get mugged, robbed, or otherwise exploited by a child or grandchild who may resent you. Better yet, find people who can be supports to you who are younger and able to do this job. It is a big responsibility to be a guardian, but supportive decision making can help seniors and developmentally disabled adults make the decisions they need to go forth in their lives. LEt’s take my father for example.
If my dad develops Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, the last thing his sons and their spouses should ever say is “Oh, he’s going to be a burden on us. Let’s institutionalize him.” What better option is out there? Keeping Dad in his own home, with his wife and children, grandchildren and so on. Another better way to handle the memory problems would be to specify different supports coordinators for differing needs. For instance, my brother Danny and his wife could coordinate social services and in home memory care and drilling to keep Dad’s brain sharp for as long as possible. He should be fitted with an ankle monitor not for probation or because he did something wrong, but for the safety of Dad and his family, so that he doesn’t wander off. Nursing homes don’t often do care the way family does care, and putting him in such a place would render his care assembly line like, not good, and the nurses could fall into the abuse trap. So here’s what happens: the brothers and their families will have to coordinate ways to keep Mom and Dad in their home, set the home up with alarms and other things to keep one or both from wandering if they fall to Alzheimer’s or dementia, and support care will need to be sought in the hometown from which they came. In Denver, I get excellent supports care coordination in my home, a home aid of course, but that was recommended by a mental health professional. I personally have been through too much, so mental health therapy should be used to cope with this traumatic existence. If Dad and Mom need help, I sadly can’t give it because they refused to accept my adulthood. Danny and Tommy, the brothers in this case, and their spouses, children, and grandkids will all have to be involved in making life altering decisions for Dad, including realizing that nursing home abuse is alive and well in Florida. Should a nursing home be used? Not in all cases, but nursing home lie isn’t good for anyone who wants to avoid being forgotten and abused. Mom and Dad should recognize they will need to have a say in where they live when they turn 90. Should they need assisted living, that might b a better option, but only if they say yes. IF Danny and his wife want to help with caring for the father and mother in laws or whatever, they must be loving and committed to doing their job well. The wife will have to be able to get to know her in laws from a clinical perspective, and I found out she’s a psychologist. Though she does work with young people, I think she will have a good sense of what is to be done if her father in law has dementia or any other memory diseases.
When a senior adult or disabled adult dies, make sure the family or somebody claims the body. I’ve written extensively about my friend Kaitlyn Reichert, who died in California without a proper funeral and nobody claimed her body. I was just getting things mended with her, all this when suddenly she died. I found out the situation behind her death, and the big reasons why she was unclaimed may be the fact that she is disabled or was so severely disabled she needed some care. Humanity cannot handle that much responsibility at once for 100 cases, as we know from seeing the for profit guardians and their cremated wards in their office buildings instead of in a proper urn. Rebecca was a guardian in Orlando whose story has appeared at length in the Orlando Sentinel, but what she did was unforgivable. Certifying a DNR should be up to the patient, not a guardian, and Rebecca had lots of DNR’s thrown at seniors she didn’t want. Is this the new normal? If my dad gets terminal, or my mom has broken brittle bones, or my grandmother or my mother’s dad no less needs to be hospitalized, a for profit guardian should never be in charge. Papa Rod Hebert may have stage I dementia, but he should still have a say in his DNR status. If he wants to keep going and going like the energizer bunny, he can and should be allowed this choice. IF my mom doesn’t want a wheelchair, but instead wants to go with a support cane, fine. But when the time comes, both my parents and their parents and other family members should be given the element of choice. Danny may be a married man, but he will have to keep his father from being thrown out and forgotten, and a for profit guardian will lead to certain doom for the whole estate. Tommy will have to one day make a huge decision about both my parents, along with his brother, and it cannot involvve a for profit or public probate guardian in the state of Florida. Look at the results that Dr. Sam J. Sugar popped out with, and if you want more info about why probate guardianships don’t work, go to http://www.aaapg.net, and have at it.