by Nina Marie Sherrer & Jean M. Kryzer, RN, BSN
This article is not full of statistics and numbers from studies and research. It very briefly explains our shock and awakening to the law and to dementia. It is a wake-up call to caregivers and to anyone diagnosed with dementia – whatever stage or type of memory loss. It is a wake-up call to get involved and help others live to the fullest possible extent that gives them the dignity, respect, and honor they deserve.
It is imperative that everyone realizes the NOW of dementia. What can be done now to help those diagnosed with dementia? They need to live a full life that is laced with dignity, respect, purpose, and compassion. Those living at home with caregivers and/or in memory care facilities need to be treated as the adults they are. Life must have meaning. There is No Easy Way Out around this!
When our father died, within ten days our lives and our mother’s life changed forever. We knew our mother’s official papers (Will, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, End-of-Life Declaration.) were in order and began following her wishes. What we thought was good began to unravel and turn into what appeared to be deceit and greed. Unfortunately her official papers did not matter.
A brief check by a physician, determining memory loss, can undermine and create havoc in a family situation. How much memory loss enables someone else to take away personal rights and who can take away those personal rights? Our mother’s appointed Attorney’s-In-Fact and Health Care Agents were willing, able and caring for her after our father’s death. But that’s not what some of our siblings wanted. Unforeseen and uncalled for events, in this case the filing of emergency guardianship and conservatorship petition in court, became devastating for our family.
Now, she was just a person with a “dementia label” with all decisions made by others. The legal papers she carefully made are null and void. She is considered incompetent by the Court system. One of her children has made her a ward and protected person of the state for LIFE. Our precious mother is now an “unwarranted ward”.
We were shocked, upset and angry, and determined to save our mother because no one else seemed to care about her. A crash course in research, learning as much as possible about law, guardianship, conservatorship, where the actual power of the courts lie, led us down paths we never imagined.
The more we researched, the more we wondered how many more people were in a situation like ours:
- Beware of the vultures hovering. Make sure all the “end of life” paperwork is in order. Make sure you, as a potential caregiver, are ready to fight for your loved one’s wishes, and remember it is their wishes, not yours. Whether you become a caregiver or are diagnosed with dementia you must make your wishes known and make sure those carrying out your wishes will follow your instructions. Find an attorney you can trust. Don’t stop with the proper legal paperwork.
- Make a video of what you want to happen to you. Who will take care of you the way you want? Make sure you appoint who will be your voice of the future.
Within eight months we had to make concessions for saving mom. We had to learn there was No Easy Way Out other than believing through education and research we could make a difference and help our mother. We had to keep our promise to our father and help our mother to enjoy life and feel loved.
Link to full article: http://savingmom.org/18.html