How Do I Get to Decide Whether My Father Enters a Nursing Home or Not?

Full Question:

My father is 85 years old. We live in Southeast Michigan. We recently put him into an assisted living home. We will be paying for it with his social security money, and the benefits he gets from Aid and Attendance from being a World War II veteran. We moved him to this nursing home because he can no longer physically take care of himself. It will slowly drain his and my mother's expenses. However, it is the only logical way we can think of to keep them together. Now I believe a new problem is setting in. It is my opinion that he is beginning to show strong signs of dementia. It would not make much sense to drain their expenses in an assisted living home when he doesn't have memory of it. However, we have heard many horror stories about Medicaid nursing homes and the type of care they provide. My parents have their social security income (about $1950.00 per month), and $40,000 to $45,000 in savings left. My thought is that my father gets increasingly worse, the best thing to do would to be him to go to a nursing home, and have my mother live with my sister. If we considered this, is there any way we could have a say in which nursing home he has to live in?
05/24/2010   |   Category: Living Wills   |   State: Michigan   |   #22217

Answer:

The answer will depend on whether the father still has legal capacity to sign documents, which generally means the ability to understand the nature and consequences of his action. Legal capacity is the level of judgment and decision-making ability needed to sign official documents. In order to be competent or have legal capacity to sign documents, a person must be able to understand and appreciate the consequences of his/her actions. In most cases, the person with dementia is able to understand the meaning and importance of a given legal document.

Once a person is diagnosed with dementia, family and friends should help the person make legal plans. The sooner plans can begin, the more the person with dementia may be able to participate.

Planning for incompetence includes:

-Making plans for health care and long-term care coverage

-Making plans for finances and property

-Naming another person to make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia

A living will, power of attorney, and testamentary will should be prepared. If the person no longer had legal capacity to sign such documents, it may be necessary to establish a gaurdianship.