Q: It is obvious that my father wants to go home. It is obvious that he would not have granted my sister power of attorney if he’d known she would do this when he was helpless. He wasn’t helpless about a week ago, but he fell out of bed reaching for something and scraped his scalp. My sister pounced on the chance to call 911 and have him taken against his will to be checked. He was admitted for observation simply because he’s very old. He resisted and was injected with Haldol for days. My sister consented to it for him despite reams of information I’ve sent her about its lethality, or perhaps because of it. The hospital made him a drooling wreck and said we could not care for him at home with his wife. In the nursing home, they use heavy doses if Ativan. At a care conference at his bedside, the staff and my sister all agreed that he could not be cared for except in a nursing home. Of course, he can’t, he’s a bag of Aricept and Ativan. If they keep giving him Ativan, he’ll become an addict. If they keep giving him Aricept, he’ll stay crazy. He’s been deemed incapable of making good decisions, so he can no longer get himself out of there. (Ben Avon, PA)
A: This is a difficult situation. I think his competency is the key. If he is competent, he can sign himself out, override the POA or revoke the POA in writing. If he is incompetent, then your only choice, if you cannot work this out with your sister, would be to file a petition to be his guardian. An order of court appointing you as plenary guardian would nullify the POA. If you can get a copy of the POA, I would review it with an elder law attorney who handles guardianship law. He or she can advise you on what would be involved in seeking to be his guardian.