Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Becoming My Own Grandma

With Ma being evaluated at the state hospital, the State now moved to terminate  Ma's rights and to assign her a guardian to make decisions about her healthcare, and a conservator to monitor her funds. Julia asked me if I wanted to assume these duties. I was under no obligation and could easily have walked away. In cases like this, the Court prefers a family member to be the decision maker, but if a family member can't or won't, the Court will hand the job over to a professional guardian/conservator (an attorney). The family would have no say as to healthcare decisions or selection of nursing home.

My parents were very good to The Brother and me. To the best of their abilities they gave us our hearts' desires. They treated me as The Little Princess (Dad more than Ma). I couldn't in good conscience walk away from them. I said I would act as guardian/conservator. The Brother didn't want any part of the day to day nitty gritty of care (a gender issue) and he also felt that only one person should be making decisions. That made my life easier as I didn't have to ask for opinions or get into arguments if views differed. I made whatever decision I felt was in Ma's best interest and would be easiest for me.

I thought the court procedure would be a little like the television drama Law and Order. Court date and time set, and at the end of the day, the Judge would render a decision. At the Probate and Family Court, everybody who had court business that day was assigned the same 8:30 AM appearance time. You arrived at the courthouse and hoped your lawyer arrived early. The lawyers lined up in front of the Clerk of Court and the day's docket was set on a first come, first served basis.

The attorney for the State explained to me, the Judge would ask my name, relationship to Ma. The attorney and Julia, the social worker would state the case and ask that I be appointed Guardian and Conservator.

At 10:30 AM. we crammed into the courtroom with other families and their lawyers. It wasn't as private as I thought it would be. Everyone that came and went in the courtroom could hear your business. There were lots of sad cases involving small children.  Finally, Ma's case was called. As all this was happening, I was in a panic brought on by guilt that Ma would also be in court. A relief that she wasn't, but a nagging feeling Ma wasn't going to be allowed her say.

This part of the procedure was surprisingly quick. The judge asked me my name, relationship and the lawyer and social worker made the case Ma needed long term, nursing home care, and I was willing to be appointed as her guardian and conservator. The judge nodded and said I would be assigned as a temporary guardian and conservator. She would revisit her decision in three months. Next case.

I wasn't expecting a temporary appointment, but when I left the courthouse, I had the necessary papers to have Ma admitted to a nursing home. I was like Mortimer from Arsenic and Old Lace when he was trying to have his brother committed to a rest home. "I've got the papers! I've got the papers!"

I was also the mother of a 92 year old woman.  I was now my mother's mother which made me my grandmother.

Next week: Finding a Facility and Negotiating Medicare.


  1. Whew! Sometimes I wonder about our 'system'.........

  2. Phew! step one sorted then. Hope your Ma is okay and comfortable.