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Ask Dr. Ed Wilfong Your Own Question
Dr. Ed Wilfong
Dr. Ed Wilfong, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1528
Experience:  Twenty-five years treating all ages; Specialities: psychopharmacology & diagnosis, MMPI-2, testing.
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Hi... I need some advice. My mom is on SSI/disability for

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Hi... I need some advice. My mom is on SSI/disability for being bipolar. She is 57. She also has several chronic pain conditions and is prescribed many pain medications from her doctor which over the past several years I have tried to get involved with having her doctors taper down her medications because she is too medicated, but it doesn't really work. She either switches doctors on me or she takes all of her stuff at once, or she gets medications from friends, or, who knows what the heck is going on. She's been in and out of the mental hospital over and over and over again both for her bipolar, and also for medication adjustment issues, and I have even tried to get her into rehab a few times for narcotics but that never really works out. This has been going on for years and I've sorta washed my hands of it. But here is the problem - she keeps setting things in her apartment on fire accidentally. She drops cigarettes on her bedding and falls asleep (passes out from taking too many meds) while her blankets burn and people in other apartments call the fire department because of the smoke. She leaves pots on stoves and passes out in the living room while whatever is in the kitchen begins to burn on the stove. This has happened several times and her landlord has given her several warnings that she would be evicted if this behavior continued. This past week she did it again and her landlord finally evicted her. When I talk to my mom on the phone (she keeps calling me about this, I'm the only child and she has no other family whatsoever) she is still very drugged and high and doesn't seem to be able to really even think through the situation she is in. She has to find a new place to live ASAP and is asking me to do that for her. I don't want her to come live with me because I don't want her to set MY apartment on fire, among other things. I don't know how we are going to find her a new apartment with an eviction looming behind her and honestly, she seems like a danger to society because she might burn down accidentally whatever her next apartment is and possibly kill other people in the process. So, my question is, what can I do with her? Where does one send a mentally ill and overmedicated drug addict to live where they can be monitored so they don't accidentally kill themselves and everyone around them? What can I as a family member do about this situation? (Keeping in mind, that my mom highly values her independence and won't really allow me to be too involved in her life when it comes to her medications and doctors and so forth?)

What types of options are out there for people like this?

Bonus offered for answering this question - thanks.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

At her age, you would have to file a petition with the court that she is incapable of safely caring for herself. If you can prove that (you have pretty good evidence), the state would appoint a guardian who would be able to act legally on her behalf. She also could be court order into whatever facilitiy is most appropriate. They would be require to place her in least restrictive safe environment. This could range from assisted living to state hospital.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

On a practical level, if you become guardian, the bills are yours to pay and likely 50-100 thousand a year, depending on placement, so think carefully before deciding to be guardian. Assisted living may not accept her due to fire risk, so treatment may be expensive

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

If state becomes guardian, they are responsible for cost of placement. They will try to get you of family to be guardian, but if you refuse, they will be responsible (rules likely vary by state).

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

You really need to consult attorney.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Guardian is also called conservator, just in case the term is confusing.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Please don't let her come live with you. This alone could ruin any chance of getting a proper conservator in court as you would already be voluntarily doing it. In some states/countries, once you take her in, it is almost impossible to get her out.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

If needed, call 911 if she unable to care for self, and hopefully they will assess her and start the process.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

She does need to be in dangerous situation before 911 is appropriate, so you may have to wait for a crisis.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

My guess is a secure skilled nursing facility may be best, XXXXX XXXXX will likely need the court procedure to get her in one.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

The fire setting, albeit unintentional, makes her high risk and hard to place. Plus she will not want to go and lay on the guilt.

Customer:

Yeah I really don't want to see her end up in a state hospital - but some sort of assisted living thing would be great. I don't have any money to pay for any such thing though - can't they take it out of her SS and medicare?

Customer:

You know what? I'm greatful for the response. I'm going to repost all of this over on the legal justanswer portion. Thank you!

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