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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 39155
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My mother is going thru dementia & is not able to maintain

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My mother is going thru dementia & is not able to maintain her own lifestyle & healthcare as she's done throughout her life. I recently had to go to her home & do a "cleanout" of such an accumulation of debris that, sadly she'd qualify for a "hoarders" episode. She doesn't take her meds as directed, forgets simple conversations & even doctor appointments (she called one doc 5 times within 6wks to make an appt.). I'm concerned for her health & well-being & will relocate to be with her to care for her, but she always says she "doesn't want to burden anyone & wants to maintain her independence". She's gotten lost while taking walks on her own & is constantly "loosing things" without leaving her residence. Her financial issues are another matter of concern as she's got accounts that she's unaware of the balance or terms of(IRAs). I've been told that the best thing I could do is to become her "legal guardian" in order to help her with her physical, medical, psych. & financial dysfunctions so that she'll have the best care while living thru this stage of her life. I presently live in OH & she in NY, but I would gladly move there to assist her during this phase of her life. The one issue I have is that I live on SSDI & don't have money for legal services to take the necessary steps to make the right choices for my mother that I feel she wants. She really doesn't want to be in a nursing home as that gives her the fear of impending mortality rather than "living out the remainder of her life on her own terms", as she would say. I've been told that the legal expense for me to accomplish this goal might exceed $7,000 which would be prohibitive for me. Is there any information, assistance or guidance that you can offer me in this matter?

I regret your mother's life challenges. I have been in your position, both as an advocate and as a child of a parent who has lost their mental faculties.

The NY Article 81 conservatorship proceedings for adults is, as you apparently have discovered, an unreasonably costly exercise for most people to seriously consider.

However, there is another way, and that is to simply contact NY state Adult Protective Services (APS) and have them commence an investigation. If APS determines that your mother can no longer care for herself, APS will petition the court to appoint a public guardian. As part of the process, you can appear in court and request that you are appointed conservator for your mother. If the case worker in charge of the case believes that you are an appropriate caregiver, then APS will recommend you to the position, and you will be appointed, without having to spend any money on legal fees.

The downside of this workaround, is that if the case worker does not think you are an appropriate caregiver, then your mother will be remanded into the care of the county and you will have no further control -- though you will certainly be permitted to visit with your mother.

That's the choice you make, when you ask for public assistance in dealing with this circumstance. However, I think you'll probably agree that even if you are not appointed conservator, that your mother needs help and it would be better for the government to provide it, than for your mother to simply continue on her current path.

Assuming you agree, and you would like a link to the NY APS website, please let me know and I will be happy to provide.

Note: If you were hoping that someone here could walk you through the conservatorship process step by step, I'm sorry for any confusing, but that is beyond the scope of any services that can be lawfully provided in this forum. I can direct you to some legal aid organizations that may be willing to provide low cost or free legal representation. But, I cannot draft legal pleadings for you in this forum. That would be the unauthorized practice of law.

Please let me know what you would like and I will be happy to assist you further.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am dismayed that in this circumstance, as a result of my financial situation, that my mother's would basically be made a ward of the state. Where her I don't feel she'd be best cared for, (as we all know how government sponsored institutions concentrate more on "heads-on-beds" & patients' financial resources depletion than quality care). I've seen first-hand the living environments in some of the so-called "best" in NJ while I was living there with a former wife whose grandma was in there & the conditions were atrocious. Years after her death, the place was finally shuttered. I don't think that "workaround" is a desirable option for my circumstance nor in my mother's best interests. She lives in Niagara Falls, NY., which I believe is Erie County. Any information you could provide me with free legal aid to circumvent the aforementioned course of action would be deeply appreciated.

Neighborhood Legal Services is the only legal aid organization in the Erie or Niagara County area. There are two offices:

Buffalo Office

Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.
XXXXX 4th floor
Buffalo, New York 14203

Tel:(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr/> Fax:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Serving Erie County

Niagara Falls Office

Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.
225 Old Falls Street, 3rd Floor
PO Box 844
Niagara Falls, New York 14302

Tel:(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr/> Fax:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Serving Niagara County

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Hope this helps.

socrateaser and 4 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm sorry for my delay in replying to your response, but I had an issue arise that I had to attend to immediately.

Thank you for your input and information that you've provided me. I'll further research my options via the contacts you've provided me. I hope they will be able to give me some assistance with procuring the necessary tools I'll need so that I'll be able to provide for my mother and get her the care that she requires in an atmosphere that will allow her to enjoy whatever time she has left, as happily and comfortably as she can, on terms as near as can be deemed by her to be "her own".


Thank you again, for your assistance with this matter.