Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Elder Law and Health Care Law for Texas

Q: My dad is showing signs of dementia and my mom is in denial

Mom says that dad sundowns and is becoming aggressive by being verbally abusive towards her. My mom depends on a walker to get around, she insists she is fine and can take care of him. I feel they need a live in nurse or be put in a home. My mom won’t hear of it. Will I be held liable if something happens to them? I have done everything in my power to convince mom to get help. She has refused to do so. I asked her to sign POA so I could help and she said no way. She wants to stay in control, but I feel like she is putting herself and dad in danger. What can I do? Thanks!

1 Lawyer Answer
Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Austin, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: While you may not be financially liable, you may find it hard to live with the consequences. At some point your father may lack legal capacity to decide where he lives (among other things). If a physician completes a Physician's Certificate of Medical Examination showing that he lacks total (or in some cases, partial) capacity, you can apply to a probate court to appoint you as his guardian. Your mother, as his spouse, has priority. But if she is endangering him or her, the court may prefer to appoint you.

Please note that 40% of the people who are in assisted living facilities (not nursing homes) suffer from dementia. While Medicaid does not pay for this, VA benefits can help. Maybe your mother would be comfortable in an apartment in an assisted living facility.

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