Question: My 80-year-old mother has memory problems and has been living with my wife and me for about six months now. She keeps begging to go home, but I know she can’t be left alone because she does not remember things like if she took her medications. She has ruined all her finances and cannot afford to have anyone take care of her at home. Now she is becoming very nasty to anyone who comes across her — even our three-year-old granddaughter. Am I legally responsible for her well-being and care if I take her home as she wishes and wash my hands of the whole situation? We are all residents of New York State.
Answer: This sounds like a very difficult situation. While we cannot tell you about New York law in particular, you probably are not legally responsible for your mother. But would simply returning her to her home solve the problem? Social service agencies will likely get involved and look to you for assistance. It would probably make sense to consult with them now and with a local elder law attorney. It may be time to seek guardianship of your mother, to qualify her for Medicaid and either get her care at home or place her in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Even if she goes home for a while, it may come to this as her condition deteriorates.