Rising Up: A Story of Restoration

Linda was inclined to making impulsive, reckless decisions. She spontaneously informed her landlord she would be moving out of her apartment without making a plan for a new residence. She was also involved in a car accident in which she was the driver, however she had no recollection of the event. Even more alarmingly, it was reported that Linda boarded a private aircraft bound for Italy without any plan or means by which to return home. Read more…

The Accidental Traveler: On the Road with Dementia

Ken, by all accounts, was missing. His sister called to report that he had prematurely and abruptly ended his apartment lease, moved his belongings to storage, and set out for Florida in his car. He wasn’t answering his phone or responding to her frantic messages. She explained that Ken struggles with words, not because he is shy, but because he has early-onset Alzheimer’s and primary progressive aphasia. And he was out there alone, with no memory of the moments leading up to now, talking to strangers in his halting, labored style, and most assuredly heading for some kind of trouble. It was time to call the police. Read more…

A Strange Sort of Limbo: How a Woman Was Lost, Found, and Still Somehow Lost

Anita was, by all accounts, a very pleasant woman. She participated in all of the facility’s social outings and taught the other residents how to knit. She could not, however, tell you her name on a consistent basis, nor did she always know which room was hers. She remembered only tiny bits of distant history, some long-ago family associations, a few places she might once have lived. She could not tell you how she’d come to be in this Assisted Living facility. Mysteriously, neither could anyone else. Read more…

Snakes on a Rug

Barbara’s world was an interesting and often frightening place. Snakes nipped at her ankles as she moved around her apartment. Urine ran freely from the showerhead. The neighbors held raucous parties and smoked pot. A skunk in the hallway routinely “gassed” her. This was no place for an 82-year-old woman to live. Read more…

On-Again, Off-Again: A Love/Hate Relationship with Psychiatric Medication

Angie was living in her car when we first met her. Having been evicted from a subsidized apartment for disruptive conduct, and having seen a brief stint in her father’s home culminate in police intervention, Angie had run out of places to go. Angie has experienced over 30 psychiatric hospitalizations in the 15 or so years since her schizoaffective diagnosis in college.  She has been arrested for an array of minor crimes.  She is denied visitation with her two children. Her relationships are damaged and her environment a mess. Read more…

Side Effects: A Story of Dementia, Isolation and Medical Calamity

Esther was of the opinion that “you get what you expect”, from a medical perspective, and she did not expect to get sick. The day we initially met her, she explained that she could “self-heal” and only occasionally took an herbal supplement to make her body stronger. A few minutes later, she explained that she had a ruptured cyst on her chest.  She said it bled on her sheets at night.  She showed it to us, and it looked far more ominous than a cyst. Read more…

Looking for Friends in All the Wrong Places: The Fine Line Between Incompetence and Poor Judgment:

Eleanor proudly told us she lived alone, but that wasn’t entirely true. In the night, people came and went through the door she left unlocked. During the day, people also came and went, most of whom were on the unofficial cash payroll Eleanor had developed to ensure her needs were met.  There were caregivers.  There was a personal organizer and another person who paid bills.  If additional services were needed, Eleanor simply hung a sign in the hallway of her high-rise building to advertise for help. Read more…

Disabled Father and Son Rely Upon Each Other

Louis Peters, age 78, lived with his son, John. Mr. Peters, a widower since 1995, experienced age-related deterioration, particularly where his cognitive abilities were concerned-–Mr. Peters demonstrated symptoms of progressing dementia. John, who was unable to work because of a mental health disability, was able to successfully care for his father in the home for some time but, eventually, the elder Mr. Peters needed more care than his son could provide. Read more…

The Handicapped Adult Child without a Plan

Mary Phillips was diagnosed at a young age as “mildly retarded” with an IQ of 64.  Her mother also had a slight disability.  Together they were able to support each other through their day-to-day lives.  Mary even held a steady job for 15 years at the local diner.  This family had no concept of long-term planning and there was no plan for the future.  Then it happened — Mary’s mother died and Mary had to face the world on her own at the age of 46.  Read more…

Forgetful and Forgotten: When Hoarding and Dementia Collide

“I let things slowly get away from me.” This is what Mildred told us as she teetered atop a pile of garbage at the front door of her suburban townhome. Mildred, an 80-year-old woman, lived alone and had clearly experienced steady erosion in her cognitive status. She was unable to comprehend and respond to a series of overtures made by the village concerning the condition of her home. Read more…

Physician, Heal Thyself

The old proverb – Physician, heal thyself — while honorable in its original meaning, may not be quite so honorable in practice. Imagine a physician, beset by psychiatric problems, who determines her best option is to treat herself. Read more…

Powerful Choices: The Perils and Pitfalls of Power of Attorney Designations

It was an attorney who called us and rather bluntly stated: “I have a client here in my office asking me to draw up Power of Attorney documents naming his neighbor as Agent. I told him I’m not going to do it.” Read more…

Everybody Has a Pan, So Why is There Guardianship?

In a perfect world, everyone would have a plan, and every part of it would come into effective play as we age and become less able to manage our own affairs. Those who are named as Trustees and Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property would be alive, well, and ready to serve at the appointed time. Real life can, however, offer some exceptions to this ideal. Read more…