Marchman or Baker — What’s My Best Bet?

Five weeks and five days ago (that was a Thursday), one of the many homeless people Dad regularly invited to stay with him in his apartment called 911 because he couldn’t get Dad to wake up. In fact, he thought Dad was dead. And, in fact, Dad was dead at some point. Twice, as a matter of fact, sometime from the time the paramedics started working on him until he was safely ensconced in Baptist Hospital-Downtown. To hear Dad tell the story, he suffered two more heart attacks and a stroke. By all rights, Dad should have never been revived, because he’s a DNR–Do Not Resuscitate. The bright yellow form was taped to his refrigerator. I guess in all the mess that was Dad’s apartment, the form was not noticed.

Since his stay in the hospital, he’s been evicted from his apartment for not only inviting the area’s homeless to crash and party with him every night (he even gave one guy a set of keys to the apartment and mailbox), sent to respite care where he stayed for seven days before being transported to a boarding house. He stayed in the boarding house for five days before being kicked out after 10 days. He wasn’t properly supervised, and the guys he was staying with helped him get on a bus–he’s never been on a bus–so Dad could visit his girlfriend–he doesn’t have a girlfriend. We had torrential rains that day, and when the owner of the facility realized Dad was missing and found out he’d left, she called the police to help her look for him. The police found him in a ditch. The facility owner took him back, cleaned him up, called me, and told me he had to leave immediately. Since I knew of nowhere to take him, she suggested a managed care facility over in Lake City. I okayed the move, and off he went.

One week and four days later, Dad took off from the Lake City facility and started walking back to Jacksonville. With a walker. The reason? The owner would not give him money to buy alcohol. Dad’s 78, an alcoholic and diabetic. He’s in congestive heart failure and his kidneys are weak. Walking a great distance would not be beneficial for him to say the least. Lake City is about two hours away by car, and that’s if you speed.

The Lake City facility owner called the police and let them know that Dad had left the premises, that he was in poor health and needed medication for his diabetes among other ailments. A search was set up. Police found Dad bathing in a retention pond. He told them he was on his way to his home in Jacksonville–he has no home in Jacksonville–so, the police gave him a ride to the next jurisdiction. They called ahead to the next jurisdiction, and they gave him a ride. They lost him at an Interstate 10 and State Road 301 truckstop. Somehow, Dad got from there to the south side of Jacksonville, back in my neighborhood, the only neighborhood Dad’s known since I moved him here back in 1999.

Does any of this sound like something a sane man would do? Does any of this sound safe, like maybe Dad put himself into danger by bathing in a retention pond at night (we have alligators and water moccasins here)? Does it sound wise to take off with no money and no medications? Could all of this be construed as putting himself into danger? Could his reasoning be off because he is so focused on getting and staying drunk that he will hang out with potentially dangerous people, give them keys to his apartment and mailbox, and then even putting a woman he’s known for less than 24 hours on his bank account just so he could have a debit card?

My dad is an alcoholic. He has lost the power of self-control with regard to alcohol and I think his actions show that he is inflicting harm on himself.

My dad is in the first stages of alcohol-induced dementia. While he’s sharp enough to hold a conversation on current events–to a point–and he definitely remembers happenings decades ago, he can’t remember where he takes off his shoes. Sometimes, he takes them off outside and then walks away from them. He rarely wears matching shoes, because he usually cannot find a matching pair.

Dad steals things. This year alone, he’s stolen three very expensive bikes, a shopping cart, and loads of stuffed animals. He tried to steal the store of candy at the apartment complex where he was living. He steals pens, especially if they’re shiny. He hoards business cards and brochures.

Without care or treatment, Dad’s neglect in caring for himself poses a real threat to his well-being and he could come to serious bodily harm.

Given all these events of the past five weeks, I have a choice to make: I can either Baker Act my dad or Marchman Act him. Under the Baker Act, I can have Dad forcibly admitted for involuntary assessment, which will help me get him declared incompetent by a judge. Under the Marchman Act, I can have Dad forcibly admitted for involuntary assessment for substance abuse, which will help me get him declared incompetent by a judge. I could go either way. I’m thinking of going the Baker Act way.

Thinking. But not doing.

The problem is for the police to issue an order to pick him up, he has to have an address and he needs to be at that address when they come to pick him up. Dad has no address as far as I know. He says he’s staying at “The Colonial” apartments behind the Walgreen’s off Southside and Baymeadows. There is no such place. The police will not search for him to take him to either of these hearings, but since he’s a missing person anyway with an actual BOLO out on him, there’s a chance, according to the Duval County Clerk of the Court, that when he is found, he’ll be taken in for evaluation anyway.

I need all the help I can get here. I met with an attorney about regaining guardianship and conservatorship over him and found out that it would cost more than five thousand dollars. I don’t have that kind of spare change around, and neither does Dad. I was told to call Three Rivers Legal Services to see about getting assistance through them. I believe I make too much money to be helped by them. I am stuck, stuck, stuck.

I don’t really want to know what tomorrow will bring me on the dad front. I don’t think I can take anything more right now. All I want to know is which is the better bet for my dad, Marchman or Baker Act? Once I figure that out, maybe I can convince the officers to take him in immediately and contact me after the fact. That’s all I want right now. Is that too much to ask?

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