Dad’s Future in the Balance

Now that Dad is “safely” ensconced back in the unlicensed “facility” back in Lake City, Florida, I have a decision to make. Do I heed Dad’s wishes to let him stay there knowing that he leaves the house every day to drink all day, but comes back every evening, or do I proceed with guardianship here in Florida and place Dad in a licensed facility where I know he will dry out, get help with his alcoholism and dementia and diabetes and congestive heart failure and, and, and all of his other ailments?

The question almost answers itself.

But does it?

The agent from Elder Abuse said he seems happy. The place seems clean and safe, and the woman running the place says she will help Dad with his medications and is going to get him set up at the VA so he can see the appropriate doctors.

Thing is, Dad’s not a vet. He’s telling everybody he was a marine. Of course, that he said he “was” a marine should have been the first indicator that he was lying. Anyone in the armed forces, once in, even when they’re out, still identifies as what they were, a marine, a Navy man, and Army man, etc.

Will Dad get the medical attention he needs? I don’t need to be the one ensuring he gets it, I’m happy to have him be a ward of the state just so long as he gets the medical attention he needs.

Then there’s the cost. Since I’m no longer the payee on Dad’s pension and Social Security, I won’t have the funds to pay all the court costs, which without an attorney still adds up to nearly $3,000. And in Duval County, I can’t represent myself (pro se). I don’t do credit cards. I’m not about to take out a loan for this, and Andy (my better half) would have a cow if I used one red cent of my money to regain guardianship.

Even if I did regain guardianship, do I want the responsibility of having to keep track of every last receipt and update spreadsheets to do the annual accounting? Do I want to pay to be bonded again?

Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been responsible for my dad now for nearly 36 years. Do I want guardianship out of habit, out of a need to control or because I truly care about what happens to the old man?

I wish I had the answer to that question. Then I would have a better handle on what Dad’s future is going to be.

New Contacts & Update

Never in my life did I ever think I would have specific detectives in my directory, but I do–more than just one and they’re from different counties. Seems I need to keep in contact with both if I want any kind of update as to what’s being done to find my dad. It’s been sixteen days since he disappeared, and I’m getting a distinct impression that since my dad has no fixed address, not much is being done to pursue him.

And it’s not just police I’ve added to my contact list; I’ve added Elder Abuse. I’ve reported the Lake City woman and her “facility” for the owner getting herself added onto Dad’s checking account. I also have a problem with her not forwarding Dad’s belongings back to me. She’s not recognizing my power of attorney, which allows me to regain possession of Dad’s property when he is not able to ask for it himself. The situation is well past frustrating.

I’ve also added the courts to my contacts. Since I need to sue the lady in Jacksonville to get back the remainder of Dad’s room and board and need to either Baker Act or Marchman Act Dad and need to move forward on obtaining guardianship and conservatorship here over Dad here in Florida, there are many courts I need to deal with.

Meanwhile, I’ve been plugging away at getting Dad Medicaid-certified, which I did. Finally. Now, all I need to do is find a facility that will take him.

I also decided to see if I could remove the Lake City lady’s name from Dad’s checking account. I didn’t want the Lake City lady helping herself to Dad’s pension, which was due to come in on the first of the month. Turns out, I was a couple hours too late. The credit union accepts direct deposits a day early and the transaction report I had pulled showed that the lady helped herself to $800 just after seven Friday morning. Not being able to take her off the account, the member service person suggested that I could close the account, which I did, and moved the remaining funds into a joint account I have with my dad. If he’s still alive, he’ll still be able to access his money. He just needs to find a VyStar branch. In case he is found alive, I also ordered him a debit card. If I ever find him, I’ll at least be able to give him that and he can control what spending money I put into that account (if I ever get back on as payee for his Social Security and pension, that is).

UPDATE

I called the Elder Abuse hotline again on Friday to report the Lake City woman. Saturday, I received a call from one of their field agents who took my information and requested any and all documents that could help. I inundated him with paperwork and pretty much wrote a treatise on how Dad got from Michigan to Florida with all the ugliness in between.

By Sunday morning, the agent called me to let me know that he’d done what police in two counties couldn’t (or wouldn’t); he found Dad. He’s back in Lake City, right back in the “facility” he walked away from. Been there since about the 23rd. Even with Dad’s dementia, one thing his brain can hold onto is numbers, and he remembered the lady’s number. Called her from the Coffee Grinder, a local coffeehouse, and had her come pick him up.  Seems the Lake City lady didn’t call the police to update them. Had she done that, one, I would have been contacted by police, and two, I would have found out when I pulled the police report on him Friday. Why didn’t anyone contact me? Dad explicitly said he didn’t want me to know where he was. Had choice words to say about me, naturally, so the Lake City lady acquiesced and kept quiet.

Now, what do I do? Well, I plan to move forward with getting guardianship and conservatorship over my dad in Floria. I also plan to sue the Jacksonville woman for the remainder of Dad’s room and board I paid her for the month of May. She’s the one who kicked Dad out, it’s not like she was going to hold a bed for him.

As for where Dad stays? He can stay right where he is. The Elder Abuse agent checked out the facility and said Dad’s safe and he seems to be taken care of. He strongly recommended I move forward with the guardianship and conservatorship, though, so I can get Dad into a licensed facility. So, that’s what I’m off to do now.

 

 

 

Scaling Walls

Saturday, May 25, 11:45 p.m.

It’s been eight days and still no word on where Dad is. That’s eight days without his medication. It’s been in the 80s and 90s here in Jacksonville, Florida, and I can only imagine that he’s dehydrated and hungry, probably disoriented, and most likely sleeping on a bench somewhere or behind some building.

I wish I knew where he’s landed. I don’t need to have interaction with him, I just need to know that he’s safe, but deep inside, I know he’s not. I’ve had pangs in my chest all week just thinking about the whole situation. Someone has to find him. I mean, how hard can he be to miss? He’s an old man with a bright red walker on four wheels with handbrakes and a black basket under the black seat. I have no doubt that he goes shirtless during the day. And for someone with a walker, he can walk at a pretty good clip.

I went downtown to the courthouse on Monday with every intention of filing for a Baker Act action on Dad and ran straight into a wall. Naturally, since he has no fixed address, I can’t file. Officers need an address to which they can go pick him up. They won’t search for him. Of course not, because that would just be too easy on me.

I spoke with a detective Monday, too. She didn’t inspire much hope. She didn’t seem familiar with Dad’s case at all. Of course, I have no idea how many missing persons cases she’s dealing with. She asked for medical information on Dad’s mental health, and I emailed her the 3008 form our primary care doctor filled out on him. I’ve heard nothing from her since. I guess I’m going to have to be the one initiating all the contact in this case.

I also had some interesting interaction with the lady in Lake City who owns the managed care facility Dad eloped from. I spoke with her early in the week, I can’t remember which day (I think Monday or Tuesday). She’d heard nothing from him, not that I expected her to. I’m quite sure Dad doesn’t know her name, let alone her number. Besides, he doesn’t have a phone. He does tend to borrow people’s phones, though, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I told her I didn’t want her to have to hold Dad’s bed for him as it’s rather clear that he won’t be returning. I asked her to mail his things to me C.O.D. and to return the box I sent him as it contained his medication, medical insurance cards, and all the pictures we saved for him. She said she couldn’t return them because I wasn’t Dad’s guardian, that she didn’t have the proper paperwork, and that “them’s the rules and regulations.” Then Friday, I received a rather formal text from her (she signed it with her full name, including middle initial). She wanted to inform me that she heard from a “good source” that I knew where Dad was and that I needed to have him call her at [her number] so she could know what to do with his belongings. I told her I didn’t know who her source was, but I had no idea where he was and had no way of contacting him. It just dawned on me as I was writing this that she does have copies of my power of attorney, and that should be sufficient for her to send his things back to me at my request as his attorney-in-fact. I’ll have to double-check with an attorney friend next week and then get back with that woman. I want his things sent back to me. If he shows up anywhere, it’ll be here at some point.

Throughout the week, I followed up on a suggestion from one of this blog’s readers who is an attorney (who is no longer practicing). She read about my trying to regain guardianship and conservatorship over Dad’s affairs and pointed out that I could read the statute online and also find all the paperwork I needed online. She gave me a link, which I followed up on, but unfortunately, Duval County is one of many Florida counties that does not have its paperwork available online. She sent me another link to another county and told me that the paperwork is nearly universal and the new link should get me started. In my research, I learned that–in Duval County, at least–an attorney is required, so even when I do fill out the paperwork, I’ll still need an attorney to represent my interest. Fortunately, I have a friend who’s a retired nurse, now a doctor, who has loads of experience dealing with elder affairs. His girlfriend is also a social worker who has a son working with the police in some capacity. From the three of them, I learned that there is a pool of low-cost attorneys at the courthouse I could avail myself of, and I intend to do just that. I’ll get everything as prepared as I can on my end and then run on down to the courthouse to have everything reviewed and see if I need anything more. If I could just get that aspect of all this taken care of, I think I’d feel a lot better.

I also researched how to bring a suit in small claims court. I need to get back the rest of the money I paid to the lady on West 33rd Street for Dad’s room and board. I paid for 31 days; he stayed five. I also need to get back the remainder of the money I paid the lady in Lake City as Dad only stayed 16 days there. Naturally, I have to do this in two counties since Jacksonville and Lake City are not in the same county. Lovely.

My nurse/doctor friend convinced me that I needed to report the Lake City lady for elder abuse as she had, after less than 24 hours of knowing Dad, got herself put on his bank account. Thursday, I tried to report her. Seems they can’t take a report until she actually takes money out of the account.

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be a wall.

Rough & Rushed

December 12, 2010

Rough and rushed.  That’s how life feels right now.  Since before Thanksgiving, dad has been my focus.  Dad’s safety.  Dad’s health.  Dad’s finances.  Dad’s living conditions.

Since I first heard from Moira, Dad’s probation officer, getting Dad to Florida has been my priority.  At first, I only planned to have him down here long enough to get him evaluated by his doctor and get his social security money out of suspense.  When I arrived in Sanford, North Carolina, I didn’t try to contact dad.  I had too many things to do in too short a time.

Hate to admit it, but he would have just been in the way.  I needed to meet Moira, the detectives I’d worked with when he was missing, and the bankers who first alerted me to his situation.  I wanted to thank them.  I wanted to have us each put a face to the phone and email conversations we had over the past several months.  I have to admit, though, that I had an ulterior motive for wanting to see them all in person.  I wanted them to see me, see that although my dad may look and sound like white trash, he wasn’t.  I wasn’t.  In my mind, if they saw me, heard me, they would understand that Dad always had competent help at hand.  All he ever needed to do was reach out, but he never did.

My fault, that one.  The day he told me he wanted to move to North Carolina, I told him that if he did, “Don’t call me when you get into trouble.”  Other than when Blackie, his dog, was stolen, I rarely heard from him.  When I did, he rambled, and I knew he was drinking.  Many times, I didn’t take his calls.  Just let them go to voicemail.  If he called too often, I wouldn’t listen to my messages.  I couldn’t.  I just didn’t want to hear his overly long messages that told me nothing more than he wasn’t in his right mind when he called.

Should I have cut him off like that, taken away his lifeline?  I think yes.  His neediness and drama had taken a horrible toll on my life, my work, my health.  His very presence stymied my creativity.  I’m a writer.  I’m an editor.  Creativity is what gives me life in every sense of the word.  Though I published, the work was no longer fun.  Only when I hired help for him did I finally find fun in what I do.  When I made the decision to bring him back here, I made the decision to temporarily take the fun out of my life again.  I know the process this time, though.  The downtime will be weeks instead of months.

Day One: Our first stop for him once we arrived in the Sunshine State was to see his doctor, (I’ll call him Dr. Brennan).  Before we went to Social Security, we needed the doctor to sign on a medical form to testify that dad is unable to handle his finances.  It took only moments for Dr. Brennan to say he’d seen enough.  Dad didn’t stop talking the entire time we were in the office.

Then, it was time to go to the credit union to set up his accounts and get the proper paperwork started for the next day’s visit to Social Security.

After that, the grocery store for some staples he could have in his hotel room.

Day Two: The Social Security office visit was like stepping into hell. The place reeked of body odor, even though it was wintertime. People’d brought their children with them. Why would anyone do that? The wait in the SS office is going to be at least three hours if not longer, and there’s not a child on earth who can sit still, let alone be quiet, for that long.  The place itself was bulletproof-glassed and security guarded up just enough to make me feel uneasy stepping inside. What kind of people do they service, anyway?

Once at the counter, the man behind the glass did his level best to make me out to be a child who was going to take advantage of the old man next to me. “Does your dad owe you any money?” He did, about $25,000, but I didn’t say that. “Will you be getting paid for taking care of your dad’s finance or anything else?” Uh, no. The man doesn’t make enough to pay me, let alone pay me back. I just found the little man’s attitude and tone to be offensive. He was, however, quick to get dad set up as we had already been to the credit union and had the account numbers at hand.

Day Three: Clothes shopping. The urine-soaked pants had to go, as did the ill-fitting shoes and women’s sweater and coat dad refused to take off. He did, I must say, find a pair of pants (not his size) laying beside the road that he actually thought I was going to let him wear. I guess that counts for something. The pants were new to him, after all.

Day Four: Forced shower. Threw out old clothes so he had to wear his new ones. Then, off to visit apartment complex after apartment complex after apartment complex. I wanted to try to get find him something he could afford with just his General Motors pension check so we could start saving his Social Security check once it started coming again.

No luck.

With him just getting out of jail, and that jail stay being for passing bad checks, no one–at least on the good side of town–would touch him. In the end, I took him back to where he lived before, the complex right on the other side of my woods. Thankfully, the staff was the same. They all loved dad (who didn’t, right), and they let him come back. I, of course, had to sign for him…

We wound up putting dad in a two bedroom, second-storey (yes, that’s spelled correctly) apartment. Even though he had no furniture, only my air mattress and a couple camping chairs, dad was thrilled to move in immediately.

Now, all I had to do was start furnishing his life. He already said he’d like to get another dog. I could start on that Day Five.

It’s going to be a long rest-of-the-year.

 

Where or where has my real dad gone?

A week ago, Friday, I got a message from my dad’s probation officer.  That’s right.  Probation officer.  My dad has a probation officer.  Unbelievable.  Am I really related to this person?  I don’t know why I was so shocked.  Someone had been draining my dad’s accounts.  Dad was trying to buy things and pay bills.  Every check bounced.  Pass bad checks, get put in jail.  Get out of jail, get a probation officer.  That’s pretty much the process as I understand.

Anyway, the PO, I’ll call her Moira, asked me to give her some background information on dad.

Oh, boy.  Really?  Let me just exhale the page and a half of material I’ve given every last doctor in the past twenty-seven years.  Chronic alcoholic. Three alcohol in-patient rehab stints.  Unmedicated  bipolar I disorder.  Heart patient.  High cholesterol, unmedicated.

Surgeries and hospitalizations?  Let me see …  Michigan, prior to and just after retirement:  In-patient, 28-day alcohol rehabilitation, times three.  After retirement:  Kalamazoo State Hospital, mental health evaluation.  January through October, before I moved him to Florida with me:  Severe frostbite in extremities caused by lying unconscious in a snowbank for a few days after being robbed.  (Docs wanted to amputate his hands.  His fingertips wound up falling off).  Punctured back, left lung by someone who robbed him.  Third degree burns on left side of body after being thrown into a burning barrel after someone robbed him.  Concussion, three broken ribs, broken arm after someone robbed him.

After I moved him down with me:  Pins put in an arm broken by people trying to rob him.  Quadruple bypass, dual carotid endarterectomy, dual femoropopliteal bypass (fem-pop), gallbladder and hernia removed, and then another fem-pop.  All that in under a year.  All those before he moved to North Carolina.

After he moved to North Carolina?  Hmm…  It didn’t take but a couple days before he broke his leg.  Take a guess as to whether alcohol played a part.  He and his new roommate, a childhood friend he hadn’t seen nor spoken with in a good twenty-five years, were celebrating dad’s move.  God only knows how many hours of drinking went by before they both passed out for the night in their relative rooms.  Dad told me he got up in the middle of the night, forgot he had his suitcase by his door, and tripped over it on his way to the bathroom.  His friend, I’ll call him Ted, was so out of it, he didn’t hear dad yelling, so dad told me he rolled himself over onto the dog bed and scooted his way to the phone to call 911.

Lovely.

As for all the other hospital visits, I have no idea.  I’m just beginning to get an idea, I told Moira, because I changed dad’s permanent address back to mine.  I’m getting all his unpaid hospital bills and explanation of benefit forms here.  At this point, it looks as though dad’s been in an emergency room every other month or so since  Fall 2008.  I know the last time I saw him in the flesh last October, he had several staples in his head.

I didn’t ask.

Dad’s hygiene has become horrible since he moved.  He frequently urinates in his jeans, even did so as I was speaking to him when I saw him last year.  Prostate problems again?  Who knows?  He obviously hadn’t bathed in months.  He’d gone back to not taking off, let alone changing, his clothes, most likely for months.  Last time he was in this shape, he didn’t take off his clothes for nearly two years.  He was also wearing a woman’s sweater and eyeglasses he’d found in the dump, smoked like a fiend, and rattled on and on.  Clearly, he was in a manic state.

He also managed to lose his best friend, Blackie, a Scottish Terrier mix who had never left dad’s side since 1997.  Dad was doing something outside his room in a hotel for the homeless, went inside for something, came back out, and Blackie was gone.  By the time dad had someone call me, Blackie’d been missing for two weeks.  Since dad never renewed the microchip subscription, we’ll never know if HomeAgain tried to call.

I could have gone on, but I only have so many minutes on my phone.

Apparently, she called because she was concerned about my dad.  He didn’t seem like any of the other people she had on her caseload.  He just seemed like a lonely old man.  She told me that she sees him quite often just walking the streets of town.  She also said that word on the street is that dad has money.  Dad gets his Social Security and pension deposits a couple weeks apart from one another, and that’s about how often she sees him with anyone.  Those “anyones,” she said, were using him.  They take him to the bank, get his money, maybe take him to get something to eat, load him up with liquor and beer, and drop him off somewhere, not necessarily his apartment.  They leave him to fend for himself.

Everything she told me, I already knew.  Moira got upset with me, because my reaction wasn’t what she’d expect.  She couldn’t believe I could let my dad live like this.

Really.

I gave her some background on me, how I was thrown into the caretaker role my first year in college and how I’ve continued to help dad out of bad spots to the point of becoming his legal guardian and taking him into my own home.

I have a problem when anyone tries to put me in the “bad daughter” column, especially when I know it’s after dad has worked up a sob story.  He’s all alone.  His kids don’t care what happens to him.  He’s just a retired, disabled veteran trying to make it on his own.

All alone, my ass.  He wasn’t alone when he wasn’t drinking.  He had friends, played cards every day, had his dog, went places, was liked by all his neighbors.  Granted, my brother and I are all who’re left alive in the family.  It’s just us three and my brother’s family, but dad never developed a relationship with his grandkids.  While they were growing up, he was drinking and he never even acknowledged them at holidays.  And forget about birthdays.  He never visited.  Never called.  Never sent cards.  He started to make headway when he lived with me, because I kept him sober and my brother allowed him to come visit; but once he started drinking again, his temper flared, and he was too dangerous to have around.  My brother cut off all contact.

When he started drinking again, his sober friends didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  His best friend, his card-playing buddy, and his wife decided to move near Orlando to get away from him.  Everyone stopped returning his calls.  Some even blocked him.  When he drinks, it’s like he develops Tourette‘s.  He’s not only foul-mouthed, though, he’s aggressive.  He scares off people.  That’s the real reason he’s alone.  No one knows how to handle him.

I do, though.  He listens to me.  I’ve been known to stop him in his tracks in the midst of an attack just by scolding him.  It’s as though he’s a toddler.  Truly.

As for the disabled vet story?  Dad’s never been in the military.

Moira, dad’s not alone.  I care.  I’ve just learned over the years how to set and keep boundaries.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  NO PART OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION, ATTRIBUTION,  AND LINK-BACK.

Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Reproduction or transmission of any part of this work by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, beyond that permitted by Copyright Law, without the express permission of and payment to the author, is prohibited.

Text:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide.  My Life with Dad™ and related trademarks appearing on this website are the property of Diane Faulkner.

Photo:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide.

The case of the mysterious rise in rent

Friday was an interesting day.  I received a call from my dad’s local banker.  There was a woman in front of him who was demanding $720 to bring dad’s rent up to date.  She said she was the landlady.

Amazing  how many calls I get and visitors this poor banker gets from people who claim to be a landlord of some kind to my dad.

Mind you, I had spoken to a two different women last week regarding my dad’s rent.  One, who turned out to just be a helper of some kind, told me that they had held dad’s room for him while he was in jail with the understanding that he would pay up as soon as he got out.  She told me he owed five hundred eighty dollars.  One hundred was for a deposit he never paid and the rest was for two months rent at two hundred forty dollars a month.  The other was a woman, who claimed to be the landlady, reiterated what dad owed.  Five hundred-eighty dollars.  She also gave me the same breakdown.

Okay.  I can deal with the possibility that dad owes back rent, but what I can’t deal with are people who request money on dad’s behalf without offering proof of who they are or whom they represent.  I told the “landlady” that as soon as she provides me with a copy of the application with my dad’s signature on it and a price sheet that shows the layout and price of his place, I would be happy to pay his balance.

After much back-and-forth, she finally agreed to send me the application, but she insisted that there are no price sheets.  Yeah.  Sure.  I did at least insist that she note the breakdown of what’s owed.

No price sheets?  I’ve lived in apartments before and not one didn’t have a price sheet  attached to some sort of layout or detail of the different apartments.

Interesting what I received in the mail this week:  a copy of dad’s application with his signature, a breakdown of the amount owed, and . . . a note that the rent is $360 a month.  Why am I not surprised?

When I spoke with the “landlady” who was at the bank, I asked her about the difference in rent.  She said she told me that the rent was $360 when we last spoke.  Poor woman didn’t know I have an eidetic memory.  I repeated our conversation, as well as the conversation I had with her assistant, to refresh her conveniently flawed recollection.  She wasn’t exactly a lady in her response.  Suffice it to say, she asked if I was calling her a liar.  I let her guess the answer.

In the end, I told her the originally requested amount of $580 was already ordered on-line, so I would not authorize the seven hundred-twenty.  She wanted the balance.  I told her I’d have to take care of that on-line.  Which I will.  As soon as I reach the person who actually owns the apartments and get to the bottom of this rent scam she’s trying to pull.

I am beyond tired of people taking advantage of my dad.  I am tired of being lied to while I’m trying to help dad get right in his world.

I think, what I really think, is that I’m just plain tired.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  NO PART OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION, ATTRIBUTION,  AND LINK-BACK.

Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Reproduction or transmission of any part of this work by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, beyond that permitted by Copyright Law, without the express permission of and payment to the author, is prohibited.

Text:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide.  My Life with Dad™ and related trademarks appearing on this website are the property of Diane Faulkner.

Photo:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide