* * Anonymous Doc: "Can't I Just Drop My Mother Off At The Hospital And Make You Deal With Her?"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Can't I Just Drop My Mother Off At The Hospital And Make You Deal With Her?"

"Hi, I got a message that you wanted to talk to me about your mother, [my patient]?"

"Yes, thanks for calling me back. You know, my sister and I are having a very difficult time with her."

"Yeah, her mobility is not great-- but overall she's doing pretty well for 95. Mentally intact, overall she's stable, it's mostly just her getting around, really."

"All she does is sit on the couch. We need to make sure she eats, make sure she's looked after -- it's not easy for us to afford help, you know."

"She does have an aide for part of the day, yes?"

"Yes, but it's not cheap. And we can't afford it forever."

"I'm not sure what you're asking me for -- certainly I can put you in touch with social work and they can see if there are any services she might be eligible for."

"She complains a lot, too, my mother.  She's not very satisfying to talk to."

"Trust me, for 95 she is doing really well."

"I guess my sister and I were just wondering if there's a program where we could drop her off at the hospital and, uh, you guys deal with her."

"Um... She doesn't need medical care... I think perhaps you're talking about a nursing home?"

"No, no, we could never afford that.  I meant we bring her in, and because she isn't totally herself, you take care of her."

"You want to commit her?"

"I don't know what the right terminology is... we just want you guys to be responsible instead of us."

"So you want to abandon her?"

"Again, not sure of the right term. But is there a program like that?"

"Your mother does not need to be institutionalized. She's doing quite well. She's functional and stable."

"Right, but we aren't really that interested anymore, so we thought maybe you could take her."

"There is no such program--"

"Don't people drop off babies?  Something like that."

"No. There is no program. I'll see you at her next appointment."


  1. Aw shucks...no Safe Haven law for the elderly!

    But yeah, totally see stuff like this every once in a while on the unit where I work. Families find out their elderly parent will be getting discharged and fight/appeal the decision. It's really sad.

  2. Do they want to drop her off "permanently" or just every day, for the day? The latter is possible - adult day care centers. Less expensive than home aides. What about assisted living? Less costly than a nursing home. Is Mom Medicaid eligible?
    It sounds like the sisters are overwhelmed, but are not articulating their concerns very well. Your saying things like "abandon her" or "commit her" are not clarifying things for them either, making them defensive.
    Mom may be functional and stable from a medical perspective, but still have difficult care needs at home. The sisters did the right thing asking for help, though they used the wrong words.
    They and you should really follow up with a social worker, to investigate appropriate programs, otherwise you are likely to have a case of elder abuse/neglect on your hands.
    (A different anonymous)