Saturday, 17 May 2008

Oh My God

The Baker Act: aka the Florida Mental Health Act 1971; can be invoked by judge, mental health practitioner or law enforcement officer to put someone in a psychiatric facility for 72 hours for observation.

Also used, according to my mother, by my sister on one or more of her children and used as a subtle threat against my mother.

Here's the story as relayed to me by my mother: A few days ago my mother had an experience of "blacking out" at the wheel of the car. At least that's what she and I think happened. One minute she was waiting to turn left into a road, the next she's made the turn and put the car into reverse. She doesn't remember making the turn and doesn't know how the car was put into reverse. She possibly fainted. She is on medication that, when combined with a beta blocker that she's also on, can cause dangerously low blood pressure and fainting. My mother told my sister about this at the same time that she told her about a conversation she had with my stepfather's carers in the nursing home. They want him to come home and want to check the house for safety features for him. They, according to my mother, weren't concerned with whether she can care for him, which she can't. So she told them about her blacking out episode, her swollen legs, her heart condition.

My sister said my mother should be careful who she tells about the blacking out episode because she might be put in the nursing home too. "By whom?" my mother asked. The only ones who could put her there are myself and my sister, she said. My sister, according to my mother, said the Baker Act could be invoked.

My mother got very upset at this point and hung up on my sister. She then called me. I told her the Baker Act is a law in Florida, not Wyoming, that it is used for mentally ill people, not old people, that my sister doesn't appear to know what she's talking about. My mother said that under no circumstances is she ever going to move to Florida near my sister and that if she has to live out the rest of her days looking after her husband, she will.

I didn't bother communicating with my sister about this. She will deny saying it or say my mother misunderstood what she said. And maybe my mother did. My sister has a lot of her own pressures. All four of her adult children and four of her grandchildren are living in her home. Her business is doing very poorly. I have since received an email from my sister saying she knows she upset our mother and that she told our mother she should be telling her doctor about the blacking out, not the caseworker. She didn't mention the Baker Act.

Well, I know my mother wouldn't have made up the Baker Act bit. That does sound like it came from my sister. I'm not sure how or if I'm going to respond to my sister's email. I don't think she has the patience to deal with our mother right now (or ever).

I think I will urge my mother to discuss with her husband his care needs and how they can be managed. He says he can do everything himself now. And maybe he can. But I think the two of them need to come up with a solution and not wait for someone else to do it for them.

My mother was supposed to have gone back to the doctor yesterday to ask to be put on different medication. She is a lonely, frightened woman who needs a lot of understanding and patience. I think that is what I'm going to tell my sister. I won't mention the Baker Act.

7 comments:

softinthehead said...

What a very tough situation for you to have to deal with. I think you are right - diplomacy is the best route with your sister. Good luck.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Families, families, families and the bloody dynamics that bind them. You detail it so very well about the path you have to tread so carefully with all involved.

Yes this too will pass but it's so very stressful and sad that the outcome is the loss of a dearly loved parent. It is a deeply confusing time when you are grieving for the loss of a parent but at the same time to very relieved that they are out of suffering, confusion and loneliness.

As softinthehead acknowledges - you use of diplomacy with your sister is the right one. You are a very considerate sister and daughter and by the sounds of it the voice of reason too. Nice day - stay in the garden!

DogLover said...

I worry about that "blackout". If she has any more she should not be driving. Do you think she should tell her doctor about the blackout, but omit any mention that she was driving? If he can give her something to prevent such episodes, then well and good. If not, then the driving has to stop before she kills someone (or herself) and that, I imagine, will be yet another difficulty for your poor maother.

cramerj said...

As the blackout might be a 'transient ischaemic episode' or some other thing such as a fit deriving from a stroke focus then maybe some investigation should be done.
Unless she fell asleep at the wheel briefly.
Anyway look at the cause first -if you or the doctor can fid it.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

hi softinthehead: I thought I was quite diplomatic, but my sister took it the wrong way. As she does. Sigh.

mob: It will pass, I know, and probably not end happily. I must bite my lip in the meantime.

doglover: She's quite worried about driving too. She went to the doctor, who changed her medication. I do think it was caused by the medication.

cramerj: Stroke was the first thing we thought of, but I don't think she could have made the turn. I think she would have lost strength in her legs and arms. As I said above, she went to the doctor, who changed her medication.

Candy said...

Taking care of elderly, ailing parents ranks right up there among the top life stressers. I've been there, and you have my sympathies.

As for your sister...well...I think that some people never stop needing to be smarter than their parents.

Bollinger Byrd said...

As if you haven't enough to deal with without now having to sort out your sister.... it never rains!
bbx