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.