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My Dad has dementia and is in a nursing home, his wife will not allow them give us any info on him. Do we have any rights?

Oxford, MA |

The us and we are my sister and I. My father's wife is his poa and health care proxy. They live in Florida where he is in a nursing home and she lives in their maritial home. I live in Massachusetts and my sister lives in Indiana. Since his dementia is in the late stages he cannot communicate well enough to explain his own care to us. Also, he is not good speaking on the phone most days. His wife does not speak to my sister or I. He is 81 and his wife is 85. Do we, his natural children, have any rights to know about his medical care or medical/mental state?

Attorney Answers 2


Florida law may be better at answering this question since that is where your father lives. However, I would have to say that you have limited rights, unless you want to really upset the apple cart. I would suggest contacting the Ombudsman in Florida to express concern. They may have some advice they can share. Is it possible that you may be an alternate proxy for your dad?

In order to get access to information, you may need to have his wife declared incompetent and then may need to pursue a guardianship for your dad. You may try first seeing if you can build a bridge with his wife. Good luck!

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in Reading.. My practice is focused in the areas of elder law, estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.

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I agree with Attorney Snell that this issue will be governed by Florida law. Repost the question as if you lived in the town where the nursing home is located.

Talk to the social worker at the nursing home. She will probably be barred by privacy laws from telling you anything about your father's condition, but that doesn't mean that she can't listen to your request to speak with your stepmother about your desire to know what's going on with your dad.

E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.

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