Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Anyone granted guardianship of their spouse?

I’ve spoken with the Sheriff and was told that they couldn’t take my wife to the hospital for a mental health evaluation unless she was a threat to herself or others. I was told the same thing by the county designated mental health professional. There is a recent law that says that if the CDMHP will not take the person to the hospital after evaluation, or has not done so within 48 hours of evaluation that I can go to a judge and get a court order. But that requires an evaluation from the CDMHP, which I can’t get. The CDMHP suggested using my employee assistance program at work, talk to a lawyer, and see what my options are for getting medical guardianship. Anyone taken this route to get a spouse seen by a mental health professional?

I am new to this site but felt the need to respond although the guardianship was for my son, who was in his mid thirties at the time. Prior to guardianship, I could not get him the help he needed for the same reason you stated. However, I did get the crisis center to help and they were able to get him admitted. My son has been hospitalized at least 30 times since 2015. The hospitals can not force medication unless there is a court order or there is a guardianship. I did not want to be his guardian, but in one of the hospitalization the psychiatrist did not want to take the time to go through the courts. He accused my son of hitting him and told me that he was going to press charges against my son if I do not go for guardianship. Of course I didn’t want this to happen so I agreed. My son was discharged with a sealed envelope, with the expert evaluation that is required signed by a psychiatrist stating that my son is incompetent, to file for guardianship. I really did not want to become his guardian. However, he soon ended up in the hospital again so I filed for guardianship to help my son get the help he needs quicker than through the courts. Fast forward 2 years, my son is in a residential outpatient assisted home, a step down from the state hospital, under AOT (assisted out patient therapy I believe) through the courts. The psychiatrist under this program felt that being his mother and guardian was not good for getting my son into recovery because my son blames me for everything (I had to sell his home and his car, as his wife left him; he also had a career job with a 401K that I had to put in a trust, which is under my name as trustee, plus SSD mandated that my name is the payee on his social security). So I am no longer his guardian because the psychiatrist in the AOT program stated my son does not require a guardian, other than for financial issues (guardianship renew annually with supporting expect evaluation). Recently he was admitted and has been in the hospital for well over 6 weeks. My son continues to refuse his medications so another hearing took place to get a court order to administer medication against his will. This just took place 2 days ago, and I have no clue as to what happened because I am not guardian. My son did call me yesterday and stated they gave him a shot. I can not ask him any more about his medications because he gets very angry with me.

My son first got sick in his senior year at college, but he managed to graduate 2003 and worked a career job for 13 years, taking his medications. However, when his medication changed in 2015, so did his illness. Every time he need hospitalization was because he felt that his old medication was fine and would not take any new medication. My son’s mental illness continues to get worse with each breakdown. He no longer has any insight into his illness which is now diagnosed as an SMI - severe mental illness.

This did get lengthy, but I am hoping my experience will help you decide if the guardianship is needed. I love my son deeply and I pray that you will stand by your spouse during this time.

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I am so sorry and appreciate all that you have shared.

My experience with guardianship is that judges grant guardianships very reluctantly unless it is clear that the person is repeatedly of danger to himself or others. You will need lots of facts to that regard (repeated hospitalizations is a good one). There can be differing degrees of guardianship/ conservatorship, which may or may not include control of the person’s assets. Meds cannot be forced (at least in my state) even with a guardianship, however, it seems to make giving meds involuntarily a bit easier, especially if the person is not responsive. They just don’t hold people down to give meds! With a guardianship, you CAN have say over where the person is. A professional case manager told me that if the person wanders off or disappears, you can legally have them picked up and transported somewhere (possibly at your own expense?)

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@hope4us in the state we live in the guardianship can give permission for forced medication. You are correct regarding judges granting guardianship. To be truthful, I am grateful that I am not his guardian due to his severity of his illness and his anger toward me. I had guardianship of the person only.

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Thank you both for your reply. I will talk to my employee assistance program, but I don’t think guardianship would be approved. My wife has never been hospitalized and is likely not dysfunctional enough. I’ll likely have to settle with her having anasognosia, being unmedicated, not seeing a dentist, and not seeing our daughter until our daughter is 18 and makes her own choice. In the meantime I’ll keep up seeing our daughter twice a week.

The only way I truly know how to have any possibility to help someone who has anosognosia and is refusing treatment is to use the LEAP strategy. I encourage you to look at posts elsewhere on this site about anosognosia, LEAP, LEAPinstitute.org, and the book “I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help” by Dr. Xavier Amador.

@hope4us Hope all is well. I visited my son in the hospital and he is so into his own thoughts that were really bizarre. He talked none stop, he even closed his eyes talking of all the stuff he has going on, again none stop. This is so upsetting. He has been in this hospital for 2 months now and still no improvement, that I can see. I do not have guardianship, so I can not even inquire, like “why?” Two months, and I know that they had a hearing for forced medication, but nothing is said to me. I am at a lose. Should I or could I do something? I have no clue what or how many medications he is on. My son is 39, and I am the only one that will have any say. I did call the nursing staff, but he was no help. He said he will relay the message. My son did not sign the form so they could talk to me. So he is just out there! I continue to pray, I continue to tell myself that God is in control. But the mother in me needs to help him.

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My heart breaks for you @spanky because I know, in part, what you are going through is like! Many hospitalizations including one for 3 months! Although even prior to having guardianship, the hospital staff would talk to me. Maybe our son had agreed to it and had signed something for HIPAA, I don’t know. It sounds like your son is open to seeing you at least at times. I encourage you to continue to visit him regularly even though what you describe seems to be psychosis and possibly Formal Thought Disorder:(https://www.hopkinsguides.com/hopkins/view/Johns_Hopkins_Psychiatry_Guide/787025/all/Thought_Disorder) Use LEAP, even if it seems as if he is blaming you for everything. Do not argue with him. Focus on the positive things in any conversation with him. Even if you knew what medication he was on, you would more or less be going along with what the doctor prescribed. So try to trust the process and be glad that he is in a safe place and someone is trying to help him. Get to know the staff and treat them well. Every patient to my knowledge has a “Care Manager” and you should be able to talk with the Care Manager. If nothing else, you can report what you observe when you visit with him. If you are present often and always polite, sometimes they will share more than they might when they do not know you. Make sure they know his prior history and what meds have worked or did not work in the past. I have a document that I keep updated to give the hospital (since there have been so many!) or to give emergency personnel, if needed, when not yet hospitalized. When our son was missing and living out of a car in a far away state, semi-catatonic, and there was nothing we could really do except try to be prepared if he surfaced, came home, or ended up in a hospital or worse, we had to give him up to God. Those were hard times, but that brought a certain amount of peace, and we have since been blessed with getting our son back home and getting the help he needed. I promise you, there IS HOPE!

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@hope4us Thank you so kindly for your post. I pray everyday for my son knowing that God’s plan, not mine. I appreciate you sharing: " we had to give him up to God. Those were hard times, but that brought a certain amount of peace, and we have since been blessed with getting our son back home and getting the help he needed. I promise you, there IS HOPE!" When I see him, I see him as he was before illness and love him so deeply, like many of us posting on this sight. I also realized that many of the people are able to tell what medications worked, what didn’t, etc. I lost that information as for his medication for the past 18 months or so. I feel that the professionals are trying to see what works, or should I say I am trusting that they are. My son is extremely adamant that I have no involvement in his medications. I pray. I haven’t been able to see him as often due to my daughter having some martial issues and she has no car. She has 7 boys, 5 still living at home under 18, so I let her use mine. The last time I saw my son - which was Saturday, he was so happy because he feared something bad had happened to me. Today is Monday, no car and will be taking my daughter and the boys camping on Wednesday for a few days; which means I will not see my son for over a week. I like to go see him at least twice a week, once the boys are back in school I will make sure I have the car to visit. I feel like I am not doing enough to help him, don’t know what meds he is on, don’t now how long they will keep him in a hospital. In the past, after 30 days in hospital they transfer him to a state psychiatric facility. It is just so hard not knowing if I should or could do something more to help him. Again, thank you for your promise of HOPE!