Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Has Anyone Gone For A Guardianship?


#1

My sz husband has been uncompliant with his meds off and on for years. This last time landed him in the hospital-psychiatric ward. The psychiatrist asked me if I had thought about getting a guardianship. Has anyone done this? Why would you do that-what is the advantage? Did your loved one have to approve or be there in court while you requested a guardianship? I know my husband would never agree to it-he has no insight into his illness. He thinks he is fine.

Has it worked for you and your family? Just wondering if its worth the upheaval it may cause in trying to get one.


#2

From my experience with my sz son it was totally worth it. Without it I am sure he would not be as stable as he is today. I don’t know if the probate laws vary from state to state but here in Ohio…my son was appointed an attorney to represent him since he was against my being his guardian also…but my son was so delusional after a few questions the judge granted me full guardianship and appointed me his rep payee so I handle all of his SSI money for him…the benefits are that the doctors and hospitals have to talk to you first which helps a great deal for them and you to get the true story on your husband’s condition…you are able to make medical and financial decisions on his behalf. I would recommend contacting your local county probate court for more specific instructions and answers.


#3

Thanks Catherine. I’m going to do that-at least get the information and what is required. See if it worth upsetting my husband even more than he is right now. I’ve made the decision that he needs to be compliant with his meds or I won’t stay. I know that’s drastic, but he’s really dangerous. But a guardianship would still be good because I could still help him, just without putting myself in a bad situation.


#4

I had a very similar experience as @Catherine - my son was appointed an attorney, but he was actually so paranoid at the time that he never met with the attorney or came to court. I do think it could have been very adversarial if my son had decided to participate, though I don’t think the outcome would have been different. He was very sick at the time. I know he feeIs some resentment about my guardianship. I understand your reservation about trying for it though.

There is such a thing as limited guardianship, which might be something worth considering. It could be restricted to medical decisions I think.


#5

@ANNECHANG and @Vallpen I hear you and I understand. My son was never happy about me having his guardianship but once I started to take over everything and things began to run more smoothly --and more dependably I think it helped him to get better because he had no more stress of responsibilities which if he has more than 2 or 3 expectations on him on any given day…it is one too many …he does better with just very basic minimal expectations and responsibilities. He will argue he can do absolutely anything but not surprising that when I say “ok go ahead” he does absolutely nothing…or gets mad that I told him to ‘go ahead’. He will do things outside the house with me and only rarely alone. Fortunately other than angry words on occasion my son hasn’t been violent.


#6

My heart goes out to you. I literally had the papers for six months debating what to do. It is a very tough decision. I also looked at other laws that forced rehab brought the courts but have found that forced rehab doesn’t work for my son. He just leaves and is on the street to find the first drug addict he can find to relate to.


#7

My cousin has a Guardian and payee. My cousin is female, bi polar, and been labeled by the court as mentally incompetent. She is on ssi. She is single.

Her guardian payee is her friend from high school. They both are now 50 and had this relationship for years.

After reading the forum here, I think this relationsh works better than having a family member guardian.

She lives in a mobile home she owns. The parents supplement with cash. Her guardian provides the budget.

She has brain damage from pot, meth, crack use in her 20s.

Another thing I’d like to say is the 2 women act as partners in this situation, they are friends. No parent authority figure. The women don’t live together, there’s no arguing, no codependent issues of any kind.


#8

Everything here agrees with everything I experienced. In Georgia along with the patient being served notice, there have to be two other people who know you and the patient served as well. They are given 30 days before the hearing to object. There also had to be a medical evaluation (which was court ordered) filled out for the judge. It was a terrifying experience for my son. But it enables us to bypass HIPAA when talking to doctors, insurance and hospitals. I have found that hospitals will still make medication decisions without your consent if you don’t “remind” them that you are guardian and your consent is legally required. Of course, it is necessary to provide a copy of guardianship papers in all of these circumstances.

That having been said, if your husband refuses his meds being his guardian will not really give you the ability to make him take them. And in my state, to make him go to the doctor would still require a court order.

My son did not have insight into his illness until he was in residential treatment for several months. There he received education 5 days a week until he recognized what he was going through. My heart goes out to you. I know it can feel like battering against a brick wall. I felt the same way 5 years ago. But there is hope if you leave no stone unturned. Do everything you can, and turn the rest over to God.


#9

I know what you are going through although it is my daughter. I kept thinking there was hope. If she would quit taking drugs I felt her illness could be helped with her meds. In the last month her drug usage has increased and she is no longer safe in my home. Her last incident happened Fri and she is in the hospital waiting for placement in a longer care facility. I went to the county clerk and got the forms. From family advice I have an apt with a lawyer on Thurs. She has previously said she wanted me to get guardianship because she thinks that means she will always live with me and I can’t kick her out.
I live in NC and looked up guardianship on the internet and found out it does not have to be permanent. Perhaps it is the same in your state and maybe you can use that to convince your husband. But if he does not have insight into his disease, maybe not. But with your evidence and his lack of insight, you should have no problem. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the best.


#10

Another option you might consider is an Advanced Directive if he will agree to sign it and/or a power of attorney. Basically it allows you to make medical and financial decisions, but only during times when the person is deemed incompetent. Would he be more open to that? You can just explain it as something anyone should have in place should something ever happen to them. Just a thought.


#11

I found out I do have an Advanced Directive for him (when we did our trust, it was another document we filled out) and I have sent a copy to the attending psychiatrist in the hospital. He’s going to check with their lawyer to see what it allows me to do. Thanks!


#12

My husband and I obtained guardianship of our daughter, then age 19 or 20 (she’s now in her late 30s). We hired an attorney to help us. I don’t recall all the steps, but a guardian ad litem sort of person came to the house to interview her–she was asked whether or not she wanted this to happen and why. Luckily for us, she was entirely willing. She understands she needs a lot of help with financial and medical decisions, and it’s a whole lot easier for us this way. We all later went to Probate Court, where the judge questioned us closely. He was reluctant to agree, since our daughter always comes across as far more “together” than she is, but the attorney was persuasive, and we became her guardians.

I think that if you’re dealing with a person who does not want the guardianship it would be very helpful first to get a neuropsychological evaluation, which would demonstrate the individual’s ability (or lack) to do things that require executive skills (planning, organizing, following through a task to completion), memory, and so on, and also to confirm the psychiatric diagnosis.

As others are noting, guardianship gives you the ability to manage a person’s affairs and confer with their providers (PCP, psychiatrist, staff if they’re hospitalized, therapist, etc.) without having to constantly get new releases signed, but it doesn’t permit you to force treatment on them. It’s important to tread lightly, since if the person under guardianship becomes irate they can always get their own attorney and take you back to court to have your legal powers removed!


#13

I took guardianship of my daughter for about 5 years. It’s a lot of work and I accepted that responsibility because of the HIPPA laws. There were so many roadblocks in helping my daughter because of the privacy laws. I’m glad I did it but I wouldn’t do it now because after a time it felt intrusive for both me and my daughter.


#14

Mamakaye, was your sons treatment inpatient or outpatient? Our sons last doctor recommended the same for our son and we are considering the long term option. I realize there are no guarantees.


#15

Maybe see if you can get him to agree to a Mental Health Care Power of Attorney to start. That would help him and you in situations where when he decompensates, then you can get him admitted to hospital or taken to ER for evaluation. Guardianship will strip your husband of all autonomy. Short term it might feel right, but my feelings are it’s best to leave the Courts and Government out of your lives as much as possible. If you husband is really dangerous…put some space between the two of you and go to another room or outside and call the Crisis Line if you have one.


#16

Thanks to all of you-great input and I really appreciate hearing about each of your experiences in this. It gave me the confidence to move forward. Fortunately my husband got some insight into his disease before we had to go to court and for now is content to take a monthly shot and see the psychiatrist every 2 weeks (his request-he’s worried about falling for the voices in his head again). Because he got compliant with his meds, they and I agreed he could be released back home. Its been almost 2 months and he’s still compliant. Hopefully this continues! I know my initial question will come up again and again because that’s the way this disease works (at least for my husband).


#17

You know, while he’s alright, it would be really positive for him to make his own psychiatric advanced directive: http://www.nrc-pad.org. That way, while he is stable, he will be able to express his wishes for what happens with treatment if he becomes very symptomatic.

Best to you. I"m really glad he’s getting treatment that helps.