COA: 82-year-old can return home

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a decision by the Delaware Circuit Court that said an 81-year-old woman needed 24-hour care supervision at a nursing facility and allowed her to return home after it found Adult Protective Services did not present sufficient evidence she was involved in a life-threatening emergency.

Norma Jackson, now 82, was placed in the Meridian Services Gero-Pyschiatric Unit and then The Woodlands Care Center after a doctor diagnosed her with dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s disease. She had gotten into a minor crash with her car and couldn’t remember her vehicle had been towed away. When police checked on her, she also could not remember for sure who the president of the United States was.

While she was at the facilities, she also kept forgetting to take her medicines and couldn’t always remember where the bathroom was, but doctors noted she was in good physical shape. The trial court entered a protective services order June 30, finding Jackson to be an endangered adult in need of protective services for 24-hour care and supervision. It ordered Jackson to remain at the Woodlands until a medical doctor determines she is ready for discharge into a less restrictive environment, and Jackson appealed.

The court said while Jackson definitely suffers from dementia, she’s been able to arrange for the bank to pay her bills, buy her own groceries, cook her own meals and bathe.

The COA said the trial court erred in its emergency order for services for Jackson because the duration of the emergency services is indefinite. The longest an order may stay in effect is 10 days. Also, Jackson did not suffer from a life-threatening emergency, as dementia does not qualify as such. “In effect, the trial court entered an involuntary protective services order that is outlined in Indiana Code section 12-10-3-21,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote.

Mathias said in an era where more and more adults are getting dementia, it takes a life-threatening emergency for an adult to be deprived of liberty, and Jackson does not qualify. She was self-sufficient and practiced good personal hygiene. Also, even if her dementia caused a threat to her life, immediate care was not needed.

The case is Norma Jackson v Indiana Adult Protective Services, 18A02-1508-MI-1075


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