After several years of managing my parents’ lives from afar, a sudden turn of events uprooted my world, launching me officially into the throws of Alzheimer’s and dementia. On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 I received a phone call from Adult Protective Services that my parents were in “neglect.” Defined as either a fail to properly care for or the state of being uncared for, this freshly declared status thrust me straight from my office work chair where I received the phone call, into the legal hot seat known in Florida as the Baker Act.
“The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 (Florida Statute 394.451-394.47891 (2009 rev.), commonly known as the "Baker Act," allows the involuntary institutionalization and examination of an individual (what some call emergency or involuntary commitment).”
The Baker Act enables the State to take individuals into custody against their will and determine if they are fit to live independently. In this instance they were under threat of being removed from their home of more than 25+ years and on the verge of being sanctioned as ward of the State of Florida. Ugh… What?!!!
Long story short, this phone call instigated a chain of events that abruptly put me on a plane with a suitcase and the false assumption that I would be back in Massachusetts in a couple of weeks as soon as I sorted out this ridiculous legal misunderstanding. Six months later I was still in Florida with nothing other than that same suitcase and a massive burden unfolding. Abandoning everything, apartment, car, job, boyfriend… I was forced to make decisions about what comes next?
Next? Umm… I still don’t know! There is no blueprint for navigating the lives of others and if you come across one, beware! The litigation within “the system” is so complex you are bound to spend a fortune fighting it or hiring someone (or team of people) that has found a way to capitalize from your desperation. The system is flawed and our story exists within the cracks. Stripped of options this is where we are at. Where I am at… a well educated person, tethered, both legally and emotionally to a situation that is stripping me from my own capacity to make way in the world, so, as for what’s next? I guess my only answer for you right now is dinner.
As a firm believer in “food is thy medicine” I am embarking on a quest for comfort food like never before; nourishment that supports both the body and soul…