Fulfilling the wishes of a client with fluctuating mental capacity
16 Dec 2021
For elderly patients with fluctuating mental capacity, conveying their needs to others may not be as straightforward. However, that does not discount the possibility of having last wishes they would like others to fulfill on their behalf. In today’s series of “Voices from CMs”, our Case Manager, Ms Lynne Wong, recalled her similar encounter with a client who has left a deep impression on her since 2019.
Mike was 82 years old when he was referred by the hospital social worker to SNTC in 2019. He was placed in a nursing home as he had no next-of-kin and was too frail to look after himself. Besides having heart and renal issues and functional decline with Parkinsonism features, he also had bipolar disorder.
When I first met him at the nursing home for assessment, I could hardly engage him as he was anxious, speaking irrelevantly at times and at other times silent for a good 30 minutes. I was about to give up and before sending him back to his room, I asked him, “We sell your house to take care of you, okay?” to which he nodded and asked who will sell his flat for him, and that he cannot do it himself, I told him that we will find a professional to do it for him.
At our second meeting, he shared he was divorced without children and had a girlfriend who moved in with him for five years, together with her daughter. He made a will then to give everything he has to them. They have since broken up, are no longer in contact and he has lost the original will. It was determined then a replacement will must be done in case he passes on before the flat sale is completed and the sales proceeds injected into the trust.
SNTC worked with the nursing home to have a mental capacity assessment by his psychiatrist at the IMH for trust set up, as his mental capacity was fluctuating; and facilitated the engagement of lawyers to draft a power of attorney appointing another lawyer to oversee the flat sale and also be his will executor. His will and the trust’s residual beneficiary were aligned, he wanted to give everything to charity upon his demise.
A trip was also arranged by the nursing home for him to retrieve his personal belongings before the flat sale. The flat sales proceeds have been injected into SNTC trust for safe-guarding and his maintenance.
It truly takes many helping hands to fulfill his wishes and I am glad to be a part.
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