Answers to legal questions

posed by the general public to Memphis Attorney Christina Burdette

Question: "Why am I being forced to take care of my disabled husband when hes physically and mentally abusive

when ive told drs im tired? ive been taking care of my husband since 2004 (brain injury, dementia, Margburgs MS, and breast cancer) hes gotten to be combative mentally and physically....he has home healthcare they help him dress, fix his foods, and etc. Everytime hes gone in the hospital they say he doesn't fit the criteria for nursing home but the nursing home has people in better condition than him... im tired no one will take him. this wrong ive been to several mental health facilities because of being overwhelmed and depressed to come out and still have the responsibility again. I have to work and he only gets $392 a month no other assistance. I cry nightly because the only way out is to take my life I feel. Everyone says he solely my responsibility because I married him. I would rather die than deal with this"

Answer: You are not being forced to do anything and taking your own life is not the answer.

I'm not sure who you're referring to by "everyone," but I assume you mean family, friends and co-workers. This issue is not a legal issue, it's a moral one. If you agree to be financially responsible for his medical treatment, that's a legal obligation. If you simply cannot care for him any longer and you want to stay married to him, then you need emotional and physical support. Did your husband give you power of attorney before he became incapacitated? If so, you should be able to make financial and healthcare decisions on his behalf. Otherwise, you can petition the court to become his conservator. Once and if you are appointed as his conservator you will be in a better position to make these decisions for him, including where he lives, what medications he takes, what medical procedures should be undertaken, etc. I don't know if his doctors are permitted talk to you freely right now because of HIPAA (the privacy laws). If that is the case, then being appointed as his conservator will open the doors of communication. You need to find out why your husband doesn't qualify for either assisted living or skilled nursing. Does your husband qualify for TennCare/Medicaid? You need to get the answers to these questions. What you are dealing with is exhausting. I understand completely. But taking your own life is never the answer.

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Christina Burdette