Get tips from RN Diane Carbo on how to help an older friend concerned about losing control of finances and being placed in a nursing home. Includes getting a competency test and speaking to a primary care physician.

Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash


Hello. I need help. APS was supposed to do a capacity test for a friend of mine. She is older and her family is trying to get control of her finances. I was going to pay for an assessment but the APS supervisor told me it is better for them to do this test. This was 2 months ago. Now they want her to go “ somewhere for more involved testing”. She is 93 years old and is lucid.. reads the paper.. etc. what can I do to help her? APS has not visited her or called in 2 months. What do you suggest? Should I pay to have a capacity test for her? Who does this testing? She is worried they are going to take control of her finances and put her in a nursing home. She has help 24 hours at home. Please. What do you suggest?



Grace, thank you for sharing your experience with us.  There are some very concerning issues you are bring up. The fact that APS has not done anything in 2 months makes me suspicious.

You also do not explain your connection to this lady.  If she is lucid, and has not been deemed incompetent, she still has the ability to control her finances and make decisions about her health care choices.

APS has dropped the ball. Getting a competency test is never easy. There are steps that need to be taken. It includes a doctors exam,  interviewing the elderly patient and friends and relatives of the patient can provide substantial information when mental competency is in question.

Psychological tests or assessments need to be  done. Assessments can be quite useful in helping someone determine whether or not a competency issue exists and how far it has progressed.

She needs to be evaluated on her current functioning abilities and compare that o the her prior functioning.

She needs to have a complete mental evaluation. A competency mental health evaluation is commonly referred to as a mental status exam, and it evaluates the mental capacity of a patient based on self-report, observation of behavior and speech, evaluation of mood, and testing memory.

If you friend is concerned that her family is going to take her money and place her in a home, she should contact her primary care physician and request an exam for dementia.

Her insurance will pay for those tests.

I do want to address her fear of being admitted to a nursing home. If you friend has money, that money will go to pay for her care in the nursing home. The family will get nothing if she spends it on her care.

If she has a will, she needs to revaluate what she is leaving and to whom.

I hope that this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me with any further concerns.

-Diane Carbo, RN