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Elder abuse and visitation

It is time to get serious about addressing elder abuse by some guardians in the state of Virginia. This state is woefully behind other states in making substantive changes to the monitoring of guardians, which includes ensuring that they preserve the dignity and uphold the rights of their wards to visitation with their children in the final months, weeks, and hours of their lives. No one should have to go to an attorney and go to court to ensure that existing laws pertaining to visitation are upheld. Here is our story.

 My two brothers and I are adult children living in Virginia and we have been actively prevented for over two years from having a full and unrestricted relationship with our elderly father (terminal and in hospice), who is under the care of an “independent” guardian, with powers limited to visitation. (Our father is a retired Captain, and Naval Academy Graduate, Class of 1954. We are proud Navy Juniors.). Most recently, my youngest brother and I have been banned from seeing my father for over 50 days because we attended a Friends and Family Council meeting at his Annandale nursing home facility. These meetings are watch dog forums set up to protect the rights of elderly residents, provide transparency to families regarding the quality of care, and provide open communications between staff and families. These forums are permitted under the Nursing Home Act of 1987, and as recently as March 2017 Delegate Vivian Watts sponsored legislation in the Virginia House (which passed and goes into effect in July 2017) that protects the rights of blood relatives to attend these forums. This state legislation was passed in a direct response to our plea for help. We were told by the guardian that these forums by their very nature were “adversarial” to the facility, and that was further justification for why we could not attend. We also were told by the guardian we could not be on any email distribution associated with these forums, respond to any anonymous family surveys open to all family members, or attend the annual Christmas party, hosted by this Council. Extraordinary, unnecessary, and totally illegal restrictions.  Two of us have been forced to pay over $2,000 in supervised visitation (including $80 for his birthday and $120 to watch a Redskins game with him), and this is not being lifted. 

 Our experience is that incapacitated elders like our father, under the care of a guardian in the state of Virginia, have no rights to visitation, even though the law says they have rights. The guardian interprets what kind of relationship the elderly person should have with their children. The guardian interprets the applications of the law. For example, even though Virginia Code 64.2-2019(e) expressly states:  “ A guardian shall not unreasonably restrict an incapacitated person’s ability to communicate with, visit, or interact with other persons with whom the incapacitated person has an established relationship,” the guardian can, with absolutely no interference from any level of government within the state of Virginia, deny those rights. We enlisted the support of the Kasem Cares Foundation, a life line to people in our predicament, that has been successful in representing citizens all over the country with guardianship and visitation issues. To date, even with their extraordinary network and influence, we have been entirely shut down, at every level of the Virginia state government. The only recourse appears to be to get an attorney, spend a lot of money, and take your chances.  The codes and the laws exist, but, it appears that they are not accessible until you go to court. Guardians should respect and uphold these laws.  We persevere. What else can you do if you want to see your father again?

We are advocates for change. Virginia needs to fund and speed up implementation of a chapter of the Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS), to ensure procedures and personnel are put in place to monitor “bad actor” guardians. 

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Social Butterfly

@e10294s  Your story omits some important information...why was a guardian appointed for your father in the first place?  Did your father re-marry?  Have there been serious family disagreements regarding wills and estate issues?  Have there been competency hearings regarding your father's ability to make his own decisions re:  self-determination of health care issues?  Have you and your siblings made legal challenges concerning other relatives who also have reason to concern themselves with his health care and well-being?

Has your father appointed others to act for him or given a general power of attorney to someone you feel is not acting in his best interest?


It sounds like a legal matter and I am curious as to why you would not engage the services of an attorney to represent you and your siblings in securing your legal rights.  I understand you are worried about the cost of such representation but this is the kind of issue that a court of law should decide.


As you relate the story, it sounds as if all of your efforts, save the latest legislative victory, have run up against significant efforts to block any visitation with your father.  If you think the guardian is a "bad actor," you should be taking legal steps to remove the guardian.


Kudos to you for working with the state legislature to change the laws and I would encourage you to continue with your work to secure the rights of nursing home/hospice patients and their families.  It's a noble and worthy cause.


There are two sides to every story and the one you relate tells your side only.  You are running out of time if you want to secure regular visitation with your father and the court system seems to be your best recourse at this juncture.  Good luck to you!

"Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness." ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honored Social Butterfly

@Prosecco6247 wrote:





There are two sides to every story and the one you relate tells your side only.  You are running out of time if you want to secure regular visitation with your father and the court system seems to be your best recourse at this juncture.  Good luck to you!

Excellent points and this brings up the issue of making joint decisions between children and parents long before they are needed!

Life's a Journey, not a Destination" Aerosmith
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