Larry Davis remembers when his stepmother would cry on the phone from the memory care facility 1,100 miles away, where she was placed by a corporate guardian in December 2016.
“She was so despondent; she’d say that if she had to stay there, she’d kill herself. She kept telling us, ‘This isn’t a life.’ ”
But Kise’s court-appointed guardian ad litem and corporate guardian insisted Kise was happy and argued that she should remain in New Mexico – and not be allowed to move to California where Davis and his family live.
Medical staff at the memory care unit stated that since living at the secure facility in Las Cruces, Kise hadn’t had a single seizure, because they had her on phenobarbital, Davis said. The guardian ad litem, CaraLyn Banks, had earlier reported that Kise had epilepsy as a child and “has been treated with Phenobarbital for a number of years.”
But Davis said Kise had no history of epilepsy or seizures – a fact he said he confirmed with her sister in Japan. Kise had been prescribed phenobarbital in the past only to help her sleep.
One of Davis’ attorneys, Peter Goodman of Las Cruces, told the judge in April 2017 that when he visited Kise, “she was sitting next to a woman who was watching – with open mouth, in fascination – a show that’s for 10-year-olds. I think this is relevant to the urgency of moving Ms. Davis … she needs to be where she can relate to people.”
But Kise’s guardian ad litem, Banks, contended that Kise remained high functioning, because of the staff at the facility and the corporate guardian, Advocate Services of Las Cruces.
“Unfortunately, given her level of dementia, (moderate to severe), the GAL anticipates that Mrs. Davis’ level of function will deteriorate if she is moved from this safe and stable environment that she knows and loves,” Banks stated in a report to the judge.
On one visit, Larry Davis and his wife brought birdseed so they and Kise could go outside the memory care unit and enjoy one of her pastimes of feeding the birds. He said they were told the guardian wouldn’t permit that.
At one point, the Davis couple was informed of a long list of items they couldn’t speak with her about, including her moving to California.
“Relatives take a beating in this. You’re emotionally caught in a situation where you can’t have any say in anything involving your own relative.” Davis said.
Advocate Services’ owner Sandy Meyer didn’t address the phenobarbital issue in an email response to the Journal, but said there was only one request – that they not mention the move to California before the judge ruled, “as it caused her such distress she would not eat for a few days after.”
Kise was housed with lower functioning people – in a memory care unit that a guardian representative testified in court was more expensive than the unit for higher functioning residents. The reason given: The guardian wanted to avoid the need to move her twice before Kise went to California.
Meanwhile, Advocate Services began to liquidate Kise’s belongings and prepare to sell her house, where she grew pecans and used to send them as Christmas presents to her stepson and his wife.
Kise read in the newspaper that her house in La Mesa, N.M., was up for sale.
“She was in depression and crying,” her stepson said, “She realized she could never go home.”