In 1971, Florida State Representative Maxine Baker, a dedicated mental health advocate from Miami, proposed legislation intended to protect the basic rights and treatment of individuals who were mentally ill. Her efforts resulted in a comprehensive body of law, so called The Baker Act in her honor.
The Baker Act provides that judges, law enforcement officers, physicians, and mental health officials can initiate a process to involuntary institutionalize individuals who 1) appear to be mentally ill, or 2) are likely to cause harm to themselves, harm to others, or are self-neglectful. Once “Baker Acted,” these individuals are taken for evaluation for a minimum of 72 hours at a state-authorized psychiatric center. Alzheimer’s and dementia, which many regard as disability rather than mental illnesses, fits criteria #2 of the Baker Act. Continue reading “For people with dementia, beware of the Baker Act”