My mom has dementia and the social worker said we can't do anything for her unless we are her guardian.

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She is starving and her house is dirty. The social worker said she cannot do anything unless she gets hit by a car or harms herself. I am in SC and she is in NH what can I do?


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What a sad situation! I'm assuming that your mom never assigned you or another family member Power Of Attorney. The social worker may be right, but I'd check with an elder law attorney. You may want to start at the website of The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys at You may find some help there. In addition, may states have attorneys who work certain cases free of charge, so I'd check with New Hampshire and see if they have any pro bono (free) attorneys. Their state's attorney's office may be able to help you.
Good luck,
The power of attorney she has is over her money if she dies. The caseworker said she is fine. her stove is disconnected so as she will not burn the house down. , yet the caseworker said she eats! She is 80 pounds so what can she eat without a stove? My sister had her sign her money over so to get into her account. My mom would never have anyones name on it for someone to get her money. I told the caseworker this and she said well it might be a police situation but nothing about it. I am the oldest in sc and she is in nh. I felel so helpless!
Power of attorney ends when a person dies, so I am not sure what your mother has set up. Would your mother be willing to give you financial and/or medical POA now?

My mother did not use her stove for the last several years she lived alone, but was able to microwave food just fine. If the social worker says she is not starving, perhaps she isn't. Has she been 80 pounds for a long time, or is she continuously losing weight?

It is really hard to monitor this kind of situation long distance, isn't it?

Do you think your sister has stolen money from your mother? Would you be willing to notify the police?

Seeing a lawyer might be a very good idea.
My niece sent pics of my moms house. Dirty bathroom,not much food in the cupboards, Ceiling partly gone in kitchen ceiling showing mold,and living room ceiling to cave in. But caseworker said she is fine and cannot do anything until she harms herself. She refuses home health care and now is 75 pounds. This is not my mom she was an immaculate housekeeper. The ceiling leaks because the man who put the roof on did it wrong.
I don't understand if she has "dementia" then she can't be safe at her own home alone! If she has lost weight n the weight is steadily Declining then, she is malnutrition n she will get too weak to even walk so, how the hell is that fine with a SW? I just don't understand the system. That should be a concern when it comes to a SW! My mil couldn't remember how to use a microwave so much less use it. Eating cold food everyday cannot be too nutritious health wise n especially for an elder person. That one hot-meal from Meals on Wheel is not enough for the whole day.
I would see if u can talk with her physician who diagnosed her with dementia n see what he suggest. I also see about getting a POA or elderly law attorney.
It may be that their cognitive function is okay n that is why the sw mention their nothing can be done until she hurts herself. It seems being their r so many in a NH that, if they could live n their own home as long as possible they will not do anything. You might be able to hire someone to come in to the home but thats if your mom accept the help n has the financial money to afford it. You may want to check her local area on 'Agency on Aging,' to see what they can do to help her.
You should be able to find that right here on this site.
First of all you need a different social worker! Contact the Department of Aging, report your mom as self-neglect. They should come in there and see how she is living and get services set up for her. That social worker is wrong! Get her to the doctor, have a POA set up, and have 2 doctors sign it to get it activated. You will then have all the decision making in your hands regarding health care. The only problem I see is if she already has dementia, she cannot sign the POA papers. Your option may be to go to court, have her declared incompetent and get guardianship of her. I would also take her in for a neuro-psych eval. That will give you all the answers you need to know about her mental status. But definitely contact the local Dept of Aging AND get a different social worker!
Agree with DonnaRae - this is an incompetent SW. If this one is with a diferent agency or department, contact you Adult Protective Services instead. And you can probably GET guardianship regardless of who is POA if you can handle that responsibility and any battle you might be up against, if you have photos and the other documentation. You have also recevied accurate advice on the POA; POA actually does end at death and takes effect with whatever documentation is specified when the person cannot manage for themselves. Someone will be the executor or trustee for the estate after death and that is specified in a will or estate plan rather than the POA papers. If these papers are not in order, then you almost certainly need an eldercare attorney; some do an initial consultation for free (mine did one for $300.00 and it was worth every penny and it turned out that was all we needed...if my parent's estate planners had been more competent, we would not have even needed that, but at least that much gave me POA and ability to get things done that needed done, even as a long distance caregiver which is how I started out.)

Who knows, she might be able to thrive again in an assisted living facility or with a family member and appropriate help. This is hard, and I don't mean to be harsh, but it is defintiely time to take action, or you will be planning a funeral instead.

Just so you know this is coming form an honset place and not in judgement of you in any way...we felt our hands were tied with my husband's parents, and to a point they may have been as they were not as clearly non-competent, especially his dad. It had to reach crisis stage unfortunately when she went to a geropsych because of behavior towards neighbors that otherwise would have landed her in jail, and dad then died of a ruptured aneurysm. The house was a disaster area by the time we could get into it and start the clean up. It was unbelieveable how they had been living and refusing help with...terrible memories for us and the grandkids.

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