My grandmother only bathes my grandfather every 4-6 months and is neglecting his care. How can I report this to social services?

Asked by

My grandfather is 90 years old and lives with my grandmother who is 87. She is his sole caretaker, as I live far away and the rest of my family is not involved. I'm worried that she is neglecting his care. She only bathes him to see the doctor, about once every 4-6 months, and that is the only time he leaves the house. The last time I saw him he was caked in filth, with long fingernails and brown dried crust all over his skin. He just sits in his armchair all day in the dark, and sleeps there at night. He used to be so active and social, I'm worried he's lonely, bored, and depressed.

He is definitely not cognitively "all there," but no formal diagnosis has been made. He knows his name, where he is, and what year it is.

I think I could make a report of self-neglect/abuse to social services in the county they live in, but I'm not sure where that would get me. If a social worker came out and asked him if he needed a bath, I'm sure he'd say that he's fine and doesn't need one.

Any suggestions what I should do? My grandmother won't allow anyone into the house (like a home health aide.) She insists on doing all the driving, cleaning, cooking, etc. Basically I want to get social services behind me to force them to hire an in-home caregiver, but if my grandfather refuses, do I just have to let him stay like this? They have the money, they're just sitting on it.

Thanks.

Answers 1 to 7 of 7
Who has medical POA for your mother and dad? If you, then you need to talk with each of their doctors and tell them what is going on. Even if you don't have medical POA, you can inform the doctor of your observations although in that case they will not be able to discuss it with you. I think your mom and dad both need some serious evaluation with a doctor's opinion on the safety and health of living by themselves. An objective third party can often say what a family member can't say. BTW, who has durable POA for your dad and your mom? The sad news is that if no one has POA, then someone needs to become their guardian for this situation is not safe or healthy.
Thanks for your answer. I doubt anyone has POA. Unfortunately they're not my mom and dad they're my grandparents, and my mom (their daughter) insists there's nothing she can do about it and refuses to get involved. She lives in the same city and talks to my grandmother every day on the phone but still sees nothing wrong. I will try calling their doctor though, that's a good first step I guess. Thanks again.
Sorry for my mistakes in presenting my answer. Why in the world does your mom care so little about her parents? She is their only child, I assume? I would think with her non-involvement that as a grand daughter, the doctor would like to hear from you since your eyes really know what is going on. Your grandparents are blessed to have some like you who cares enough to roll up their sleeves and try to do something for them! :) Good luck.
Poor Grandmother. It sounds like she has more than she can handle. Have you any idea why she dosen't want help? Pride? Privacy considerations? Cost concerns? Denial? If you can figure out where the resistence is coming from that might help you deal with it.

Good luck!

Thanks for the response. My grandmother is terrified that they'll throw her and my grandfather in a nursing home if anyone sees how they live. She also just doesn't trust people. She won't even hire gardeners to do the landscaping or a plumber to fix her broken washing machine. She can be a martyr too, pleading that she doesn't want to waste money on the end of her life when it should be going to my mother's inheritance.

At this point, I'm willing to step on her toes to make sure my grandfather is taken care of, I'm just not sure what to do. I'll try calling their doctor and see if he has any suggestions. Thanks.
Top Answer
I could be more sympathetic to the martyr bit if she weren't making a martyr out of Grandfather, too. If she is in a sacrificing mood, couldn't she sacrifice a little for her husband's well being? Oh well. I doubt that is something she can be reasoned out of.

And I don't suppose you can assure her absolutely that she won't wind up in a long term care facility, but if she is competent to make her own decisions I don't see how she could be forced. But there might be a strong recommendation for a "bath lady" to come in once or twice a week, and for a homemaker to help with basic cleaning, including the laundry (in a repaired machine,) Maybe they could get meals on wheels. There are lots of relatively small services that could improve the quality of their last years.

Do talk to the doctor.

Good luck!
With your mother not caring at all evidently, why should your grandmother be worried about leaving her any inheritance? Is your grandmother's lack of trust in people recent or has she always been that way? It sounds like she's in denial about her own competency and too proud to let anyone discover this family secret. I wish you well in stepping on her toes to make sure your grandfather is taken care of for it definitely sounds like she is a danger to him with her inability to adequately care for him. She evidently does not want to waste money on the care of the end of your grandfather's life at all either. BTW, has she let the house get so bad off that it no longer meets the city building code? Are neighbors complaining about the landscaping? How does she wash clothes? In the bath tub?

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support