My 89-year-old mother with Dementia is a hoarder and is living in unsanitary conditions. It's time for us to step in. What should we do first?

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Mother is extremely paranoid. We know nothing of her wishes. When asked, she says it's none of our business. We don't know anything about her money, mortgage, monthly bills. She won't tell us anything. This isn't new - she's always been paranoid about everyone and everything. But dementia is gaining on her and my brother and I are very concerned. My brother and I, as well as our children want to help. She gets angry when anyone even mentions her age or refers to her as a senior citizen. We are truly at a loss as to what we can do.
She is still driving. She gets lost all the time yet somehow finds her way to our homes. We are walking on eggshells. She insists that someone is breaking into her home whenever she is not home. She sets booby traps all over to "catch them". Her home is not clean anywhere. There is is small pathway thru a few rooms. We have been told by APS that we have to wait for SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT to happen before we can do anything. Is this true?

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My mom is 10 years younger and also gets mad when she is referred to as a senior citizen (and don't call her "elderly" that really gets to her)! My mother also is a hoarder. Not narrow pathways, yet, but there is mounds of junk in every single room (4 bedroom home) and cleaning is the last thing on her mind. Her little dog tears up things and she doesn't clean it up. My mom also does not trust doctors. She did give my brother POA, thank God. I would suggest you go to your local county, or check the website Children of Hoarders, and report her home. That way authorities can come in and check and see if it is a fire hazard and then maybe something will also be done about her. Good luck. I know, it is not easy.
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My mom doesn't trust doctors, or anyone for that matter. Getting her evaluated means that we must take her against her will. Am I just being protective of her? I feel as if I'm betraying her in some way. There are times when she is so lucid and I start feeling like I'm over reacting when she has her 'spell's of memory loss. I feel torn apart here. Obviously, I need advice..................and maybe a marguarita
I would appreciate any help. thanks
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I agree with wuvsicecream. Your mom needs to be committed by a judge so she can be evaluated. They did this to my sister after she was in emergency for anxiety and the Dr found her too mentally unstable to be released.

Also, if your mom is a hoarder contact public health and safety in your county and report her home. They can help as well. Her home sounds like a fire hazard and if she is unable to clean it up to code then a judge can have her removed from the home.
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Lilliput I understand your answer but until someone is found incompetent by a judge they are able to make decisions about finances and choices like signing POA. All a notary needs, is proof that the person signing, is in fact the person signing by ID, they are only for that purpose not making medical decisions. I found this out in a court room at the mental hospital when my Mom was screaming at me as if I was the devil and saying crazy things, I told the judge I wanted to care for her but under her resistance that was impossible, the judge asked me to take her home, she didn't even want to be in the same room with me and all he needed to hear was my mother saying " I'm not going anywhere with her, I like it here." He said do you want to stay here? " Mom says yes I do!" So she stayed there for a while. This was all after her initial visit for 30 days, one year later, I had cared for her for a year, the police took her there again, at her own will after she threatened me one day, she became unstable and needed meds adjusted. I called her Dr. who was aware of her mood swing and told me that if she had such an episode she should go back to behavioral health, he told police. Although if she refuses help and signing you may have no other choice but guardianship. I managed,to handle financial, health, spend down for medicaid and application and her move to NH and it cost $150.00 for POA papers nothing more, did it all myself. I just went with my gut instinct and made sure I did things by the book. Researched what was not to do and didn't do it. What needed to be done and did it. I kept clean records and honest spending, in the benefit of Mom only. The government does not want to take responsibility for anyone unless they absolutely have to, so as long as someone else is willing and able they wont. They are overwhelmed with the care and costs of it all. Do whatever you can on your own if possible. Everything you need to do. your going to have to do for attorney anyway you just have to figure out what income and assets are. Retrieve the mail after POA is done.
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She needs an evaluation by a qualified physician. I think this would be a good first step. Will she see a doctor or trust her doctor to refer her to a specialist?
As far as her finances are concerned, if she hasn't assisnged a POA by now, she cannot do it now if she is suffering from diminished mental capacity.
The only way you can get a hold of the situation is by filing for guardianship. This is a more radical step, but it seems as though she is a danger to herself and possibly others.
I would highly recommend visiting with a social worker and find out what steps need to be taken. There is a definite order to how these things are done. You may also want to consult an elder attorney to sort out her finances.
I do not think it is wise to wait until something "significant" happens before you take action. I would suggest going with your instincts and doing whatever is necessary to see that your Mom is safe and getting the care that she needs.
Your situation is challenging...good luck.
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Your situation is too familiar, been there done that all of it. So therefore I am more than happy to guide you. First thing she needs to be properly diagnosed. This is key to meds and to stabalizing her. Getting her to doctor may be difficult in her current condition. Does she trust anyone at this time? Do not waiste time trying to reason with her, lost cause. Use what you got... she's is paranoid so use that as a bridge to get her to Dr.... for example, you could call the police ahead of time to prepare them so you don't have to tell them infront of her what is your plan. Tell her she can't go in the house because of intruder. Explain how she is living in an unhealthy situation at home, she's dangerous driving, etc. and refuses help from you. Most family members take the denial route at this point and police and/or adult protective services should be more than happy to intercept as long as she has someone to take control of the legal and financial end of it.(I will get to that part thats step 2 ) Tell her your calling police so they can make sure she is safe. Most likely she will agree to going with police out of fear and feeling secure with them. She needs to go to a behavioral heath or mental hospital (research for one in her county). All you need is her SS# ( for medicare info) if she has other isurance you will need that info but maybe not right away, and basic info which at this point she probably remembers. Warning, do not sign for her let her sign herself in or for anything else that could make you financially responsable you aren't unless you agree to it. This happened by grace of god to my Mom she got picked up by police, on a cold October day in bathing suit lost. She spent 30 days in hospital to be stabalized. That was the first point of us able to take any action. My sister and I agreed upon her release to careing for her daily, a must, due to meds needed and obvious other reasons. We took that 30 days to try to get her papers in order and deal with cleaning house issue. That was a dent in it all, but a beginning. Step 2 you need to get durable Power of Attorney Papers, so you can legally sort out her heath and financial issues. She has to sign them in front of a notary. Once she's stable this may be easier than you think. It is all not easy but a reality. Get ready for family to be less helpful than you thought and keep negativity away from Mom. If she makes unreal comments after this point just agree and move on you cannot make sense out of her reality. Be patient and smile even if you want to scream. You came to the best place to vent and for support. It is just the begining but I got lots more on the clean up, paper work, finances, bills, etc..... I'd love to help if I can. All the people here are great and helpful. Good Luck keep posting.
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