How to get a caregiver son to take his duties seriously?

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She just turned 92. Has been very independent, a vorocious reader, immaculately dressed, able to talk on any subject. In the last three months she has become demented and the son that lives with her has let her become unwashed, she no longer reads, knows anything of what is going on in the news, politics and most of her food she feeds to the dog. I found her looking like a homeless person with her hair hanging down her back and I don't think she knew me. I have known her for over 20 years. I told her son, caregiver, that I needed to teach him how to care for her and bathe her properly and instead he left and was gone most of the time I was there. I got her to the doctor for tests and other then dehydration she was still okay labwork wise so couldn't be hospitalized. Got home health involved but in their area the people who investigate elder neglect are not interested in doing followup as they are too understaffed. The sons are already fighting over her money of course. I live two days drive away and am not a blood relative so have no standing legally. She is left alone many hours a day while her son is at work and the door is left unlocked. She can no longer walk on her own either so cannot get up to get her food or drink while her son is gone to work and doesn't get home until late at night. He will leave her food and something to drink next to her but she forgets it is there and goes with out until he gets home at 9-10 at night. She has very few neighbors where she lives. She has a life alart button but I dont know if she remembers she has it on. After I got home I called for a couple of days and she became very snippy with me and that is also not like her. Her caregiver son left her in the hands of his brother for five days who had not instructions on her care and never told either of them how to reach him or called her and she was most upset that her son was gone. I have had to pull back because her sons don't seem interested in caring for her properly and I live too far away and it kills me to see what she has become. Help!

Answers 1 to 7 of 7
All you can do is call the Department of Social Services and maybe APS if social services do not seem interested in looking in to the situation-after that there is nothing you can do to help her social services and APS will investigate what is going on with her -it might be that she is not telling you the truth-since she got snippy with you she may have serious health problems-if you know her neighbors you might want to call them and ask about-but I think that is all you can do at this time.
Top Answer
You won't be able to make the son do anything, but you can certainly call Adult Protective Services, and you keep calling until they follow up and follow thru... If this were you, wouldn't you want someone to be fighting for you... ??? And I'm not trying to be harsh here, just wanting you to see possibly you are the only life line she has, and it's ok if she got snippy.. especially if you said anything about her son.... but I personally would not let it go until something is done.... you are a very good friend to care so much and apparently want to be encouraged to take this further, no, you're not family, THANK GOD... and I truly hope you come back and let us know how this works out... I would rather have someone mad at me as opposed to having something more serious on my conciious.... follow your heart, you are a great friend...
I agree with the previous answer. Her son is guilty of neglect in a serious way and probably believes he can continue in his ways because no one will stop him. Calling Adult Protective Services is the best you can do for your friend....please let us know what happens and bless you for caring
Another option is to call the police and have them do a check the welfare on your friend. I mention this action only if APS does not take appropriate action. Obviously, at that point the brothers will never speak to you again, but maybe it will get your friend the help she needs.
Because your friend seems to have gone downhill so quickly, I suspect one or more of her meds may be the problem. My 88 year old mother has had some truly bizarre reactions to drugs. In one case, a medication she had taken before with absolutely no problems caused her to hallucinate, hear Christmas music and get "snippy" with me, which was very out of character for her. Her doctor was too willing to write it off as "old age" and I had to get REALLY assertive to get them to find answers. It turned out mom has experiencing a very rare side effect of amantadine. Once it was out of her system, she was back to her old normal self. The doctor learned two things: 1- a side effect she was not aware of, and 2- they don't call me the Red-Headed Daughter from Hell for nothing :-) Your friend needs someone to advocate for her ... looks like you're it. It won't be the easiest thing you've ever done, but please do it. Don't let her sons alienate you from her. That's exactly what they want. By all means, call social services, APS, the police, the neighbors ... whatever it takes. Draw attention to this situation in any way you can so that the sons know someone's watching. Put on your red hair and raise hell! Someone's life is at stake. Best of luck to you and please keep us posted.
Helen: Here's one more idea. If you can make another trip to see your friend and can plan to stay a few days this is what I would suggest. Take your friend back to her doctor. Don't clean her up first, just take her as she is so her doc can see how she is living. Be sure that you pack up all her prescription medications and take them to the doc too. Have him compare her current meds to what she is supposed to be taking. Get another round of blood test done and tell her doctor that it's not acceptable for her to be getting so little care. Make sure the doc can rule out a UTI.

Maybe she is not getting the correct medications or they are not being given to her. Do this on a day when the son is working. You may also consider taking her to emergency. Maybe you can stay with her for a few days and be sure she is getting the right meds.

Yes, it could also be a reaction to medications or a reaction to not getting the right combination. For example, if a person takes Lasix for water retention, they must also take a proper dose of potassium. If the potassium is not given, the patient can become very week. Just some thoughts. Sorry to dump this on you, but I know you care and want to help. I think you are her best bet for assistance.
Any person who has dementia/alzheimers should not/cannot be left unsupervised, period. Her son may not be aware of this, and also probably cannot afford financially to quit his job in order to take care of her full time. Legally, the home health nurses have an ethical obligation to report the situation to Adult Protective Services, but anyone who has seen this for themselves can also report it. I would not be so quick to chastise the son, as I said many people do not know how to be a caregiver. Not everyone is made to be a caregiver. At the least, the home health personnel should provide guidance to the family members as to what is best/safest for the patient. All home health agencies are obligated by Medicare to have social workers who can assist the son to find proper 24 care specialized for alzheimers/dementia patients. I hope your friend gets the proper care and supervision she needs.

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