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What to do about a disabled brother who lives in a filthy unsafe house. He has bed bugs, doesn't drive, and refuses to be helped.

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I suppose you could petition the court for guardianship if you want that responsibility. Will he accept a housekeeper and or an aide who will keep on top of things after protective services has the place cleaned up?
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Deedee47 Sep 4, 2021
He is mentally competent . I will not go to court . I was my stepfather s guardian years ago. Never again
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Hugs, Deedee. I'm sorry for what you're going through.

I refuse to be sorry for what your brother's going through, though. He can have my respect for his right to make choices, or he can have my sympathy for his predicament. Not both.
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Deedee47 Sep 4, 2021
i got call from his neighbor. She said hospital transport dropped him off in street . He could not get up. Her husband helped him to his door . She called 911 they did not respond. I called for a wellness check today. They said it was filthy but he has food. The hospital cleaned him up and shaved him and cut his hair. He must have looked better. I am trying to with draw it is going to be hard but I have to
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i got a call from the police in my brother’s town. He fell and broke his prosthesis. They said his living situation is horrendous . He refused to go to hospital . Health dept and building inspector showed up . They called AP people . They told them it was ongoing. The next day Adult Ptotective girl got him cleaned up and bug free ( she thought) and called ambulance to take him to hospital to get a check on his “good leg” it is bad news he has extreme blockage on this leg. They kept him over night . He is likely to lose this leg also! I tried to get him to go to a motel that I would pay for so he would stay safe and clean until this was resolved. He refused and the social workers and everyone else I begged for help let him go. I haven’t heard from him since yesterday . I am trying not be upset. It is hard because I have tried for so many years to help him.!
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Call Adult Protective Services. Really, it’s your duty to call. They will come and inspect and see if he is able/willing to fix up his house in a set time frame, or if his house will be declared condemned. They will take him into care, and see that he is properly cared for. It may not be what he would wish, but it would most definitely be what is humane and the right thing to do.
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I agree..... let him live in his own filth. If you have never watched Hoarders you might want to watch an episode or two of those that fail in cleaning etc. Cut ties walk away.
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I once made the huge mistake of stepping in to help a 'friend' who had so many problems--hoarding being one, having the care of 3 small grandkids thrust upon her (she's 70) among other serious family issues.

She literally would sit unmoving, for hours in this atrociously filthy home, kids running wild, all the 'nasties'. Bugs, rats, rotting food everywhere...

I worked with her for 4 solid months, almost on a daily basis, cleaning, packing, organizing, raising money, advocating for her for the kids' welfare...trying to help her find a home she could afford...
And...
Every night I'd leave a moderately tidy home and return the next day that looked as though they'd spent the entire night before throwing garbage and cat poop all over.

I plugged along, thinking I was helping. I was not. I was enabling.

On the day I found out she had NO intention of moving to a smaller home she could afford nor would she throw away one solitary item--I quit. Told her I was done, she'd broken me and I wished her the best and within a month the house and yard were back to the neighborhood 'garbage house'.
And Yes, APS, CPS, the city..all authorities were called and I guess you are allowed to live in total filth if you want.

I lost a lot of faith in the 'system'. I know they're overloaded, etc. Still---the kids were being abused, they were completely running wild. I guess the oldest boy is now facing a stint in a Juvenile Center.

After hundreds upon hundreds of hours of service--this woman hates me and literally blames ME for all her problems.

I will think long and hard before I try to step in an help someone who is 'unhelpable'. I will always do what I can, but I'll NEVER step in so deeply.

Bottom line--
You cannot really help those who don't want help.
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Deedee,

Guilt is self-imposed. Your brother chooses to live this way. You have done everything you can. You have APS involved. You cannot live someone elses life for them. You cannot impose your will on them. Believe me, I know somewhat where you are coming from.

I have a 31 year old physically handicapped nephew. He lives in an apartment. I have not been inside that apt for probably 2 years because I know what I will find. I will find cardboard boxes all over from his Amazon deliveries. I will find plastic grocery bags all over. The place will smell because he doesn't think he needs to shower everyday for body odor problem he has. He continues to gain weight on a body that should not have more than 150lbs on it. He lived with my Mom for a time and was lazy and messy there. I kept on him constantly even after my Mom was in an AL. Once I got him in an apartment, got him all set up, I haven't been in there. Because I literally can feel a tightning in my chest when I enter it and see a mess that there is no reason for. My husband comments on the "clutter" and I tell him its not that I don't care its that he is 31 yrs old and he is allowed to live the way he wants to. I can not allow this to bother me or feel guilty about it. I am 71 years old and I don't want to worry anymore about people who are adults. I have been helping my grandson that had brain surgery with unemployment and disability because his brain was a little scrambled and he suffers from ADD. At this point, I am done. What he gets, he gets.

Your brother is an adult. Yes, you will worry but you need to realize you cannot do anything for him. If he is competent you need to let him live his life. If there is a mental challenge, then maybe you can get guardianship but that is expensive and time consuming because you will need him to see doctors to say he cannot make informed decisions.

I suggest that being so far away, seeing what resources are available to your brother. We have an independent living program here that my nephew attended. The County he lives in should have a Disability Department. Maybe APS would be willing to check in on him. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I am there for my nephew. I take him to appts. Do his banking for him. I am his POA. I am there when he needs something. But I no longer remark on his weight. He has doctors for that. I don't remark on his living conditions. He is an adult and as such he can make bad decisions and live like a pig.
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What are you guilty of?

Failing to have a different brother?
Failing to change his situation? - but it's *his* situation. It is not yours to change.

I do honestly think you might as well feel guilty about failing to solve Covid 19 or climate change.

Perhaps you might find it helpful to identify your feelings more accurately. You feel bad for your brother, you must (if you're human!) feel frustrated that he won't accept help and support, I expect you feel depressed and sad that his circumstances are... well, pretty revolting, really. Let's hope that he has a change of heart before deterioration in his health forces something more radical on him.

But you can do no more than keep the offer open. Do NOT subject yourself to a ridiculously onerous schedule to sustain a situation that does nothing to help him and only reinforces his refusal to accept better options.

Not guilty! Okay?
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my situation is still ongoing. Had exterminators in and they said it needs cleaning before it can be effective. Had ADP call again and he refuses to cooperate. I gave him an ultimatum , I refuse to drive 10 hours if he refuses to move to a safer situation. I feel guilty but do not know what else to do
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Deedee i I would get a 25 pound bag of diatomaceous earth, food grade, and go sprinkle that throughout the house, on the furniture, just everywhere. This should help with the bed bugs.

Wear a face mask and eye protection when applying, it is powder fine, yet completely safe for humans. It is what they put in grains that are stored to stop bugs.

Sorry filth is one thing but bed bugs get shared everytime he goes out and that is not fair to his community.

Best of luck, he probably won't even notice the white powder all over everything.
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Beatty Mar 2021
I used to pick up the dirty depends on the floor, collect the dirty dishes to wash & spray the roaches, but the next day it was all back 😣.

The mess is a symptom. Cleaning it up doesn't cure the underlying problem unfortunately.

It is a big task to take on someone's else's mess full-time, even if they do want your help.
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Yes, if he is considered competent he can live like he wants. But, there has to something wrong mentally with someone who chooses to live like this when someone offers help.

I got involved in a situation a couple of years ago where a woman I know was removed from her house by APS leaving her 400lb 40 yr old challenged son behind. His challenges were minimal. He talks intelligently but his has had problems since he was a child. He kept in touch with me thru messenger. His neighbor were calling APS because of the smell. APS kept saying he could live that way. He kept saying he couldn't wait for his Mom to come back, they never told him she wasn't. I ended up calling a friend who had worked in the County system. She had worked with him and mentioned he cannot live alone. She called the health department, they removed him from the apt. He is now in the same Nursing Home as his Mom.

Maybe you should try the health dept. I would think bedbugs would be a health hazard.
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You are in the club now - the *awaiting a crises* club.

If/when Brother has a crises, hopefully you get notified (as NOK). Then you can ask for Social Worker input, Mini-Mental - Neuro Psych eval if appropriate, see what's going on for him. Sometimes it's depression or other mental health issues, sometimes poor mobility, maybe poor reasoning & problem solving skills. Sometimes people admit to health workers that it's getting too hard to look after themselves but they won't tell family: pride, shame, stubbornness. But also independence & not wanting to be a burden (he is of that stoic generation).

Be his advocate once his crises hits.
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Deedee, let it go. APS said your brother is competent and can live In squalor. Then let him. You can’t force him to move or clean up his mess.

My 96 year old mother lived alone and was competent and a hoarder. APS told me the same thing. Nothing you can do about it, so let it go. Let your brother live the way he wants to.
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Needhelpwithmom, I know it will s so sad. An elder lawyer told me we can’t just go around taking rights away from people just because they are a hoarder and make bad decisions. Heck , Charlie Sheen makes the WORST decisions and he still has his rights, lol.
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Deedee,

I'm so sorry that you feel like you have to be your brother's keeper.
I understand how that feels

My older brother was a wreck! I tried to do everything I could to help him, but to no avail!!
In the end, he took his own life. And although I'm still devastated, I know I did what I could! Some people will never except help!
It sounds as though your brother is like that.

Maybe have a conversation with him about what his final wishes are? Perhaps that may open his eyes to the fact that you've done all you can for him.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!!

God bless you for caring about him!!
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I believe Protection Services use a sort of squalor & hoarder scale (where I live anyway).

They look out for rancid food, uncared for pets, animal or vermin waste.

I'm guessing here the brother refuses to let any cleaning service in? As can't see the need.

Things may have looked better with his helpers around, but as they have left (or are leaving) - I'd call APS to check on him.

I have a relative that could not cope alone without daily Aides. If left without Aides, the Doctor told me to inform their office & they would contact the authorities.

It's a hard one. You have my best wishes. Let us know how you get on.
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He Deedee, you say your brother is disabled but in the other post you answered he is competent. Is he only disabled physically? My son is disabled but I have legal guardianship and he is turning 29.

Unfortunately, APS is right in telling you he can make bad decisions if he is competent. My 96 year old mother was a hoarder and gambling addict. They all said there was nothing anything anyone could do. She was competent and could live alone in her hoarded making bad decisions.

There is no easy answer. If you can’t get your brother to the doctor to ge tested again for competency, you have no choice but to let go and leave him be. It’s the law.

There is nothing you can do for him if he refuses without guardianship. It is a horrible situation to be in. I was watching my mother deteriorate and begging doctors and elder lawyers and social workers to help me. They all said the same thing. She can live any way she wants since she is competent.

Unless someone is a danger to themselves or someone else nobody can intervene. I’m sorry you are going through this.

Unfortunately, someone making bad decisions does not = incompetent.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 2021
Isn’t it sad? People reach out for help and don’t receive help.

Lord knows that you reached out for help numerous times for your mom throughout your caregiver days!
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Sorry - you GAVE him a house?

That was incredibly nice of you. Why?
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I have called and they say he is mentally competent and he can live how he wants . The two people who have been helping have given up. They said he is too filthy to take anywhere the house has bed bugs and they do not want to help any more
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I agree, send a report to APS for his location. I also agree that there isn't much else you can do. You live in a different state, presumably you're not in close touch with anyone who sees him regularly? - or with friends or others who might be concerned for him? What sort of help do you think would make the most difference to his quality of life?

Your profile explains that your brother is 72 years old and has difficulties with mobility and with his vision. I'm not challenging what you say, but just asking - how do you know that his house is filthy and unsafe? Is this a long-standing issue with him or has there been some recent event or deterioration that has brought the problems to light?
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Deedee47 Feb 2021
It is long standing . I gave him the house he lives in . He has let it decay. As he has aged he has gotten worse . He cannot take care of himself but he refuses help
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Report him to Adult Protective Services in your area. Call your local Counsel on Aging for resources. There is very likely very little you can do for someone making these choices. I am so very sorry. This has to be so difficult to see.
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Deedee47 Feb 2021
I have reported him. They went to visit he said I lied and they said the house is filthy but he is allowed to live with as many bad decisions as he wants
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He may have undiagnosed, untreated depression. You can call APS and report him as a vulnerable adult. Without you having PoA or guardianship, there is not much else you can legally do without his willing participation in his own betterment.
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Deedee47 Mar 2021
I have called them
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Maybe he isn’t capable of helping himself.

Have you considered contacting organizations that could help him during his time of need?

They could teach him skills that could be used to help himself.
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Deedee47 Mar 2021
The ADP people were there last week. He knew I called. They say it is squalor but he is mentally competent. There are few help organizations in his small town. With COVID they are stressed also.
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