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I think the answer to my question is "you can't". She lives in a 2-story home, with a basement, that is completely full of "stuff". Not a square inch of free space on any surface, including the floors. Always mounds of dirty dishes. Spoiled food in frig. She's been wearing the same clothes for months and now her shoes are actually house slippers and they are filthy inside and out. I have begged her to let me arrange to have the house decluttered (to put it mildly) and cleaned, but she refuses. She is anemic most likely because of her lack of nutrition. She told me she "lives on toast", but won't let me clean the kitchen and frig (or anything). When I bring food to her, her great grandson eats it. The house is a health, safety, and fire hazard. She has fallen more than once. I believe she trips over the obstacles on the floor, but she denies that. She even told me that she fell asleep standing up in the kitchen and fell down, hurting her leg. When I try to talk to her about the hazardous conditions, she screams at me "why can't you just let me live until I die?"


I'm very scared that she will actually get injured and/or sick just from the condition of the house and die. She's hearing impaired but refuses to admit it and refuses hearing aids. She has macular degeneration and can't see very well. Two of her doctors have told me that she's capable of making her own decisions, even if I think they are terrible decisions. It is breaking my heart to see my own mother living in this condition. If she lived with my brother or me in the same conditions as her house, we would be accused of elder neglect. I've almost come to the conclusion that there really is nothing I can do about this except call protective services. If I do that, she will be forced to leave her home, and her three cats, and her great grandson. and the stress of that may kill her. I stopped trying to get her to let us clean the house and make it safe because my blood pressure sky-rockets and I feel like I'm having a heart attack when she starts screaming at me. I've read in this forum that 40% of caregivers die before the person they are caring for. I can understand why now. If anyone has any insight, suggestions, or answers, I would dearly appreciate your response.


Thank you

Heavens to Murgatroyd! Where are your nephew's parents in all this?

I have just spent an extremely frustrating few minutes trying to find resources for young adults with Down Syndrome in the USA; unfortunately, because America is so big I expect, the national organisations seem to focus more on policy and human rights than on services as such. But if you go online and search for 'services for young adults with Down Syndrome' in your mother's locality I hope you will have more luck.

I think your nephew's needs, you're right, must be the end of the thread. Once your mother has confidence that his future is more secure, she may be more willing to consider her own. (nephew or great-nephew, by the way?)

Child Protection won't be interested because he is not a child. APS, by rights, *ought* to be interested in his welfare because he is a vulnerable adult; but given the workload they have supporting older people it's understandable that they don't have the resources to be effective in meeting specialist needs like his.

When you have a project like this on your hands, which essentially comes down to dogged pursuit of the right professionals and banging of heads together, it does help to know you have a support group behind you. Best of luck, I hope you'll soon make contact with people who can really help.
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guiltandanger Nov 30, 2018
Yes, I will look for resources for my nephew. My brother adopted him. The bio father has never been in his life. The bio mother (my brother's daughter), a drug addict, abandoned him at my mother's home after he was born, the day he came home from the hospital. The legal adoptive father is of very little help. I'm looking for resources and trying to back off as much as possible. After speaking with my mother and my brother (separately) today, I realize there is nothing I can do. I made a final effort today to explain what will happen when there is an emergency and someone comes into the house (such as paramedics) and then reports the conditions. All I can do now is wait and try to stay calm, go on with my life.
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Although APS may not be able to do anything about her living conditions, the living conditions of her Great Grandson should be reported to Social Services. He is being neglected if all he gets to eat is toast and is living in filth. Even if he is 21, he is a dependent and deserves clean living conditions.
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guiltandanger Nov 29, 2018
Thank y ou for your response. The great-grandson eats regular food, and plenty of it. My mother is the one who won't eat very much. But, yes, living in filth should be grounds for social services to do something.
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No. If you call APS, they won't force her to leave her home. They're just as bound as anybody else by the guidelines the doctor is talking about. But they do have all kinds of ways and means of helping her, and of insisting she gets help, and of insisting that she complies with whatever codes are compulsory for householders in her town. Which is fair enough, really, isn't it?

So I should do that if I were you.

Meanwhile, while you're waiting for them to do their stuff, there are three things you can be getting on with.

Read 'Being Mortal' by Atul Gawande;
Remember that your mother is 87, and if she doesn't know by now what it suits her to eat it's a bit late to start;
Ask your nephew how he plans to make himself useful.

Good luck, deep breaths, feel better.
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guiltandanger Nov 28, 2018
Thank you. You're right. I can't make her eat any more than I can force her to allow us to clean the house. I just got "Being Mortal" from the library after reading a review recently. It sounded like it might help. My nephew is 21 years old and has Down Syndrome. He is no help. I have called the child neglect hotline and nothing ever happened -no investigation, no inspection. Maybe APS will have better luck. Thank you fro your insight.
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Rock and a hard place. You r just going to have to wait until something happens and it will. While in the hospital and/or rehab, have her evaluated. Tell them you r not able to take her into your home if found she cannot live on her own. They can do a house check to see if she can return home.
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guiltandanger Nov 28, 2018
Thank you. That is what I'll have to do. It's inevitable that she will end up in a hospital due to an injury from falling in the house. Please see my reply to BarbBrooklyn. I don;t feel so guilty now for deciding to back off.
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You need to wait for her to fall and be taken to the hospital. Once she's there, you talk to the discharge planning team about the condition of her home.

Or call APS. Becoming a resident of a nursing home does not cause people to die, although a lot of posters here seem to think so.

What is the story with her great grandson? Is her caregiver?
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guiltandanger Nov 28, 2018
Yes, I have finally accepted the fact that she will eventually fall again and end up in the hospital. The last time she was in the hospital (summer of 2017), I talked to the social worker on staff. She made a call to protective services and an investigator went to her house and inspected the first floor (4 rooms and a bathroom). My mother was given 2 weeks to clean up the "hazards". We worked hard and were able to clean the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The investigator came back and declared those rooms were fine, but that the other two rooms were still a hazard. He gave her another two weeks to clean those. He never returned to inspect. Within 2 weeks, she had the clean rooms back in hazard condition. Her great-grandson is 21 years old, has Down Syndrome, and is no help whatsoever. He has lived with my mother since he was born. That story is its own drama. Thank you for your response. I was feeling guilty for thinking I need to just back off and let whatever happens happen.
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