Dad died recently, and Mom's demented. She's home alone, and has refused help from the 4 kids, or from professional visiting services. She's not totally gone, and can care for her own hygiene, cooking, housekeeping, but not things like driving, paying bills, or doing taxes. She will have a run-in with Pennsylvania Social Services via a 911 call or a medical event. We live far away, and fear that when Social Services gets involved, Mom forgets that we exist, and we are not notified. This happened when Dad was dying - she forgot to notify us for a week after he entered hospital.

Mom neither accepts nor rejects our role as caregivers - she insists she doesn't need a caregiver. She won't give POA. Our strategy is to let her fail (or succeed) on her own, and call her several times a week to remind her we love her.

Q: Is there a way to notify Social Services that Mom's likely have contact with them soon, and that we are an interested party?

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I was caring for my 83 year old cousin who owned a 500 acre farm. He came down with cancer. From the time he was diagnosed he only lived eight weeks. The neighbor who live a mile away had been leasing some of his farmland. He found out and took a couple sleazy lawyers over to his house very early in the morning. My cousin signed the property over to him free and clear. It was worth millions. I fought him in court and lost.
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You could call Adult Protective Services in the county your mom lives and let them know your concerns about her well-being. Because she still has some capacity to make her own decisions, they may not go out for a visit yet. However, ask that they make a formal report of your call. When things go downhill in the future, you can always call and make another report. Or, if a report comes into them from someone else, they'll at least have the record of your call and your contact info.

If there's anyone else involved that she trusts, ask that person to encourage her to do a Power of Attorney for both healthcare and finances. The doctor, another social, someone from the church or a faith community. Sometimes it takes having an outside person suggest this before your mom may be willing to do this (rather than from their own child).

Good luck!
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After many, many years of dealing with this very same scenario, and now banging MY head against the wall for not having known. Here's what I've learned.
You may want to try getting in touch with an Advocate for the Aging in her area to work with you. In your mother's state there's an agency called The Adult Protectve Services (APS). If Mom is reported, they are likely the ones to respond. They will visit her home and make an assessment. If she is still able to stay home they will contact next of kin or whoever is responsible for her and ask you to arrange home and health care. If Mom refuses to accept services and they feel she is a danger to herself or others, or is unable to care for herself, they may hospital her for an evaluation. This will not be fun as they can take her by force if necessary. If at that time she is found to be incompetent, they will ask the next of kin to make arrangements for her care or to place her in a nursing home. If no one makes the choice for her, they will put her wherever they find a bed available, which may not be a place you would choose for her. You may want to start looking for a home that addresses your mother's needs in case it comes to this. It was my only saving grace. I knew the day would come and I'd already found the home I wanted for Mom and they had room for her. You should look for several places in case there's no room in your first choice and you have to make a fast decision. If she has insurance find out if and what they will cover.

If she can stay home with help, and she's on Social Security, you may want to have the family member responsible for her to be made her Representative Payee. To do this you’ll need her SS number and a letter from her doctor addressed to the family member, explaining that she can no longer take care of her finances, self care, and why. You will need to open a new bank account for her as her representative and then you’ll be able to pay her bills. Call Social Security for more information.
If she is very ill, her signature may no longer be valid on anything she signs, as she may not be cognitive or able to understand legal documents.
I kept my mother home as long as I could, with the use of home attendants and home doctor visits. I took over paying her bills, making appointments, sending groceries, clothing etc. until it became clear she could no longer be alone. I made sure to call her every day and tell her she was cared for. I'm disabled, far away and can't care for her physically. Not having a POW is causing me major headaches. My mother felt I was taking very good care of her and that a POW wasn’t necessary. As much as I tried to explain to her WHY we needed this document, she wouldn’t do it. Now, due to her Dementia and ALZ, it’s simply too late; her signature is no longer valid. Of course NOW she wants to sign.
I hope this helps and please keep in mind, this was my personal experience. You may be able to get some help from an Advocate for the Aging Agency in your area, before APS gets involved..
Finally, this site is very helpful, believe me when I tell you, that we've all dealt with similar issues and you'll find a wealth of insight and information here.
Be well, hold to your faith and take care of yourself.
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Seabiscuit, rhastings2013, and all,

I never heard of "Social Security" doing home to evaluation on an elder,
but have contacted "County/City Social Services", and requested Social Workers come to house to evaluate elder.
THIS starts the ball rolling, because it generates a file on your elder, even if they cannot find cause to intervene at that time.
They need to hear why you feel the elder is not capable of caring for themselves: specific terms, use short sentences, why you feel the elder may be suffering some sort of dementia or diminished capacity.
IF you are unfamiliar with signs and symptoms, check thru this site, or look up signs and symptoms online, to see if those fit your circumstances.
IF someone has been dysfunctional all their lives, it can be hard to tell the difference--this group is very helpful! People have asked these questions, and given good answers.

Some elders -seem- fine, unless Soc. Workers are cued the elder cannot handle their financials, or whatever, unassisted: they can miss things.
Be sure to ask they take at least 2.5 to 3 hours; many elders can appear perfectly "fine" for at least 2 hours--if the Workers leave too soon, they miss the melt-downs that happen when compromised elders try to "keep up appearances" too long. Have a witness there--family or otherwise, who knows the situation.
S. workers may also quiz the person sitting as witness, for their observations.
If it fails the 1st time, it can be redone later--they should tell you how long they keep the file open--you keep checking in with them, to update behaviors.

Keeping an elder safe takes 1st place in the list of potential "fires to put out".
If in any way endangering themselves or others, it needs evaluated: Workers need to see it---like missed bills, messed up accounts, records of missing money, other witnesses to interview about things, elder unable to account for things, elder telling stories about where money went, elder wandering, getting lost, having accidents, falls, leaving stoves on unattended, fires, utilities not connected, strange behaviors, garbage piling up, filth in the house, unsafe conditions the elder causes, unsafe conditions others cause endangering the elder or elder's ability to care for themselves, including financially.

Contacting police/sheriff to do a "Welfare check":
[Do request copy of all reports be sent to you]
==See if you can call 911 for the elder's home area: that ensures the call is recorded and a report filed---not sure how you do this from a distance, though.
==This can be done weekly, monthly, depending on circumstances.
It forms a paper trail of reports, usable in court processes.
==An officer &/or Social worker goes to the house to check on situation.
They are supposed to document what they see/hear. Unfortunately, police/sheriff level of observation and documentation, may lack adequate information--where we live, welfare checks are short on data, tend to not see much=fairly useless--but still a paper trail of welfare checks usable in court.

IF you call the "non-emergency" police/sheriff number in the elder's area, those are not necessarily recorded, and, unfortunately, a report may not be filed
==you can ask to have a report filed==, though, I do not know if they will.
In either case:
===You say [for instance]: ===
"I am worried about [elder] and live too far away to do check in person; and/or, ...concerned elder may be endangered by squatter, &/OR elder's level of forgetfulness, &/or elder may be endangering self."
[state, in specific, short sentences, in what ways]
--like: person taking advantage of elder, how, amounts of money taken/used/extorted from elder, and that person has been squatting in the house without YOUR permission [as the owner], that Mom has not had presence of mind to inform of Dad's death, or relative was living there and doing things that might harm; elder piling up trash & filth, endangering self or others--what ways--specific information, simply stated.

BTW- Seabuscuit, if you allowed Mom to stay in that house, since she's no longer the owner, anyone else staying there needs your permission, not Mom's, since you are the deeded owner of the property--which would be another bit of her confusion----unless your ownership is part of other legal arrangement, like a trust with verbiage allowing her certain rights as a dweller in it.
At least it begins establishing that an unwanted squatter, relative or no, is in YOUR house--necessary to begin steps to get him out, if is harder than it should be in some regions--depending on renters laws, adverse possession laws, and possibly the documents outlining Mom living in your house, etc. laws in your State/County.
==Squatters are harder to evict, the longer they live in a squatted property---long enough, they might qualify to file "Adverse Possession", and legally take the property
==you can get a copy of what that County requires for Adverse Possession, and talk with legal--the volunteer legal for Area Agency on Aging is very helpful, and free--
Your closest Area Agency on Aging, free lawyer--you must make an appointment, as they are not there every day. Even if you are not a senior citizen, you are asking them how to help your elder.
If you are an elder, too, its helping you. IF that lawyer cannot help, they direct you to other legal services who can--even for low or no cost.
Questions to ask Include:
=How to help Mom by getting some honest control over her remaining assets and care--even if via a 3rd party, like a conservator? instead of family.
=How to prevent or file legal action, if appropriate, on those who have taken advantage of a vulnerable elder.
=How best to evict a freeloader [who may have been financially or otherwise endangering a vulnerable elder].
=How best to regain clear ownership of your property, or else sell it out from under them, or other property related issues.
=How to best protect yourself and your finances as a senior citizen;
==You may be asked why you have not stepped in to remedy the situation sooner--like when Dad went into the hospital, and Mom failed to notify you--that was a clue something was haywire? OR, why didn't you call for welfare checks or other interventions, sooner?
.... you will probably be quizzed if there was on-going family conflict that may have resembled: 'Mom was angry, and didn't contact me' kind of situations, OR, could have been the freeloading relative telling her things to misguide her to protect his own interests.

Causing changes in status quo may cause contentious relatives to act out against you. Some relatives even retaliate against, or obstruct processes taken by a caretaker or advocate reporting an elder's substance abuse or mental or health issues to the elder's Doctor, Social Workers or Police.
You may be faced with "choosing your battles/choosing how far you are willing to go" to resolve the issues.
Or it might all resolve easier than anticipated.
I sure hope it does!
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rhashtings2013 You came to the best place there is for a question like this!
First of all we (the general dementia caregiver population on AC) were all in your shoes or a very similar situation that's why we are here. You definitely need to sort out and put out one fire at a time.
The first issue you need to get in order is your Mom's care needs at present and for future. It is not going to miraculously be solved no matter how you deal with it. Unfortunately it is a life changing experience (for all involved) that someone (usually you are left alone if you take on this role, unless you have a trustworthy and selfless family working together) has to deal with. No easy fix for the illness or finances or health issues. Sorry but that's reality at it's best!!!
So to answer your question you need to get a plan in order.... first Mom's care needs, Dr's, diagnosis, medications, health care options, finances, someone to act on her behalf legally, P.O.A. or Guardian (info on site for those things).
Your Mom obviously needs to be guided not forced or asked (I say it that way because neither work with dementia). Just do what you have to to get the job done. My Mother diagnosed 5 years ago with Dementia and lost and confusion started about 10 years ago now. She Still does not let me simply brush her hair without permission from her, and somehow I did it all. I had to act like she was in charge of herself, but did things I had to, anyway. Seems sneaky but hey she's doing very well now.
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PS. Check in her state for viable options,
maybe a vacation to where she lives is overdue.
When on "vacation" you could find out what to do, if you have previously called a senior hot line stating, your fear for her, an investigator would go to her house and investigate (with you there).
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i feel so guilty about the time I miss with my family. i understand completely. My youngest is 18 and I've been doing my caretaking for almost 3 years. I have a wonderful brother and sister in law that do the evenings. It's difficult for us all. Hopefully our kids will see that we are good people for doing this.
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You should go to a senior attorney, if you can not afford one there are attorneys for seniors. Your Mom has dementia, not only do dementia patients, have short term memory loss, they do not realize, they have a problem.

The proper way to go about it, is not only to be an interested party, but to protect your Mom from the vultures that may/will come to prey.

Mom needs a POA, she can trust, especially if she does not want to go into a nursing home. If she is anything like our 86 year old, the narcissistic older children had her sign papers that she didn't know what she was signing. They did not explain to her anything, about them, you do not want that to happen, if the state gets involved you could loose any inheritance, that is if there is any, ours 86 year old's money is in a trust.

If her affairs are not directive enough, then somebody should be making so, a last surviving parent deserves, the same care as the first one who left her.
Dementia patients do seem batty,until they are diagnosed, and are not taking medications that could possibly help them. Calling on the telephone, is not a substitute for care giving, especially if you are not being notified, she probably also forgets you called.

If you are not close are there any closer relatives who could take her to either a senior law attorney or a free one? If she has no money and no house, helping her navigate through the system might be something to do, but she will never be able to do it on her own, and you knowing that she needs help is neglect.

While some people clearly are not caregiver types, the family should be weighing her options, if you are the only child, you need to make the situation right.
Families always disagree, when it comes to "the right thing to do" for an aged faltering parent, whether planned or unplanned, they still deserve care.

The overwhelming response, I have heard at this web cite, if you have children think twice about your involvement, being sandwiched from what I can gather is not a good place to be and the care giving role, may really be a stretch for them, think twice, before you assume too much.

As I say, we rescued our 86 year old from a nursing home situation and she is doing much better now, but my children are grown and I am a grandmother.
It is still stressful, she lives with me, her house was sold by the POA, but they never got their hands on the do, re, mi, and we have liquid assets to take care of her, which is all now controlled by court (the state). She has a Guardian (not a family member), after a guardian at litum was chosen by one of the POA's attorney as way to go. The POA was busted for not care taking and when he tried to go from POA(after the house was sold) to Guardian, he was denied because he did not care take or hire anyone else to care take of the mother (she is not my mother, and I am not getting paid to take care of her).

Do not ever think that a government agency will care for your parent more than you do and even if you go that route, of waiting and seeing, when a government agency is called, the family will be exposed for neglect and you might not be able to stop things once in motion. Check in your state for viable options. Good Luck!
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Sorry Seabiscut for your troubles, but telling someone to give up their live, move to her town and take care of her and stay with her is not the answer. Everyone situation is different. Nowhere does it say we are obligated to take care of our ailing, aging, demented parents that did not plan for their future parents. I made the mistake of moving my parents close to me so I could help them. I had no idea what that entailed. It has devastated my own family's life. While my family is understanding, I'll never be able to get back those years I should have been enjoying my husband and teenagers, instead, wiping crap off the floor, emergency room runs in the middle of night, ALL the errands, groceries, meds, church, haircuts, you name it, I did it, while my siblings sat by and did nothing.

Again, everyone's situation is different.

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Seabiscuit, do you mind my asking what state you and your mother reside?
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I finally got full POA from my mother after 10 months of trying. I don't know the answer to your social security questions but I'm compelled to tell you that your strategy to "let her fail (or succeed) on her own," did not work for me, my mom just sank lower into compromised health. No it's too far gone now. You must stay with her, protect and care for her and do not expect her to make her own bed and lie in it. It's no longer just, they're too old and must be taken full care of without punishment of any kind, don't let her learn the hard way now, talk, tell her you love her move to her town, see her, stay with her. It's not easy. I was one month from full retirement. Mom had an addiction to her grandson who made off with all of her money and assets and I'm having to now evict him from her (mine really) million dollar home which he claims she gave him. the fight of my life is killing me, but i don't want my mom to learn the hard way as her hubris has caused her to do her whole life. These people don't learn, at this point it's a matter of quality of life. I gave up my job, pulled my pension and now I have nothing, 61, homeless, jobless, penniless. My inheritance, the home in my name on the title alone, is occupied by a grandson who insists that the hand out my mother gave him 5 years ago, 6 mos in the house to get him on his feet, get this 37 year old his first job, so he would start giving money to his 3 kids instead of taking from grandma, turned into 5 years free rent, all bills paid, 1800 a month "allowance" I cut him completely off when I became POA and now he is not only not thanking her, he is claiming squatters rights on a home that's in my name. I have to go back to work now to pay off the $150,000 in credit card debt that he extorted from her, bullied her into giving him.
If you let them learn the hard way, there will be much greater, a mountain more problems to deal with, she will cause the IRS, creditors, reverse mortgage, family members, everyone will descend upon her, take her pensions and put her on the street. I have to stop that.

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I would notify the police in her town and give them your phone number and also her neighbors, thats all you can do when they are stubborn.Maybe if you explain to her that if she falls and goes into a hospital they may tell her she cannot return home alone and has to go into a Nursing Home, she will give you DPOA to stop that. Good luck, I went through it many years ago until the "fall incident" did happen and then she listened. I would suggest a call button or set up a nanny cam in her house and watch her from your computer.
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Absolutely, they won't we able to do anything on your behalf because you are not Legally the POA. But most local Social Service offices have seen the scenario before. That's why they do what they do. You could recommend that they pay her a "visit". Bring over a care basket or something and pretend they are visiting. Then they can evaluate her without her even knowing what they are doing.

The other option is legal conservator-ship, which I understand is a long process and requires court visits. But I'm not an expert on that. I care for two parents, one in a NH and one living independently (but not really), down the road. Mom can still pay the bills, forgets somethings, has almost stopped cooking for herself and lies about bathing. It's ugly. If you can manage it from a far, I recommend that as I had no idea what I was getting into when I moved my parents to live near me. It's life changing and killing me.

Good Luck.
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