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Her husband has been diagnosed with dementia and they have no children. They are both always sick. She refuses to let any sibling help her and won't answer her phone or open the door for anyone. I need advice as what steps to take next. Our parents are deceased and her husbands family have been banned from their property due to trying to help them.

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1RareFind: I am actually 400 miles away from this elder who is living alone. But when I was living close to her, I would visit her and do anything I could for her. Her daughter doesn't seem to be one of those people who would EVER get issues resolved. Thank you for your kind comments, though. I appreciate that you took the time to try and fix it or at least offer helpful suggestions. The daughter may "flip out" if I mention this site again.
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What happened to think of. Does this problem place happen to be in the ghettos? I know many people never consider the ghettos, but sometimes we tend to overlook this as a possibility because this is where a lot of things happen that may not happen anywhere else. The ghettos happens to be the poorest section of any city, which also has a higher crime rate. The ghettos is a place where all of the poor people go to live and it's not always the cleanest place to live or even the safest. This was just a consideration that crossed my mind
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Continuation since I ran out of room

We've also had several other buildings in town that were condemned. It's funny how many slumlords are out there, we have one in this town who lost several buildings that were condemned by the city and they were all torn down except for my dad's building where he used to live. I'm surprised the city hasn't yet condemned it and torn it down, they should
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I just had another thought. Maybe another possible reason why a person who lives alone would keep the phone off the hook and not answer the door so that no one can force them out of their homes and into a nursing home where most people just don't want to go. The person probably has multiple reasons for staying out of reach of everyone. One of the other thoughts I also had is that maybe the original poster's question may very well be describing a situation where maybe the occupant inside the house is probably just too sick to accept visitors. If they're always sick, you can blame it on the filth, especially what's released into the air from the filth. If the air is polluted, it'll definitely make you sick. I have a friend who live in filth with all of his dogs for quite a while. He was also constantly sick as I mentioned before. Being a visitor can also make you sick, and when you get fresh air you feel better immediately. The longer someone is exposed to this kind of filth, the sicker they'll be until the cause is removed or the person is removed from the situation.

I think it would be a very wise move to become familiar with your state laws and regulations concerning this kind of matter. Having a little knowledge under your belt is probably what's going to be in your favor. That way, if you find a loophole, you'll be able to use that to your advantage. I don't know whether or not you ever thought to make a police report, but if this is in the city limits this would be a very good idea. Remember again but if there are other neighbors living nearby, the filth can very easily become a nuisance a very serious health hazard to others living nearby.

Is the person renting?
If so, you may want to alert the person's landlord to see what they say.

Does the person own their home?
If so, you may want to find the homeowners association and start there to see what they say about the hazardous living conditions.

Whatever your state, Google (state name) elder laws. For instance, in Ohio, I'd Google "Ohio elder laws". You can also Google your state name and residential sanitation laws. Find out your state laws and regulations on the hazardous living conditions. If it's threatening the health and well-being of others, then someone must be in a position to do something. Again, it sounds to me like to some great degree someone just doesn't want to get involved when they really should.

Does the person in question have dementia or Alzheimer's?
If so, this has a much better chance of being used to do something about the hazardous situation. Sometimes cognitive decline isn't always treated, such was the case with my foster dad for a while. I don't know what happened between him and his doctor, but one time I noticed he wasn't getting his medication refilled, and at least one of those medications was for his prostate. When I mentioned his empty bottles, he said he didn't have a doctor anymore. I started to wonder and ask him why didn't he find another doctor but he just shrugged it off. I don't know how long he'd been without his medicine, but at some point, he started showing signs of not being all there or if you please, not wrapped too tight. This got me wondering because I was actually pretty surprised but didn't know what to do about it. The problem worsened as it continued for quite a while until someone told me about the APS and where they were. This is how I discovered a little bit about them. What I would do is speak to all of my elected officials both locally and from the heart of my state about the problem. One of the people you're going to need to get a hold of is your state governor. You may not be able to get a hold of the governor right away, but definitely leave messages until the governor makes contact with you. Don't back down or give up. Document everything you see on the premises where the person is living, especially if you see rats running around. At some point I'm sure there have been rats on that premises, I wouldn't doubt this one bit. If you can get a hold of the right contacts, you may even get a hold of whoever is in charge of condemning buildings. We've had some buildings condemned over our way, and I wouldn't doubt but some of them were under filthy conditions. In fact, I can think of one particular situation where a house was condemned by the city. This was the house belonging to a slumlord, but it didn't help matters when my friend lived in filth with all of his dogs. Needless to say, someone apparently reported him for having all of those dogs, but it wasn't just him the city frowned on, but also the owner for letting the house rot and it was at risk of eventually falling down with the tenants living there. The city came around and gave the owner a reasonable time to fix the violations or they would condemn the house. The house may list to say was condemned and my friend had to move. Someone adopted some of the dogs, which was really a good thing.
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Llamalover47,

I'm deeply sorry to hear that! It must be an awfully hard situation for all of you. It sounds to me like this maybe one of those cases where the lady will most likely die alone and someone will find her. My foster dad was also on private property, he was renting from a slumlord believe it or not. However, one day something changed and it came as a shock. One day things will also change in this other case, believe me, it will. I don't know how things will change or what the outcome will be, but there's always some kind of change eventually. It may not come when you're expecting it, the situation with my foster dad came unexpectedly. The only clue I can give you is that I happened to have discovered my foster dad's habits right down to the letter. He always left early in the morning and returned home by supper time. I wasn't really looking for information, it just fell in my lap. However, I was able to use the information later. Maybe knowing just a little bit about the lady's habits will come in handy later, you never know when you might absolutely need that information. Knowing what time she comes and goes and on what days can actually help the APS should they decide to step in and intervene. I'm not sure what state the problem is in, but maybe researching state laws is probably going to be a very good start and a very smart move. Really studying the laws long and hard and trying to understand them is going to really be in favor of any family members later on. If there's no family, I'm sure someone will come along sometime who knows the ropes. I can only hope the right people, long before it's too late and someone finds this lady maybe even years later long after she's gone, and sad but true, this is what some people want. I'm not sure how common this is when someone dies alone and there's no family, but depending on where they live will depend on how soon someone finds them should they die alone on the premises. Another contributing factor is the social circumstance of the person. Social status will depend on how soon someone gets concerned enough to dig just a little deeper into the situation. With the way the world is becoming these days, it's no wonder why more and more people are keeping their doors locked. I can tell you that it sounds to me like the lady is already started on the right path because keeping the door locked protects vulnerable people. Keeping the phone off the hook can be a good thing or a bad thing to a point. It sounds to me like she probably has one of those real old style corded phones with one of those old-style receivers. Sometimes keeping the phone off the hook during the day helps to prevent scammers from getting a hold of our vulnerable elders who can be scammed out of their life savings. Some of the more modern phones can actually let you block numbers. You can even Google the words opt out and unsubscribe from everything and you can even register your phone number for telemarketers not to call you. If they do, you can file a complaint through that same website. I'm sure people have different reasons for leaving the phone off the hook. As for the pros not wanting to do anything, again, I don't know what the laws are in that particular state. Sometimes people just don't want to deal with a very difficult situation, they just don't want their finger in that pie. It's just that simple, they just don't want to deal with it so they turn a blind eye or make up any excuse under the sun to avoid dealing with it, and it's usually the hardest tasks people tend to avoid, which is why all too often people make up excuses. Sometimes it may very well pay to know someone on the inside track because sometimes who you know is really what counts. I've heard this said before so apparently people know what they're talking about because if you know someone made and if you know the right people, you sometimes have a better chance of getting things done then if you don't know someone. Just a thought on this one. I hope things work out sooner rather than later
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1RareFind: I'm way ahead of you there, RareFind! I had already suggested to T (the daughter) that she engage in this site, AgingCare.com. But she keeps coming back and giving me the answer "there's nothing they can do for her mother." I said to her "you don't have to DO anything, except to get on this site (once you're established your screen name)." But she still declines to get on the site because she thinks that it means someone comes in and takes care of mom. I can't seem to make the daughter grasp the concept of this forum. Also daughter is 69 and has never driven a car. Her husband was killed suddenly when she was pregnant with their son. When I was living with my late mother in Massachusetts, I would make "well being" checks on this elderly lady. I would take her home-made cakes, et al, but it was mainly to check on her. Unfortunately, the "pros" can't help the elder because she locks the door and takes phone off the hook. She takes no prescription meds, but I saw TONS of supplements all over her dirty, toxic home.
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I guess after doing some thinking that it's probably better to go ahead and go for a court case and hope the person doesn't show up. Hopefully someone will go out there after the court case and see what's really going on and if the person won't answer the phone or the door, that particular person can perhaps take it up a notch and alert the right channels. Having a court case will make some kind of record, which will provide some kind of documentation.
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Someone here mentioned taking someone to court. You can take someone to court over a problem matter but it doesn't necessarily mean they'll show up because there may be some situations where they won't be able. In the case of elders, there are a number of situations that may prevent them from being able to travel such as illness or injury. In some cases someone may fall and be down for days because no one is around to pick them up and they can't get to the phone and they may not have a call box. There are situations like this and you never know between households how many of these kinds of situations there are. Yes, I strongly agree that people want to die at home and to be left alone in some cases, this is why some people won't answer the phone or the door, especially if they live alone. To some great degree, living has its perks, your home is your safe haven away from the outside world, and when you're home alone sometimes you just don't want to be bothered and you resent anyone who persists despite your not picking up the phone or answering the door and they will camp out on your doorstep until you come to the door and yell at them through the window to go away that you don't want to be bothered because they didn't get the hint before. Just from what's the scribe hear about someone not answering the phone or the door is a very strong hint not to bother them, which is exactly why they're not answering the phone or the door. They're probably being approached in the wrong way and it's probably time for a new and different approach. It may be time to get creative and just try something new. I'm not sure what that strategy would be, I guess the strategy will depend on the person. Be prepared though to not be able to do anything. I once heard a sad story about a person who just didn't want to be bothered at all by anyone. If I recall right, I think it was a woman. People finally got the message and left her alone. Five years later her skeletal remains were found in her home and i'm not sure there was any family to claim the body. I don't even know whether or not she even had any funeral arrangements, I don't recall whether or not they said on the news. Yes, everyone wants to go at home just like in the old days, I don't blame them, so do I! People want to be surrounded by not only loved ones but the comforts of things they like. People also want to be on their favorite piece of furniture such as a favorite recliner or even a bed on which they sleep very well. I don't blame people for fighting against being forced into a nursing home, but there are just some cases where a nursing home is absolutely necessary. Sometimes you can have a room where you can bring your favorite recliner or have your own bed, I occasionally seen this. There are also some cases where a married couple enters a nursing home together and they're placed in the same room with their beds up against each other. Some nursing homes can actually be pretty nice if they're very accommodating
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Llamalover47,

If you stay in touch with the daughter, maybe something out of this thread may help the daughter. Perhaps you can give her some of my tips but also the tips of others. Ultimately though, maybe it's time for her to just back off and let the pros come in since the pros are actually trained to handle this kind of matter. Sometimes it takes getting fed up and at your wits and in order to come to the point of actually backing off. It sounds like the daughter being at her wits and is just about at that point and perhaps she may consider going ahead and backing off. This is probably what it's going to take in order for the right people to come along and do the right thing. What she can do is speak to people and her travels and tell them about what's going on. Sooner or later she's going to get some leads. It would be a good idea for her to follow those leads, and maybe those particular leads may lead her to someone else if they can't help.

What I would also suggest is starting a local support group for caregivers, focus specially on caregivers who are caring for elderly. Sooner or later someone will come along with a similar situation of an elder living in filth and someone was able to do something about it. Local support groups are about more than just supporting each other. Local support groups are about networking and sharing what resources each other has to help other people who lack the resources and information. Someone who has the resources they have used it to successfully solve similar problems can print it off and offer it to whoever in the group needs it. The proper way of delivering such papers is to put them on a side table where people can pick them up as they wish. A gentle reminder that the information is on the table is key to very least getting people to look. Making the papers easy to read and understandable will make it more likely someone will be able to use the information. Encouraging people to store vital numbers in their phone will also help besides keeping a hard copy in a folder. Having a local support group is a very good idea because you never know who has resources for similar problems that have been resolved. Some people face very difficult situations but lack the resources to do anything because they don't know where to turn or to, so the problem continues. Somewhere along the line someone is going to have what's needed to resolve the problem, it's just a matter of networking and finding that person/s. I don't know to what degree this daughter cares for an elder, but maybe it's time to at very least encourage her to start looking for nursing homes or other help. It may actually be time for her to scrounge up some money and go for guardianship
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1RareFind: This elderly woman hasn't driven in years.
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1RareFind: I have moved back to my home state and thus away from this elder. But thanks...her daughter, who I keep in touch with, says she's at her wit's end.
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Hi Llamalover47,

I think the reason why the daughter won't do anything is because of what the professionals already know, maybe the daughter can't help either. If the elder is legally blind, just make sure they don't get a hold of any kind of vehicle either gas or electric, the person is more likely to get hit by a car. Sorrynotsorry has a strong point on APS, because as long as someone can still make decisions, APS won't intervene, I faced this with my foster dad who was later placed in a nursing home by a court appointed guardian. I must say though that if other neighbors start seeing rats around the place in question, someone will need to do something, especially hold the problem tenants responsible if someone gets bit by one of those rats, especially if one of the rats happens to have rabies. I think to a reasonable point the issue should be pushed, but let the pros handle it, they're trained to handle stuff like this. One thing you can do is to write a letter to your local newspaper's editorial. You can start out in a proper manner when you open your letter but ultimately you can give the exact location of the problem if other neighbors are around but without saying any names. You can give a street name and even a house number where the problem is to warn the public of the danger. What you can also mention in your letter to the editor is the possibility of rats and other wildlife hanging around the problem building and someone possibly getting bit by one of the critters and if it turns out one of the critters has rabies. You can also say in your letter to the editor that if this happens, the person living there who won't remedy the problem should be held responsible for the medical expenses of whoever gets hurt. This get the attention of the right parties who are able to do something.

We once had a problem with a specific house having a junk car sitting on the front lawn for quite a while. This was most likely attracting wildlife in the neighborhood, specifically to that particular car. This may have had something to do with how the wildlife was getting in the walls of the house where my foster dad was living, but wildlife such as raccoons was eventually able to get into his apartment and other parts of the inside of the building. The junk car actually sat on the lawn for quite a while and then one day it vanished but I don't know who may have reported it or to whom it was reported.

Have you ever considered maybe speaking to your local mayor? Another thing to consider, is this place within the city limits? If so, go to the city council meeting in your town, but I think you must speak to someone who happens to be up over the meetings before you can actually present your situation. A friend of mine had to do this about the bad sidewalks in our town. You may also consider going to the county meeting in your area. This will also help to raise awareness to the problem of someone risking the well-being of other neighbors. There are ways you can handle the problem if you can find the tools to do so.
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APS won't do anything. They can live in filth if they want. It's their civil right - I was told this. They can refuse help. They can eat or not eat any t.hing they want. They are legally protected. The only thing you can do is take them to court .
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I know a woman, who lives in my late Mother's town in Massachusetts, who is 100 and 1/2 years of age. She is legally blind. She lives by herself. She refuses the help of the town's elder services' coordinator. The elder services' coordinator DOESN'T TAKE IT ANY FURTHER, WHEN SHE SHOULD. The over 100 year old lady (whose toxic home I've been in, but I held my breath) takes the phone off the hook and locks the door and this is deemed okay by the town! Even the woman's daughter lives in the same town and doesn't do anything about it!
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Anneom: The OP didn't ask for guardianship.
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You mentioned the occupants are always sick. I should point out that sometimes when someone lives in filth, depending on what that filthy as such as animal waste, it can definitely have a negative effect on your health. A friend of mine had a bunch of little dogs living with him. Most of them were not housebroken and they were constantly making messes in the house. These messes were never cleaned up, and the air smelled like a very strong ammonia smell. I can tell you that if you're in such a situation for very long, you will definitely get sick. You may go in for a time and feel sick later until you hit fresh air and feel better immediately. The human body is just not made for filth, it can even kill you
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Report them to social services.
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Yes, the health department should know something's wrong, especially if it's in the city limits near other neighbors. Yes, a health hazard should be reported, but don't try to physically pursue someone if they just don't want to be bothered, this will likely worsen matters and make things much harder for you. Just anonymously tell the proper channels, but don't physically pursue them if they don't want to be bothered, just let the professionals who are trained to handle this kind of matter handle it, don't get yourself into trouble. Not answering calls or the door is a strong hint to leave them alone. This is why you should go through the proper channels and report the problem instead of trying to do things on your own. You already mentioned in your description someone else was already banned from the property, don't be next. Just let the pros properly handle it in a way they were trained to do.
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Guardianship is a lot of resonsibility which I personally wouldn't want. I would call the office of aging. If their findings show a health hazard they will report it. Don't be surprised if they say there is nothing they can do. If people want to live in filth they can.
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Oh, I just thought of another remedy. Call the health department because if it is the filthy house you describe (and give specific examples you have witnessed), then the health dept. can do something since it is a health hazard to other neighbors.
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Try having the sheriff (or police) make a welfare check. If they don't want help and they live on private property there isn't much you can do until a crisis.
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I would think that reporting them for unsafe living conditions, or property violations would at least get the ball rolling. I finally reported a home in my neighborhood for filthy conditions--and violations, and surprise, surprise, the city came out and cited the owners (who live in another state) Some cleanup was done, enough to get it to pass...but honestly? people will live happily in the most amazingly horrid conditions and it's very hard to get that to change.

if they are elderly, you stand a better chance of having them moved, or forcing their hand to clean. "One person's pigsty is another person's palace"--my dad used to say that.

Move slowly and keep notes on whom you call and what they say. Having a home declared uninhabitable is hard to do. You are kind to care, most people just leave well enough alone and the mess gets worse. Calling APS is good start, then the city and don't let it be one call. Keep it up. Good Luck!
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Do your homework to the fullest to see if you're even cut out for guardianship, because not everyone is. If you're trying to take guardianship of a stubborn and very combative person, you're in for a very rough ride because it will be hard!
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One final thing I think I should mention is that being persistent on someone who doesn't want to be bothered for whatever reason only angers people. Don't persist if they won't answer the door, this makes matters worse, which is why someone else was banned from the property as you mentioned. If you try to call and they keep dropping the call, don't keep calling. Some people will cut off unwanted calls if they just don't want to be bothered or if it's the worst possible time. If they keep dropping the call, don't call back. I can see if you call back a second time, but if the call is dropped again, don't call a third time, please! Most importantly, don't show up on the person's doorstep if they drop your calls, they won't likely answer the door either. Persistence will only anger the person inside if they don't want to be bothered for whatever reason. I had to get a little short with someone who did this to me, it was the worst possible time and I kept dropping the call and the person showed up on my doorstep and camped out there until I finally came to the door and told them through the window that I really didn't want to be bothered, and that I really didn't feel well. I was battling an infection at the time and just didn't want to be bothered. I'm telling you from experience because I know what I know. Never ever persist if someone doesn't want to be bothered, this can get you banned. I'm one of those kinds of people who also doesn't want to be bothered at home if I'm not expecting company, and I was definitely not expecting this person. Don't try to worm your way in and talk them into talking to you if they don't want to be bothered, this is manipulation. If you manipulate someone, they'll see this in their hindsight and they will somehow resent you for persisting and pursuing them when I didn't want to be bothered. There are times to check on someone to see if they're OK and times they may accept it, but don't persist and pursue if they give clues of not wanting to be bothered, because again, this can very easily get you banned. There's a time to check on people at a time to leave them the alone. Don't wear out the welcome mat or they'll hate you.

Another good thing to mention is if there's a court order for the couple to let someone in to check for safety, you don't know that this couple won't pack up and move tomorrow and just vanish without a trace just like that. This could very easily happen because they could just take what they want and abandon their home never to be seen or heard from again. This is another reason why you don't want to intrude if someone just doesn't want to be bothered. It sounds to me like from your description that only one person was diagnosed with dementia. Therefore, you still have a good sound minded person left in that household who could very easily make the decision to pack up their family and vanish.

I should finally mentioned that guardianship is not necessarily required of you. No lawmaker in their right mind is going to require family members to take guardianship if it happens to be that no one in the family is cut out for it. This is where a court appointed guardian can be assigned. If you're just not cut out for guardianship, it's not going to be assigned to you so it's not necessarily your responsibility if you're really not cut out for it. Another reason for not assigning guardianship to someone is if lack the resources to physically come to where they may be called when needed. Such a scenario would be assisted living management or even a nursing home. If you can't physically get there when needed, you're not likely to be granted guardianship even if you wanted to take on responsibility. No one is going to give you guardianship if you lack the resources to do everything that's required of a guardian. This was found out about me when I didn't have a car during winter. I couldn't always come running because I just didn't have a car and I won't go out that much during winter. If I do, I usually stay very close to home. Needless to say, I was never granted guardianship of my foster dad due to lack of resources and even knowledge and experience of major responsibility over someone. It would've been a little too much for me to keep up with another person's affairs because I think it would've been a far bigger task than I realized at the time. This was a task that was just a little too big for me, and I just wasn't ready or even cut out for it though I was willing. When the court appoint a guardian, I think they're pretty careful to appoint someone who has everything that's required to even be a guardian and properly handle another person's affairs. This I think is why a lawyer was chosen because the lawyer had everything I lacked, which is why this lawyer was chosen by the court to be my foster dad's guardian. Before going for guardianship which is what I highly recommend in some cases, be sure you have physical resources as well as knowledge at very least. Do y
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It can be a good thing due to the way today's world is becoming, some people just wouldn't want to leave a child in today's world knowing how bad the world is becoming. Starting family is something everyone wants deep down, but not everyone can start a family for some reason or another. At some point you reach a stage in your life of deep regret, I've been there. At some point this will phase out as you ride into your older age and finally into the sunset of your life. The stage of deep regret from my experience anyway doesn't last forever, it's just one of life's many storms. The deep regret is just a way of telling you what should've happened at an earlier date, you know this deep down, which is what the deep heartfelt regret is all about. As this fades, you tend to remember, but you somehow adapt to what now is. At some point it becomes second nature because what was originally supposed to be has become part of your past, and what now is is the secondary path you must now take until things change in your favor at some point. Sometimes things do change in your favor and what you always wanted sometimes comes to pass but in another way. Sometime things you always wanted don't happen, and you end up trying to fill that void. Some people trying to fill a void become shopaholics or even hoarders. Believe it or not, this is a sad reality. I don't know what the reason is for the problem Coppell not having kids. However, I can only wonder if they may have really wanted kids and deep rooted sorrow for this loss may have affected him so bad that they don't care anymore. This can lead to living in film or it can lead to other bad living conditions. Sometimes when your life is ruined or at least you feel your life is ruined because you never had something you deeply wanted and it's now too late to get it, this can lead to feelings of hopelessness, which can lead to unfavorable choices the person makes later on. They may not realize just how sad they really are, this is just another sad reality of existing and not really living the life you really wanted.
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As mentioned here, definitely report to the APS. I had to do this for my foster dad, but after several reports when there was nothing being done at the time, I was finally told they couldn't do anything without enough information or if he was still able to make decisions. Finally my surprise, a social worker appeared at my door one morning and told me they moved my foster dad to another location. I explained this was something I secretly had in the making, but I knew that even if I landed him another apartment that I was going to need more resources and manpower than I had because I had no car and no way to physically move him myself. There were times I was even able to mention the idea out to my foster dad about getting another place when he became frustrated with the dump he was living in. Each time he became aggravated at some point, but even if he would've excepted the idea of moving, I knew I was still going to need some help and resources I didn't have. Well, lo and behold, I was told to other people also made reports, which is why they were finally able to step in and intervene. I normally don't answer the door to know one either, but I think that morning I had to get up anyway to go to the bathroom. I think what I ended up doing is just cracking the door or speaking to the person through the window to see who they were and why they were at my house.

Special note:

Being a single lady, I must be very careful because I really hate unexpected company. I won't just jump and run especially at the worst possible times, I normally just want to answer the door to unexpected company. I know what you mean by some people just not wanting to be bothered, especially in their homes. Many people are like that, especially when they know they're vulnerable or do they just flat out don't want to be bothered. Some people who have valuable items also tend to guard their homes even more than normal whereas some people just flat-out don't want to be bothered. I don't blame them for not wanting to be bothered, neither do I if I'm not expecting company.


What I must ask you, is the person still able to make major decisions?

This is something APS will definitely need to know to make their decision on whether or not to intervene. If they choose not to intervene at this time, you could mention something to the health department. What you can do is get all of the evidence possible to strengthen your case, specifically pictures and videos. This is what I would do if I had it to do all over again. I know that some people will be stubborn as you described, this is there a way of protecting themselves and their home. I think what could be going on with some people is there scared of losing their freedom and they just don't want no one intruding on them or taking their freedom. I'm not sure why the couple never had kids, maybe infertility could've been to blame, then again, it could've been different choices and circumstances that led to childlessness. If I were to try and guess, that they may think that if there's no family specifically no kids, it would be much harder if not impossible for someone to intrude in their golden years and run their lives or take their freedom or even take advantage of them. Unfortunately so many elders face this very sad fate and so maybe for all we know their decision to not have kids could've been based on that unless someone was infertile and they just couldn't conceive. Other reasons for childlessness is economic reasons because kids are very expensive to raise. They may have decided they can't afford kids and wouldn't have any if they couldn't afford to raise them right. So few people make the right decision for economic reasons, it's just not right to bring someone else into the picture if you can't properly support them. There could be any number of reasons why the couple is childless, and the ones who really know best is them and God. In fact, I read an obituary many years ago about a specific woman who made the choice to never have kids if she could do for the raise them right. I guess from the obituary, if she just couldn't afford to raise kids right that she wouldn't even date because dating leads to marriage which leads to kids. She stayed mostly to herself and I think we could all learn a lesson from her to some degree or another. It was sad to read the obituary because no one should have to be alone their whole lives, especially not in their golden years. Choosing childlessness for any reason, especially economic reasons is very hard, I should know because I can't afford kids either. I'm at the age now where I'll probably never have kids either so this couple is in good company. I'm sure there are plenty of childless people out there in the world, and I'm sure each household has their own unique reasons for going childless. It can be a good thing due to the way today's world is becoming, some people just wouldn't want to leave a child in today's world knowing how bad the world is b
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Taking on guardianship/conservatorship is a huge undertaking. Your sister and her husband don't have the capacity to fix their situation. It will be all on you. Make sure you have your siblings on board and your brother in law's family too. This is a difficult, endless task you are deciding to take on. It will cost you in every way imaginable if you take responsibility for them.
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The best thing you can do for them is to report them to the town they live in for unsafe living conditions...or alternatively report them to adult protective services for the same reason. Either of these governmental agencies will do a wellness check and will scope the property for safety. If they chose not to let them in, the town will get a court order. They will require safe conditions in case their is an emergency like a fire or medical where their firefighters and paramedics will need to be safe entering the property (paths through the house, to the windows etc.). Both agencies will require them to clean and give them a timeline. the town could condemn the property if it is very bad, and call in animal control to remove pets. Adult protective services could remove them to a safe environment.

This may be hard but I think at this point this is your last resort.

Angel
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