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My 84YO mother has shown signs of dementia for several months, but has remained functional in her home. I live 75 miles away, but we talk twice a week and on Sundays we order groceries over the phone and they are delivered. I noticed at Christmas time things were worse (garbage not taken out, she hadn't bathed, anger then tears). We talked, it was agreed that she would have a "housekeeper"come twice a week after the new year(I had a dementia care-giver waiting in the wings, although she didn't know that). Well, now, mid-January, my mother has "gone around the bend" quickly -- she has locked herself in her home, shut all the blinds in the house. She's paranoid, says I'm a "drug-dealer" that she won't allow in her home, and she doesn't want assistance. The police have done two well-checks and have told me she seemed fine -- house tidy and she spoke very lucidly. I want my mother to stay in her home, and was told by the dementia care givers (who are continuing to try to get back into the home) that I may want to wait to contact adult protective services because once they are involved, their plan for my mother becomes mandated. What has been anyone's experience with adult protective services, good or bad?

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Gosh.

The police did go to the right address, did they?

I know 75 miles can be quite a journey, especially in January, and especially in some states; but if it were me I'd want to go round there and do my own assessment. Can you really not?

Social workers come in all stripes. In my personal experience most are knowledgeable, professional and sensible; but for one thing I'm not in the States, and for another how flexible and imaginative they can be does seem often to depend on what resources they have to meet what demand. You may be able to find the equivalent of consumer reviews for APS in your mother's area, with a bit of digging around online. Eliminate the more technicolor horror stories, but see what you can find out about their approach to collaborating with service users and their families.
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UTIs in the elderly causes negative behavior. Dipsticks sold in drug stores reveal only one type of UTI. I would take her myself to see her primary doctor and start there. Have the police go with you if you feel it's going to be a problem getting in the house. Authorities seem to make elders act right. Call APS and just talk to them over the phone, explain your situation, and feel them out.
Are you the Medical POA and POA? If not, I would work on that, too, if possible.
One step at a time. All the best to you and mom!
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You need to go to your mother and check this out yourself. Period.
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You need to go to her home! I went through this with my MIL. She would answer the door and tell police or anyone enquiring after her (including us) that she was fine and then she would retreat back into her world. She was also extremely paranoid that people coming to the door were there to take her away from her home that she had lived in for 63 years. When I went to her home and finally got inside it was evident that things were not ok and had not been for awhile. The house was filthy in so many different ways, she was dressed in the same clothing that I had seen her in for 7 days, her food supply was iffy to say the least, etc. As we lived in the same town we were able to move in with her to care for her and keep her as healthy as possible and her home clean. You may not have that option but adult protective service can help you out.
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APS is the adult version of Child Protective Services, if you involve them you and your mom may loose complete control and any say so about what happens, do not trust a paid caregiver to make this decision about your mom, GO TO HER, plan on staying for a week or two and see for yourself. If the relationship is one that you can help her, do so, if it is not then APS is an option that takes you out of the picture, other than visitor. Just so you know it is very serious and pretty final if she becomes a ward of the State, it costs a fortune to reverse that, as well as they become beneficiary to all of her assests to pay or repay for their services. Please exhaust all of your other options before involving Adult Protective Services if you love your mom and want to do whats best for her. Also, follow the above advise about getting her to Dr. for urinary tract infection,  these are wicked nasty in seniors creating a false reality for all involved.  Good luck dealing with your mom and God Bless You on your journey,  it is a challenging one, but you can do it👍
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Thanks for all your answers. I should have said that I am there about every weekend. The last weekend I was there, she wouldn't let me in, which prompted my question on this site. Since I asked this question, I have had a APS assessment and a dementia caretaker is there every other day. It's amazing what a different a week makes! Thanks again for you concern and answers, they've been very helpful.
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Forgot to say - you do need to rule out a UTI, straight off. Will your mother go to her GP? Can one of the visiting caregivers at least get her to a pharmacist for a quick dipstick test?
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I would involve APS only as a last resort. Once they are involved, it is hard to get them to go away. AND, they don't have the full history and background, and often (in my opinion) make incorrect and hurtful assessments, like that the person caring for the elderly person is abusive because they are not allowing the elderly person to make their own decisions. They will meet and talk with your mom once or twice and render an opinion, which they then tend to "stick" by no matter what YOU may know and express to them. I have experienced this personally with them, and now my 85 year old mom is living where she has no friends or relatives other than my brother and is extremely unhappy and depressed. She refused to go into AL after a series of trips to the hospital followed by weeks in rehab each time, and APS told her she had the "right" to make her own decision and not do what I wanted her to do, even though it was in her best interest. I known she would be much happier in AL, with people around her, activities for her to do, etc. Now she sits and waits for my brother to come home every day, refuses to go to any senior center or activities that he has tried to get her into, and then complains about how bored she is, how hectic my brother's life is, etc. It is only a matter of time before my brother and his new girlfriend start feeling the "burden" of having mom living with them, and the situation will only get worse. They have already started leaving her alone on weekends, and now tentatively a whole week, while they go away on long weekends, vacations, etc. She doesn't drive, and as I stated before, doesn't have any other friends or relatives nearby to look in on her or visit with her, so tell me how this is better for her? But, because APS got involved, that ended any progress we were making on convincing her that AL was a better option. They actually told her I was "harassing" her by continually talking to her about this and could "press charges" against me if she said the word. They also, however, "offered" to take over caring for her finances and anything else she wanted them to do, which seemed out of line in my book. I think they saw an opportunity to get their hands on some serious cash (my mom has the means to live in a nice AL place and pretty much do whatever she wants for the rest of her life) and thought they had someone they could manipulate to their advantage. Fortunately, my brother stepped in and got mom out of their grips and that ended their involvement....for now. So, my advice, is be very, very careful about getting APS involved. For many reasons.
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You may also consider contacting the local Area Agency on Aging. They may have a Clinician that can evaluate your mom and assist her in her willingness to accept help.
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Basic answer....APS are for adults that don't have family to assist them with what services they need. You should instead contact Dept of Aging in her area and find out what services are available to her.  Having a companion or meals on wheels is helpful but she probably needs an assessment by a Dr or nurse and then go from there.  Dementia has many different faces,  can seem fine for a visit and next time be so out of it you think it is a different person.
Good luck to you.
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