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My client came into the office 2 days in a row, wearing the same filthy, very smelly clothes, had dirt everywhere, scalp, nails, ears. He looks like he is physically weak, slow, but mobile and drove to my office. He has a daughter about an hour away who I do not know, nor do I have her phone number. What can I do, if anything?

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It is great you care but if you work for a law firm this would fall under Attorney-client privilege. If he was a client you could give advice as to how he could make his life better. As for calling for a welfare check do not do it.
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Shel, as you seem genuinely concerned about this gentleman's welfare--if you have not already done so--have a chat with him about personal matters...How's he doing, does he have family close by, who would he list as emergency contact, has he recently gone through a job loss or other such event.. MAYBE from the answers to these questions, you can determine who might be available, from among his family or friends, to check on him. ALSO, it seems that he might be suffering from some type of depression, so maybe you could ask if he's recently suffered the loss (or removal from the home) of a loved one, whether he takes any kind of meds...and WHAT KIND. God bless & good luck!
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My instinct in all this, seeing that the man drove to the appointment, is that:
- he could be homeless, so is living in his car, but seems to have money for gas;
- he may have a home but the water could be cut off, so no means to wash;
- if frail, could be malnutrition because no cooking or warm food/drink, and also not being warm enough at night to sleep - again, this indicates being homeless (and sleeping in a car, even in summer, is cold!!)

I would move heaven and earth to find the daughter, speak to her; ask her to go see her dad then report back to you. Any police department could locate her in this digital age.

I would not "throw him to the social" unless the daughter absolutely refuses to cooperate.
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The elder's town social worker will do a well-being check. Then they will recommend what their findings are. My late mother would not speak up to her family. A person who drove the town grocery shopping van said "N is struggling." Yet but she wouldn't let her own family know!
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I've been thinking over this situation and need to state that I had some questions about the thread.

First, paralegals do NOT have clients; the firm and attorneys do, but paralegals do not.

Second, I would have immediately gone to the supervising attorney and shared my concerns if a similar situation had occurred when I was working.

Third, I would NEVER post online about a client. That just is NOT acceptable, even though no names are mentioned.

So I'm wondering about this whole situation now. We'll see if the OP returns; if not....well, draw your own conclusions.

Digital Banker, I know you're trying to be helpful, but just to clarify, hiring a PI to investigate a client's needs would not be very likely to occur in an law firm.

First, there's the issue of who would pay for the PI. The client probably does not have much money, and he would have to authorize the expenditure first if he had provided a retainer. And unless that was discussed, the firm would be in breach of its retainer agreement to spend funds on work that wasn't authorized either through discussion or stated in the retainer agreement.

Second, a firm would generally not expend funds for a PI without expectation of reimbursement.

DB, your concern and your heart are in the right place, but I don't know of any law firm that would hire a PI to investigate a client's personal situation, unless there were fraud involved and the firm was leary of becoming dragged into an unsavory situation.
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What about telling the client the truth? They could be offended or maybe thankful
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They likely need psychiatric help.
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I don't know what your profession is, but what you were describing sounds like direct signs of homelessness. Homeless people are dirty like you're describing whether they live out on the streets or in their cars. That's because when you're homeless, you don't have very many places to shower if you don't have someone letting you can to clean up and care for your basic needs. Another situation is to see if the person may actually be living somewhere without running water. I have a friend in such a situation right now because he lives with his sister who never seemed to have running water. She lives out in the country and usually has a water service bringing water unless she goes out and buys it these days. Last I knew, she had a water service bringing her water. However, no matter what seems to be going on, my friend living with his sister has no access to running water and he's filthy. I would see if you can get a PI (private investigator) to find his daughter and see what's up with her and if she even knows what shape her dad is in. If she knows anything, see if you can find out why she's not helping her dad. If it was some form of dispute, abuse, drugs or alcoholism, that might be what drove his daughter away. As an abuse survivor of abusive alcoholic parents, I couldn't be there for my parents either through no fault of my own but their choice. Whatever would've happened to either of my parents was beyond my control due to their choices that were also be on my control. If this man what is a sorry excuse for a father, then you have your answer right there as to why the daughter is not there for her aging dad. If it was anything he did then he doesn't deserve his family.

However, if there's a problem on her part, then he is actually better off without her if she turned out to be a sorry excuse for a daughter who would probably end up abusing him in some way anyway. In fact, if the problem is on her part, will you don't know that she didn't drain him financially dry, causing him to not be able to afford clean water at his place if she took all of his money and ran off with it and won't repay the money. Sometimes children are the biggest fraudsters when they drain their aging parents financially dry, causing dire hardship, which can cause this elderly man to become as filthy as you're describing. Maybe he can't even afford to do his laundry if she stole all of his money.

Now if this was someone else and not her, perhaps this person should also be brought to justice and forced to repay this man's money. Not every case is the children defrauding their aging parents, sometimes it someone outside the family that the victim knows who ends up defrauding them and not the family at all.

What I would do is definitely get a PI involved right away and find out who is hanging around this man and what the relationships are.

Find out if anyone hanging around him happens to be handling any of his money. If so, then you're going to have to look a little bit deeper and even look at his banking records. If he happens to be withdrawing money in large amounts, that's a big red flag right there that he may be in a situation where he's being financially abused and someone is causing him undue hardship to the point he can't even take care of his basic needs. If he has no running water because of this, see if you can work with the water company and restore the water to his home so that he can take a bath and clean himself up and wash his laundry. I would see if you can get some charity to help and tell them what's going on as you find out.

Another thing to consider is if someone is somehow mentally declining to the point they start self neglecting, which would be another reason why someone would become as filthy as you're describing. You may not know it, but maybe the person has dementia or Alzheimer's. This can cause some level of self-neglect and this is what happened to my foster dad at some point.

Another thing you want to look at is if he may have lost a family member such as a wife. Widows will often grieve for long periods of time after losing a spouse, and sometimes they're never mentally right again. A friend of mine's mom lost two relatives within a week and she's already mentally disabled. Two losses within a week was just enough to do her in and send her into a mental plummet to the point she started self neglecting. At some point she started depending on adult diapers until a family member who was buying them for her could no longer afford it and had to stop buying them. That's when my friends mom started using period pads and she would go to the bathroom on them because she was just too lazy to get up and go to the go to the toilet. She would then start getting infections down below but I don't know if or when her doctor may have found out what was really going on. There came a point where she had to go into a nursing home after two reactions from a medication her doctor took her off of. I think it may have been a blood pressure medication, I'm not 100% sure. I don't know if she realized her doctor took her off of it because she didn't need it anymore, but she kept taking it and no one knew it until she fell very ill and had to have the squad come out twice within about a week or two. After the second time she was put into a nursing home. The conclusion of the situation you're in is that there are multiple reasons that can cause someone to be filthy and not clean up for whatever reason.

One thing you're going to have to realize is that maybe this patient might also be too ill to clean themselves up. You mentioned the person appears very weak, which could be an indication something is definitely going on. You might actually want to look into the possibility of elder financial abuse because if this is the case, that would cause this particular person to not be able to care for any of his basic needs including food.

If he happens to be at the dying process, maybe his body is shutting down, which would explain why he seems to be getting weak. If this is the case, then he needs the help of hospice. I would definitely get him into a medical facility and get him medically evaluated in case this happens to be the issue, and you never know that it might not be.
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I believe you can call the local police department and request a welfare check for someone without having to divulge too much and I think requesting it from PD may cover your confidentiality issue too. I'd like to echo the kudos to you for caring so much about this client.
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The first thing that came to mind is Does he actually have a home or is he living out of his car with mate a few dogs? Do you have physical address for him? If so just do a drive by and see what you see.. You should probably talk to your boss about what to do if anything. he may know more about the client than you do. if everyoe is agreed a call to APS is definitely in order to ask for a wellness check, or maybe it is the police that do that.
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Although it may appear as if the daughter knows nothing about this situation that may not be the case. How many times have we seen questions posted about a parent that refuses to accept help or advise from an adult child when they are every bit as unkept as this? I say call APS. ( not that they'll do anything). Seniors can be stubborn as a mule and fiercely independent. They are also miraculously able to hide their early stage dementia .
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Boy Margot49, I read your story and went, "yup". I was my mom's caregiver and did the very best I could for her. She had no short-term memory and occasionally I'd have to get things done (reworked will, change to her investments) and we'd either go to the credit union or I'd work with reps on the phone. They'd either want to see her or talk to her. I'd try to coach mom ahead of time NOT to tell them she had no memory and didn't know *what* was going on. She'd say that in a humorous, self-deprecating way because her lack of memory embarrassed her, but it scared the heck out of me because it could appear like I was trying to do something dishonest with her finances and she had no clue what was happening. Of course in her moments of lucidity, she knew and agreed to what we were doing, but then she'd promptly forget it.

Shel, I think it's great that you're looking out for your client, but I'd be careful about overstepping the bounds of your role. I agree with letting the lawyers in your firm know to see what they suggest.
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I would report it and let the proper agencies step in. If no relatives are close, they can contact them. Nice of you to be concerned. When my mother was living with us, my husband had to call the bank in regards to something on her account. He handled her finances but was not on that account but I am. He could not answer their questions and wanted to speak to my mother who was hard of hearing and did not know what was going on. We put her on speaker phone and I was trying to help her answer their questions. The bank finally said we would have to go in to get this resolved. Early the next morning our doorbell rings and there are two women from the County there to speak to my mother. They would give me NO information and insisted on speaking to her alone so we stepped out. I was not happy thinking someone had reported me and we took excellent care of my mother! It then dawned on me that maybe it was the bank. When we went back in the room, the women's demeanor had changed and there were no issues. I asked if the bank had called them and they still could not say but "inferred" it was a concerned business so I knew it was the bank. Although I had been indignant, I then realized the bank had questions and reported it. Actually, was nice to know they would do that as so many people/family members steal from the elderly.
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What is so sad right now is that at least our county social services believe that it is their choice to live that way. We are not doing right by our seniors in many ways. There are many agencies that have case managers/Social Workers who only work with seniors. You may be able to tie one of your meetings in with a Social Worker who can do an assessment and make recommendations.
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You will have to follow the ethical constraints of your profession and your own personal sense of what is right. We all want to be respected and have our own sense of autonomy, and so have a right to be a mess and be a waiting crisis. That said, perhaps you have a superior/boss/supervisor to consult with...did they or someone else not see him? Welfare checks usually is a term when we have the police go out and make sure all is well when we haven't heard from someone or they don't answer. In this particular case, you might want to express your concerns anonymously to Adult Protective Services...even if just to talk about it...you might be able to establish rapport with this guy, if you haven't already, convey your concerns, ask if you might be able to help. He may not want it, or his daughter's involvement, or fear being moved out of his home. If this is HIS condition, one can only guess as to what the house looks like, and one might suspect the daughter is not too involved..but you never know. Some parents are so challenging kids give it up...wait for a crisis...parents may reject their help; they may have jobs and other obligations...Wish you luck, and thank you for caring.
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Other posters have raised an issue which I should have addressed more specifically. Attorneys, paralegals, secretaries, runners, bookkeepers, receptionists and office managers are all bound by "client privilege", which prohibits them from discussing client information. This is standard throughout law practices.

CM made a good point - any call should be "generic" w/o providing any specific name. I erred in suggesting that APS be called, although I'm not really sure that a call to a government agency on the issue of adult welfare and/or protective services would fall in the same category as releasing privileged information, since this was observational, and not something that was shared in confidentiality. And some specific governmental agencies exist for the exact purpose of intervention in welfare of adults or children.

However, calls to nongovernmental agencies, such as churches or a geriatric care manager, would I think be a breach of privilege.

That's not a criticism of any suggestions; they're all good. But attorneys and all their staff are bound by confidentiality, similar to the role of priests and probably rabbis and other religious leaders.
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Very good of you to be concerned and want to help....go w/GardenArtist's answer...ck w/attorneys first, and see if you can find out daughter's info....I would think it would be in files, esp. if he has a will thru your firm! BLESS YOU FOR CARING!!!!
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Absolutely, make that call!

There can be many reasons for the client to be in this state and someone needs to look into matters.
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Is the client involved in a church? Many churches have a minister - or senior programmer that do volunteer outreach. I am one of those and minister to our pastor emeritus whose children live out of the area. Although they pay for daily help, someone needs to become the local advocate. Hard to watch, but it sounds like someone needs to do some trust building to learn more.
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I would contact a local Geriatric Care Manager in your area - go to the Aging Life Care Association Website to find one who is local and ask them to start working with your client - there may be some issues in the home that make it hard to complete personal hygiene - the Geriatric Care Manager can do an assessment and let you know what is happening while providing on-going support to your client.
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If it were me, I would ring my local social services team for older adults and get their advice. You don't have to name names so if you don't like the sound of what they suggest they might be able to do for this elderly gentleman there's no harm done; and depending on what they say you can always call your client and ask him if he would like you to refer him for help. In your position you do also have a duty of confidentiality to your client, so no experienced social worker would insist you provide personal details at this initial stage.

Anyway, that's what I'd do.
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Getting the county involved can make things much worse, very quickly. Are you able to talk to your client about his situation, and come up with ideas for what would make it easier for him to have help with bathing and laundry? Is he a veteran? Many communities have homemaking services that help with bathing and laundry and cooking, and sometime it can be offered free or at a discounted rate to veterans, disabled persons, or senior citizens. Also, can you ask for his daughter's phone number and give her a call?
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Shel, what kind of law does your firm practice, and what was the purpose of the visit (if you can give a general idea within the limits of protecting the confidentiality of a client)? If it's estate planning or elder law, you're within the scope of the visit to ask him about contacts and family relations, w/o breaching confidence.

If for some other reason, I think you still could ask him about the closest relatives, as it may at some time or other affect your ability to contact him w/I the scope of the work you're doing.

On another level, assuming you have contact information for him, you could call APS to do a welfare check.

However, I would absolutely, definitely make the attorneys in the office aware of the situation before doing anything so there's no issue of breach of "privileged" information.

Some law firms for which I've worked provide a lot of leeway to paralegals; others monitor them very closely. Make sure the attorneys are on board before you contact anyone outside the firm. And the man really is a client of the firm anyway.

(I'm assuming that the state bar in your state still requires attorney supervision over a paralegal's actions.)

I think wanting to get help for him is very thoughtful and considerate.
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