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My husband and I care for an 88 year old woman who has no immediate family. We have health and financial POA and have had for years. She is in an unsafe environment and needs help. She has severe health problems and recently has had severe short-term memory loss. She is also a hoarder and lives in an unsanitary home with many animals. We try our best to help keep her and her home clean but are fighting a losing battle. She is extremely independent and WILL NOT discuss assisted living because she refuses to leave all her animals. I go with her to doctor appointments as she cannot understand or remember what the doctor tells her and the doctor is extremely worried about her living alone. We try to tell her that if someone (postal worker etc) saw her living conditions and reported her to Social Services, she would likely lose her home and her animals and be forced to move. She tells us that if we force her to do something she doesn't want she will "cut us off" meaning her will. We have been named in her will and investment accounts as recipients when she dies. It has been this way since long before the dementia started. We spend many, many hours a week caring for her and will be left caring for the many animals when she does pass, which is why she wanted the money to go to us. A few months ago, a distant (elderly) cousin had her go to a new attorney and sign documents signing everything over to him......when we let them know how much care she needs and asked if they would provide that care, they cancelled the paperwork and left things the way they were. How can we help her further within the limits of the law? We do NOT feel she is mentally competent to make these decisions for herself. She has fallen for several monetary scams, losing several thousand dollars each time but yet still falls for every "you've won a new car and a million dollars" scam she gets in the mail. She cannot understand that these mailings are simply a way to cheat her. We aren't in it for the money....we want her to be in a safe and clean environment. Any money we would receive would go towards rehoming all the animals and likely having her home demolished. We need to know what we can do legally to get her help.

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Private1: The Do Not Call registry is a joke, at best. Even they say "we're overwhelmed and can't keep up with it."
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In Illinois you could ask the county for guardianship rather than the state since she has assets. I found them great to work with. See if your state has a guardianship
program for people with assets; and who are not competent to care for themselves.
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Finding Peace had a good idea about the mail. I agree with Sister Lisa about leaving her to be happy in her own home. My question is if you can be appointed as her guardian. You would need to see an attorney about that one. Maybe then you could stop her from the money scams. But do leave here where she is happy.
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Dogandcatlady, you had mentioned that this elder has severe health problems along with zero short term memory issues. What are those health problems? Has she been diagnosed for Alzheimer's or Dementia?

Her doctor is correct, she cannot live alone. I realize you and your husband are helping out, but it would be physically impossible for the both of you to work all 3 shifts caring for this woman. Eventually she will need to have paid full-time caregivers around the clock [if there is an agency that would allow their employee to work in those conditions] or relocate to a memory care facility.

With all the care that this woman now needs, those investments funds will start getting smaller and smaller, and eventually the house would need to be sold to help pay for her care. So, don't be surprised if that should happen.

I think it is amiable that you want to help her.
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Let the city/county agencies .assess the conditions, and they will determine if she is not safe or is in violation of the animal ordinances. By using that technique you are not involved and can remain neutral.

The additional benefit you will be improving her living conditions and providing a safe environment.
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Sadly, hoarders, e.g. let's say they have 40 of the same stuffed bear/animal/doll, they cannot do with 39! And why? They have a disease, akin to a mental disorder.
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Pargirl and Private, you both raise good issues, especially the issue of a fire hazard. If homes are close together as they are in city or some suburban environments, that endangers the neighbors as well, as does any attraction of rodents to the hoarding situation.

I speak from experience; the house next to me was abandoned after the owner's son died and the remaining family didn't want any responsibility for it. That was in Feb. of 2010 or 2011- I don't remember for sure.

There's been deterioration outside and I'm sure inside. So far I haven't seen any undesirable critters, but given that the family refused to clean out the house after their relative died, who knows what's in the house. We neighbors aren't happy about it but the City reps state they can only deal with the outside of the house, which they have, and can't do anything about the inside.

Despite research and then contacting the bank that bought the house, it still hasn't done a bloody thing to keep it up, nor has it done anything to prevent any critters from getting in, a definite possibility because of the structural deterioration.
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You may not want to hear this, but what I'm going to share is actually the truth. Another thing to be concerned about besides everything else mentioned here is this lady's home being a fire hazard just from what you described. You really should warn her that if the Fire Chief ever came in and saw her house that he would most likely "flip his lid." If things don't change on her part, perhaps you can have a little talk with the Fire Chief and bring him through her house. Taking precautions now will most likely save her life later and prevent an unnecessary house fire. What do you feel awful if she died in a house fire and you know the conditions of that house? I know that any caring, conscientious person would never want someone else's blood on their hands by saying and doing nothing when it's in their power to do so. It's very hard to take the initiative, especially when you happen to be the only key to get the ball rolling. Many times peoplego to great lengths to avoid getting involved until they feel the pressure of being the only key to getting the right thing done. This is why it's up to you to alert the fire chief of the fire hazard. If you want to, you can try to remain anonymous even if she figures out you told on her. What I did when a friend of mine figured out that I told about his situation was just to play it off like I didn't know anything, like I didn't know what he was talking about. What I did was to shift the blame on to him when he asked me what I did to him. I shifted the question to ask him what he did. I further explained that if he did something that I wanted no part of it, no matter what it is he did. I then asked him what he did. He then tried to scare me by threatening me with a certain person who I was not scared of. I later had a real bad dream about this person being aggressive, but I took it as a warning and so far nothing ever came of it. When you must secretly report something, be sure to request anonymity.
Anyway, between you and the Fire Chief, you can both contact APS and you'll probably need to share as much information as absolutely possible about this particular lady. What I learned when I had to make a report in my own town is that they can't do anything without enough information to go on, so you'll need to gather everyone to know something to contribute to a report that can really get the ball moving to resolve these particular issues. Perhaps someone can get her in-home care like nurses and an aid, both of who can come in to help her. There are specific programs for the elderly that gives them free food. The one in my particular town is called the passport program. Every two weeks food is delivered to those recipients. I'm not sure if the in-home care is included in that passport program, but I know that the food definitely is. If it's later discovered that this lady needs more care than what she can get outside of a facility, she may have no other choice but to have someone take guardianship of her and force her into a facility. I already saw this happen to one person, and he was not even on our local passport program when this happened. In fact, he wasn't even getting in-home care like my elderly friend was. Both of those people eventually we're forced into nursing homes to get the care they needed. I know that this is very sad to remove the independence and mobility from our elders, but when they're clearly a danger to themselves and others, this is when it's time to intervene.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but this is life and this is exactly what happens around here. Furthermore, this is most likely what also happens everywhere in the US when people can no longer care for themselves.
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I agree with gardenartist in that hoarding is a disease. If left untreated like anything else, illnesses from bacteria, dust, pollen, fleas, you name it can take a person down and they don't know it until it's too late. She might think she is taking care of the animals but we all know they need a lot of attention to be healthy house pets and a part of your family. Going to court might be your only option to declare her mentally incompetent and to get her out of the house. One of my best friends mother had to be placed in a home (alz/dem) but she fought it every step of the way because she didn't want to leave her wonderful cat that she had had for years. By the time she got there and got settled she didn't even remember she had a cat. Chances are that's what would happen here. She will go someplace, she will get acclimated (as my mother did) and forget about the animals because she will have other things to obsess about. One thing I would try to do is get the mail away from her. Find out when the mail gets there and take out all the scams. My dad STILL thinks he's going to win the 25,000 a year from readers digest along with that new car. And he DOESN'T have dementia!! I would hate to see if he did. But get that mail away from her. How does she pay her bills? Or do you? Good Luck and God Bless
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You can contact your local ombudsman for resource help. She clearly needs a legal guardian & or conservator. You can & should intervene before she and or her animals create a public health nuisance. You can also contact a local health department nurse. They will bring in a social worker to help find the proper resources for her care, & the animals can go to other safer homes.
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Private, DNC really doesn't stop a lot of the harassment and scammers - they just ignore the law!

From what I've read, it does help to report each unwanted call though as it provides evidence for prosecution, and some of these telemarketers have actually been taken down.
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I meant that IN THIS CASE, the choice seems to be between the woman's happiness and her safety. Not in general.
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I have a real good useful tip for the scams that she keeps falling for, and anyone can use these tips:

Opt out

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

https://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/do-not-call-list
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I wouldn't necessarily agree that the woman has a choice to live the way she pleases, particularly since hoarding behaviors are not stable or healthy ones and aren't guided by rational, healthy decisions.

However, the animals do not choose to live that way and their health is endangered.

The least that can be done is to call ASPCA and remove most of the animals before they die of disease and miserable deaths.

And decide if you really want to be the recipients of her assets and continue to be involved in a very unhealthy situation. A hoarding environment isn't safe for visitors either.

You're not going to be able to change it; do you really want to be exposed to that environment?
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If she has no long term care insurance, putting her in assisted living or nursing home will wipe her out financially and her will won't mean anything because there will be nothing left to leave. She will also be miserable for the rest of her days. The POA does not mean you are personally responsible for her well-being, that would be a guardianship, I think. I am not a lawyer, but you might want to consult with one and have them look over the will and POA.
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If you have financial POA you can simply put in a change of address at the post office and have all her mail come to you, where you can sort it. We did that with my mother-in-law and are always glad when see advertisements come to her that would tempt her.
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Not necessarily. My Dad has both. But yes, I would find out what the POA entails. Also as mentioned before, what is the extent of dementia, that makes a difference.
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It sounds like you have a vhoice here...safe OR happy. One excludes the other.

I would find out from a lawyer where your legal responsibility as POA lies. And then be guided by your conscience.
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I agree with sister. Everyone should be allowed to live as they please. Is there a way that you can sift through mail? Are you there much during the day? Is anyone watching her during the day? If so, there are many ways to stop scams. Monitoring phone calls is one way. How far along is she - that would make all the difference.
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This will not be a popular response. She needs to stay in her home with all her animals. You say she has been this way since long before the dementia started. She has chosen to live in an "unsanitary" house with lots of animals. The dementia has nothing to do with this. You are saints for helping her and doing what you can to clean her house. If she were torn away from her animals and sent to assisted living, she would live and die in clean clothes and in a clean room, but she would be miserably unhappy.

Many people fall for the mail frauds you describe, or those frauds wouldn't keep operating. Try to help her avoid falling for more scams-- remind her what happened the last time, even though she won't remember.
She is entitled to live in the way she has chosen, even if it's not the choice most of us would make.
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I don't see how she is capable of caring for the animals. What if social services and animal control showed up to investigate without your name coming up? They could insist things change and she would have no reason to blame you. If she had no choice, she may have to let the animals go. It's going to be a rough road though. I would make sure it's worth it. It sounds like a lot of work for something that may not have a good outcome. It's not likely she is going to do anything willingly, so it may involve court orders and having things done against her will. I'm not sure I could hang in there, especially with her threats.

Has she been diagnosed with dementia or is this more of a hoarding case? If she has dementia that prevents her from caring for herself, she may have to use her assets to pay for care, since she won't be able to live alone. It's good that she has you to be her advocate, but it's often a two edged sword.
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