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Monday, January 26, 2015

What would you do?

I feel as though my neighbor is under a big boulder, and any minute, either the boulder will crush her, or an errant wave will topple her and carry her off who knows where.
I have a special dilemma and I could use your help.

Here it goes:
A neighbor of ours, who just celebrated her 95th year, who attends book groups and political chats whenever she can get a ride, is having difficulties getting around in her walker, doing simple tasks like bathing and cooking, and depends on a relative who lives on her premises, to do grocery shopping and occasional cleanings. The trouble is that neither she, nor her relative are really able to do much, so, neither one can clean up after himself, herself, and neither can keep the house up. Each cooks for his/herself, and neither has energy to do that well. The result, they are both malnourished, unkempt, in a house that is slowly gathering detritus.

Would you contact social services under these circumstances?

21 comments:

Vagabonde said...

I don’t know what is available in your area. I know where my mother lived, before she went into a nursing home, the city sent a lady during the week, 2 hours each day to do light cleaning and go out on errands for her, and that was free, but that was in France where they do a lot more for seniors than in this country. They also provided her with a medical alert button, free of charge. However, I think there are some services in the US. For example in our county, there are “Senior Services” and they do provide vans to take you to doctors’ appointments and so forth if one does not drive anymore, and I think that visits in the home can be made – these could be staffed by volunteers, though, but that’s OK. I would call your county and see what is offered, then go to your neighbors and tell them that you found out this …x service.. and tell them that this might be very helpful to them, and go from there.

joeh said...

Yes. Hopefully they are professionals and can handle the situation without sacrificing your neighbors dignity, but you would feel awful if (and probably when) something bad happens and you did not make the call.

I am glad it is not my decision to make. I can understand how it is not an easy call.

Retired English Teacher said...

I wish I knew the answer. My mother gets along ok by herself and has someone clean for her, but at age 97, the path will only go downhill from here. I think a chat with your neighbor expressing your concerns is in order. Prior to the chat, collect a lot of resources from the senior services in your area and see if she is open to calling them. You could even offer to call them yourself. If you think she is in danger, a wellness check of sorts that looks into her situation could be in order, but I'm not sure if anything really comes from such visits.

Maggie May said...

Yes, definitely.
I'm not sure whether you have the same things going for you in USA as we do here, but the Social Services here put you in touch with help (usually you have to pay but really hard up people don't.)
They need to know as one day something really bad could happen.
Maggie x

Tom Sightings said...

I wouldn't do it behind their backs. I'd go to them and ask how I could help, and suggest calling someone like social services who might be able to give them the help they need with the respect they deserve.

Noreen Gardner said...

I agree you should contact your local city or county senior services group.
Also, you might try Meals on Wheels: http://www.mowaa.org/
Oldest and largest membership organization supporting more than 5,000 Senior Nutrition Programs that operate in all 50 states. Visit their website to search for a Meals on Wheels service near you.

kj said...

yes i would

that is a definitive answer from me, an experienced case manager. there are many funded elder and home care programs. start with your local elder services and they will give you resources to call. if the result of your call is that a professional completes a home visit to evaluate needs, you will have done a wonderful thing.

xoxo love
kj

Cheryl Cato said...

I would want to do something and at this stage it probably doesn't matter if your friend would look unfavorably on interference. The county in which you live may have services for the elderly who would rather be in their home than in any other place. What about Meals on Wheels? Do you have that in your area? Another alternative is to contact her doctor and see what his/her recommendation would be. If she won't give you her doctor's name then check her medicine cabinet for a doctor's name on the prescription.

As we age we all may be in that same or a similar boat. Good luck.

Rian said...

Rosaria, before I would do anything I would first check with your neighbor and see how she feels about it. If I was in that situation, I would want to be *the one who decided if and when help is needed*. To have another make that choice can be an affront to one's dignity and self-worth - even when it is done out of love and concern (and for your own protection).
This is IMO only and comes from experience with my 94 year old mother and 97 year old mother-in-law. But I do think you should check it out...

yaya said...

We had a similar experience with a couple at our Church. We talked with them and of course they said they didn't need help. We checked out what services were available and presented it to them..when they realized there was no cost involved they were OK with help. So I think approaching them with the idea of getting some cleaning and cooking help might be in order. If they don't agree and keep going down hill, I would call social services before they get sick or hurt. It's a hard choice I know, but you're a good neighbor to keep an eye out on them. Let us know what happens.

#1Nana said...

There is no other family? There have been lots of nice suggestions about collecting information and protecting their dignity, but there comes a time when someone has to step in. If there is no family, I think you have to notify senior services...these problems don't fix themselves.

#1Nana said...

There is no other family? There have been lots of nice suggestions about collecting information and protecting their dignity, but there comes a time when someone has to step in. If there is no family, I think you have to notify senior services...these problems don't fix themselves.

Brian Miller said...

i would start by talking to them, to see what their options are...if they can not afford it...there may be programs available...if they wont talk about it....yes i would call....it is the humane thing to do...

Meryl Baer said...

Definitely look into help. Visiting Angels, Meals on Wheels, whatever the local area offers free or low-cost. Talk with your neighbors. They will be more likely to accept help when consulted and part of the process.

friend said...

They do not have to allow Social Services inside. Put yourself in their position. Speak with them and get their perspective before you call "the cops". Empathy.
We went through this with our next door neighbors who are now both deceased. It is very complicated. Turned out becoming a long important life changing chapter in our own lives. Like a mirror that we are still in. Good Luck.

Hilary said...

I would do some research to see what's available in your area at no cost to them. Hopefully you can find the right social service or combination of services that can help them keep her place and their dignity. Gather your information and then present it to them. Hopefully your help will be looked upon favourably. Even if it isn't, I believe it's still the right direction to go.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

That's a tough question, Rosaria, because so many older people fear losing their independence or losing what money they have paying for support services. As several others have suggested, I would talk with them first and see what help they would be open to seeking. Certainly, services available through Meals on Wheels and other no or low cost options might be least threatening. Maybe help from church volunteers in repairing or organizing or cleaning their home as a one-time event would be possible. It would be good to explore what help is possible locally. Only after talking with them and exploring all options -- and finding that they are still in dire need of help (maybe simply can't live independently anymore) would I call Social Services.

Amanda Summer said...

Yes, but I agree with Tom Sightings and wouldn't do it behind their back.

A Cuban In London said...

If it's under the remit of concern for someone, the answer is yes. It's good that you are concerned about their well-being. Just because she is 95 that doesn't meant that we should forget about her. she is a human entitled to human rights. They are lucky to have you as a neighbour.

Greetings from London.

rosaria williams said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
I did contact social services, and they took it from there. My neighbor had shared with me that she could pay for services, just didn't have energy to initiate anything. None of her close friends took any initiative, btw. I consulted with someone in the health care for seniors, and they gave me the contact numbers, as well as the approach.

Would you believe this had gone on for the last few years? I kept thinking, I don't want to hear about her falling and injuring herself, and being shipped to a nursing home when in fact, with little help at home, she can manage to enjoy everything.

Terri B said...

I think I would talk to her and ask permission to help. She may tell you to buzz off, but it wouldn't hurt to try. You might be able to investigate any free help out there- home health or visiting nurses on your own first, so that you can present those options when you talk to her. I think they will come in once a day- I don't know what all they do..but I believe they are a big help to shut ins. It won't hurt to try. Is there any other relatives? You'd think they would know already, but maybe they don't.