Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friday, August 05, 2011 Burned out, Community Member, asks

Q: I need to get help for my 90 year old widowed neighbor who has no one. She also has been diagnosed with dementia--where do I go for help?

This woman counts on me for groceries, transportation to her doctors 1 hr. away, cutting all her huge property of grass and shoveling all her snow --everything!! BUT--she has a paid caretaker that does not live with her and does nothing but pay her bills and collect his check beginning of each month. I am burned out because she calls me 6 times a day wanting me there--this csn't continue because I have an 83 year old mom who has medical problems in the next town that I am taking care of and this neighbor tells me that my mom can wait----I'm really upset.
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Answers (5)
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
8/ 7/11 2:40pm

You are so kind and have done so much, but it's time for social services to get involved. If you have contact information for the family, give that to social services as well. They should be able to figure out what steps are needed to take care of her.

Thank you for being such a wonderful neighbor. There does come a time when you can't do it all. Your time has come. Please get help from agencies that are put in place for people's welfare.

 

Please check back if you can,

Blessings,

Carol

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Burned out, Community Member
8/11/11 8:09am

Hello and thank you so much for your advice.  I have finally made contact with a caseworker with the state of PA.  She explained to me that she was going to call this lady and try to get her to agree for someone to check on her ---get her meals on wheels---some housecleaning help and help with her own personal needs.  BUT she said she will have to agree --or they will not be able to do anything---maybe because there is a caretaker involved??  The state has not called back --so I am assuming that they may have convinced her to accept the services.  I have also asked that my name not be involved this time.  I went down this road last september 2010 with this lady and all I got was alot of grief.  Grief from people who would not get involved --but were always telling ME what to do.  I plan to still do what I can, without a confrontation with the caretaker--so like I said before --it's like walking on eggs.  I just don't know how I get myself in the middle of things sometimes----but I wasn't raised to not respect my elders and was always taught to do for people, so I can't be right here by her everyday and see this go on like it is.  I hope I did the right thing. 

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
8/11/11 8:13am

You absolutely did your best, and are doing the right thing now. It's time for social services to take over. If the woman won't agree, you can't help that. Eventually, she will.

 

You got yourself into this because you have a caring heart, and it's very difficult to detach once we are involved. I spent five years as the primary caregiver for my neighbor - my first eldercare experience - so I know a little of what you are feeling.  It becomes a complete entanglement.

 

Please take care of yourself and let the professionals figure it out.

Carol

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NC, Community Member
8/ 5/11 6:38pm

Hi Burnedout,

 

Does she have any family? Who hires the person for her? Family? If she has family, you can call social worker and tell her that she needs more help. A neighbor can only do so much. If she is treating you like her personal caregiver or even her family, then you need to draw a line - you got a Mom too. She has no right to tell you that your Mom can wait.

This is actually the family's responsibility. You need to tell the family that you cannot help her anymore. Sometimes the family may assume that it is OK with you, not that the family should leave it like this. That caregiver that helps her bills should do more for her but I guess she didn't order him to do so.

 

Unless you can call her family directly, call the social worker about this situation. I would suggest that you go to the family first and tell them if they don't hire a proper person to help her do all the chores, you will call the social worker who will find help for her.

 

Regards,
NC

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Burned out, Community Member
8/ 6/11 11:15am

Yes --she has a son that lives within a ,ile of her --but he has not tlaked to her for almost 20 years---neither of her grandaughters do either --and they sre both grown women.  Its so sad and she's getting worse.  Her son will not talk about her --he and his wife say--as far as they are concerned --she's dead.

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NC, Community Member
8/ 6/11 12:26pm

You know what, I understand you and she have been good neighbors or even close friends.... But the family law is there and it is strong. If you go to the court about this, the judge will go to the son and force him to comply and take care of her.

it is the rule. He has to do it. You have no obligations. The other option may be that he will get some money for you so you can do some caregiving for her - not 24 hours of course. The son has to come up to hire someone to take care of his Mom. It is HIS obligation.

I know you are afraid of trouble - but look here, he has done you wrong. You are only a neighbor. Why should you have to take care of his Mom?
He should be the one in trouble!!

 

About this cousin of her husband's, he is also at some fault. These are her family members. Shame on them to put the burden on you. You are not even her goddaughter!

 

Call the authority and report such irresponsibility! At least you need to get a proper position for you from the court like a guardian or something so you have the power to do what you need to do. I would suggest that you don't do this anymore and leave it to the court - the judge will appoint the son or someone else to be her guardian.

 

My FIL's neighbor even bothered to tell my husband to care for his Dad! (It was just some misunderstanding - we didn't hire anyone yet in the very beginning in 2005.)

 

Regards,

NC

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NC, Community Member
8/ 5/11 6:57pm

If she has no one, you can call the social worker. However if you are there, she will always call you to help. She needs to get a live-in helper or goes to a nursing home or AL. It is hard to tell her that you  cannot help anymore. Maybe you can start with stopping helping some part of it. Hire a snow boy to shovel for her and she will pay for it.
Talk to the guy that is helping her and see if he can do more and what is he? Is he a caregiver or volunteer or CNA? Does he know any home care professional?

 

One reason that she treats you as a personal caregiver is that she is confused. My FIL always thought his neighbors owe him money or they are his caregivers somehow... The block of the houses seem to be connected to him. But there are all separate households!! You need to  draw a line.

Maybe use an answer machine. If she calls, don't answer it. Get call display and if you know it is her, don't answer it. Of course, in the mean time, call the social worker to get help for her ASAP so she does not bother you so much.

 

Regards,
NC

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Burned out, Community Member
8/ 6/11 11:25am

The paid caregiver does nothing more more her than write checks for her bills and pays himself---there is no"CARE" given.  He is a cousin of her husbands who passed away last October.  Her husband was very sick and died of cancer back then and I already was cooking--cleaning bathing, dressing and you name it for both of them.  But do know I got involved because I wanted to help them--being a neighbor for 38 years now. They were always good to us and good to my son as a child and a grownup.  This caretaker has lose all interest in his purpoase since the husband died===and it upsets me how he has done nothing about getting help for her. I am between a rock and a hard place here.  Seeing this everyday and knowing he is not living up to his agreement. The family----forget that--I tried.  I am an outsider who is just concerned---knowing that it is none of my business---I'm not sure how to handle it at this point without making "waves".

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Burned out, Community Member
8/ 6/11 11:30am

I also need to mention that the husband set this arrangement up, for the caretaker,  with a lawyer when he knew his days were numbered---in good faith.  The husband wanted us to sign papers and we didn't want to because of the situation with the absent son----we were afraid of trouble that may have resulted that we didn't want for anyone to have to go through.

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NC, Community Member
8/ 8/11 12:45pm

It was good that you didn't sign the paper. However, what the husband didn't do was to assign a POA or guardian for his wife. That is the problem. You are a good Samaritan. But it has to stop at some point. The son has the legal position to do anything for his Mom but he chose not to.  The thing is since the power is in his hand, if you drive his Mom and something goes wrong and have a car accident that harms his Mom, he may still come to you for compensation. You see, that is why being legal is quite important.

 

Someone has to be the POA to handle this old woman.

 

Take care,

NC

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NC, Community Member
8/ 8/11 10:41am

The other thing is, she is incompetent. So you cannot really count on her to make a change or whatever. That is why she needs a guardian who will decide what to do for her. If she asks you 6 times a day, that is because she thought of you as her personal caregiver for some reason. Maybe she wanted to use you but she may also be confusd and cannot recognize people properly and thinks that any neighbor owes her.

 

Like I said before, please call the social service and they will figure it out.

 

If you really want to worry about what kind of care she needs to have, you need to have a legal position like POA to worry about that. Otherwise it is the family's business.

 

I know there was a story in this house behind my FIL's old house. My FIL is now in a residential home. Anyway, there were 3 or 4 siblings in that old house behind my FIL's house. The parent was a professor. What people didn't know was that their siblings died one by one in old age but were never reported and the bodies were in the house. In any case, one day someone nosy went to see the house and found out about it. There is only one living sibling alive and we saw her often. The social worker sent her to a nursing home. So, the goverment does have the power to help but people have to report it.

 

Regards,
NC

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Burned out, Community Member
8/ 8/11 1:27pm

I do so appreciate all this input to this problem at hand.  The caretaker appointed by the husbands lawyer gets paid 500.00 a month-----in return he is supposed to be there for her.   Well--he IS--but ONLY to write checks to pay her bills and then of course the check to himself.  I could not take money like that and not look after her the way he should be, but like I mentioned before-----it is her husbands cousin and he has dropped the ball --big time since the husband passed away.  This is really what is upsetting me.  How can somebody be that way??  This cousin signed papers ---BUT he told us that he is not power of attorney.  This was told to us when she was to go in for tests again an hour away--and I told him I can't handle her myself--and can't take her on the highway for an hours drive without help.  His reply was"Well then you gotta do what you gotta do" and that was it!!!!!!!  These appointments are scheduled now and he is expecting me to do all this--or he would have not answered me this way!!!! The lady who is in need, complains about this man and she said she don't want him around---so here I am again. Do I just forget about these doctor appointments????  Ignore it all--- and hope she gets taken care of??  Since the middle of June--- this caretaker has been in Tennessee for 9 days---the poconos in Pa. for 2 weeks and is now in Alaska for about 16 days.  How does he justifiy just leaving and not even calling me to let me know that he won't be around and just leave her like this???  But still collects.  Just aggravates me to no end.

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NC, Community Member
8/ 8/11 2:56pm

One reason that he can sign but is not the POA may be that he only shares the joined account of hers. If he has the name in her bank account, then he can sign the checks. This does not mean he is POA. So he may be right that he is not.

However, it seems you guys are still trying to help her. Why don't you try to contact the late husband's lawyer and see what his suggestion is. Tell him she is incompetent now and the lawyer should know that - there is elderly attorney who handles the elder's affairs.

 

I think at this point both the cousin and son are liable to be responsible. They are using you as free caregivers. The cousin did hint that if you don't have time to help her, then that is it. If he leaves her alone like that, you can call social worker at this point to tell her the family ignores her.

You have done all you can.

 

Take care,

NC

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NC, Community Member
8/ 8/11 4:05pm

The other thing I would like to mention is how the authority treats the neighbors. My FIL once went to the ER via the 911 ambulance. The caregiver was able to ride with him to go to the hospital. The neighbor that bothered to tell us to care for my FIL told us she tried to find out what is going on and the driver told her only family can be told.

So the family is powerful when it comes to the authority such as fireman or paramedics and etc. I still think at this point the son is the key. He needs to come up to be responsible or find someone else to be the POA or guardian.

 

Sometimes it is also tricky because most people have no idea what an dementia elder is like. She can lie to you and pretend she is normal so people don't want to bother her. Plus the selfish people or family members. It all adds up to be abuse unfortunately.

 

Good luck,
NC

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AFA Social Services, Health Guide
8/10/11 12:05pm

It sounds like you have given a lot of time and energy to caring for your neighbor.  Since you now feel overwhelmed and burned out by these responsibilities, perhaps you could speak with the paid caregiver about all that you do for this woman and discuss what alternative care options are available. Also, perhaps this paid caregiver knows of family members who could get involved with her care.  You might also want to find out the local social services agency in your area and provide this information to your neighbor's paid caregiver, family members and/or guardian to see about having your neighbor assessed for services.  Locate your local agency on aging at  www.eldercare.gov by entering your zip code.  When calling that agency, ask about case management services. 

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Burned out, Community Member
8/10/11 2:27pm

Thank you so much for your input. I had just had a conversation with the caretaker concerning a medical problem the doctor detected when I took her to her appt.---( because he was going on vacation for the 3rd time since mid June)----they scheduled a colonoscopy and I tried to tell him I could not be with her for 48 hours straight from the prep start till she was released because of obligations to my own 83 yr. old ill mother and of course my husband and family. The only response was a shrug of his shoulders and the reply---Well whatever you gotta do--ya gotta do. This is an examlpe of what I get talking to him.

But in no way did he say well I'll make arrangements---nothing.  The day was getting closer and of course he went out of state, for the 2nd of 3 vacations about three days before this was scheduled.  Right now I've been in contact with the dept on aging here in Pa.  They told me the caregiver should be involved with this matter and that if she does not agree with having services come in--they are not able to help her.  Right now the caregiver is in Alaska---won't be back for close to 3 weeks again.  How can this man continue getting paid when he's never around and is NOT tending to her medical needs???------because he KNOWS I live here right by her. She only has one son and he has not talked to her for 20 years. He has already been approached by social services and he says he wants nothing to do with it.--that's how this caretaker became involved. So this whole thing started with her husband becoming bedridden with cancer, and her with a broken shoulder June of last summer.  I was there everyday---cooking cleaning, washing clothes and getting them cleaned up and dressed--and I did it --because I WANTED to help them, knowing their family didn't care. Finally they were put in a home in October--then they signed themselves out becasue he wanted to die at home.  He did within 24 hours. No one ever came to check on her and so she's been left by herself since October 2010.  The caregiver she has was great and we worked together while the husband was still alive(caretaker was his cousin) and he was appointed by the lawyer involved to take care of her and be paid monthly--and here we are.  the only one helping her is me and my family. All doctor appt.--some 1 hr. away---she has about 2 acres of grass the we take care of ---shovel her huge double garage driveway and I did what I could for both of them in everyway from June to Sept 4, 2010 when they were placed in the home for a little over a month.

The caretaker don't do anything for her and I'm being told by MY doctor to back off --or I'll be on anti-depressants again.  She just cannto be in that house alone and I'm not sure that she's ablr to make her own decisions.  It's a big mess and I feel like I'm walking on eggs all the time---afrain that I am over stepping my boundaries just to make sure she is ok.  If you can--please advise. 

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AFA Social Services, Health Guide
8/10/11 3:16pm

Burned Out,

Can you please email me off-line so that I can provide you with some assistance with this matter.  Please send an email to info@alzfdn.org and please put in the subject line "for social work."

 

Thank you!

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NC, Community Member
8/10/11 9:31pm

AFA should be able to help you. I think it is more complicated. But if you cannot take her to the appointment, you just have to cancel it for her for now if she has no other way to go. Have you told her doctor about her state?

 

Looks like this requires some stronger force meaning spelling out elder abuse and gets the court involved. Maybe checking  with an elderly attorney will help. Some local senior service provides free legal advices.

 

Please for your own sake, don't be too involved even though you have been involved so much. I think the law has to be involved if the soft approach didn't work.

 

I hope someone stronger in social service can help this more positively.

 

Good luck,
NC

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Burned out, Community Member
8/11/11 7:55am

Thanks again NC for your imput. It's really lonely when you are backied into a corner like this.  I should just walk away from the whole thing ---but this lady doesn't deserve this and she has always depended on me and my family --even before her husband passed.  The problem with her family doctor is that he had treated her for the past 15 years or so, and has been transferred out of the area for about 6 months now.  The practice was taken over at that time by another group and the 3 times I've taken her there so far--there was a different doctor----so none of them know her or her history.  My family also went to the same doctor we are a one horse town here and are lucky to have a doctor.  He did NOT own the practice, and however it happened, the records are no longer there for former patients. So my support from there is all but nothing since no one knows her. It would be so much easier if I were related--but I'm just an outsider.

I did not hear back from the Dept of the aging here in Pa.--so that may be good.  The lady said she was going to call the 90 yr. old and try to get her to let them come in with meals on wheels --house cleaning and help her with her needs.  I am assuming she may have agreed--I hope so.  I went down this road before with this widow --so I told the lady to keep my name out of it this time since there is a caregiver involved this.  I think once someone gets in the house and talks to her ---they will see the problems.  Maybe the state will step in there then and take care of things ---and check on this caretaker and what he is not doing for her. 

 

 

he aging here in Pa,

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By Burned out, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/08/13, First Published: 08/05/11