Enter Adult Protective Services.

When the social worker mentions that the hospital was prepared to call Adult Protective Services (APS) because they were so concerned about my parents, it initially sends a chill up my spine.

We are trying to help my parents, we know they want to stay independent, but they are unable to do so safely anymore. Now they are getting themselves into situations where others are recognizing their state.

I ask her what it means to have APS involved. Might this be a good lever to help my parents make a choice to get some assistance? She suggests I call and just ask them.

When I call APS, they ask if I want to file a report. No – I just have a few questions. I let her know I have two elderly parents and I’m concerned for their safety. How could APS help?

I’m told that they first and foremost respect an individual’s right to choose how they live. Their goal is to protect the elderly against fraud, abuse and neglect. In my parents’ case, it might qualify as self-neglect. However, she continues, they have every right to refuse assistance.

I was hoping this was an option since the only other one seems to be to wait around until something bad happens. This choice is not ours. Undeterred.

12 thoughts on “Enter Adult Protective Services.

  1. I urge you not to go down this path for any reason..While it may seem like a helpful option, it is not. Someone reported my mom as being “abusive” to my father because she was feeding him rotted food. (She couldn’t tell the difference between rotted and fresh). Once this happened, I could not stop the process and we (they and I) tumbled into an abyss that can only be described as one of the inner rings of hell from which there is no escape.

    In the long run, you will do yourself a far greater service to take the bull by the horns yourself than to hand it over to strangers that will eventually make you the villain when you start to question their check-box protocols and disagree with their personal agendas.

      1. I’m not sure exactly what happened for this reader – I know when I was interacting with APS I realized that unless my parents were in imminent danger, there was really nothing they could do — I was ready for help from ANYONE. However, I am local and APS knew that I was engaged and trying to help them as was the retirement community. My understanding is that they could initiate guardianship proceedings. But that was not my experience.

  2. I agree with Jeanne – do not let APS get involved! I cannot believe the social worker didn’t advise you; maybe she couldn’t? Anyway, if family can’t take care of them, I’d suggest interviewing home health agencies and selecting the one you believe will take good care of your parents, has the approapriate credentials, etc.

    1. Thanks Ladies. We are considering a variety of choices. For now, they are not interested in having any outside help.

      I know several terrific home health agencies and have great recomendations for Geriatric Care Managers.

      I hope to be able to use them some day soon.

      1. You’re welcome. Remember, it’s not about what your parents want or whether or not they are interested in outside help. They need it and you must get it ASAP. It’s great that you know several terrific home health agencies and have recommendations for GCM’s….now is the time to act on the information!

  3. There are bad social workers at APs, just as there are bad home care agencies, fraudulent referral agencies, abusive caregivers, … In the greater Sacramento, California area, we have called in APS several times, with very positive results, on occasion.

    I was surprised by the social worker’s statement about your parents having “every right to refuse assistance.” If there is no conservator in place or appropriate power of attorney, that is correct, but it begs the question as to whether there should be a conservator named.

    Families face a very tough choice, sometimes, concerning whether they want to or have the strength to challenge their parents’ in this space. It should never be approached lightly, but sometimes the right choice is to acknowledge it is the only safe solution for a loved one.

    Selecting a great home care company means nothing if the parent(s) has the legal right to say, “Get the heck out of my house.” Adult children need to take a deep breath, sometimes, and decide what is the lesser evil — let mom and dad neglect themselves and refuse help that is objectively needed, or talk to an elder law attorney about alternatives.

    There just are no easy solutions.

    Best wishes. Bert, Support For Home

    1. Hi Bert – We have POAs, however, we know our next step would be to see the Elder Care lawyer and pursue guardianship.

      Bleech. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Since people with dementia are on ground that is constantly slipping and shifting, they will go to extremes in order to keep/gain control of their lives … even if it’s only the illusion of control. Having Guardianship will not neutralize this, and in fact, may make the situation worse. A lot (one source said 50%) of people with dementia develop psychoses. I wonder how much of this is because of the disease, and how much is a reaction to the way family members handle the situation.

    Too many people faced with this situation have – often for years – been itching to “manage” their parents. If they’re disturbed or even unhappy (and studies suggest most of us are), they may harbor a deep need to CHANGE their parents or their parents’ ways. It’s tempting to see Guardianship as a carte blanche. It gives us an excuse to take control and “fix” things. And the last thing most parents want is for their adult children to swoop in and take over. Positioning yourself as an authority figure is like painting a set of crosshairs on your back. Dementia makes people reactionary, sometimes dramatically so. And unlike rebellious adolescents, they are UNlearning. It will take all the patience you can muster to convince them you are “with” instead of “agin” them.

    If you keep away from APS, which focuses heavily physical needs (providable by a multitude of job-creating – and usually profit-generating [surprise!] – outfits), you may be able to make a sloooow transition. I’m not ordinarily that keen on counseling/therapy, but in this scenario I cannot stress it enough. The next several years will involve continual adjustment on all fronts. My siblings thought they could anticipate every problem, get things set up, and then withdraw (which they AND my parents would have preferred). Not a chance! Unless you’re truly prepared to have law enforcement back you up, when emotions flare – and they will, even if you magically manage to embrace every character flaw your parents ever had – Guardianship may become just a piece of paper. At those times, what may help most is an objective outsider who is calm, caring, and trustworthy. Even if your parents are skeptical, it will help keep you (and your siblings, if you have any) on an even keel.

    1. Thank you for your specific feedback. It’s very helpful.

      We are working through this. I will share this with my siblings for our next phone call. I think we just hope the next step will make it better. It hasn’t so far, seems to just add more confusion and anger as we all start to loose patience.

      We need that the most.

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