If you think your neighbors are being neglected or abused by their children …

If you think your neighbors are being neglected or abused by their children … Call Adult Protective Services.

After some events over the past few days, I’m aggravated by the random involvement of my parent’s neighbors. Please HELP us help our parents!

If you hear your neighbors telling you that their children have taken their cars, are forcing them into a retirement community, are stealing their money, don’t try to fix this on your own. Call Adult Protective Services (APS). APS investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults 60 years of age or older and incapacitated adults age 18 or older.

If what your neighbor is telling you is true, they need an advocate. Instead of trying to fix the one issue, tell them that you will help them by getting someone involved who can provide them with more permanent assistance to address any past or upcoming issues.

You did not help my parents when you helped them re-key their car, or break into their own home.

The Situation You Aren’t Aware Of: Both my parents had their licenses revoked by the DMV, told us about it, and continued to drive. We learned that their insurance company dropped them after getting the revocation notice. My brothers flew into town, discussed the issue with my parents who initially handed over their car keys. They visited with them and helped them adjust for the three days following this action. A second brother stayed on a week to help my parents.

My parents were compliant the first few days and then started to rebel.

What A Neighbor Did: My parents neighbor connected my dad with someone to “rewire” the car. This cost over $800 and then created additional issues with the car’s electrical system.  We could no longer use the original keys and then had to tow the car to a shop to “refix” the car. Add another $500 to the tab.

The Possible Consequences of your Help: My parents could have killed someone else or themselves when they got in the car to drive. Many days, they don’t remember they no longer have a valid driver’s license or any insurance.

Thanks Neighbor!

Please know that several neighbors have either my phone number or that of my brother. We reached out to ask for their help should they be concerned for my parents safety or well-being.

I’m sure you thought you were helping your kind old neighbors. Please next time just call APS. Frustrated.

20 thoughts on “If you think your neighbors are being neglected or abused by their children …

  1. Kay, I have actually not seen an article like this, so reading it my reaction was, “Oh, of course. How intuitively obvious!” You have struck on an issue that I am sure bedevils many families and the family – and professional – caregivers who are working their _____ off to make life better for folks like your parents.

    Great job.
    Bert Cave, Support For Home

    1. Sadly – most people don’t even know about APS – I didn’t until I was walking in these shoes!

      It made me feel better to share the story and I do hope it can be found if people are searching on the topic!

  2. Since most people think they are helping their neighbors rather than hurting them, it might be a good idea to send your blog post as a letter to the editor of your local paper. Your neighbors and others might learn from it. Good luck with your parents. It is a difficult job!

  3. Shortly after we moved by then 93 year old aunt to the nursing home, she would go to see the social worker every day to tell them my brother had stolen all her money, took her house and car and she wanted him arrested! Fortunately for us, the social worker had met all the relatives and has had lots of experience with dementia. Things quieted down until one of my aunt’s neighbors went by the nursing home to tell her, a dementia patient, that we had robbed her blind and stolen her car. In fact, we were mowing the yard, moving out important papers, cleaning up inside, securing the house. The car, registered in my aunt’s name and another cousin, was taken by that cousin so that he could start paying the insurance instead of my aunt. Now he doesn’t know what to do with the car because he doesn’t need it yet he feels weird about selling it. Yeah, I get it with the “helpful” neighbors. They are probably just scared they could be next.

  4. My mother is being financially abused by other family (and “almost family”) members in Alameda County, Califorinia. I reported this to senior services and asked that an investigation be started, because hundreds of dollars were being taken from her bank account, via an ATM machine, every week.. The county cannot start an investigation without my mother’s written permission. And my mother has dementia and is unable to make a decision to give her permission. One of the “almost family” members has power of attorney—she wrote up the document herself and got my mother to sign it, which is legal in California—and since she is the one I believe is stealing the money, she won’t give permission for an investigation! I ended up sending an email to everyone stating that I was aware of the missing funds and that power of attorney does NOT give one access to the person’s money. The stealing has slowed down, but is still happening. I was hoping to have my mother in an assisted living situation by now, but she no longer has the money to afford it. My niece, who is one of the people I suspect of stealing from my mother, moved in with my mother after I sent out the email to everyone. I suspect it’s because she no longer has my mother as a source of enough income to pay her rent elsewhere, as she does not work. I am FURIOUS that the organization that is supposed to HELP my mother cannot do so…What good is it if it can’t help dementia patients without their written permission that they are unable to give??? My mother has lost tens of thousands of dollars. She is 89 years old and had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life and now has next to nothing. And no one can, or will, do anything about it. My hands are tied, and I am so saddened and frustrated by this situation. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    1. How frustrating for you. I’m sorry to hear of your situation.

      APS can’t make your mom accept help. They should have spent time with her to determine if she was capable of making decisions. I know from experience that someone can be in the mild toward moderate stage before someone realizes something is quite wrong with the person sitting in front of them.

      Do you have access to any medical records that will demonstrate a dementia diagnosis? Have others reported their concerns (other family members or neighbors?)

      Don’t give up. All things eventually come to light.

      1. Her neighbor have had to call the police when she got locked out, and the fire dept. when she tried burning some junk mail in her fireplace, but forgot to open the flue, and an ambulance when she fell down. The neighbor has helped her search for belongings she thought were missing and he is the one she went to when her bank statement didn’t “seem right”. He discovered that funds were being withdrawn weekly from her accounts and contacted me. Her previous doctor was a geriatric specialist and diagnosed her dementia. She fired him, and went to someone else and will not give me the name of the new doctor. She has become very paranoid and accuses me – and my ex-husband – of stealing her money and conspiring with my daughter to kill her by stealing her cholesterol meds. Her prescription vial opened in her purse and all the pills were found. Honestly, stealing her pills and waiting for her arteries to harden would be an awfully slow way to kill someone, wouldn’t it? But she thought we were doing that. My daughter flew all the way from Dubai to California to take my mom on a vacation to her favorite Sonoma coast resort and my mother accused her of stealing the pills during that trip. It was a 4 day nightmare for my daughter…she took my mom home 3 days early because she couldn’t take it anymore.
        Dementia is so horrible, so devastating to everyone. And it breaks my heart to think about what must be going on in my mom’s head and how frightened she must feel sometimes. It’s all so sad.

    2. Similar situation here in wa state, but its a stroke victim a neighbor of my disabled nephew.I called adult protection services…and i am in a field i am a MANDATED REPORTER…..after 3 weeks of them not even calling me back, i finally talked to someone and no one even came out.The man has a wife and 2 adult children living with him, and they leave him in his own waste for hours while fighting over who will change him…we was taken by ambulance to local hospital bleeding and blistered under entire genital area…they just sent him back home, hes only feed mashed potatoes…if and when hes fed….its so sad i cant help him.His children steal his bank card when he sleeps and steals his money for drug addictions

      1. This is such a sad story. Unfortunately, I seem to hear more feedback on when APS didn’t help than when they did. However, there are many passionate, driven APS staffers who do want to help when they can. I’m surprised the hospital didn’t report the case.

        Local churches may offer respite care for even a few hours for the family. Might they consider that option?

        I have tried to widen the circle around my parents of those who know and understand what is happening — in there case it’s helping provide a wider safety net. Possibly in his case, it may provide more skills and compassion in supporting him.

        Thank you for sharing.

  5. APS will do nothing! I have called them twice to report my step-son steling from my mother-in-law. He steals her medicine, car and money. She is aware that he does this but cannot stop him. She did get a restraining order but they poilce won’t do anything because she continues to allow him in the house. If she doesn’t let him in he will break in. My husband has thrown him out many times but he continues to come back. She is not in her right mind and no one will help her.

    1. I’m so sorry for you all. The limitation to APS is they won’t force you to accept help – has your mom been able to provide the details when they visited?

      I have gotten more complaints of them being too involved.

      I hope it gets better for you all. Maybe a big neighbor would be of help in your situation!

      1. APS isn’t involved AT ALL….they came out ONCE to check on her, she told them she was fine and they haven’t been back despite repeated calls to 2 different social workers from both me and my mom’s neighbor. When I call, they tell me they spoke with “Debbie” and she said things were going well and my mother didn’t need their help at this time. Debbie is my niece’s OTHER grandmother and used to be my mom’s housekeeper. SHE has been stealing from my mom for years! I give up.

      2. I can appreciate being worn out. My parents believe they are fine too. If the person that is reported to APS says they don’t want or need help, then APS won’t pursue it.

        In my case, I would rather the neighbors report it. My parents neighbor got them back behind the wheel without a license and without insurance. My parents told them their kids took the cars from them. They did not remember handing over the keys after seeing the license revocation notices and the cancelled insurance letter.

        I hope your mom will consider agreeing to accept the help they can provide in the future. It’s tough.

  6. Kay, I don’t get you…sorry. But you write an article that makes one assume you know something about dementia patients and how APS works to help them…but what you don’t seem to be understanding is that a dementia patient who doesn’t even comprehend that she/he HAS dementia and doesn’t believe any of her “loved ones” would ever do anything to hurt her, financially or otherwise, is not going to accept help from APS when she doesn’t believe she needs help with anything! Dementia patients need true advocates within the system…because family members apparently have no power to help.

    1. I think I misunderstood you. From your note, I thought you were unhappy with the response from APS. I am very well versed (times 2) about when the individual doesn’t want help. I thought you were saying APS didn’t respond to request or follow up.

      We are looking down the barrels of guardianship — my parents think they are doing just fine.

      1. I AM unhappy with APS! That’s the point! They can’t help because they expect my mother, who has serious dementia, to be able to make the decision to accept their help! She doesn’t know morning from night and they expect her to be able to determine whether or not she needs help. APS was originally contacted because of financial abuse, but can’t start an investigation without my mom’s consent. She doesn’t have a clue that thousands of dollars are disappearing from her bank accounts, even though it’s been explained to her numerous times. She’s furious about it when we tell her, but 4 hours later does not remember anything about it. That’s WHY we need APS to step in…there is major financial abuse taking place, but they expect her to give them permission to start an investigation of something she doesn’t even remember. It’s a vicious cycle…

      2. Hey Christine — I strongly urge you consider starting a case for guardianship. I was mixed up over your comments because your note yesterday was about a neighbor’s issue from a different email address.

        If I can’t get my parents on the right track, that is our last resort. Everything about this stinks. My parents aren’t my parents and the part of them that is my parents won’t understand why their children are suing them. I hope after I emerge from this, I can help advocate for a better system. We have too many more people that will be facing what we face in the coming decades.

        Bah humbug!

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