Schizophrenia, elder abuse, and minding our own business
May 16, 2014 1:05 PM Subscribe
Our schizophrenic neighbor appears to be emotionally abusing his elderly mother. When do we step in?
posted by sportbucket to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mrs Sportbucket and I bought a house last fall. Our neighbor to the south -- let's call him Mikey -- is in his 40s and lives with his elderly mother. His mother is probably in her 80s. When we do see her she's usually working in the garden, so she's still relatively healthy and able-bodied. I've tried to talk with her on a few occasions, but it never goes farther than "hello". I think she speaks English, but it's probably her second language.
Mikey mostly stays inside and keeps to himself, though he sometimes wanders the neighborhood late at night. Occasionally he comes outside to shout obscenities at what appears to be a threatening person or group of people.
As his neighbor, we can sometimes see and hear him shouting at our house through his closed windows. We also hear him yelling and screaming inside his house without actually seeing him. It's not always possible to make out what he's saying, but he appears agitated. Twice I have heard him accusing someone (his mother?) of drugging his beer.
This isn't a daily thing, it comes and goes in spurts. I don't know if that means he's medicated some of the time, or if he's not always there, or if he just doesn't do it consistently.
I have talked to Mikey in person at least twice. He seemed guarded, but not particularly agitated by me. Each time he asked (somewhat accusingly) if I knew who had been "tampering" with his appliances, making obscene gestures at him, and/or trying to control him and his mother. (I told him no, I didn't have any idea.) He described what I think is his main tormentor as a "big bald-headed black dude", whom Mikey apparently thinks lives in my house. (I told him I have never seen a person like that at our house, and that it's just me and my wife who live there.)
Clearly, Mikey is suffering from something like schizophrenia. It's awkward and unfortunate that his delusions are centered on our house, but he's never threatened me and I have no reason to believe he's a danger to us. (Though I might feel different if we had kids.)
Last weekend my wife and I were out working in the front yard. We heard Mikey shouting and yelling inside his house, but we could hear another, softer voice (presumably his mother) arguing back. We couldn't make out much of the argument. Mikey sounded very upset and was screaming at the top of his voice. The only bit I could make out was Mikey asking (in full-tilt rage-scream) where the aspirin was.
My wife is a mandatory reporter for elder abuse, so she feels ethically bound to call the authorities the next time we hear something like that. I'm not convinced this will necessarily help anyone.
The neighbors I've spoken to about this know Mikey to be erratic and delusional but otherwise harmless. I think we're the only ones in a position to see/hear the possible/probable elder abuse.
I don't know if Mikey and his mother have any other family in the neighborhood that could help, but I'll keep trying to talk to his mother.
So what do we do? When do we step in?