My Mom's Elderly Relative Needs Care, and my Mom Can't Do It. Help!
June 9, 2022 9:28 AM   Subscribe

My mom lives in a trailer in rural El Dorado County. Her elderly neighbor, K, also lives on a trailer on the same piece of property. My mom drives K to appointments, groceries, &c. The problem is K is getting increasingly difficult to deal with, and it's not my mom's job. How can she get help?

K is becoming "delusional" in my mom's words, telling Mom people have been to visit her and have written on her white board- it's the same notes my mom has written. K talks about going on walks and finding a white church and a town built on a cliff- none of which exist. On top of this she needs rides into town and is difficult and demanding at the best of times.

My mom and I mostly talk via text and she's not always easy to understand, but Mom says that she's spoken to "adult protection" and so has the landlord. "Adult protection" (I'm not sure who this agency might be) say there is nothing they can do unless K wants to go to a home or her landlord evicts her. The landlord is not going to evict her of course.

My mom is in her 70s, is trying to get a job; and doesn't have the time, inclination or expertise to take more and more care of her neighbor- who also happens to be a pretty difficult and unhappy person. They are way up in the hills over several miles of dirt road. Is there any way to get some help for this neighbor, and ultimately, my mom? This is El Dorado county, California. No one involved has much money- I'm pretty sure K is living on social security.
posted by oneirodynia to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Should have mentioned- I believe K is estranged from any living relatives.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:30 AM on June 9, 2022

Best answer: If she's living on Social Security, she likely qualifies for California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, which looks like it provides, at least in principle, some degree of home care for seniors and disabled people.

Your description of K's actions suggests to me that she is experiencing some level of dementia, Alzheimers', or other cognitive disability. Depending on a lot of things, Medi-Cal may be a good source of services and supports to assist K with things that she needs to continue living at home. She should be put in touch with the local Area Agency on Aging as well as the California Alzheimer's Association, the local Independent Living Center, and potentially the local legal aid or disability rights organization to receive assistance advocating for her to enroll in Medi-Cal and to receive the supports she needs.
posted by gauche at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Start with the county department of human services, here. There is likely (hopefully?) some medical transport service available (either private or government) that can get her to doctors appointments and into town.

"Adult protection" is Adult Protective Services, which will attempt to help in cases of abuse or neglect.

I agree with the above that there's likely some dementia coming on, unfortunately. Your mom is, understandably, not equipped to handle the weight of that responsibility.
posted by hydra77 at 9:47 AM on June 9, 2022

This may sound cold and harsh and it is cold and harsh, but your mom could simply stop helping. She should offer to help get services such as the ones suggested above, then bow out. She (your mom) is hopefully going to work, running her own errands and dealing with her own issues. Simply saying she is sorry and does not have the time will likely force the landlord to deal with it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:53 AM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Call the county Adult Protective Services (in El Dorado County, it's 530-642-4800).

Adult Protective Services (APS) is
supervised by the California Department of Social Services and administered locally by the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency. APS provides assistance to elderly and dependent adults who are functionally impaired, unable to meet their own needs or are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

El Dorado County APS receives reports of abuse, neglect or self neglect of elderly or dependent adults, residing in their own homes, for investigation and evaluation of their need for protection and/or services. On a voluntary basis, APS provides and/or coordinates services for elders and dependent adults, and develops case plans for elders and dependent adults who are not able to meet their own needs.
posted by virago at 9:54 AM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Please reassure your mother that she can only do so much. It is commendable that she has provided so much support already and recognises, that she can’t do more. There will be a time when K can no longer live independently, in the middle of nowhere, no matter how much other support she can get. And your mother can’t make up the difference. Even if K gets set up with assorted support structures a lot of these still rely on her cooperation and confused people don’t necessarily cooperate. A home care provider can’t do much if K refuses to let them in. Encourage your mother to figure what she is willing to do going forward and do that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:02 AM on June 9, 2022 [11 favorites]

K is beginning to experience dementia or Alzheimer's and it isn't going to be something your mom can help with. Does K have any family? They need to be looped in as soon as possible, do not assume they know how serious the situation has become.
posted by cakelite at 10:18 AM on June 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Rural healthcare and human services are sometimes difficult to access because agencies and employees are often located in denser urban areas. I think contacting agencies for seniors will be helpful, in part because an agency with some authority can make sure K receives all the services she is eligible for - nearly all services require that the client requests the service, so it's not like she will automatically receive needed services. However, she may need to eventually move, especially if she is unable to care for herself or she is not safe in her home or by herself.

I want to point out to your mom that contacting an appropriate agency is important, and she might want to loop their landlord in. A person with dementia living alone will eventually be unsafe (and it sounds like that point may be now). She could leave the propane on and accidentally cause a fire, she could take a walk into a really desolate area and forget how to get home, she could simply run out of food or stay in a sweltering trailer in the summer heat because she doesn't want to pay for air conditioning, she could forget to pay her electric or water bill and be cut off . . . there are any number of catastrophic scenarios I can imagine.

An agency will also be able to contact any family members who might step up to assist their relative in her old age, where your mom is unlikely to push for contact information and is, in any case, not wanting further involvement. I can understand her reluctance to simply cut off the assistance she knows K needs, but this would be a "warm handoff" to an appropriate agency tasked with Ks welfare.
posted by citygirl at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

In Phila, I have experience with Phila Corporation for Aging, a government agency that helps elderly coordinate care. If she has medicaid she should be eligible to be assessed for a home health aide which would be covered. You may want to search for local agencies and non-profits that assist the elderly or infirm. (Or even a national agency or hotline that can refer you)
posted by bearette at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If the neighbor does have Medi-cal, they can apply for IHSS (in home supportive services) to have a caregiver paid to do the types of things your mom has been doing.
posted by loopsun at 12:14 PM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Citygirl said what I came to say. All I can add is that some participation is going to be needed from K in order to get services - your mom shouldn't feel guilty if she can't find help. She won't be able to do this on her own because she has no legal guardianship or responsibility for K. Some healthcare agencies won't even be able to talk to your mom about K at all due to privacy concerns. Adult Protective Services was a great idea, but if they refuse to intervene, there are other agencies or options.

The landlord might have a better shot at getting help for K than your mom does, because as landlord they DO bear some legal responsibility for her safety. For their own legal protection, the landlord should consider reaching out for legal advice on the situation, and that legal advisor may be able to put pressure on government services to take action.
posted by invincible summer at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: virago, I think that's who my mom has been talking to, and they say they can't help? I'm not sure exactly what my mom has been asking them.

cakelite, K is estranged from her family.

invincible summer and citygirl, those are very good points. I will bring that up.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:05 PM on June 9, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for all the helpful answers- I have sent some info to my mom.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:11 PM on June 9, 2022

I thought that Adult Protective Services might be who your mom was referring to when she mentioned "Adult Protection," oneirodynia.

I'm not sure exactly what my mom has been asking them

I also wonder what information is being communicated to APS. But that's moot if the agency won't intervene.

On review, I agree that your mom has done a lot for K, and it's not clear what else she can do without K's cooperation. So it's OK for her to step aside and let the landlord, acting on the advice of their legal counsel, assume responsibility.

If APS isn't the right agency in this situation, then I'm sure that it could refer your mom's and K's landlord to another agency or agencies that could intervene on K's behalf.

I hope that a safe and affordable place is found for K. Your mom sounds like a good person.
posted by virago at 2:49 PM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would strongly suggest you call APS yourself, since you have knowledge (even second-hand) of what is going on with K. You can make an anonymous report and let them know all the details you're aware of.

APS can't always intervene but they can and do investigate situations like this, depending on what details they learn. You don't know how much your mom shared, so it's now your responsibility to report what you know, too.
posted by assenav at 3:21 PM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

El Dorado Senior Services in Placerville and SLT. Call them, they'll know who you should talk to. All you need is pointers right now, and they'll have them.
posted by rhizome at 11:53 AM on June 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

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