Elder Law Practice of
Douglas R Jones &
Cynthia Orlicek Jones


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What do you do when you are at the “end of your rope”? You have tried your best to provide care for your Mom & Dad who are both declining. It is obvious that they need extra assistance. You have offered your assistance and tried to bring in outside caregivers. But all of this is for naught. They are throwing up a big fat roadblock. They do not want help. When you hit this point, what do you do?

We’ve received the following message (modified slightly to protect identity) from a reader who is at this point.

Could you please enumerate the pros and cons of Adult Protective Services. My parents are 87 and 77, and there are no adult children within 600 miles of them. They have refused to move to our city. My father is totally incontinent and reluctant to wear Depends. He has regular accidents that don’t always get cleaned up. Thankfully they no longer drive and both have some degree of dementia. My sibling and I really don’t know what to do.

Should I Call APS?

Adult Protective Service (APS) Which may be called something different in your state, is a state agency tasked with the responsibility of protecting seniors from abuse or neglect. in situations where a senior is clearly not able to take care of their own needs and there is no family to help, the state agency may step in and take actions to ensure that those needs are met. Sometimes this involves the agency going to Court to obtain a guardianship so that they can be legally authorized by the Court to take action on behalf of the declining Senior.

Typically getting APS involved in a case is a last-ditch solution that no family wants. It’s understandable that at the “end of your rope”, your despair may tell you there is no other option. It is much better where the family can figure out a way to assist with the care of their own parents and retain control themselves. By doing so the family can call the shots rather than the state.

Even though the state does their best to provide care for a Senior, your parents are not their parents. In many states, the state agency is overrun with cases and have much more on their plate than they can handle. This means that they may not even have time to help in any except the most egregious of cases. It also means that if they do help, the actions that they take may be different than the actions that you would take if you were able to be there and provide assistance yourself.

Helping a Parent Who Doesn’t Want Help

In a situation such as yours, if the family is unable to be there personally to provide assistance and if the parents are shunning all attempts to bring in non-medical home care, then unfortunately APS might be the only option. However, don’t be quick to jump to this option.

Before going down this path, I would make another valiant attempt to rally the family at a Mom Centered Family Meeting. Talk with your parents before this meeting in an attempt to let them know that you want to help. See if you can get them to agree to accept help. It would greatly facilitate the process if one or more of the kids could fly home to personally talk with Mom and Dad in kind, compassionate, and loving way, rather than just broaching the subject via phone call. If all of the kids just jump on a conference call with Mom and Dad it can come across as cold and even threatening.

Neutralizing the Threat

Many Seniors feel very threatened when the kids offer to help. They think that the kids just want to put them in a Nursing Home. The parents are very afraid of losing their independence and want to remain home together as long as possible. It is only when the kids are able to sit down with Mom and Dad and assure them that they want to help Mom and Dad achieve what they want. The key is to make this happen is convincing Mom and Dad that the family will need to work together as a unit. If Mom and Dad become convinced that the kids honestly do want to help and that the only way they can remain at home as to allow outside caregivers to come in, they may allow that to happen. It is worth a shot.

If you are reading this, what advice, tips or suggestions do you have for this caregiver? What did you do when you came to the end of your rope? If you are a caregiver and have encountered a similar issue, please comment down below.

I will share any helpful comments in future editions of our email newsletter. Thanks in advance for your input. Together we are a community of caregivers that has great power to help other caregivers in need. Your helpful tips make a huge difference.

Best wishes to all who are struggling to provide the best care possible for the declining Senior(s) in your life.

Next Steps when at the end of your rope:

  • Have a kind, concerned and loving talk with your parent to let them know of your concern. Ask permission to help.
  • Start taking steps to help immediately – these may be little steps at first, but it’s a start.
  • Set a time for a Mom Centered Family Meeting and take some of the steps mentioned above as soon as possible.
  • If your parent hasn’t been assessed by a medical professional lately, this should be done as soon as possible.
  • Ask their physician for suggestions as to how care can be provided at home. Can home health services be prescribed to supplement the care that they are currently receiving?

It is hard to replicate a facility level of care at home. However, it is achievable in many cases with assistance.

Please let us know

Are you at the end of your rope? If you are struggling to help your parents in a situation such as this, please comment your reply to let us know

  • What’s the biggest struggle right now?
  • What are you doing to help?
  • What’s working and what’s not working?
  • What do you see as your next step?

Thank you for taking the time to offer your input. We will share some of the comments we receive from readers in subsequent editions of our newsletter, but we won’t use your name (unless you give us permission
Please add your comments below!

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