If I call adult protective services on Mom, what will happen?

Lorilynn asked...

My sister and I have been told by two doctors, a mental health doctor, two EMTs, a firefighter and a policeman that it is time for us to call Adult Protective Services on my parents. My father is 88 years old and walks only with a walker and is very weak. He falls all the time and cannot get up by himself. He has had mini-strokes for the last 5 years. He absolutely refuses to bathe at all. We have begged him, we have cried, we have gotten tough with him...we have tried it all. My mother is 85 years old and suffers from Paranoid Personality Disorder and Alzheimer's. She wants to keep us away from our father, so we have her to contend with when we try to bathe him or make sure he is taking his medication. We have had home health come in to care for my dad on four different occasions. They come for a month or two then each time my mother cancels their services. She says the home health people don't pay attention to her, the just pay attention to my dad. We try to explain to her they are there to help Dad, but she doesn't care. I tried again last week to have home health come back and care for my dad, they refused and told me to call Adult Protective Services.

I don't want APS to come in and take my parents away. My sister , my niece, and I are willing to do anything we can to help, but everything we do is met with such resistance. My mother get's so angry at us when we try to help, she even called the police on us and tried to keep us away from our father. She lies about us and it is so hurtful. Thank God the police know that we are trying to help them. We don't have power of attorney over my father's health care, my mother will not allow it, so we are at her mercy.

I guess my real question is, what will APS do when they come to evaluate the problem? What can they do that we haven't already tried? My sister and I have started having our own health issues over the situation, not sleeping, constant worry, and the stress has become unbearable. We love our parents and we want to do all the right things...we feel so lost.

Thank you so much

Expert Answer

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Adult Protective Services are meant to protect people. You are very sincere.  You want to help, but the situation is beyond what your family can manage. Your parents are not well enough to make their own decisions.

This is the very time when a professional is needed.  A social worker,  trained in helping other families can often intervene and set the family on a proper course of action.

When the social worker comes to assess your parents, the visit itself might shock your parents out of their stubborn and controlling behavior. 

The adult protective services are trained in helping families where abusive patterns of behavior have developed.  You and your sister need protection. Your health is at risk. You must conduct yourself in a way that will help your parents. It is very difficult to stop and listen to advice. You have not done anything wrong.  It is your parents who are old and sick. They are scared. Fear is affecting their judgment.

It takes courage to ask for help. But you have been so clear in the way that you write.  Now is the time. Let go. You can do it!