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

22 answers | Last updated: Nov 28, 2015
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


Caring.com User - Ann Cason
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49% helpful
Ann Cason answered...

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 See also:
Is home health care part of the Medicaid waiver program SOURCE?

See all 1061 questions about Common Family Conflicts
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!


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58% helpful
jenny_o answered...

APS will not come take your parents away. I found them to be completely ineffective...we were having horrible issues with my mother running away and telling people we were abusing her (we were not in any way, shape, or form!). All APS did was to chastise me and tell me that I needed to change how I handled my mother, and how I needed to deadbolt all the doors and windows in the house so she couldn't escape. (She's only 70. Is VERY strong physically...but has no memory of me as her daughter) I have two minor children in the house and I'm supposed to deadbolt all the doors and windows?? That's a disaster waiting to happen! APS only judged and provided no real help to my family. No advice on what to do with my mother who has no assets and no income. Very disappointing...don't bother calling them.


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38% helpful
/people/6621 answered...

I can appreciate that you had a bad experience with APS. Unfortunately not all are as good as we hope. However, I would still try them. If you don't like the case worker they send ask for another. Where there is a will there is a way. Good luck and keep strong knowing you are doing what you can.


80% helpful
mstattersall answered...

Nothing like a visit from APS to turn your lives upside down. If you can keep them out of it, do so. You need to consult an elder care attorney and file for guardianship of your parents. APS will not help you get the help you need, but an elder care attorney can advise you. Good luck.


71% helpful
liu_fengxi answered...

It apparently depends on where you live, judging from the previous comment: but my own experience with APS has been positive. After the evaluation, the social worker will sit down with you and your sister and discuss the options you and your parents have. Be open-minded---you may hear things that you haven't considered, or thought were too painful to even consider; but if your social worker is any good she will present all sides to you as suggestions, not as orders. (That said, she will not allow your parents to continue in their situation: so not choosing anything isn't an option.) Given that you've had so many professionals tell you to call APS and there is already a public record of distress calls to your parents' house, it's unlikely APS will do nothing. It sounds like your parents are ready for placement in a longterm nursing facility, and it's likely that's where they will go for their own safety and YOUR peace of mind. But hang in there! You and your sister have done your best; now let others with professional experience help you out.


50% helpful
Lisbeth answered...

I don't know if the laws differ that much from state to state, but in my state, the doctors, EMTs, and the home health people would have been ethically/legally obligated to call APS themselves. I'm surprised that they putting the responsibility on you and your sister to do it. The police here call APS frequently, as well.

You could call APS and just ask them generally, without giving your name, what their procedure is in situations like that of your parents. Since services apparently vary greatly from one area to another, this might give you a better idea of what your options are.

Hang in there-your concern for your parents is commendable, but don't forget to take care of yourself as well. Also, please try not to let your mom's words hurt you - simply put, her brain is not working right, and it's not something she has any control over. My guess is that, if she were miraculously healed today, she'd feel awful about the hurt she's caused you, so do both of yourselves a favor and disregard the bad stuff as much as you can, while holding on to any good memories. Big hugs!


89% helpful
susan99504 answered...

I can really sense your level of frustration and fears from your post. In reading the replies, there are lots of good points that you may want to consider. The first one is that every one of the people who told you to call APS also has the legal obligation to do so if they suspect abuse. If they have not, they could be in violation of the law. Second, if your dad is mentally alert and fairly competent, you could ask him to fill out POA or DPOA forms. Third, if your mother has Alzheimers, she is most likely not competent to make her own decisions, much less decisions for your father. This could be verified by her physician. It may be stressful and difficult for her to accept, but you may need to push the issue. Fourth, as a previous poster listed, it is time for them to receive assistance, whether it is in an assisted living, or nuring home. In my case, having my mom admitted to the hospital as a blessing in disguise since it helped me get resources I did not have access to previously. You might want to check with the local Alzheimers Association to see if they have any helpful resources or support. I'll keep you & your parents in my thoughts!


40% helpful
Mrs Dunn answered...

You should consider contacting the Area Agency on Aging. It is a .gov service, and while they work with and through the local county agencies, usually, they have a broader perspective and range of services available. In many cases, they have services beyond what the local county agencies do. In any case they have an 800 number that serves your area. They proved to be a blessing for me and my family.


50% helpful
LindaSD answered...

The best advice is APS. Calling an attorney and attempting to declare your parents (both) incompetent and you get guardianship is very expensive and time consuming. In the meantime, the problem continues with no attention. Once you get guardianship doesn't mean your parents would be coorperative and you might in the end still have to call APS to get them help.

I also question why none of those police, doctors and emts didn't call APS since they are required to.

The only other advice would be to pay a private geriatric case manager to evaluate your parents. This assumes you have can afford it and your parents will agree to talk to them. This would be similar to APS but you would be paying someone to help you and give advice and a care plan.

Since you have no legal say in what is happening to your parents and they seem to be trying to keep you away, ASP would step in and evaluate their situation. That sounds better for them than letting the situation get worse.

What a stressful situation for you and family. I hope you find help. No matter what the advice, everyone's situation is different. The listed expert here gave you good advice and so did Susan in previous post. Good Luck


86% helpful
/people/138943 answered...

I am a social worker at a long term care facility. We have 2 Alzheimer's units. Staff are routinely rotated due to burn out. It is extremely difficult to care for Alzheimer's patients and it will only get worse. You need to apply for guardianship immediately & APS can help you do this. Doing nothing is neglectful on your part. Your parents need to be in a controlled & supervised environment.


67% helpful
Kristarr answered...

I worked in adult protection and in my case, APS did help a lot of families. I was a Home Services Aide and went in once a week to help them with the chores and tasks they could not do themselves. I went in to keep them from being institutionalized and keep them in their homes. There were times I could say the very things the family told them and they would listen to me when they didn't listen to the family. I could also get them to do things they would not do for their family members. Unfortunately the person who took my place when I left to relocate with my family is the reason APS has a bad name with some.


100% helpful
maxine62 answered...

If I were in your shoes, which in a way I am, I would try to get father to go with me to a lawyer and get a Durable Power of Attorney, I know your parents do not want to give up each other, even if one is crankier than the other. They have a lot of memories in their minds, even if some dementia is developing. Let Dad know you will help out and do their bookkeeping etc. for them. Help with Dr. visits and so on, help mow the grass or sell the house to move to smaller quarters, so your mother won't feel so overwhelmed.

These things will take a lot of you and your brothers time, but it will all be worth it, you will have no guilt to come back on later. You don't need your mothers permission, to do this for your dad, explain to him how if something were to happen at this stage, the law would force them to be put in homes, maybe not even the same one.

I take care of my 83 year old mother she has had a stroke and developing dementia for 5 yrs at least. She is grumpy and at times unbearable. So far with POA, I have helped her sell her house(she could not live alone), got just about enough money to have her teeth fixed and help pay for the burial that she wishes for. No help from 2 siblings(they want her in nursing home). She knows who we all are, but as some old people do is jealous of the grandbabies and the attention I give them occasionally. Just as you say your mother is about home health aides, with your father. I've a long tradition in my family of respecting my father and mother, and try to keep Mom as happy as possible, Dad died about 20 yrs. ago(heart disease). Please keep trying with your Dad he will probably go first, but see if he understands enough about taking care of Mom when he is no longer there. Shute, make up a story about where you are going, (when you go to a lawyer) with Dad, about going out for ice cream or to get a surprise flowers for Mom. But you do need the POA and Advanced Directive or Living Will just in case something unforseen happens.


Lainy answered...

I feel for your situation because I am taking care of my husband who has dementia and acts very strange most of the time. What would be helpful is to go to an Elder Care Attorney and set up a Protective Trust so any money they have will not be lost to nursing homes. Then scout around for a good nursing home even if you call APS to help you do this. Someone in the family needs to handle their affairs and your attorney can help with this by giving one or two of you POA. If your Dad will not let you bathe him or is contrary then he needs an impartial person to come in and bathe him and if the both of them are so contrary to everyone around them who are just trying to help them - then most certainly, APS should step in and I would not call this cruel because they can't go on living the way they have been - you are only helping them and they are hindering each other. my Blessings go out to all of you in your time of need... In Gods Love!


Acaregiver2 answered...

I would contact agencies that work with elderly people or try a elder care attorney. I take care of both of my parents and have for years confict with my brothers who have never done anything got the best of me and PS were contacted. To my regret it was the worst possible thing i could of done instead of helping the situation it created much more and now i have to attend to all of this..please there are other resources out there that are helpful i made this mistake thinking it would improve the situation it was the biggest mistake i could of ever have made..


agingsscm answered...

APS will not come and take your parents away. If you can resolve the issue within your family it would probably be the best thing. APS is always guardian of last resort. That means that APS would work with family and guide them through the guardianship process if needed.APS would not automatically petition for guardianship when there are involved willing family members.

If you feel that both of your parents are not alert and oriented to person, place and time then it is time to meet with the probate court judge in your area and discuss guardianship of your parents. You would file a petition for guardianship then the judge would write an order for your parents to be evaluated by a physician to state whether or not your parents are incapacitated or not. The physician would submit his findings to the judge, and the judge would schedule a hearing to either declare your parents competent or incompetent. If he found them incompetent he would then appoint a guardian for them.Once you have been appointed guardian then you can make the decisions for them such as care or placement. If your parents are declared incompetent all of their rights are removed.

If your parents are still alert and oriented to person, place and time then they still have the right to self determination and can make their own choices whether you feel that they are bad choices are not. These types of cases are very frustrating and difficult for family members.


MsRolfe answered...

We did have a similar experience with something called Family Services here in Wisconsin. Unfortunately my mother just passed away this month. Sad to say but Family Services only compounded our frustration with our mother who had a life-long history with psychological disorders and medical conditions and she was fairly young, only 67. My youngest sister suffered the worst as she was the main care taker for my mother for the last 10 years. We tried everything. I don't know about the obligation of medical personnel to report anything to anyone because we tried all kinds of avenues to no avail..I think a lot of people took advantage of her and the situation including the Family Services people. We found out at the Nursing home after she passed that they had 3 Social Security numbers attached to her file..now something else we have to look into. Its still overwhelming. So sad. I'm sorry, I wish you the best of luck.


TallTrees answered...

APS is a disaster. They should be shut down. They have ruined my mother's life and she will be dead in 6 months because of it. They lie, manipulate and anything else they can to carry out their agenda. Very dangerous. My advise is to NEVER involve these people. You will never be free from them until they kill the very person you are trying to protect.


TexasAPS? answered...

Having an abusive elder parent that has little regard for or their own safety, I called APS Texas to help them after a massive binge of hardcore drugs landed them in the ICU... Watching what they were doing to themselves was too much for me to be able to handle.

I was accused of beating my elder parent by APS with zero evidence. A severely ill person addicted to drugs trying to discredit the people trying to help them so they can continue their substance abuse patterns without interference, isn't a new concept. APS sure was clueless about that one.

Nonetheless, with zero evidence, I was investigated for "beating" of this parent I'm desperately trying to help. I even showed them videos of the elder was doing it to themselves. It wasn't enough! When the parent found out I was trying to intervene in their life and get someone to help them, it was perceived as threatening to take away their drugs (which it probably would have been at some point or another). I was then threatened by that parent and told to basically do nothing, or else.

Even though this was an extremely abusive person for most of my life, it's gut-wrenching to watch anyone succumb to the deleterious effects of substance abuse. This poor old parent has zero chance of a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. Job well done, Texas APS.

Only use this service if you have no other options. When you do have to use the service, keep your expectations in check and accept that you may be unable to help or that APS may actually make things much worse.


andyjones answered...

I got suck in in aps ,thought at the time it was the right thing to do wife had a bad stoke ins. dump her two times but not being fully recovered ,I ask for help and got lead down the way of state help which lead to aps, now my wife is lock up in a nursing home were she has recovered but can't get out ,like doing time for something you didn't do.


scanner007 answered...

Calling APS for issues with an elderly person other than actual, real abuse is like calling the police to treat someone with a drug problem. Yes, they will help, they will investigate, they will get a warrant if they can, they will take away the individuals rights and put them in a safe environment. In the end, you'll feel like you're living in Nazi Germany and you called the Nazi party about the Jews living in your neighbor's attic. Thats the kind of help you can expect. They will stick that person in a nursing home if they can and all nursing homes will start with the house and seize as many assets as they can. The first thing any nursing home wants to know when they admit someone is whether or not they own their home. (One of the nursing homes in our region met my mother outside and wouldn't let her enter the premises until they established her home ownership status) They have people employed at the nursing home who's main job is to get elderly to sign their houses over to them. Knowing all this, some of you will still call the APS on the elder person in your life. Why? To make you feel like you are a good person and assuage your guilt. You don't want to make time or spend your resources to care for this person, they are a drain on your happiness and freedom. In the same way you'd give up a child you don't want, calling the APS is exactly the same thing when you are tired of the responsibility of your elder relatives or friends and you need them dead. Calling the APS will do just that. They have the power to rip them out of the home's they knew and loved and take away any reason to live by placing them, without any privacy, in a shared room in a state nursing home that rates as one of the worst in your region. And since it's illegal to have your elderly parents hauled away like Jews to a gas chamber, this "safe environment" is the next best thing. Now you can rest easy that your loved ones are getting the care they need and their quality of life is improved to the point that any spark or spirit they had in them to live will most certainly die within a couple years of being safely locked away in a facility that's trained to deal with people who've lived beyond their usefulness. This is all just my humble opinion, but trust me, as someone who has dealt the hell of dealing with Adult Protective Services, I didn't have a choice, they showed up because her caregivers called them up. In a single day, the house was condemned for mold they found in the basement, they forced my mom sign away rights to her little dog, they threw her in a nursing home and I was homeless..because I couldn't live in an "unsafe environment" - living on the street was better in the eyes of the law. So yes, in my humble opinion, if you feel like you should call APS, please don't. Just lose your parent's number and don't ever call or talk to them again - in the end it's a much nicer thing to do if you're tired of having them be alive and ruining your fun. APS and other services will get involved soon enough anyways. At the very least, don't pat yourself on the back for calling them "because you did the right thing" - you didn't, you gave up on your parents you sicko. Please just own the fact that you're a bad person and live with it, don't pretend that calling the authorities to deal with your loved ones is helping them. The APS will take responsibility when someone gets so crazy and old that no one else wants to deal with them anymore, yet their hearts are still beating. This is where those "advance directives" come in - hospital employees who call themselves social workers cleverly sell these as the same type of form you'd sign if you don't want to be left in a vegetative state, but read the form carefully and it really says, they don't have to start your heart again when it stops and you stop breathing...even if doing so would bring you back and you'd happily live another ten years. The reality is, these forms are no longer necessary, except to try and trick you into absolving the hospital of the responsibility of resuscitating you. Unless you have scads of money, no hospital will let you stay on life support longer than a few days if you're brain dead anyways. They will get their lawyers on it and have you unplugged quick. If all this is new to you and it sounds really shocking and awful, welcome to the modern age of elder care.


rickyagnew answered...

I would hope that APS CANNOT force anyone to do anything against their own will..i admit ,I have heard some horror stories ..This is NOT Nazi Germany..As a web page designer and an author of a blog myself,if APS EVER attempted to damage my family relationship,names of the APS workers involved would be all over the internet..trust me..My elderly father at 97 has just returned from being in a nursing home for 3 years.He has dysphasia and is eating and we've planned to have his gastric tube removed soon..He's been home for 4 days.APS called my mother today,claiming they're coming out just to see that my father is in a safe environment and not in any danger.. She feeds him 3 times daily,but because i live next door to them ,i help her change his disposable underwear daily..She has just signed up 2 days ago with hospice and beginning tomorrow,they'll be coming every morning,Monday through Friday to change him and bathe him and on Friday & Saturday, I'll help her clean and change him..My mother also has home health that's been coming 3 or 4 days a week FOR A YEAR NOW, to help her bathe and such.. but..i was told by a neighbor that APS can decide to remove my father from their home just based on the fact that my mother cannot lift him if he should fall down,which is true,she wouldn't be able to..But that defines accurately, millions of elderly couples' circumstances..I was told by this neighbor that this is probably why someone called them and It might even have been a nurse that called.. and to expect the worst when APS comes out..is this true?With all this help from hospice and home health,and myself included,can APS remove him based on the fact she can't lift him???because that would be insane!! and I can prove that millions of elderly couples exist that are in that very same situation and aren't beig faced with APS over it!!If such an event occurs,APS had better be ready to take me to court,as i'd have the APS NAME ,AS WELL as workers' names, all nationwide celebs in a matter of days!!! Ahhh,the advantages of the Internet,dontcha know!!


Lrjustus1 answered...

Get help from an elder care attorney first. APS can be incredibly helpful, no help, as in our case, or completely wreck a family. It's a toss up based on the state you live in and the worker that responds. Elder care attorneys have seen it all, there isn't anything you're going to tell them that they haven't dealt with before, they often have a wider scope of ideas and a bigger pool of resources. APS can only offer what is in their 'box' of ideas and resources. After having consulted the elder care attorney, they may advise to get APS involved. Having worked with APS on a continuous basis in their area, they will know whether the agency will be helpful or not.