How do I get my dad to stop calling the cops on his neighbor?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Besides having mom in a Alzheimer's Center, I now have 100% responsibility for my 85 yr. old dad & my husband who is terminally ill plus working 3 days a week. Since February dad has continually raved about his next door neighbor trying to break in his house; it started out as being a 2-3 night a week happening & now for the last 4-5 weeks has been a every day happening. We are called to his house at 1:00am; 2:00am or just whenever he calls & says come. There are absolutely no signs that anyone has been there. He claims they have been & are still throwing things at his house & now they are piping loud music into his house someway. He has called the law numerous times & they are tired of it - they're threatening to press charges on him for filing a false report. We have had surveillance cameras up - nothing shows up; the law right now has a camera set up - he says the guy knows it & is avoiding it. I was at his house all afternoon yesterday; I had turned his AC on & set it on a comfortable temp. At 1:30am my phone rings & it is the law; they have just left his house; they found no signs of anything & they now say he's crazy !!! He has a loaded gun in the house & they want me to go in & forceably take it away from him. I will not even attempt to do that - if they want it, get it themselves!! I was lectured at 1:30am on leaving an elderly person in a house so hot w/o any AC & only a fan---he turned the AC off after I left & told the law he could not afford to run it - that's not true. This is getting to be a every day ordeal & is driving us all crazy--my BP was 162/100 when I got to the doctor's office this week. Please don't suggest putting him in a assisted living home - he will not agree to that; do not suggest moving him in with me - that cannot happen due to my husband's medical situation & my dad's stubborness. He is fixated that this young man is doing this to him & has made threats to the law that he's going to take care of it himself. Don't suggest having him taken to a mental doctor or hospital for evaluation - until he does something to harm himself or put someone's else's life in danger, you cannot do that--I've already checked. I manage an elderly apt. complex & have just gotten rid of one just like him--it took me 5 yrs. to get rid of her. He is hallucinating & hearing things--these things are not happening - we have examined every sq foot of his yard - no one is coming to his house 2-3 times a day! I'm about at my wit's end--he's ruining my health to the point that I'm going to lose my job if he doesn't let up. There is no one else to do anything that he will allow. He has run the grandchildren off being so rude to them & refuses to have a care giver come in during the day to help--he tells the doctor his daughter takes care of him! Any suggestions ? I'm at my wits end!

Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Dear "Wits End" "“ I'm truly sorry to hear about the many challenges you are dealing with, and it appears that you're overwhelmed or very close to it.

You provided a lengthy list of things you don't want to hear from experts in the way of suggestions for you. Unfortunately that limits what I can do to assist you, so I'll take a different approach and hope you'll accept my counsel.

To begin with, if this were my dad, I would not ask his permission. Going forward, if I were you, I'd take the position that what you're about to do is for his safety and the safety of others, including his neighbors and the police.

You may not want to hear what I suggest, and you may refuse to accept my suggestions, as that is your choice. But you are facing a series of very dangerous situations which could result in your dad going to jail for filing a false police report or shooting someone in or outside of his home for reasons that cannot be justified.

Before I make my suggestions, I want to clearly state that it appears that you are dealing with a man who: A. Is suffering from delusions "“ hearing and seeing people in and around his home B. Lacks good judgment "“ has a loaded weapon in his home and in extremely hot weather, turns off his air conditioning C. Behaves erratically and irrationally "“ calls you at all hours of the day and/or night

This not a situation that requires you to have your dad found mentally incompetent. Rather it requires that you do what is best for your dad, the family and the community at large. It's important that you understand that your dad may no longer be given a vote in some major decisions, because he is no longer able to make good decisions. He needs a complete neurological evaluation to find out why his behavior has changed. It sounds to me like a classic case of dementia, possibly Alzheimer's disease. That diagnosis would explain many of his behaviors, from delusions to erratic phone calls to you and the police. Once you have a diagnosis of the problem, the steps you need to take will become far more clear, and you can take them without fear, guilt or remorse.

Here are the steps I would take today: 1. Remove the guns and all ammunition from your dad's house. Don't ask permission or tell him you're doing it, just do it. If he gets angry, so what? You cannot risk the possibility of him injuring himself or some else. Don't expect the police to do it, as that's not within their power until or unless your dad fires the weapon. You don't even want to think about that nightmare.

  1. Have a thermostat put into his house that cannot be adjusted without access to a key to the secure box in which the unit is placed. If, as you stated, he can afford A/C, do what you must so he does not become a casualty of a heat-related injury.

  2. Call the police and arrange to meet with them once you have a definitive diagnosis "“ assuming it is Alzheimer's disease "“ and ask them how you would like any calls from your dad handled, should they occur in the future. It may also be possible to talk with the telephone company and have certain changes made to his dialing capabilities.

  3. As I stated earlier, your dad is no longer entitled to a vote on what steps need to be taken for his safety and well-being. The neurologist you take your dad to see for an assessment must be given a copy of your original letter to, listing all of your problems and concerns relating to your dad. There are medicines that may treat his delusions or at least calm him and help him sleep at night instead of calling you and pursuing sounds and visions of strangers in his house.

  4. The neurologist may suggest that for your personal health and sanity that you must either bring outside assistance into your dad's home, or consider placing your dad in a facility. In a facility, he, like your mother, will be cared for and restricted from calling you or the police at all hours of the day or night. This is another situation where your dad is neither consulted on the move to a facility nor given a vote on the matter. The reason is that he is not capable of rational thought, decision-making, or clear judgment.

  5. You might suggest that he "visit" your mother, and perhaps spend the night or a weekend at the facility as a "guest." If he'll accept that suggestion, take steps to have his clothes, furniture and personal items moved to the room that will ultimately become his at the facility. There will be no turning back; he will then be placed in a facility for his own good, as well as for the sake of your physical and mental health.

Your dad may no doubt be incredibly angry with you, and you may feel a bit guilty about forcing the issue. But the fact is, you're the clear-thinking adult in this very critical and dangerous situation.

You aren't required to accept any feelings of guilt for doing what's best for your father. Imagine your guilt if the police responded to one of his calls, and your dad shot at, injured or killed one of the responding officers or a neighbor? That's a scenario you cannot allow to happen under any circumstance.

If, as I assume, your dad has a form of dementia, over time, he'll actually adapt to being in the facility. He'll forget who, how or why he was moved from his home, and as a result will continue to accept you in his life. For that matter, you can tell his neurologist that you intend to put the "blame" on him or her (the doctor) for having your dad placed in a facility. It doesn't matter, because if you don't take some drastic measures, you're going to find yourself in far more serious trouble in the weeks ahead.

The situation you described has you on serious overload. Between your mother, your terminally ill husband, your job, and now the incredible demands and concerns about your father, you cannot not survive the stress or the emotional load under which you're operating without eventually breaking down or becoming ill yourself. You've finally reached a point where you're going to have to step up to the plate and make the hard decisions for your dad. You're truly out of time and energy to allow your dad to dictate the terms of what has become an intolerable situation for you and others in the community.

Once you've had your dad assessed by a geriatric neurologist, if you need help in taking the necessary steps to resolve and diffuse this dangerous situation, contact your local Alzheimer's Association and ask them if there is assistance available to you to take the first steps in getting control of your dad and his home situation and/or relocation to a facility. You would benefit from having another person on your team as you deal with this complex challenge. If you or your dad has the financial means, hiring a geriatric care manager to assist you in getting your dad's situation resolved would be another option for you, and well worth the cost. Alzheimer's Association can provide you with referrals for a geriatric care manager.

The bottom line is you must act immediately. It won't be pleasant for you and probably not for your dad. But that doesn't change the fact that if things continue unabated with your dad, there is a strong probability that something far more serious than his anger at being moved to a facility could take place. Good luck. I hope you find the strength and courage to do what has to be done.

Community Answers

Jane f answered...

First of all I know first hand you CANNOT force a person to a doctor or neurologist for an exam. Secondly you CANNOT just force someone into a facility against their will unless you are guardian or they are court ordered. Calling Adult Protective Services does not help either, tried that twice...they did NOTHING. Their services can be refused, which is what happened in my case. Basically the demented parson has all the rights even if you are trying to do the right thing for his safety or the safety of the community. You also CANNOT just go into his house and take anything, you can be arrested for theft. Same with disabling or removing car with an unsafe driver. You can be advised to do those things, but if law is called YOU WILL be the one in trouble. My mother in law has filed false reports about neighbor breaking in her house too, and police are tired of her calling too...nothing is done though. Basically unless you go to court you cannot do a thing! If police want to step in and charge him, or he threatens them with the gun, THEN steps will possibly be taken. Good luck to you, family members hands are tied behind their backs and then when a tragedy occurs we are to blame for "not controlling" the situation. Makes me very angry. Good luck in your situation. Please keep us posted.

Gabby wright answered...

Thank each of you for your suggestions; my situation was taken care of by God. Dad passed away suddenly on 7/14 & mom on 7/15. Dad had fallen & hit his head & I took him to the ER. He had not been taking his heart medications so he was admitted. Upon discharge he was sent to rehab for a week or so before coming back home. We found out while he was in the hospital that the things he was hearing were not Dementia or illusions. Because he had stopped taking his blood thinner, the blood flowing on the side of his face that feeds the ears was too thick & partially clogged. He was hearing the sounds that we couldn't hear - it was a form of tininitis & the beating & banging on the side of his house where he thought someone was breaking in was "his own heart beating". Once he was back on blood thinner the problem went completely away. Also the statement made about I could not force him to do anything was absolutely the truth. Unless I was willing to go to court & declare him mentally incompetant there was nothing I could do. It really upsets me that he was suffering as much as he was & the entire time it was fixable--he refused to go to the ear doctor. He went to rehab for 5 days & was doing great - I was there on the 14th & he was laughing & joking & we were planning on bringing him home the following Monday. At 1:15am I received a phone call from the rehab center informing me that my father had "expired". I was trying to wake up & thought I did not understand what she was saying & ask her to repeat it - she said that "your father died in his sleep - I just found him - what Funeral Home do you want me to call? If you want to see him you need to come now!" No I'm sorry or nothing - just cold & blunt. That was around 1:00am Thursday morning & mom died around 12:00pm Friday. Just keep your minds open that there are different conditions other than dementia or Alzheimer's that cause some of these same problem! Dad was actually hearing what he thought but didn't know what it was???