Other Safety Concerns
NOTE: The names of all participants have been changed to protect their privacy
Elena Gonzalez is 91-years-old. She is in excellent health and if you saw her you would think she was 10-15 years younger than she is. She lives alone in her own home, a modest two-bedroom bungalow in a working class district. She manages her affairs with the help of her niece. Life is good now for Elena, but two years ago it was a totally different story. Then, Elena was a prisoner in her own home. She had allowed her 19-year-old grandson, Chester, to move in with her. He and his friends took over her home and her life, turning his grandmother’s home into a center for drugs and prostitution. Drugs were sold and used freely in the home and young women were prostituting themselves for drugs. Elena was so fearful for her safety she had an iron security gate installed on her bedroom door which locked from the inside, and she would remain locked in her room all day. Her niece discovered her aunt in this condition and called APS for help.
APS assisted by:
- Notifying the police and the district attorney’s office about the situation and coordinating efforts with them to address the problem
- Moving Elena temporarily to a safe place while the police gathered the evidence needed to arrest Chester and the others who were operating out of Elena’s home
- Once the offenders were in police custody, changing the locks on Elena’s house so she would be safe when she returned home
- Working with law enforcement to get a restraining order against Chester so that he could not return in the future
Mrs. Hughes is an 87-year-old widow who lives alone. Mrs. Hughes was seen by neighbors wearing the same stained and dirty dress for several weeks, had bad body odor, and appeared to be losing weight. The neighbors became concerned about her well-being and worried whether she was eating properly. Mrs. Hughes seemed confused and sometimes didn’t make sense when neighbors talked to her. She was also seen wandering around in her yard talking to herself. Neighbors weren’t certain what was happening, but it was evident Mrs. Hughes wasn’t caring for herself, her home, or her yard as she once had, so a call was placed to Adult Protective Services.
APS met with Mrs. Hughes to evaluate what help she would need to live safely in her home, determine if that help was available, and arrange for it if it was. Fortunately the services she needed were available and she was willing to accept assistance.
APS assisted by:
- Arranging for someone to clean up her home, prepare meals, and to help her care for herself by assisting with bathing and dressing
Mrs. Hughes was happy with this assistance, and for the time being, she remains safe living in her own home.
APS received a report by neighbors of a 76-year-old single female, who witnessed her falling on the sidewalk outside her residence. Several people attempted to render aid but she refused their assistance and managed to crawl into the residence. The neighbors were alarmed because she was wearing soiled clothes and appeared disoriented. They called paramedics who went to Ms. Perry’s home, but she stated didn’t need help and refused to allow them to enter her home. While standing at the entrance, the paramedics observed a strong odor of urine and feces and what appeared to be a pile of dried feces 18 inches high in the entryway of Ms. Perry’s residence. The APS worker made several attempts to meet Ms. Perry, but she steadfastly refused to answer her door and left voicemail messages at APS stating she didn’t need assistance.
A week later, Ms. Perry appeared at a bank disheveled and with feces matted in her hair. The APS report indicated Ms. Perry again seemed disoriented and unable to discern the month, year or day of the week. The APS worker again tried to make direct contact with Ms. Perry at her home but she wouldn’t open the door.
The APS worker was concerned about Ms. Perry possibly suffering from life-threatening delirium, so he called emergency services. The police and fire department were dispatched and found Ms. Perry living in extremely unsanitary conditions due to dementia and hoarding of 12 feral cats. The was no running water and the floors were soaked with urine and fecal matter, and a five-foot high pile of used adult undergarments blocked part of the hallway to the bathroom.
Paramedics transported Ms. Perry by ambulance to the nearest hospital for low blood sugar, malnutrition and dehydration.
APS assisted by:
- Contacting animal control to assist in capturing the neglected cats
- Referring Ms. Perry for conservatorship because she had no next-of-kin or power of attorney
- Working with the conservator to completely clean out Ms. Perry’s residence, replacing the furnishings, floors, walls, and reconditioning the home
After Ms. Perry’s house was made habitable she returned home. In-home assistance was arranged to ensure she would have adequate care and nutrition. With these supports she was able to live independently.
APS received a referral on Martha Harper, an 85-year-old woman living in a private residence with her 18-year-old granddaughter and the granddaughter’s boyfriend, who was facing eviction due to non-payment of the mortgage on the residence. At initial contact, APS found that Ms. Harper was scheduled to be “set out” of her home the following day and had been unaware of the foreclosure proceedings. Her granddaughter hid the eviction from her and tried to stall the foreclosure by removing the warning sticker placed by the Sheriff.
Ms. Harper had multiple health issues, including some minor short-term memory deficits, but she believed she was able to manage on her own and wanted to remain living independently.
The APS worker immediately took the following actions:
- Requested a stay on the eviction order, which was denied
- Was present during the set-out to offer Ms. Harper support
- Made arrangements for her to stay short-term in a motel and transported her there
- Made arrangements with relatives to care for Ms. Harper’s dog; and with neighbors to store personal belongings (i.e. photo albums, collectibles) until permanent housing could be arranged
While Ms. Harper was temporarily in the motel, the APS worker:
- Located an available rental unit in a senior apartment building and assisted Ms. Harper in completing all necessary application paperwork to secure the unit
- Arranged through a social service program for home furnishings for the new apartment
- Facilitated apartment being set up prior to Ms. Harper’s arrival
- Arranged in-person meetings for Ms. Harper with the building manager and service coordinator, facilitated introductions and accompanied the client on a tour of the building and her new apartment
Once Ms. Harper was in her new apartment, the APS worker
- Linked Ms. Harper to in-home care services
- Reunited Ms. Harper with her dog
- Retrieved stored items
- Arranged for on-going case management services to oversee her care and well-being
APS received a report of an 82-year-old female living alone in a large apartment building with potential health and safety issues due to hoarding. The APS worker made numerous attempts to meet with Ms. Richmond to assess the situation, but each time Ms. Richmond would only agree to meet outside the apartment.
Ms. Richmond presented as bright, articulate and in good health. Ms. Richmond admitted she might collect things, but denied there were any health or safety issues. After numerous visits, Ms. Richmond finally trusted the APS worker to see her apartment. Ms. Richmond’s residence was a large Victorian apartment with 10-foot ceilings and everywhere the APS worker looked, there were stacks of boxes, tins and papers stacked over 6 feet high. The only path was to climb onto and over the cluttered material.
Even though the room didn’t smell and there didn’t appear to be rotten garbage or vermin, the fire hazard was enormous. Ms. Richmond didn’t feel safe sleeping on top fearing that she could fall into a pocket between boxes, so she slept in the doorway outside her apartment.
Despite discussions about her safety and her agreeing to remove enough to make safe passage into the room, Ms. Richmond continued to refuse to cooperate because she felt she had the right to do what she wanted with her space. The APS worker explained that she did have that right up until her belongings created an unmistakable health and fire hazard for the other residents of the building.
The APS worker informed Ms. Richmond that APS would have to report its findings to the Fire Marshal. She acknowledged she understood her options, so the Fire Marshal visited Ms. Richmond and issued a 10-day order to either clear emergency egress for fire suppression or risk eviction.
The APS worker offered to provide paid help to assist Ms. Richmond in meeting the 10-day order, but she refused. She worked diligently on her own and cleared the spaces required by the Fire Marshal.
Even though she refused services from APS, the APS worker assisted by:
- Facilitating a safer living environment for Ms. Richmond
- Ensuring Ms. Richmond would remain living independently in her apartment
APS received a report that Len, age 86, had a run-in with law enforcement because he was driving without insurance and was going to lose his driver’s license as a consequence. An APS worker visited Len to evaluate his ability to take care of himself and set up any assistance he might need.
APS assisted by:
- Arranging for neighbors to check on Len, making sure he had water and heat
- Arranging for one neighbor to allow Len to park his RV at the bottom of the hill for him to live in when the snow was too deep for him to reach his cabin
- Making weekly visits for several months to ensure that Len was safe and well fed, in spite of Len’s’ occasional threats to shoot the worker if he “Doesn’t stop bugging me.”
Rose is a senior citizen who was referred to APS because she is endangering her own safety by hoarding junk and allowing transients to stay in her home, including in her trailer in the back yard. Rose’s financial affairs are managed by a bank that is serving as her conservator. As Rose’s fiscal agent, the bank is responsible for her property and her safety. Consequently they are considering evicting Rose from her home because it has become a health hazard. Rose wanted to move into senior housing because of the companionship and services she would receive.
APS assisted by:
- Working with the bank to petition the court to sell her house to fund Rose’s move into senior community housing
- Assisting Rose with the move to her new home
- Making arrangements for Rose to receive help with her hoarding behavior from mental health services
Yolanda Crane is a 45-year-old disabled adult with multiple mental health diagnoses. She was being evicted from her home for failing to pay rent and refused to attend the court hearing to dispute the eviction and or leave the property. Neighbors reported that Yolanda was looking in their windows and going through their mail. They also reported that they heard screaming and banging in her apartment at various times of the day and night. Yolanda has been hospitalized in several different mental health facilities in the past. She was not taking her medications as prescribed, her home was dirty, her personal hygiene poor and she had no concept of time. APS determined that Ms. Crane had no family support and was unable to live in her apartment due to behavioral and cognitive impairments.
APS assisted by:
- Performing an assessment and determining that she met criteria for assisted living
- Locating an emergency placement where her condition could be stabilized
- Developing a service plan to allow her to return to a safe living environment