I have an elderly widower living next door to our house. When he first moved in fifteen years ago, his wife (a sweet, sensible soul) was alive, and she was a real asset to the neighborhood. She passed on about nine years ago, rest her soul, and he continues to live alone.
He has always been the block’s cantankerous old man; while she was alive she exerted an inhibiting influence on him. But he would occasionally do such things as call the police on neighborhood children if their ball went onto his lawn, yell at my snowplowing contractor if any snow was pushed onto his lawn, that sort of thing. We all learned to tolerate him and be good-natured about it.
However, it’s getting worse. He is definitely showing signs of confusion. On three occasions in the past month he has approached me on my return home, stating he has lost his keys. On one occasion he could not recall how to turn a key to unlock the door. I spent about forty five minutes in each session, finding his keys for him and demonstrating how to unlock the door. By the way, he has never been friendly with my husband or me, and in fact has yelled at us for such things as washing our car in the driveway or how we planted tomatoes in our vegetable patch, which is nowhere near his property line. He has, however, been friendly with a couple across the street.
I got concerned after the “how to unlock a lock” session, and ran into my neighbor from across the street when I was in the supermarket. I mentioned it to her. She told me the following things: 1. His late wife had told my neighbor that he is a paranoid schizophrenic who has consistently refused to take medication, and is not under the care of a doctor. 2. The neighbor across the street has encountered similar issues with him, and a few more. 3. He has a sister who lives about an hour from here and who manages his funds.
The sister had tried to get him into some sort of supervised residence by calling Adult Protective Services, and two workers had come out to evaluate him. Apparently, they did not think he was ill enough to be removed from the home. When the sister next visited, my neighbor met her at the door with a baseball bat and ordered her off his property.
The last time I went over to help him find his keys, he noticed my keys in my hand, and accused me of taking his keys. I demonstrated that they were not his keys, and got out of there as quickly and graciously as I could.
I doubt that I will go over there again to try to help him find his keys, and it concerns me about the baseball bat episode, but so far, since I only heard this third-hand, as far as I’m concerned, it’s hearsay. BTW–if it really happened that way, I would think that such an episode would be enough to bring him in for a psychiatric evaluation. I dislike ascribing ulterior motives to anyone (after all, only God knows and understands the heart of any human being,) but it seems to me that his family may have decided it’s cheaper to maintain him in his own home than get him into a health-care setting.
In the meantime, he continues to act bizarre, and I am concerned for his welfare as well as for our safety. I’m praying that God takes action for a good outcome to this situation, but since he is showing signs of paranoia, I’m not going to put myself in harm’s way by going over there.
Does anyone have any thoughts on how I should handle this situation? Two nights ago, he wanted me to drive him downtown to his car dealer because he had misplaced his car keys! I begged off, and did not do this.