Mentally ill neighbor


#1

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.


#2

I don't know how old he is, but this sounds like it could be signs of dementia/alzheimer's in addition to whatever his previous problems were. Part of his problems sound like they may be confusion related to dementia in addition to mental illness. I would suggest checking with an alzheimer's organization online to see what they say, especially since he seems to be getting worse over time. If he has co-existing mental illness that will make things more difficult, and I don't know what can be done. Also it sounds like his sister is not that involved which makes things challenging. There are things she could perhaps be doing like trying to work out an in-home aide if he will accept one. But you might want to check with an alzheimer's group online to see what they say. good luck.


#3

Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
This is a medical matter,and we don’t give advices to such. However,the building I live in use to be a home for old people,and here live still a lot of them,and many time I have been helping them,no,I am not out to be a Saint,and here in Finland we have systems and people who help,but also one big thing wrong,maybe it is the same where You live,I can’t know,but You can’t help anyone who don’t want help. Do what You can,he need help,but not from the Bible but from the rigth peoples. It is sad when old people are alone in this world,but one thing I can say for sure,he has a angel who keep him safe.


#4

They have a device ( or two ) that attaches to the key ring, so when you have misplaced your keys, you either clap your hands or push a remote button and the device begins to buzz and lets you track your keys. Maybe that would be a good gift for him. But I would go with the clapping hands, so he doesn’t lose the remote.


#5

The sister needs to be contacted and told that the unfortunate man needs serious help. In the meantime, do your best to be kind to him, even if he is nasty (as long as it is physically safe to do so). You never know the good you are doing in God's eyes by your little acts of kindness towards this ill, unhappy man.


#6

Call Adult Social Services on your own and explain his behavior.

He probably is in the early to mid stages of Alzheimers. They have very good days and then they have very debilitating days. He seems incapable of caring for himself. Have you been in his home to see how he is caring for it and for himself (cooking, cleaning, etc)?

Call his sister and explain as well.

Does his sister have power of attorney for his financial affairs or something less?

There is a medical power of attorney which if his sister has that it might be leverage to put more force behind him getting the assistance he needs.


#7

I agree with Silentstar that these symptoms (losing things, confusion etc) sound like dementia - possibly Alzheimer's. Of course they could also be the result of small strokes.

I understand your concern for your safety. I also applaud your desire to help. Perhaps you should "informally" encourage your neighbor(s) to sort of band together to "keep an eye on him". If he needs help, try not to do it alone, if he begins to act out, becomes violent or threatening, be prepared to call the authorities, not for the police necessarily but for an ambulance. Then be prepared, with witnesses to explain what happened.

This may be enough to get him placed on a psych hold for evaluation...(things like this vary from state to state.....
I might also suggest that you take the time to go to your local "first responders" for their advice on how to handle these situations. For instance, what do they need, information wise, in order to justify taking someone to the hospital against their will....

Just some general ideas.

May God guide you in handling this situation to everyone's benefit.

Peace
James


#8

[quote="Barbkw, post:6, topic:216871"]
Call Adult Social Services on your own and explain his behavior.

He probably is in the early to mid stages of Alzheimers. They have very good days and then they have very debilitating days. He seems incapable of caring for himself. Have you been in his home to see how he is caring for it and for himself (cooking, cleaning, etc)?

Call his sister and explain as well.

Does his sister have power of attorney for his financial affairs or something less?

There is a medical power of attorney which if his sister has that it might be leverage to put more force behind him getting the assistance he needs.

[/quote]

To expand on the bolded section above, a person suffering from Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia can be in very real and mortal danger. For instance, they could easily burn down their house by forgetting that they had the stove on. They could forget to eat, or eat something badly spoiled or drink poison accidentally....There are literally hundreds of ways in which such a person can come to harm.

I agree that, if possible, the sister needs to be informed...As well as the local "first responders" so that appropriate measures can be taken.

Peace
James


#9

We have had many cases over the past few years where an elderly person suffering from dementia has walked away from home (even assisted living facilities) and succumbed to the elements. My Grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's. I can remember them visiting for Christmas and he spent a whole day looking for his car keys. My dad and Grandmother both tried to make him realize his keys were back home because they flew instead of drove.


#10

Don't be afraid to call social services or even 911. Too many times neighbors wine and moan and say it's none of their business, then show up at the funeral after the guy has frozen to death on a cold night. I seem to hear about one case every winter (either a neglected old person, or a family hanging on too tight to a elder they cannot possibly care for 24/7...)


#11

Just to add to the above, I recall two instances locally where a dementia patient alked away from Home.
One a couple of years ago where a man walked away and was not found until the following fall when his body was discovered by a deer huner in the woods several miles from his home.
Then just a few weeks ago a woman wandered away - thankfully she was found a few hours later sleeping on a porch swing a few blocks away....

As many here know, my wife suffers from Alzheimer's disease and behavioral issues can be major. She won't know me and will just want to leave. Thankfully only once has she, "gotten away" and that was only briefly....But the worry is consant.

It is a sad and sorry thing that this Child of God has multiple problems and no close family to help. I hope that you and your neighbors, and his sister, will be able to get him the help he needs.

Peace
James


#12

One thing no one has addressed is the fact that this man is still driving. If he is as confused as he sounds he probably should not be driving.

If his sister can't or won't help, by all means call the police and tell them you are concerned about him living alone and explain his issues with confusion. You can also express concern over the fact he is still driving. The police may send an officer over to speak with him or they may refer it to Social Services or Adult Protective Services, whatever it's called in your city.

Someone from some agency will come to do an evaluation of this man's living situation. The police can request that DMV give him a driving test and/or have a physician sign a form stating he is ok to drive.

As for the paranoid schizophrenia story, he may have very well been taken in for an evaluation after the baseball incident. Not sure what state you are in, but in my state, a mental evaluation for something like that consists of the person being kept for observation for 72 hours. After that, they are almost always released unless there is a complete break with reality.


#13

Sorry for missing that, and that also is of prime importance. By driving, he would accidentally injure or kill himself and others.


#14

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