Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How Do You Do This?

We know an elderly woman who is probably not safe in her own home anymore. She has stacks and stacks of magazines, newspapers (still gets 2 dailies), catalogs (OMG the number of catalogs is frightening), and other detritus. Every gift she receives, every book she reads, every DVD she watches -- it all stacks up.  She refuses to have anyone come in and clean or pick things up (even family members), so there are little walkways in between piles of debris. She steadies herself by touching piles of stuff as she goes by. You can see them wobble as she does. Sometimes they fall and the slick catalogs are now on the floor.

She cannot physically do the clean-up herself, but becomes anxious beyond belief if anyone tries to help her with any of it.

Her physical strength is so low that she can barely climb the steps to her front door.

Yet, this woman is of sound mind and absolutely resists any help offered or suggestions made.

In the old days, it would have never gotten to this point. Someone, usually a family member, would have moved in or moved her in with them, and managed the situation. For years, this woman has been physically unable to shift the things that need to be disposed of -- and now it's overwhelming for anyone. She's not a hoarder; she just can't manage the stuff.

Also in the old days people used to have "interventions" for alcohol abuse. I wonder whether there's such a thing for elderly people who have allowed a situation to deterioriate to this point.

So what does one do in this situation?  Just stand by and wait for the 911 call? Have any of you dealt with this with an elderly person? How did you handle it?


The Bug said...

Dr. M & I were just discussing this about his aunt at Christmas. She's fine right now & her house isn't a danger zone - yet. But she lives alone & there's really no one around to help her when the inevitable downturn comes. Her sister (my MIL) is in a nursing home mostly we think because she stopped taking her blood pressure meds & had a series of strokes that damaged her memory & her ability to take care of herself. And she was MARRIED - he just didn't pay enough attention (they're in their 70s). At least aunt J tends to listen to her doctors - but what if she stops? Yikes.

Mama Zen said...

That is so sad. Could Adult Protective Services help?

Anonymous said...

I had a lady that rode my bus for years. She was elderly and I would go to her house and help her pick fruit and veggies from her yard that were too high. Her house was exactly as you described. it was horrible and I hated going in there. I talked to her son and daughter about it and they said she wouldn't let them do anything. I offered to help her clean it up and she absolutely said no. That's the way it stayed for all the years I knew her until she died. You worry about fires, disease and what not but there was nothing to be done. She was determined and when they get like that I suppose you just have to sit by and watch. They are set in their ways and I would hate to have something happen to them because we wanted to clean up.

BTW an interesting post came in my reader from you titled Timing Is Not Everything. You aren't the first to mention how early I post and because of that I'm moving them to the day it says. I've always done it early because it makes the comments come in at a good time and give me enough time to get back to them. I've never liked posting that early, but I'm gonna start. You make sense :)

quilly said...

My Aunt and Uncle live this way. they haven't allowed anyone inside the house in years so we don't really know how bad it is.

quilly said...

I just found your Timing is Not Everything post on my reader. I was just coming to the conclusion that moving Punny Monday is harder on folks (especially me!) than having it always in the same time frame was. Now I am trying to decide the best time to set it and keep it.

word verification: flumaxed

SouthLakesMom said...

I'm not sure that we can do anything. I wonder whether my concern is even valid. She is living the way she wants to - or is accepting of, so who am I to change it? Yes, it offends my sense of order, but so what?

Hmm...gotta think about this some more.

For Thom & Quilly -- put your memes in whatever time zone you want! I'll still be there!