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Elderly Aunt advice needed

(84 Posts)
susien777 Wed 28-Mar-18 09:12:16

Hi all,

I have an aunt who is 86. She lives about 55 miles from me, has never been married or had children.

She is extremely independent and refuses help from anyone. She hoards everything and her house is a shocking mess and it's almost impossible to move around because of this. She keeps newspapers from years ago and when I suggest that I take them for recycling she gets angry and says she's not read them yet. Her kitchen is a health hazard with bags of rotten food that has liquified.
She's not very mobile and can only leave the house if either myself or the neighbour takes her. She struggles to climb the stairs in her house too.
I've suggested she move closer to me in a bungalow so I can help her but she's refused that.
She seems to have diarrhoea on a regular basis and now weighs 6 stone but refuses to see a doctor.
It's making me so stressed and I already have my mum in a care home for end of life care and I'm at my wits end trying to know what to do to help aunt.
Any suggestions would be greats, thanks.

thesandwich Wed 28-Mar-18 09:26:38

So sorry to hear about your Mum and your aunt. If she is of sound mind there is not a lot you can do- perhaps alert adult social services and write to her gp? I’m sure other more knowledgeable posters will add more.
You must also take care of yourself.there is only so much you can do.

Penfold007 Wed 28-Mar-18 09:35:11

You could speak to Adult Services at your aunt's council. Tell them what you've told us, they should agree to visit your aunt to check on her welfare and mental capacity. However, if your aunt has capacity there is very little anyone can do, she is allowed to make poor life choices. Sorry you are going through such a tough time with your mum flowers

cupoflemontea Wed 28-Mar-18 09:55:43

Yes was just about to say about mental capacity. So hard for everyone when it gets this bad isn't it?

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Mar-18 09:58:53

Absolutely talk to adult social services. Then accept that it it is felt that she has the capacity to make bad decisions, you cannot do much. Instead save your emotional energy for any (inevitable?!) crisis.

(I went through about four years of this till my mother had a fall, luckily outside, and I was able to intervene....it took three months to clear her flat.)

If Social Services are aware of her, and her living conditions, it should help inform discharge decisions should she ever be admitted to hospital.

If no action seems likely, I would also be tempted to write to her GP bringing your concerns to his attention. He/she will probably not respond, but an understanding may help them consider environmental factors should she become ill, leading perhaps to their own contact with SS.

Aprilmightmemynewname Wed 28-Mar-18 09:59:50

My fil is a voluntary fire fighter. He regularly visits homes to ensure it has an escape plan etc. He is well able to deal with hoarders and how to advise. Speak to your local to aunt's station. She isn't in a safe environment at all. As others, adult services also.

susien777 Wed 28-Mar-18 10:14:12

Thank you all so much for your kind and helpful replies, it's heartening to know that are some genuinely lovely people out there willing to give their time to offer advice. 🤗🤗

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 06:20:43

Just an update, aunt had a fall at her house yesterday and has been taken to hospital. Apparently the paramedics said her living conditions are the worst they've seen. So what happens how? Will they allow aunt to return home if the house is cleaned or will she have to go in a care home?

landgirl1 Tue 17-Apr-18 06:25:06

This is your ideal opportunity to get occupational health & social services involved to assess if the home is fit/ safe to move back into & she may get funding for a pop in career etc. Been there myself so I totally understand your worry & frustration

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 06:35:32

She will never accept anyone coming in to help. The times I have asked her to let me tidy and she refuses. She's 87 and struggles to climb the stairs now.
Should I invoke the Power Of Attorney now or can I not do that?
Obviously I want to do what's in her best interests but she's her own worst enemy at times.
Social services have already been notified by the paramedics.

hatgirl Tue 17-Apr-18 06:46:33

You can't use the power of attorney until it's felt your aunt had lost mental capacity.

You would need to have a health and welfare POA to make these kind of decisions any way, if you only have a finance one you can only make financial decisions.

The alert from the paramedic should automatically trigger a referral to the hospital social work team by the hospital. If it looks like the hospital are looking to discharge her without being seen by a social worker this is where you need to get stroppy. The hospital social work team are more than used to dealing with issues like this, but don't be surprised if there isn't a huge amount they can actually do, or do particularly quickly.

Is this issue with your aunt a relatively new thing or has she always been a bit of a hoarder and it's got worse with age? Would your aunt give someone permission to at least remove the food in the house whilst she is in hospital so that it doesn't become a (further) environmental health risk?

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 06:57:41

She's always been a horder but it's got much worse over the last 5-10 years. She's housebound unless either myself or neighbour takes her out and I know she would be much better off in a care home.
I do have POA over health and welfare as well as over finances.
She was recently a victim of bank fraud, I sorted that with the bank for her, they sent her a new card and I told her it was important not to give her bank details out over the phone to anyone. I saw her Sunday and she's now given out her details and signed herself up for a 2 year landline contract that she felt coerced in to taking out.
I can't sort this because I've called and as I'm not the account holder they won't do anything.
It's all so frustrating 😩😩😩😩

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 07:04:48

This was 9 months ago and it's got much, much worse since.

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 07:06:03

The whole house is like this too

hatgirl Tue 17-Apr-18 07:52:08

What happens next may well depend on what, if any injuries she has sustained in the fall.

I have seen houses in a worse state sadly, but certainly there would be enough there to warrant further investigation by social services.

They will be under an immense amount of pressure not to arrange permanent admission to residential care unless your aunt meets their criteria for residential care, and if she has been 'independent' up until her hospital admission you will probably find that on this occasion that any discharge to resi care will be a temporary 'rehab' option rather than a permanent option.

At this point you may just have to let social services get on with their assessment processes but provide them with as much information as you can about your concerns.

As for the telephone line it's worth trying to talk to them again and asking to speak to the department that deals with vulnerable customers. If you still don't get very far Ofcom may be able to offer some advice. www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/what-is-ofcom/consumer-vulnerability

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 08:20:54

Aunt has funds for a care home so financially it's not an issue, it's just a case of her not wanting to be in one.

backsackcraic Tue 17-Apr-18 08:26:19

Definitely activate the power of attorneys even if you don't use them. Also,speak to SS about the house as they will likely recommend it's cleared to reasonable proportions so that she can return. You could also say that if she wants to return home she has to accept that it'll need clearing up.

Needmoresleep Tue 17-Apr-18 08:29:41

Did you speak to SS? If not speak to them now and the discharge people. Perhaps if they tell her that they would be happier about discharge if you/someone you organise were to go in first to reduce trips risks, she might allow it. The last thing hospitals want are rotating admissions and discharges from fallers.

nicknamehelp Tue 17-Apr-18 08:33:33

If she's still in hospital speak to docs/nurses to see if they can help with referalls show them the pics. Also are you sure of her mental state?

FinallyHere Tue 17-Apr-18 08:56:38

So sorry you are going through this, it is very kind of you to undertake as much as you have already.

* as I'm not the account holder*

Do you have all the paperwork, or can you phone them, give your aunts name and ask them to resend it, then pick it up from her house. I do all my mother's finances. I actually have poa and her permission, but mostly i just get on and do stuff as if I am her. So long as i can quote account numbers, passwords, etc i have never had any trouble. If i get stuck, i say i cant find that and ask them to resend. So long as it is the the address on the account, there have not ye5 been any issues.

It helps that we share a family name. I don't normally see the point of using a title, like Mrs., rather than my name except on these occasions, when i announce myself as Mrs Here and away we go. Just remember to say you do not understand a lot and all works well.

It is a very kind thing you are doing, to try and help. It mast be heartbreaking to hear someone vulnerable felt coerced into signing up for a phone account. All the best.

susien777 Tue 17-Apr-18 09:10:19

Thanks again for all your helpful and kind replies, it really helps at a time like this 💐💐.
Aunt was only taken in to hospital last night, the neighbour found he upstairs, apparently she was partially clothed and laying in her own urine. 🙁
I live 55 miles away from her so haven't had a chance to visit her yet as my Mum was admitted to hospital Saturday morning.

thesandwich Tue 17-Apr-18 10:33:07

So sorry to read this susie. Brilliant advice from posters about hospital social workers and possible respite care. Hope your mum is ok.vyou can only do what you can do. Look after yourself.🌺🌺

susien777 Wed 18-Apr-18 20:33:56

The hospital are doing some cognitive tests, can social services insists she goes in a home or not?

hatgirl Wed 18-Apr-18 20:51:44

if you hold POA for heath and welfare and she is deemed to have lost mental capacity to make an informed choice about her living situation then it won't be up to Social Services.

If it gets to that point it will be up to you.

Social Services would only step in if they felt they had serious concerns that the decision you were making on her behalf wasn't being done in her best interests.

If they don't feel she lacks capacity then they can't insist that she does anything she doesn't want to, despite her age she would seen to be a capacatious adult who has the right to make unwise decisions. They would probably do everything they could to strongly encourage her to at least accept some support or a period of temporary care whilst the house was made habitable again.

Fortysix Wed 18-Apr-18 21:10:09

When your DM is as unwell as she is focus on her. flowers
Your Aunt is safe and being looked after. She has people to talk to and meals made and is a lot less vulnerable now she is out of her house. View her hospital admission as breathing space for you if you can. Phone the ward and tell them your priority has to be elsewhere. They will understand I am sure.

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