elderly people with problems.

Tara - posted on 07/27/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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In my tiny tiny town there is an elderly gentleman, his name is Karl, he is about 65-70ish and lives alone. He has lived in this town all his life, was raised here, worked here and will die here.
Problem is that Karl doesn't ever wash or change his clothes. We are not sure if he is incontinent or not. But his pants are so crusted with pee that they are solid. The stench can be smelled from 15 feet away. He is always walking around town, literally spends all his waking hours walking, walking, walking in his pee pants and dirty clothes. He has refused help from all the churches in our area, he has refused to go see a doctor about his feet. (just imagine what they look like). He has refused to talk to a community worker about supports for laundry, bathing, cooking, cleaning etc.
In the winter time the pee is frozen onto his skin, his face is cracked from walking in the cold and he doesn't wear proper attire for summer or winter.
He seems to be "in his right mind". Doesn't bother anybody, is friendly with everyone who stops to talk with him.
But what about his health? Is it the communities' responsibility to try to "force" this man into care? He has no family that anyone knows of and there has been talk of having him "committed" based on his "apparent" lack of mental cognizance.
I personally don't think he should be taken and put into an institution but am conflicted about what kind of care should be forced on him.
Any thoughts?

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[deleted account]

Tara I know I was trying to say that it's a shame that the authorities will not help him because he sounds as though he needs it but will not ask for it because he does not think he needs it. I can't see why the authorities can't sit him down over coffee and discuss what he is entitled to not tell him he needs help with or should be doing, IMO this is the best way to get through to him. I hope that clarifies my earlier post.

[deleted account]

Its called pride..even though he wont do anything to change it himself he doesnt want other people feeling the need to help him either.I think keep trying and do it as a friend not like you have to but be a friend and talk to him..he needs help &he wont ask for it and feels like he cant say yes when churches try to help.Be a friend not a volunteer helper.

[deleted account]

wow the poor guy... you're very nice to want to help him.. i agree with sharon's above replys mostly.. if someone is willing to go and ne a listening "friend" to him.. and then can just gradually help clean his house , keep up on stuff.. he sounds like he has some kind of dementia.. i get why he doesnt accept goverment help, if you will, he probably doesnt think theres a problem bc hes not harassing anyone, and so forth.. hes lonely, and probably sad, theres a man in my neighborhood who sits in his wheelchair outside his house, i usually see him when i walk the kids in the am. .. i talk with him and let him see the kids , one am i saw him walknig out to get his trash bin, he looked to be struggling, so i offered to do it and he said no but thank you. i asked him how he was doing and he said great except i cant see anything, then he laughed.. im sure he lives alone, so when we see him we try to spend time with him and such..im not sure of any other of his circumstances.. but i try to give some time and chat with him.. idk.. i guess i would just try to keep contact with him and befriend him a bit

Sharon - posted on 07/28/2010

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Its a start you know? I have to say that I'm glad I'm not in your shoes. Our local town crazy has a real mental disorder. His family is very wealthy, he isn't elderly but he chooses? to wander with a shopping cart draped with odd flags collecting garbage and odd things. But he's relatively clean. He prefers his state of insanity, I've heard that at his worst he is literally dragged of the streets and medicated until he's sane, then released into his own care where he throws out or sells his meds and goes back to his shopping cart. I don't understand it all.

I don't understand how our government/public systems can allow him to do this to himself. I dunno whats right or wrong in this case. He's feeding himself - how or what, I don't know, he's got a place to sleep - somewhere and he harms no one. Every time he is sane - he goes back to this choice.

Trying to comprehend the insane will drive me insane!

Tara - posted on 07/28/2010

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LMAO Sharon!! Too funny.
I could probably find the courage to speak to him personally. Hubby and I have said so many times before that we would love to hear his stories over dinner, but even if we dine outside it would be unbearable!!
I would have to really psyche myself out for it though, and put some Vicks vapo rub under my nostrils first!! (a friend who works in a morgue told me this works great!!)
I don't know how he would respond though.
Hmmmm.....

Sharon - posted on 07/28/2010

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Tara - what about personally talking to him and being very blunt - as gently as possible?

"HI! I've seen you around town. You look like you could use a hand?"

"No I don't"

"Well the smell of urine and feces isn't impressing anyone and your appearance is beginning to scare kids. You're the spitting image of the imagined unibomber, once upon a time. I'd like to help you and I promise I won't tell anyone how bad things are for you, if you'll let me help you at home."

Something like that, once you or someone, gets his trust on a personal level, you can introduce another "helper."

Tara - posted on 07/28/2010

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@Toni, he has been offered the services of home care, cleaning, foot care, hygiene, laundry, errands, doctors appointments etc. he has denied all of the above and then some!
Some people think he chooses to go in his pants because he walks so much that it would just take too long to get home!
I don't think it matters why he pees in his pants, but he certainly needs some help, especially in the winter time. His pants are literally frozen stiff with the pee. I hate to think of what his feet look and smell like.
I am going to make some more calls, but really I have come to a dead end on all of the agencies I have called. No family to report him? nope
Lives alone? yes
no police record? nope
Is he a harm to the community? nope
Does he want care? nope
"Sorry there is nothing we can do unless he is arrested or placed into the hospital"
Not sure where to go next.
Tara

[deleted account]

I have worked in elderly care (I was a mobile care assistant so looked after people in their own home) and found that many of the people in my care did not realise they needed it - the worst man was going senile and had days of fantastic clarity where he would sit and tell me about his life BUT still pee in the middle of his lounge because he thought he was in the toilet and on his 'bad' days he would refuse to let me in his home at all.

Unfortunately if this man has no family to tell authorities he needs help they will not step in unless he holds his hands up (and he sounds like the gentleman I described) so he probably won't (the man I described above also told me of the frail little old couple who he wanted to help - even though they were younger than him - he just couldn't see it). It would be fantastic if he could be given care in his home, I know the company I worked for cleaned the home and completed laundry tasks, but mostly we dealt with personal hygiene and ensuring our clients ate meals (which we cooked) and took their meds. He sounds as though he would benefit from this kind of service - I don't see why they could not just offer him basic services in a way that shows him they are not taking his freedom away (as being put in a carehome would seem to to him).

Tracey - posted on 07/28/2010

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He sounds like he is unable to look after himself and should be put into some sort of assisted housing where he can be washed and taken care daily but would still be free to walk around the town during the day if that is what he enjoys doing.

Sharon - posted on 07/27/2010

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Its gonna be a little hard to sit & listen to his stories when he smells like a sewer Patricia.

And I've never met anyone happy to know that they smell, not just bad, but disgustingly bad. Unless they were mental.

Patricia - posted on 07/27/2010

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I say if he's not bothering anybody, leave the guy to live his life. Yes, it's too bad that he does not take care of himself, but if the guy walks around all day, he must be in good health....If he remembers where he lives, I'm sure he would know how or when to get help...but sometimes as hard as it is, and how much we feel we want to help, the best we can do is treat him as the kind human being that he seems to be. Everybody has a story to tell.....he might have many...

Sharon - posted on 07/27/2010

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Tara there is a group/program for elderly people who are being neglected/abused. UGH I cannot remember the name. This sucks. Its a government thing.

Ez - posted on 07/27/2010

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I work in a General Practice and we had a patient very similar to this, except he did actually come to the doctor occasionally. This man was eventually put under the Public Guardianship Tribunal, which is basically like the State taking on his POA (since there were no family members there to do so). He was then seen by the Aged Care Assessment Team and sent to live in hostel accomodation (assisted-living).

There will be procedures in place to deal with a situation like that, but the referral to have the man deemed unfit will have to come from a doctor or the police (or atleast that's the case here in Aus). Good luck!

Tara - posted on 07/27/2010

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true, it can be a public health concern. We don't have "state" run homes here in Canada. We have nursing homes for the elderly. Usually they are paid for by the family and if not the government will pay the costs to keep him in a home. The problem is that no one in this town seems to see that he needs any help at all. They ignore him and pretend he doesn't exist except when there is a function and he is present. Town hall meetings etc. but still no one does anything except to complain about it to each other.
There are people in town who have known him most of his life and they say he has always been "a little off". I see that he needs help, I wish he would allow people to assist with getting him someone from community care to come in and help with his home and personal hygiene.
And today after posting this I called again to our local office and asked what can be done. Nothing unless family steps in or he requests help. The only thing they said that would change that is if he had an accident, was ill and taken to hospital or was arrested.
I don't understand how he can be on welfare and still living like this. He must have a worker or something who would know the conditions of his life.
I'm going to keep digging and see what I can do.

Meghan - posted on 07/27/2010

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It does become a public health issue like I said...cause I would't want to put my son on the park bench that he just got up from.

Sharon - posted on 07/27/2010

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I think that if he can't see he needs some sort of help, then he needs assisted living.

I THINK putting it to him in terms of "let us help you with these little things and you won't have to go to a state run home." might get him to see the positive side of help.

It is not healthy to walk around with urine and possibly feces on your clothes, in your pants. If he can't maintain his laundry - what else is wrong at home? Is he eating of fouled plates?

He needs the help.

Tara - posted on 07/27/2010

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It's not a issue of help not being available or offered. He has refused help from everyone. He has accepted new pants from the church, when they leave them at his door anonymously, but then just wears them and pees in them until they are as bad as his old pair, and then one day he has the old pair on again.
He is happy, he loves this town and will tell stories to anyone who will listen. He is poor, lives on welfare and in a tiny little house. I send my son to shovel his walk way in the winter and other kids cut his grass in summer. He seems to be all there except for the peeing in his pants and lack of personal hygiene.
As a town, we are at a loss. He has had an assessment done by community care, they have said that if he does not want care, they can not force it upon him.
It's a hard situation, in order to have him taken to an institution, someone has to declare him unfit to care for himself. I think he would die very quickly if he were put away in an institution and not allowed to walk when and where he chooses.
Sad really...

Meghan - posted on 07/27/2010

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I used to work at a store where we had a regular who lived in a mobile home with 15 cats and this woman's smell was SO offensive!! I had to leave the store while I was pregnant for a good 15 minutes after cause it made me so sick. She was in her right mind, her kids and members of the community would try to offer her help but she refused it and would get very upset with them all. I think the ministry was called on her a few times but as far as I know she wasn't forced into any kind of home or insitution.
I don't know if it's because she was a slob or didn't care or just honestly didn't notice. I do believe that not only is it a health issue for her it was a public health issue (the state of her home anyway)
Something does need to be done...it's so sad! But like you I don't know if "forcing" someone into a home is the right answer esp if they are functioning on some level.

[deleted account]

Amie, I don't think the problem is lack of help. I think the problem is that he's refusing it. How do you help someone that doesn't want to be helped? Tackle him, hold him down, throw him in the shower, and force new clothes on him? This is a tough situation. If this was a child, then definitely. But this is a grown man. Perhaps institutionalizing him would be best, but what would that do to his mental health (as in his happiness, he's obviously a little nutty already).

Amie - posted on 07/27/2010

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There are assisted living homes that could make sure he's ok but he still has his own personal apartment.

There are homecare nurses who come out to people's homes once a week, once a day, few times a week, whichever is needed for the individual they are seeing.

My gramma was in total denial that she needed help. His might be a similar problem. Though we managed to get her into assisted living before it became this big of a problem. There should be someone who can help him if he has no family.

He needs at least one of the options I mentioned. Depending on how bad it is in his home and how he does during their assessments there should be some help available to him.

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