What Happens when Adult Protective Services is Called

move onI saw the card on the phone table in the kitchen. On the back of the card was a request to have my parents call the representative of Adult Protective Services (APS). I knew the retirement community staff had placed a call with concerns about my parents safety and well-being.

I decided that I would not insert myself in the process. However, when my brother visits, he hears the messages and contacts the woman from Adult Protective Services (APS).

The woman from APS shares that she has tried to meet with the parents and visited the community several times. On one visit she came when my mom was running the weekly bridge game and my mom shooed her away. My brother confirms a day and time he knows my parents will be in their apartment.

The woman from APS asks my brother two questions:

  1. Is he afraid my parents will walk into the lake?
  2. Does he worry my parents will set the kitchen on fire?

He answers “No” to both questions.

My brother hears back from the woman who shares that she is closing the case on my parents. She remarks that she can see the family is engaged and while my parents obviously are struggling, they don’t pose an immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.

Two weeks later, I get a call from Adult Protective Services. I am asked the same questions.  She confirms that she is not concerned to warrant any immediate follow-up visits with my parents. Predicted.

What I have since witnessed and learned is that Adult Protective Services will only act if the actions of the individual do pose a threat to themselves or others. Most of the employees are overwhelmed with cases. Everyone will be better off if you can resolve the situation. If they do find that your loved one is a harm to themselves or others and there is no legal powers in place, you will be facing court proceedings to initiate a petition for guardianship and conservatorship. These are both invasive, expensive and may result in someone being appointed by the court to act in these roles.

5 comments on “What Happens when Adult Protective Services is Called

  1. Someone called APS on my mom. Apparently the concern was that she was feeding my dad rotted food. As it turns out, this concern was well founded, and had been something that I had suspected for some time after she fired the caregiver I had hired to help her when she was going through chemo/radiation for colon cancer. Mom was extremely angry over being reported — she couldn’t understand why — and treated the APS representative (and me) very poorly, thereby adding fuel and fear to an already tense situation. After that initial report, it was down the rabbit hole, and it took a lot of begging and pleading on my part to get APS to back off — not something I wanted to do but otherwise my mom was completely out-of-control.

    However, during the course of APS’s talks with my parents, it came to light that my dad was sleeping with a loaded gun — literally in the bed — because he was fearful that if someone broke in, he could not react quick enough unless the gun was right there next to him, ready to go. From 300 miles away, I did everything I could to remedy the situation but my father refused to give up his gun, and rather than alienate one of the only allies I had in my efforts to help my mom, I gave up.

    Now I had two new nightmares — “will my dad think my mom is an intruder and shoot her,” and “will my dad roll over on the gun and accidentally kill himself,” to add to “will my mom set the house on fire with them in it;” and “will my mom kill herself or someone else with the car.”

    After that, every morning that got to 9 a.m. and the phone hadn’t rung was a blessing.

    • Thanks for sharing. I remember in college thinking soap opera’s were so preposterous … then I left college and lived in the real world and found that sadly, all those tragic, comical, senseless things really did happen to great people. I figure what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger … and I’m going to be an olympian by the time I’m 60!

  2. […] this meeting, enough events had happened that the retirement community made a report to Adult Protective Services (APS).  APS visited several times and did follow up calls with both myself and brother. APS closed the […]

  3. […] At almost every adult gathering, you will find a discussion about this topic and many of the caregivers are overwhelmed, frustrated and often hog-tied because they lack access to the information they need to better support the person they are helping.  My own community is building volunteer lead initiatives, starting with a service can that can help neighbors know what resources are available. It turns out that there are a wealth of services and support programs in place to assist our aging neighbors and the people that are helping care for them. Mine has everything from free calls for caregivers to Adult Protective Services. […]

  4. How very very true I’ve been there as a legal guardian to my late mom

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