Pt. 1 Grateful for Adult Protective Services
My dad remarried in 2009, just ten months after my mother passed away. I take that action as a testament to the success of Mom and Dad’s marriage – it was so good he wanted to have another experience like that. The problem was – none of us kids liked her. (I’ll call her J.) J. had none of the characteristics we associated with our Mom, and she was argumentative the few times we met her. Plus, none of us thought that Dad had grieved enough to be able to make a serious decision like this. I suspect that a lot of the decision was made in a “knight to the rescue” kind of attempt, as J. was living on public assistance after recovering from a serious car accident, and this assistance was running out. My sister was the only one who attended the wedding (kudos to her!) and on the first occasion I saw my dad afterwards he admitted that marrying J. was a mistake.
I believe that even knowing they were not well suited, my dad still wanted to make it work, and when J. was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dad was there for her.
A few years passed. Although my dad said he wanted to spend the year-end holiday with us, he cancelled a couple of weeks earlier in 2014. The following January he was admitted into the hospital, and at this point we learned of his dementia diagnosis. 2015 was the year that his verbal aphasia grew worse, so it was difficult to communicate in any detail with him. J. was frequently unable to cope. We started hearing from Dad’s neighbors about how they were concerned for him, and how erratically J. was acting. Adult Protective Services were called in for neglect. My Dad was in and out of the hospital frequently for falls, and one stay required a rehab facility since they did not want him to go home. During this period J. was involuntarily committed a number of times.
My siblings and I were tearing our hair out. We were hearing that one time J. was running up and down their street, yelling at people. I have no idea what kind of hell my dad endured, but the look of his gaunt face when he was in rehab spoke volumes. Of the three of us siblings, I was geographically closest here in Asheville, and still that was four hours away. My brother was in South Carolina at about five hours away, and my sister had moved to Idaho. We did all we could, legally, but since J. was his wife, we could not swoop in to rescue him.
The breaking point came in July of 2015 when my dad finally announced that he wanted a divorce and we all breathed a sigh of relief. My brother stayed with him in Georgia for a month while we made arrangements for him to move to an assisted living facility here in Asheville. During the fall of that year, we made several trips back to Georgia for his divorce proceedings, which was granted in December. It was during the trial (yes, J. wanted an actual trial) that J.’s schizophrenia was revealed. And now this roller coaster ride seemed to be over.
I truly don’t know what would have happened if someone had not noticed how my dad was being neglected and reported it. Before my dad decided on getting a divorce, his case with Adult Protective Services was closed out – since J. was (temporarily) out of the picture – but once she was released, she was back in my dad’s life. (I discovered that one of the characteristics of my dad’s dementia was how easily he was led – a characteristic that would show up again in 2016.) When I called Adult Protective Services, I was instructed to file another report to get him back in the system.
After he was divorced, one of his neighbors told us that she believed that J. had been doping him to keep him sedate while she went out. The neighbor based this on her observation of how alert my dad was when he’d returned from the hospital, and then a few weeks later he was just droopy and staring when she visited. I don’t know if doping was the reason for this or not, but I can say that he was not like that at all when he was in the assisted living facility.
Adult Protective Services provide an essential service. Each state, of course, has their own version, but there is a national website called NAPSA that will direct you to the Service in your state. http://www.napsa-now.org/