Ask Amy: Neighbors overhear verbal elder abuse – The Denver Post

Dear Amy: Our house is about 20 feet, wall-to-wall, from the next house.

Pre-pandemic, we only knew our next-door neighbors by name and exchanged occasional greetings.

The neighbors are an elderly gentleman, being cared for by his elderly daughter. She had mentioned that her father suffers from dementia. Her father is physically impaired and dependent on a walker.

Since reducing our world to the confines of our house and backyard, we hear the daughter screaming at her father at the top of her lungs, almost daily, very early in the morning.

While we can’t hear every word, she uses epithets and sounds verbally abusive.

He is visited by a home health care aide several times a week. Despite the health care visits, we think we may be the only people who know about this behavior, other than father and daughter.

Is there anything you would recommend that we can do to help them?

We fear anything we say could make it worse.

– Worried Neighbors

Dear Worried: Every state has a mandated office of Adult Protective Services (APS). APS a social service program authorized by law to receive and investigate reports of elder or vulnerable adult maltreatment, and to intervene to protect the victims.

Your county or town should have an affiliated agency that handles cases such as you describe. Please call and report exactly what you know. A social worker will follow up.

The elderly caregiver in this situation is no doubt very stressed. Her father might be hard of hearing (which might necessitate that she raise her voice). But no amount of stress or deafness justifies disrespect and verbal abuse.

You are witnesses to this abuse, and you must make the call. A case worker will assess the situation, and if they need more help or respite care, they might be able to receive it.

An internet search will reveal the APS office closest to you.

Dear Amy: I’m so sad. My husband says he doesn’t want to be in our marriage anymore. He states that my mood and ways of reacting to situations are not what he expected. We’ve been married for 22 years now and lately he can’t seem to tolerate me.

He had a rough childhood and thinks that he might die young. He says he doesn’t want to spend whatever time he has left with me.

I’m so very hurt. I always thought I would grow old with him. I thought we would have many adventures together.

I find it hard to sleep and eat. Do you have any advice for me?

– Sad Soul

Dear Sad: I’m so sorry you are going through this. Please, if at all possible, find a counselor to talk to. If your husband refuses, go to sessions on your own. Also, talk to your most compassionate and understanding friend or family member.

Your husband sounds depressed. Has he received upsetting news about his health recently? Has the ongoing pandemic triggered sudden concerns about his own mortality? Is he having a mid-life meltdown?

Sometimes, when someone wants to leave a relationship, they will create a smokescreen to obscure the real reasons they want to leave. “Everything you do bothers me” is a way of saying, “It’s not me, it’s you!”

You will feel better if you find ways to stand up for yourself and assert your right to be respected, even if he is in crisis.

I suggest telling your husband, “I want to work on our relationship. I want to help you through this. I know I can’t force you to stay in this marriage, but please don’t try to destroy my self-esteem in the process.”

Dear Amy: “Worried Sister” reported that her elderly brother physically attacked her, before he was moved to a nursing facility. Thank you for suggesting that she contact the social worker at her brother’s home before contemplating a visit.

Medical Social Workers can be found in nearly every medical setting, from hospitals, to nursing facilities, to home health and hospice agencies, and in some doctor’s offices, as well.

They are an excellent resource for dealing with family matters, locating appropriate community resources, understanding psychosocial effects of health issues, and knowing about available financial resources.

And yes, they are a part of the team of health heroes facing increased risk during this pandemic.

– Retired Medical Social Worker in Nebraska

Dear Nebraska: Medical social workers provide an invaluable service to families during extremely stressful times. I’m deeply grateful to the social workers who assisted me and both of my parents.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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