Let’s go, we got a call. It’s a psych call: 81 year-old female is threatening to harm herself.
Good evening, ma’am. We came to take you to the hospital.
Me? Why would you take me to the hospital? Who called you? Did my son call you? That son-of-a-gun!
Ma’am, can we talk to your son?
Yeah, he’s in my room. He was evicted…let’s see…last March and I let him stay here. He took over my room and just sleeps all day 24/7! I’m sick of it.
The house is untidy with small trinkets and old pictures frames of the elderly woman and her past husband. There is a large pile of letters and advertisements on the coffee table next to a dying flower in a cracked vase. An old TV and sun bleached couch, which apparent that it was being used as a bed (presumably by the elderly woman), completes the living room ambiance. In the cramped kitchen, there is a dirty gas stove, a sink full of unwashed dishes, a small rickety dinning table, an empty old school refrigerator, and a clutter of wooden boxes in the corner.
Where’s your son?
In that room. He never comes out of the room. He is my son and I love him but this is too much! In April, he hurt me. He pushed me and I broke my hip. I was in the hospital for a month. I’m scared of him.
Her room, currently occupied by her son, is full of empty beer cans and wine bottles. Her son is in his mid-50s, wearing a short sleeve button-down shirt with most buttons undone and khaki shorts. He is sporting a handlebar moustache and a potbelly that is protruding out of his unbuttoned shirt.
Sir, did you call 911?
Yeah, my mom is threatening to kill herself. She was yelling at me earlier today that she would rather die than have me live in this house. Also, here’s an affidavit.
The document was signed by a local church deacon, explaining the social situation of this family. The elderly woman has early onset dementia and was behind on her bills so the son offered to help. He is helping her pay her bills on time and going grocery shopping. She refuses any help but demands her son to do everything. The document also stated that the son is the power of attorney for all her finances and real estate.
What is he saying?! I don’t want to kill myself. He is dangerous! My daughter has a restraining order on him because she’s scared of him. I also had one from the police officer but he’s my son. I’m so stupid. I should’ve…
Ma’am, because your son called, we have to take you to the hospital.
What about my son? He’s the one with the problem. He has a psychiatrist in Atlanta. Call my daughter! This is not fair. I need to get him out of here.
Ma’am, we can’t do that. You will have to follow through with that restraining order if you want to get him out of your house.
I know but he’s my son. Where will he go? Are there shelters?
There are shelters in the city. Do you have any medical problems?
Hypertension and thyroid.
What medications are you taking?
Lasinopil (Lisinopril) for my heart because he’s giving me a heart attack. Thyroid supplements. And this (Risperidone) for anxiety.
Ok, let’s go to the hospital. Once the doctors clear you, they will let you come home.
Look at me, I’m not even dressed properly. I haven’t combed my hair yet!
You can do that. We’ll wait for you.
Oh, he’s winning. He’s very smart with a college degree. He says he can outsmart you cops any day. May the wrath of God be upon him.
At the hospital, the paramedic called the hotline for elder abuse to investigate the situation. There was something wrong with the story. The son was supposed to help his mother with bills and groceries but the refrigerator was completely empty and his room was full of beer cans. He had a document he called an unofficial “affidavit” signed by a local church deacon. He had pushed her over and injured her, which required hospitalization. She was riled up and maybe somewhat hysterical but oriented and had insight into the situation. Is the elderly woman actually sick or is the son trying to take advantage of his aging mother?
What would you have done?