I am a 33 year old with a father who is schizophrenic. He was diagnosed as a young adult but remembers hearing voices as early as the age of 13. He is now in his late fifties and he is beyond caring for himself. The last 4 or 5 living situations he was in (apartments) he was evicted for strange behavior like melting cassette tapes in the oven and starting a minor fire and bothering neighbors , including many other things. He stopped with all hygeine practices. He stopped being able to pay bills do to poor money mangement and lack there of. So he squatted with a few friends all of whom eventually sent him packing not at first realizing the extent of his illness. So after every fallout with his friends whom he has been staying with he ends up at my door with a police escort after they find him wandering the cold streets late at night. I live in a 1 bdrm apartment with my girlfriend and two large dogs. I am not equipped to deal with another person in such confined quarters let alone his illness. As you probably have guessed he refuses medication as well as his illness. He has other health issues that I know nothing about and he will not see a doctor, especially with me present. He has a ventalin inhaler that is prescribed to him that he uses way more than he was origanally suppossed to , along with smoking two + packs of cigarettes a day. He can barely walk ten steps without being seriously out of breath. My father needs help that I can’t give him and all the calls I’ve made trying to find help has come to the same roadblock. Someone can’t be forced treatment. I don’t know what to do. This has been going on for years. This is Saturday and he came via police escort Thursday night just before midnight. I had to call off work Friday because I can’t leave him alone at my apartment in fear he will do something and get me evicted, or worse. I’m at the end of my ropes and don’t know what to do. I can’t just send him out on the streets but it is affecting my happiness and comfort in my home which is very important to me. My girlfriend is supportive about it but it has already caused a strain. Sorry for the lengthy note but I really don’t feel like I even grazed the surface. If there is anyway you can help with resources or ideas it would mean the world to me. Thank you.
This is unfortunately a common situation. My main recommendation would be to call as many behavioral services in your community as possible. Specifically, I would recommend calling your local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) office. Many of the members of NAMI have dealt with similar situations. They are seasoned veterans when it comes to dealing with mentally ill family members and navigating the mental health system. They can offer you very good tips on how to handle your situation.
Another idea is calling the local community mental health center. Ask to speak with either a therapist or case manager. Other places to call include the health department, local group homes, the local emergency room/hospital (ask to speak to the hospital social worker), or the psychiatric emergency crisis center. The crisis center may be the best place to begin. Tell them about your situation and inquire whether there are any services that can assist you and your father. You might also find this information helpful as well.
“Danger to self or others” is the standard for involuntary hospitalization but there may also be a second standard referred to as “grave disability.” This means an individual could be involuntarily hospitalized if there is reason to believe that a person’s inability to care for themselves psychiatrically or medically will lead to further deterioration. Based on the description of your father’s psychiatric and physical condition he may meet the “grave disability” criteria. A psychiatric crisis team can come to the home and make a determination regarding your father’s psychiatric status.
I hope these ideas are helpful. Good luck.
Dr. Kristina Randle