The problem is a lot of people fall through the cracks, because of the way the laws are written. Then, they worsen without care because nobody can force them to receive care.
For example, there’s way too much secrecy about elderly people who are physically or mentally ill. There needs to be some sort of Good Samaritan law so that friends or relatives of a person that is incapable of caring for themselves, but refuses to seek help, can call the doctor behind their back and the doctor can listen without fear of lawsuits or retaliation by the patient.
I know of an elderly person who was given a new medication and had hallucinations as a result. As time went on, the hallucinations became more and more severe and affected their life at every level. But they refused to tell their doctor of this symptom. And they forbade their family from telling him and forbade the doctor from listening. So as time went on, and the meds built up in their system, they became irrational, paranoid and wouldn’t let anyone near. The family called every authority they could find and were told they were absolutely helpless to do anything if the patient refused help. This patient was also very frail and couldn’t care for themselves even before this situation. But now they refused to let anyone in the house to cook or clean for them. They started living on candy and carbs although they were diabetic.
This person could have easily had at least their mental symptoms cleared by removing the medication. But they refused to be assessed or tell any authority. So they spent months going deeper and deeper into a state of complete irrationality, at home alone, while telling their family their paranoid hallucinations were real. The family lived far away and they didn’t realize at first that these things weren’t happening, because the patient was censoring themselves to sound more rational when talking to outsiders. But while talking to people in person, who were not relatives and had no power, they described extreme, irrational delusions. When any authority figure came, they said nothing and said everything was fine.
I’ve cared for other elderly people, and extreme paranoia and mistrust is common. So is lack of cooperation. If you’re helping people like this, you’re helping them while they claim they’re fine, you’re the crazy one and they’re being mistreated or persecuted. Paranoia is common among the elderly.
Anyone who thinks a person like this should be left to fend for themselves with no help, or end up homeless, or with no utilities because they’re too irrational to pay bills, is crazy. There’s no reason to make it harder for these people than it has to be. It’s not helping them, it’s refusing to help them. Saying that an elderly, frail person, would be better off wandering the streets cold and hungry, without medical treatment, unassisted, rather than receiving help, is ridiculous. I have to wonder about the mental competence of a person that thinks that.
I really got my eyes opened when I saw every possible authority and social service contacted, and every one said, all they have to do is refuse treatment and I have to close the case and walk away. Even knowing another incident could happen tomorrow, I can’t keep the case open. It’s like every law is written to make it impossible to help these people in the early stages.