Incompetent Caregiver

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Barbara Burg, Pennsylvania

My friend just died prematurely and alone because her spouse was incompetent. He ignored physical symptoms she had and did not get medical care for her until she was critically ill. I urged him for a month to take her to physician. Others did, as well. But he couldn't seem to put this into action, rather kept wondering. I must add he is a psychiatrist very divorced from physical medicine. He kept thinking all symptoms were mental.

When finally hospitalized after several weeks of weakness, fatigue, inability to eat or drink adequately, increased confusion, vomiting, she was found to have UTI, kidney failure, high blood pressure he hadn’t given her her meds for, anemia requiring blood transfusion, dehydration, septic hip, sepsis. NOT IN HER HEAD.

He didn't inform extended family during her suffering and she died alone after several weeks where family presence would have been comforting. Also his incompetence could have been observed and appropriate interventions made by family.

I did contact social workers at hospital and their senior living place. No one helped her. He was obviously way over his head. His severe hearing loss became very evident with wife no longer covering for him. The family listened only to his inaccurate reports.

I am devastated by the unnecessary suffering and death of a fine woman. I feel this equates with elder abuse. Now she is gone. Family now has come but one week later her death still not announced. I find myself distraught and feeling so impotent. Do others fall into this place of being helpless to help because they are not relatives? 

Yes, my friend is now free. But is there a way to stop such abuse to others?


If you suspect an elder abuse situation, contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS). The National Center on Elder Abuse offers a listing common abuse scenarios on their Get Help page.