Healthy Living and Staying Safe

 

Warm in the Winter and Cool in the Summer

Staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer:
Please click on Warming and Cooling centers 2018 to download the available locations.

Adult Protective Services

So What is APS?

Adult Protective Services (APS) respond to reports concerning the well-being of vulnerable adults in our community.
APS workers serve adults who are 60 years or older, OR who have a physical or mental condition that impairs their ability to take care of themselves.  APS responds to reports of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and self-neglect.  APS workers often team with police, banks, hospitals, and the courts to keep people safe.

What do they do?

Most reports result in a visit from someone with the Department of Human Services, whether that person is from Adult Protective Services or the Aging and Disability Resource Center.  From there, we assess the situation and determine what assistance to offer.  In most cases, we respond by offering services and assisting people to get the help they need.  We’re serving adults who have the right to self-determination, and unless we have compelling evidence that the individual is no longer capable of understanding their circumstances we can’t force them to do anything.

“I’m Worried About…”

That’s how most reports start.  A call from a friend, neighbor, or community member saying that this person just isn’t doing as well as they should be.  Maybe they’ve had some recent health problems.  Maybe they’ve had some bad people hanging around their home lately.  Maybe they’re forgetting things, and it’s starting to interfere with their life.  Whatever it is, if it has you worried, it’s worth reporting.  Your identity won’t be given out to anyone, and even if you’re wrong about the situation, it never hurts when someone offers help.  If it bothers you, make the call.  Let us sort out the reports.

Who Do I Talk To?

Most calls come in through the ADRC, and are sent along to Adult Protective Services due to the level of concerns in the referral.  You can also call the Department of Human Services in Marquette County.  No matter who you speak to, the result is the same.

What Happens Next?

The APS worker will assess the report based on all the information provided, determining what is within our jurisdiction to do.
Some reports may be screened out.  Some will be turned over to the ADRC for options counseling.  When it’s found that APS has jurisdiction to get involved, APS will develop a strategy that has the best chance of getting that person help, then make contact either in person or by phone.  When APS goes to the door, it’s casual and friendly.  Obtaining information via conversation, not interrogation, and looking for ways to assist.  Our top priority is to help the person to safely maintain the life they want.

Will You Do Something?

Self-determination is the name of the game.  If a person is competent, they can make their own decisions.  Even if a person is not taking care of themselves, and even if a person is letting their family and friends take advantage of them, they have the right to make bad decisions.  We do what we can to provide options and resources, but in the end, if they don’t want help, there isn’t much we can do.  Victims who have the capacity to understand their circumstances have the right to refuse services.

However…

Adult Protective Services and Law Enforcement are not the same thing.  APS is concerned with the safety of older and disabled adults.  Law Enforcement is concerned with crimes and apprehending criminals.  In cases of abuse by someone else, both avenues need to be considered.

What If They Aren’t Competent?

There’s no simple answer, and each situation plays out differently.  In the progressive decline of dementia, it can be difficult to determine when a person has gone from ‘struggling with dementia’ to ‘incapable of caring for themselves’.  APS workers rely on doctors to legally declare individuals ‘incompetent’, which gives the Court legal jurisdiction to intervene.  Most guardianships begin with a referral from a hospital.  Most out-of-home placements start directly at discharge.

The Role of Friends and Family

APS is bound by its legal authority.  APS can’t take away someone’s car keys or make them take their medications.  Only though a court process will someone’s right to self-determination be addressed.  However, family and friends can make these things happen.  Often times family and friends have the power of conversation to assist individuals to make decisions to improve health outcomes.   When APS is missing a piece, family can often provide it.  In small, rural communities like ours, neighbors are a crucial safety net.

How Do I Know What Happened?

Unfortunately, laws regarding confidentiality don’t allow us to follow up with reporters.  APS can’t tell you that we visited someone, or what we found.  You can trust that all reports are followed up on appropriately.  If you don’t see any changes, it’s usually because we don’t have the legal authority to make those changes, and the individual refuses to accept them.  You can always ask them, and if new concerns arise, please report to APS again!  Sometimes it takes a few reports to build up a case before we can do something.

Guardianship and Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney:

An adult (18 years or older) is the ONLY one who can make decisions for that adult.  Wisconsin law treats family members, including spouses, as strangers for decision-making purposes.  Family members are NOT authorized to make decisions for capacitated or incapacitated adult family members (Wisconsin is NOT a “next of kin” or “family consent” state for adults).  Decision-making authority can be delegated to others (often called “surrogates”) by a principal who is “of sound mind.”

Power of Attorney for Finances and Power of Attorney for Health Care are two ways to authorize a decision maker.

Please click Wisconsin Power of Attorney Forms to review and download forms.

 

Guardianship:

  1. A legal relationship
  2. Created by a county circuit (probate) court
  3. After petitioner proves the necessary factual elements and the proposed ward has been provided due process rights
  4. Pursuant to Wis. Stats. Ch. 54
  5. Between a person called “the ward” and another person or persons called “the guardian of the person” and/or “the guardian of the estate”
  6.  When the ward is determined by the court to be “incompetent”

Please click WI Guardianship Forms to review and download forms.

 

For additional information please click on Guardianship Support Center.

Scams and things to watch out for

The State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is the best place to find out about scams in your area.  They are also the agency with whom you file a consumer protection complaint.

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection:
Please click on Consumer Alerts to find out about scams in this area.
Please click on File a complaint to be directed to the consumer protection complaint webpage.