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Analyzing How to Deal with Multiple Family Issues

By Deb Miller - West Virginia Senior Legal Aid Contributor

A recent call to West Virginia Senior Legal Aid was from Charlie (not his real name). He had a lot of legal issues to deal with.         

On his own, he had taken care of his sister in his home for over three years because she couldn’t live by herself any longer. 

Her worsening dementia was making it harder for Charlie to deal with her daily needs. Her behavior included random screaming throughout the day.       


Now 81, Charlie’s own health hadn’t been the best lately, even after going on portable oxygen. 

It was a good thing, he thought, when his son and his girlfriend asked to live with him for a while.

But his son, Tim, didn’t offer to pay rent or buy groceries and even asked Charlie for money over and over. 

Tim knew his dad was living on Social Security benefits. Tim had no job and neither did his girlfriend. 

They weren’t helping with cooking, laundry or other chores either and didn’t seem to mind the mess they piled up everywhere in the house. 

Plus, the two argued and yelled a lot and stomped around the house at all hours. Charlie was afraid of his son’s temper.

Things had changed slowly over time, and now Charlie was feeling overwhelmed with his own health problems, his sister’s dementia, and the unrelenting  drama from his son and friend. 

In addition, his house’s roof was leaking, and his old car didn’t work all that well anymore.

Without realizing it, Charlie had some legal problems.

One was potential domestic violence from the situation that was heating up because of his son and friend’s behavior. 

Were the two using illegal drugs? Why was Charlie’s money always coming up missing in the house?

Another was how to continue to care for his ailing sister. What could be done to lighten his load as her condition worsened?

With multiple problems, there can be multiple directions for handling them. Careful discussion with the Senior Legal Aid staff attorney helped Charlie appreciate that and strategize about what to do next.

A combination of support from state agencies and nonprofit organizations, along with possible court action, were considered. 

In the legal realm, Charlie might need a financial protective order to stop current and prevent future financial exploitation if his son was stealing from him. 

Also, protection from domestic abuse by his son could help Charlie and his sister. A local nonprofit could be a resource for that.

Medicaid could be the best route for his sister, but Charlie would need to take the steps needed to evaluate whether she qualifies for long-term professional care in a nursing home.

Charlie’s situation had certainly gone beyond solutions from buddies or Dear Abby. Solutions are out there, so it helps to reach out.

Legal questions may seem tough to deal with at times, but West Virginia Senior Legal Aid is a good resource for state residents, age 60 and over, at 800-229-5068 or

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