Posted by: Jordan | 2004/01/05



Thank you for the advice you gave me a couple of weeks ago.

I went home for the Christmas holidays and got the shock of my life when I saw my dad who was diagnosed with Alzheimers about 5 years ago. I knew that he is deteriorating fast, but I was not prepared for the state he is in now. He does not recognise any of his children, he is so agressive and the effect this is having on my mother is so great.

He is becoming such a danger to himself and others. I am truly scared for the safety of my mother and my younger brother still living at home.

If he is to be institutionalised, what will the procedure be? Unfortunately my family can not afford to send hime to a private institution and he does not have a pension. My parents are busy getting a divorce so he can get a grant from the government because apparently he cannot get the grant if he is married to my mother who is working.

Can you perhaps give the contact details of some government institutions he can go to. Our family doctor, the old age home he was in previously( they sent him back because they could not control him as he was a danger to the other people there)
as well as his last psychiatristic evaluation advices that he be institutionalised.

My parents live in the Northern Cape, we did enquire about the institution in Kimberley but apparently it is full with a very long waiting list. Can he go to an institution in another province?

Please help me.

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Our expert says:
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Dear Jordan,
yes, it does indeed sound as if he really needs to be insitutionalized --- deciding that, though hard in some ways, can be the easiest part. Finding an institution and aranging the admission, is harder. Shamefully, our Governments have never developed enough facilities for even a fraction of the mental health needs of this country, and the provisions claiming equal treatment and availability of such treatment in the constitution and elsewhere, are just a bad joke.
There is no central repository, that I've found, anyway, of good information about available facilties nationally or locally. Your local doctor and old age home, and the shrink who conducted the last psychiatric evaluation, ought to be best placed to know of possible institutions. As far as I understand, in theory at least, it is the absolute responsibility of the local provincial health authorities to provide such care. Where they do not choose to do so through sufficient local facilities ( after all, there are all those Mercedes to buy and renew ) I think they're supposed to nonetheless provide care, even if that means at private institutions, or, by negotiation, in another province. Personally, I'd get all contact details for the provincial MEC for Health, and the senior person in the provincial health dept "responsible" for mental health, and approach them directly to tell you where they are going to provide your father with the care he is supposed to receive. Politely at first, but I'd be persistent. If they ever had to cope with the troubles your mom and family have had to go through dealing with the old man, they'd be more eager to help. GOod luck.

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