There comes a time for some elderly, when poverty, elder abuse, neglect or incapacity renders them unable to live alone safely. Unsanitary conditions are difficult for some of us to resolve.
There are some solutions for family members concerned about seniors living in filth, with the causes ranging from mental health issues, such as depression, or physical issues, such as the inability to see the dirt and dust, or the ability to do the house cleaning.
One interesting post in an American caregiving blog wrote eloquently about possible causes and solutions.
Mental health issues, of course, have an impact on the ability of a senior to live alone in a clean, sanitary house. Issues like mold, if one hasn't the funds to fix it, can cause further ill health. Seniors, like my parents who lived in the Depression, can develop the insecurity to hoard. I know of friends who have helped a parent move and have found the 84-year-olds high school notes. My husband found that his late mother kept every piece of junk mail, as well as inserts in her utility bills.
In these situations, it is important, especially if there are no family members, for the municipality, Primary Care (medical) staff, and the police to become involved. If necessary, people may need to be declared incompetent. A Power of Attorney may need to be enacted. Also, if a person living in a home that does not meet fire and safety codes, this affects an entire community and the authorities must be contacted. Currently, unsafe buildings (plumbing, electricity, poorly heated or insulated homes) may be more than a senior can manage emotionally, physically or financially.
There are many resources available. Many do and will advocate for seniors. The police are becoming more aware of elder abuse and neglect. Primary Care services are beginning to understand that the Privacy Act (FIPPA ) is superseded by the Personal Health Act (PHIPA-- see left sidebar). Sometimes you have to be tough to be kind and loving.