Sexual abuse?.... what do I do?


Registered User
Feb 22, 2010
South Yorks
Oh dear, opinions please.....

Mum (86, moderate dementia, 18/30 MM) has a middle aged male neighbour who has visited her regularly for the past couple of years, done a bit of shopping etc. I've never really liked him or trusted him around Mum but couldn't put my finger on why, except for a few possibly dodgy financial transactions he's carried out for her...but always thought she was happy to have him around as she phones him a couple of times a day (I know this from dealing with her phone bills).

However, Mum has now said that he 'talks about sex' to her and has told her that 'what she needs is a man'. I know this is totally shocking, but my problem is that Mum has always made things up to get attention, even when she was quite well. She says she told him not to talk to her like that, but she's not very mobile and my mind is in overdrive.........

I don't know whether to believe what she says, tell SS and risk her 'being removed to a place of safety',(she is adament that she would never forgive me if I put her in a home ....her words!) or do nothing.

I don't even know why I'm asking, because I know that to do nothing is not an option!
Reassurance / opinions /boot up the backs*** anybody?
Thanks for reading


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Oh dear indeed.

This is so difficult to deal with. Is it just this man she mentions in connection with this? Because if so, it seems unlikely to be a variation of the dementia where sex becomes uppermost in the mind. I think if that was the case you'd hear these stories about every male she came into contact with. Of course, this may be the only male so...

I'm really not sure what I would do in this situation. I think what "should" be done is report your suspicions to the police, but even then, talking about sex is not the same as actually doing it no matter how distasteful. And as you say, you fear the fall out from social services (although from what I've read here, they may not be as proactive as you might expect).

You should definitely call the elder abuse hotline AEA/about_us_contact_us.htm since they may have some specialised information.

Personally, I might, in this instance, think about installing what is sometimes called a nanny cam. I realise this is a massive invasion of your mother's privacy (although she might actually agree to it) but at least you could get a handle on whether this is real or imagined.


Registered User
Dec 11, 2007
Hi Carol,

You ask what can you do? Well I'm not sure, but you are starting off in the right direction! If I was you I would alert others to your worries regardless of if they are unfounded or not. If they are unfounded and you are wrong, you can stand tall and always tell yourself that you acted in your Mums best interests and you were doing the very best you could. If you don't act and as you say your mind is in overdrive, trust me, I can quite imagine what you're thinking... and you turn out to be right your Mum will suffer immensly and you will never ever forgive yourself. Which position would you rather be in? Like I say to be wrong is still to be acting rightly in my opinion. You must protect your Mum. I have certain abuse concerns with my own Mum and sometimes it helps to think about what I would do if this was happening to my child, a child unable to protect themselves. I would stand up and shout for them so I will for Mum.

Personally I would tell social services of your worries. From my experience social services may do a capacity assessment on your Mum, I am unsure that they would simply 'remove her to a place of safety' but they may well pop round and visit the neighbour under the guise of introducing themselves. This may prompt him to back off your Mum if he is doing anything untoward if he's made aware that they are taking an active roll in your Mums caring. To start this off you need to discuss your concerns with your Mums CPN if she has one.

I feel for you, this is a very difficult situation and I, like you I'm sure, am hoping that you're wrong and it's all a misunderstanding but your Mum is a vulnerable adult and deserves to be protected. I wish you well and hope for a positive outcome for you both.



Registered User
Mar 8, 2010
North Yorkshire
What a worry... :(

I really don't knwo what to suggest but have to say that sometimes people with dementia become a little more 'sexualised' than they would normally be.

Although she never did anything outrageous or worrying, my mum became very flirty at one stage and soon afterwards she started a relationship with a man she didn't know very well. I think her flirtiness may have given him the wrong messages - what she really wanted was companionship and affection but the only way she knew how to get that was by being flirty with him. He responded to that in ways that i wasn't very comfortabel with (getting him to sit on her lap etc), so I was all over him like a rash for a while. Thankfully, he turned out to be lovely man - kind and a true friend to her, when friends she'd had for years had long gone.

Maybe you could go out somewhere with the two of them to 'scope him out' to see what his intentions might be and see if you can pick up on the signals that each of them are giving eachother. Depending on what you find, you may need to have a word with him to make sure that he understands that your mother's dementia can cause her to say/do things that she otherwise wouldn't and that he needs to be careful as she is a vulnerable adult.

You'll have to be very sensitive to both of their feelings at this stage. The whole thing may be entirely innocent. If it is not then you will need to intervene. The suggestion of getting social services to introduce themselves to him is a great idea. Good luck!
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Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
I too would seek advise from Elder Abuse.
Your mother might be correct, or she might be the one who is losing her inhibitions or she might be delusional. However, as you so rightly say, ignoring is not an option.


Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
I've been faced with a similar problem myself last year. As my husband is in a care home I was lucky in that a proper investigation took place and I was satisfied at the end if it.

It is much more problematic when the man is coming daily into your mother's home and there is no supervision. I'm not sure what I would do but I think the first thing would be to speak to the man and have either my husband or a male member of the family with me. I would tell him what mum has said and that it has upset her and made her very uncomfortable with him.

He will probably deny it but I think a very stern warning to him that you are taking the matter very seriously might help. Perhaps it would also be as well if you tell him not to visit unless a member of the family will be present, at least for the time being. You could supervise making sure this happens by telephoning her often during the day and asking if the man had visited whilst she was alone.

I'm not sure it will achieve anything positive if you involve Social Services. If you feel she is in any danger then of course Social Services and the police are your only course of action.

I don't get the sense from your post that he has actually assaulted her? If he has then it is definately a matter for the police to deal with.

The police were involved in the incident with my husband at the care home but decided that they could not take the matter further because of my husband's illness. After a couple of days my husband couldn't remember the incident or what he had told me.

At least I had the satisfaction of knowing all the facts after the enquiry and judged for myself that because of certain things happening that evening, my husband had probably hallucinated some of it. Still I will never know for sure!



Registered User
Feb 22, 2010
South Yorks
Thank you everyone.
I think I knew what you'd all say, but sometimes we need that little bit of reassurance that we're doing the right thing.
I will follow up the suggestions and get onto SS.
I'd already expressed my concerns about this man to SS before (about the dodgy dealings) and they did ring Mum and ask her if she was happy to have him around to which she said yes. However, this was a while ago and things may have changed.
He is the only man she has any real contact with when she's alone, unless you count the meal delivery people who sometimes send a young man of 20ish. Only other men in her life now are my partner and her niece's husband, very occasionally, but they are always with us girls.
Think the nanny cam sounds like a good idea. I had wondered if we could do something like that, but as you say it would be a huge invasion of her privacy.......however, better to know for sure, I think.
Many thanks everyone, good advice yet again on TP!


Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
No answers for you Carol, but sympathy & understanding.

About 5 years ago (before I had moved in with Mum) she told me that she had received a dirty phonecall, and then a few days later said it had happened again, very upset this time.
I contacted Telecom, the police etc., as you would, and everything settled down again.

I'm still not sure to this day whether there WERE ever such phone calls. I suspected at the time (though didn't say so) that Mum may have had a call from one of these overseas call centres, been unable to understand what they were on about, and actually confabulated the rest & worked herself up into a tizz.

Would it be possible to have a very low-key conversation with the neighbour, withOUT mum there, and just try & fish around gently for "what do you two talk about?".
It would be a shame to accuse an innocent, helpful neighbour - goodness knows they are rare enough compared to the 'friends' & rellies who sometimes vanish into thin air!
If he has been over-familiar, or bringing up inappropriate subjects, just this questioning might be enough to warn him off.

Touchy question, but I'll ask it anyway; when your mum is a happy bunny, does she sometimes have a saucy sense of humour?

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Since your mother has always made things up, you're quite right in not being sure of whether there is any truth in what your mother is saying.

I rather like Lynne's suggestion of having a quiet word with the neighbour. If he were made aware of what your mother is saying, he might well be more careful in his conversation. Perhaps he made a joke and your mother interpreted it incorrectly.

Calling the Elder Abuse line to inform yourself as much as possible is also a very good idea.

It's a very difficult situation you find yourself in. My mother once said that one staff member at her NH exposed himself to her. My aunt completely believed her because the man "had shifty eyes". I don't think any such thing happened, as Mum also told me she was marrying another staff member.

As for SS,

carolsea said:
I'd already expressed my concerns about this man to SS before (about the dodgy dealings) and they did ring Mum and ask her if she was happy to have him around to
Personally, I have never understood the point of asking a person with dementia a question and being completely confident about the accuracy of the answer. Sounds like someone was ticking a box there.

Let us know what happens.


Registered User
Feb 22, 2010
South Yorks
Thanks Lynne
Could be problem having quiet word with him. Since I alerted SS last time he's been really off with me, quite rude in fact.I think Mum has probably told him that SS called and asked her about him! He now avoids us like the plague when we're at Mum's, which makes me even more suspicious. If it was me in his position, I'd understand that we only have Mum's best interests at heart and if I didn't have anything to get my drift I'm sure.
Mum hasn't accused him of assaulting her, but with her short term memory probs. that doesn't really mean anything.

I have got a 'panic alarm' pendant for her and told her to press it if anyone does anything bad to her or won't leave the house when she wants them to! (She'll probably press it when SS carers come!!!!) Maybe not quite what it's intended for, but hey, we're paying for the service so she may as well make use of it!
Feel better for talking about it


Registered User
Feb 22, 2010
South Yorks
Sorry Lynne, I didn't answer your ?
No I can't say Mum ever has had a saucy sense of humour, not to my knowledge anyway.
Joanne, totally agree that SS were box ticking last time. I think that at the very least they should have visited, but I've found SS totally useless altogether, so that doesn't surprise me in the least.
I just hope I'm proved wrong, because if anything happens when I've already told them she's vulnerable!!!!!
Got to sign off and do some work!
Thanks to you all


Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
Actually Calor, I typed my reply after reading only your initial post - I didn't see that this man had "previous form" until after I had sent it on it's way.
Then I read the rest. My caution so as not to offend unnecessarily looks a bit feeble now!


Registered User
Jan 26, 2010
Ok, this middle aged neighbour was checked up on before, but avoids you and continues seeing an elderly lady with dementia?

I think if his intentions were above board he would have made more contact with you and tried to reassure you.

I would write him a registered letter so he has to sign for it and tell him what she had said, then ask him to stay away unless someone else is present.
This would be to prevent her stress and him further awkwardness.
Send a copy to her SS case worker and tell him you have done so.

If he cared for her in a good way, he will be happy to visit only with a chaperone.

Polly H

Registered User
Nov 26, 2009
Hello Carol,

I think you should voice your concerns to the Social Services. I think it is likely that the Elder Abuse Helpline will tell you this - check it out.

When anyone has any concerns they should refer to a specialist agency who have the knowledge, understanding and expertise to make a proper assessment of the situation. (I can't see the Social Services being heavy handed if the circumstances do not warrant it. Do bear in mind that they have databases at their disposal which can be used now or in the future.)

This is an aweful situation for you but if you follow my drift you know you will have done the best for your Mum which is what is important.

Polly H


Registered User
Feb 22, 2010
South Yorks
update on Mum's problem

Well I decided, after reading everyone's advice and following up on the links, that the only realistic thing to do was to call SS.
I didn't hold out much hope, as they were totally useless last time, but they seem to have now realised that they have to act....

Mum has not yet been assigned a social worker or a CPN, but I got through to one of the SS link workers (I tend to think of them as guard dogs, knowing that social workers will seem to do anything to avoid talking to concerned relatives ).
The LW actually seemed horrified that Mum was left in this position, went off and had a meeting with her superior and got back to me within the hour (!!!!) to say a referral is being put in place. She says that Mum will be tested for mental capacity and if necessary her locks will be changed (although she never locks her doors anyway, so that won't help much!) and a restraining order could be placed on the neighbour.
At last, somebody seems to be listening!

I'm not expecting that this will all be done quickly though, so there'll be more sleepless nights to come yet, but at least things are starting to move.

Wish they'd got a move on last week,we could have saved £100 on the Doc's fee for a certificate of capacity for the POA!

Thanks everyone
Keep up the good work :)


Registered User
Aug 1, 2007
What a relief Carol. Thank goodness Social Services have decided to take action. Please let us know how it all goes.



Registered User
Feb 22, 2010
South Yorks
update.....impressed with SS !!!!!!!!

I am really impressed with SS today :) - and that isn't a sentence you'll see very often on here, methinks!

Within 24 hours of my voicing my concerns over about Mum's dodgy neighbour, I have had a SW call me to get more info.
I've told him as much as I could about the goings on and he's going out to visit Mum this afternoon. Says he'll take the softly, softly approach and let Mum get to know him rather than go in all guns blazing - thank goodness, because Mum has a dread of SS and has always managed to clear them off up to now. She thinks they are going to drag her off to a home and lock her away!

However,I'm just praying that she doesn't manage to fob him off by saying she's fine, that the neighbour isn't a problem, that she can manage on her own etc.etc. as she seems to have managed with every other professional that's visited her.
Some of these people don't seem to open their eyes - just a good look around the house would tell them she's not coping, despite my best efforts to keep the place under control when I go to visit at weekends.

I just don't know what I'll do if they ring back and say they can't help this time. I'm just out of my mind with worry about her and with her being so far away I can't be there all the time.
Sorry for waffling on!

Fingers crossed.


Registered User
Jan 30, 2009
Co. Derry
Hmmm - shifty character who works his way in when no-one is around, does not "get on" with the family & it is not clear what he gets out of all this - is he really so nice? There are of course really nice folk out there as well as sinister ones and all shades in between. But I can't square up his apparent philanthropy with his poor relationship with you Carol. The word grooming comes to mind - I pray not applicable here.

I think you are right to have acted swiftly, erring on the side of safety....I'm looking forward to hearing your news on this - the SW will be aware of, & looking out for, all the signs of possible problems.

Margaret W

Registered User
Apr 28, 2007
North Derbyshire
Hello Carol

I can't help wondering if you are worrying needlessly, but of course you have to take the action that you have. We had something similar with my mum in law, but not quite the same as mum in law didn't have dementia at all, was bright as a button, and the man concerned was the same age as her, maybe a little older. This man was born and brought up in the same little lane as mum in law. Their families were very friendly with each other. Mum in law and John (not his real name, but he has an unusual name which I'd rather not use, just in case), married their respective spouses and eventually John moved abroad, making visits back to his parents in the lane, and always dropping in on mum in law and her family. Years went by and their parents died, then John's brother, then my father in law, and John divorced his wife overseas, inherited the family house and returned to the lane. They were both in their late 70s by then and lonely. John was a strong, able man, did lots of odd jobs for mum in law, dropped in on her every day and we were glad of that. A couple of years went by and mum in law said one day "John is a good friend, but he says dirty things to me about sex". She was embarassed to tell me what, and said it didn't worry her cos she knew him so well, she didn't like it, but she didn't want us to do anything.

When my eldest daughter was about 18, she went to visit her nan, and came back to tell us that John had made "dirty remarks" about her body. She wouldn't be specific but said it was lewd and frightened her. We immediately went to see him and told him in no uncertain terms must he speak to our daughter like that. He was genuinely shocked and surprised. He said he was just having a bit of fun "like men do with a pretty girl" and I told him it was inappropriate for a man of his age. He was hurt by the conversation and said if we felt like that he would stop visiting mum in law. I said "Well, I believe you say the same sorts of things to her too, and I'd rather you didn't", and again, he was surprised. He said he was only chatting her up like he did when he was a young man, he thought she would enjoy it, and did we know that he had always been in love with her and was heartbroken when she married someone else. Well, we didn't know that, but mum in law confirmed it.

Fortunately, he was a highly intelligent man, and we were able to convince him that certain words and phrases might have been acceptable when he was a young man "chasing a woman", but at his age (and hers) they were not. I'm glad we didn't have to call on SS to do anything, and the behaviour ceased. In fact, we became quite good friends with the old man, till he developed dementia himself and his family overseas came to take him there. He moved just two weeks before mum in law died, they were both in their 90s by then.

You might not be in the same position with your mum's neighbour, so my experience might not be relevant. I'd also be concerned that your mum's neighbour is not her age at all, and of course that she has dementia.

I hope you can get a resolution that doesn't create any more ill-feeling, but of course you have to protect your mum.



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