So a close friend has asked me for some advice on dealing with an older adult in her family, and I don’t know what to tell her.
Her relative (let’s call him Louis) is 70-something, widower, no kids, generally decent health, independent, and not obviously nuts. He lives alone, takes care of himself, not wealthy but reasonably comfortable. He’s got only one blind spot (let’s call her Maggie).
Maggie called him up one day three or four years ago out of the blue to tell him he’d won a fabulous prize package – tens of millions of dollars, brand new car, wonderful stuff. He just needed to pay some tax or fee to have all the wealth he’d always deserved. So he paid, and paid, and paid, and of course never got his prize. She took him for probably $50K, but he never stopped believing. Then she “quit her job at the prize company in disgust at the way he’d been treated,” but she’s still trying to help him get this prize package he won. :dubious: Now he’s sending her money to support herself while she looks for other work. Louis has convinced himself that he has a personal and maybe romantic relationship with this woman he’s never met but talks to multiple times a day. No amount of arguing will convince him he’s been scammed, and he will not talk to the police, adult protective services, or any other agency.
Now, he’s decided to go visit Maggie. He’s never had a passport in his life, but he just applied and is talking about flying down to see her as soon as he receives it. (He’s in the midwestern U.S.; she’s in another country in the Caribbean basin.)
Louis is not legally incompetent. He’s not incapable of caring for himself, he’s not an imminent danger to himself, he does not have any diagnosed dementia, and there’s no obvious grounds for seeking conservatorship/guardianship. Aside from this one blind spot, he’s a reasonably normal and healthy older adult.
However, on foreign soil in the company of a scamming criminal and whatever lowlifes she hangs out with, he’d probably be a sitting duck, and he cannot or will not acknowledge any possible danger. My guess is nobody would ever hear from him again; my friend figures he’s be bullied into becoming a drug mule or the like. In any event, it’s not a safe situation, but how do you stop an adult from doing something stupid?
Anybody have any ideas or words of wisdom? I’m afraid there’s not really anything any of his family can do until Louis gets himself into major trouble, but I said I’d ask. Thank you for reading this.