Elderly couple fights to stay together

February 16, 2011 8:27:16 AM PST
A husband and wife are fighting to stay together in sickness and in health. As a husband deals with serious health issues, he and his wife are also in a battle with Adult Protective Services to keep him at home and under her care.

A letter that came from Adult Protective Services was enough to upset the Channelview family who want to keep their loved one from going to a nursing home.

"I was so dang blasted mad," David Litchford said.

Litchford bristles at the thought of being removed from his home.

"They're saying I'm not giving him his medicine and I'm not feeding him and I don't think that's in the letter but that's what they told me. And I can't believe that anybody would say that," said David's wife, Suzanne Litchford.

The Litchfords received a letter last Wednesday from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, accusing Suzanne of neglect.

"He was more scared than I was," she said. The agency says neglect can be defined as the condition of the home. The Litchfords are visited regularly by caregivers, who by law must report any signs of abuse including the condition of the home.

"The most frequent case that we receive in Adult Protective Services is physical neglect. That means the condition of the home or that person is not being cared for," said the agency's spokeswoman, Gwen Carter.

Adult Protective Services cannot talk specifically about this case, but the Litchfords admit their modest home in Channelview has become cluttered and untidy over the past 40 years they've lived there.

"Back when I was working and she was working, we used to have a lady come in who would do house work for us," David said.

His stroke was a surprise and his wife has had to change everything, and her care of her husband is a full-time job, leaving time for little else. Suzanne now admits she needs help to avoid the possible consequence of losing her husband.

"This is where he belongs," Suzanne Litchford said.

The Litchfords said they plan to appeal the letter and ask for help. There is a list of resources for families in similar situations.