BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Police said a Bellevue couple found sitting in their own waste, surrounded by flies, could have died if officers hadn't discovered them when they did.
"They were basically sitting in their chairs, slumped over," said Bellevue police Lt. Chuck Clark. "It could have been critical, given another 24 to 48 hours, if they remained like that."
The couple, a 73-year-old man and his 79-year-old woman, was taken to Bellevue Medical Center, where doctors said they had trouble removing one of the man's socks because his skin had grown around it. They said when they removed the woman's sock, maggots covered her foot.
The couple's son told officers that he regularly checks on his parents, but he hadn't been there in recent days.
Investigators said there probably won't be any charges in the case because the couple reportedly refused offers of help from the state.
"It's not unusual," said Janelle Cox of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.
She said she gets calls from concerned families every day. Many of those calls, she said, come from adults who are trying to help stubborn parents who don't want to leave their home, even if it's to save their lives.
"Until you're in it, you don't see how the role reverses as your parents ago," Cox said. "You really do then have to be in a position where making tough decisions, just like your parents had to."
Clark said the couple's grandson did the right thing by calling 911. He said if parents or elderly neighbors refuse help, it's OK to call the police.
"When it's adults, there's an attitude that they've chosen this for themselves," Clark said. "We need to respect privacy, even though we want to help and try not to intrude, but it comes to a point where somebody had to do something."
Cox recommended adults have care conversations with their parents before they get too old to make decisions for themselves and to make arrangements for legal guardianship. She also said people need to check on aging parents in person because phone calls don't always cut it.
Anyone who needs help can contact Adult Protective Services at 800-652-1999 or the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging at 402-444-6536.