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  1. #1

    Help needed! I suspect my father is developing dementia but can't find his GP

    Hello, I am new so please excuse me if I am posting in the wrong place or if this is too long.

    I am very concerned about my 83 year old father. After my mother died in 2004 he coped well on his own with family support for a while then suddenly decided to remarry in 2006 someone that none of us knew. We accepted he may have been lonely and welcomed his new wife into the family. Since the wedding he has increasingly become quite irrational and suspicious of his children and grandchildren, has started making wild accusations against my sisters and has cut himself off almost entirely from his offspring. He has become verbally abusive and physically aggressive towards us and is refusing to see any of us because of a financial matter that is far too complex and boring to detail here but which he insists should be dealt with how he sees it, even though that is not legal or in the best interest of the family as a whole. He puts the phone down on us if we call and has started quoting the bible at us in long rambling letters, telling us we should read and follow the 10 Commandments. He calls my sisters infernal bitches and whores because they dared to follow the solicitor's advice on this financial issue rather than letting him have his own way. He is now threatening to take my sisters to court to remove them as trustees of my mother's will and has spread lies about them to the wider family which have caused them much distress and depression. We cannot get through to his new wife who takes his side in the whole matter and also refuses to speak to us.
    Until he remarried he had remained active and spent long hours in his garden or in maintaining the family house. Last year he sold it at his new wife's insistence and is now living in her bungalow, which he refers to as 'her house' and says we are not welcome there. I think he is probably depressed but he blames the whole situation on my sisters and has started calling them abusive names. He has written to their teenage children saying they have made him homeless and penniless. This is untrue. He has also threatened to write to my sister's employers saying that they are neglecting and abusing their elderly father. My sisters work in healthcare and teaching positions so you can imagine such allegations although false would have to be investigated if he did this.
    It is impossible to reason with him. He now says they have caused him stress deliberately because they have no interest in his welfare and want him dead. Again patently untrue.
    A friend who works with the elderly says she thinks he probably is exhibiting signs of dementia, and we should speak to his GP. However, he lives some distance away from me and as he is refusing to speak to any of us, we can't find out who his GP is - the one we knew of retired and his surgery closed. I have phoned all the surgeries in the area, but they are not allowed to tell me whether he is a patient of theirs or engage in any discussion about his welfare with me. One said that as he is married it is up to his wife as his next of kin to refer him. But we are blood relatives does that not count for anything?

    What can I do now? Is there any way I can ask for an assessment? I am worried about him but he just sees us all as the enemy and has obviously convinced his wife of the same. I am feeling very upset by all this as are my sisters, we feel helpless and worried about the prospect of him bringing us to court, surely if he is suffering from dementia this would have some bearing on his ability to testify anyway as all he is doing is spreading lies and misinterpreting their best intentions? However he can appear to others as quite reasonable and the victim in all this, so if he is not diagnosed they may well believe everything he says.

    Please, any help you can give me would be very welcome.

    Thank you
    Helen
     

  2. #2
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    Hi Helen,
    It is very distressing when you see someone you care about in need and they will not allow you to help. However, in a nutshell, as your father has re-married, his wife is his next of kin. This means that you will have to get her on side - I appreciate from your post that this appears to be unlikely however, it may be worth approaching a family friend who may appear neutral to your fathers wife and see if they are willing to facilitate a meeting between you or one of your siblings and your fathers' wife in order to advance the opportunity to get your father to a doctor.
    Unless you think there is some form of abuse or duress (which you can evidence or provide good reasons for believing) the above suggestions are all that come to mind.

    In respect of the other issues which seem to be adding tension (such as the administration of your mother's estate etc.) there is very little you can do about your fathers' threat to take action to remove trustees - ( as long as the trustees are acting appropriately and in accordance with legal advice it would be highly unlikely that such action would be entertained) If in doubt, go to your solicitor and have a chat about it.
    Again, not ignoring how difficult this is for you, but it may be wise to step back and give yourself a bit of space to take in all that is happening, these situtations can be as demaning on the people around the sufferer as they are confusing for the sufferer themselves.
    I hope this is of some help.
     

  3. #3
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    Hello Helen,

    What a horrible situation you and your sisters are in, and in the short term it does not seem as if there is anything more you can do.

    The new wife is next of kin, and presumably at some point your father if he has dementia will become difficult for her to manage, especially if he starts to lose his memory, and can not remeber recent events.

    You seems to be taking the best course of action relying of legal advice, and the only other thing I can think of is if you feel that he is not being properly cared for you do ring his local adult social care dept and report that you feel he is not receiving the care he needs (which is a form of abuse). If you do not think that it is the right time to contact social services, then you can only try and keep the channels of communication open and try not to let the hurt from his actions (especially if caused by an illness) drive you all away.

    You could consider writing a letter to your Dad and his wife from all his daughters, just saying that whatever happens he is still your Dad and you are all worried about him and you just want to help in anyway you can.

    Suggest you also log any concerns and events that happen so if in the future you need to refer to past events you have them clearly listed.

    So sorry we can not offer you more help, it is all so sad.
     

  4. #4
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    Hi Helen, what an awful worry for you. I don't know if this is practical but I think if I were you I would write down some of the behaviour that is causing you to be concerned and send it to all the GPs in the area 'just in case' he is their patient. I don't know if this is unfair to him and they will not be able to contact you to discuss anything but at least that way it will be likely that if he visits the doctor for another reason they will have the information on file. I don't know if this is ok to do in today's world of legal niceties but it seems to me it would be in his best interests and any gp who he is not regiistered with should still treat the information as confidential.
    Anne
     

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by annebythesea View Post
    Hi Helen, what an awful worry for you. I don't know if this is practical but I think if I were you I would write down some of the behaviour that is causing you to be concerned and send it to all the GPs in the area 'just in case' he is their patient. I don't know if this is unfair to him and they will not be able to contact you to discuss anything but at least that way it will be likely that if he visits the doctor for another reason they will have the information on file. I don't know if this is ok to do in today's world of legal niceties but it seems to me it would be in his best interests and any gp who he is not regiistered with should still treat the information as confidential.
    Anne
    I thought of that too: perhaps a letter to his GP expressing your concerns and hoping that s/he will be able to check up on your dad (although they won't be able to reply to you), in a sealed envelope, addressed to "The GP of Mr xyz, date of birth nnnn, address zzzz", with a covering letter to the practice asking them to read it if relevant and destroy if not, sent to each of the local practices.
     

  6. #6
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    I think this is fraught with difficulties and I doubt a GP would want to get involved in what could be seen as a family dispute over money. There's a danger that you might get accused of trying to declare him incompetent for your own benefit (I'm not for a minute suggesting you are) so I'd be very wary of doing anything to inflame the situation without legal advice.

    I assume he's not happy with the way the money left by your mother - as he sees it, his money - is being doled out by the trust. However as long as you play by the rules and follow the solicitors advice, I can't see why your mother's wishes should be overrulled.

    Maybe it'd be better for his ranting and unreasonable behaviour to be seen for what it is, as evidence of his growing incompetency, whereas if you all stay calm, act rationally and obey the letter and spirit of the trust, then there's nothing that can be used against you if it comes to court.
     

  7. #7

    Thank You!

    Thank you all for your comments, it is good to feel someone is listening!

    As some of you suggested, I have indeed drafted a letter which I am sending to all practices in the area, outlining (in rather a lot of words) the situation over the past few years and the changes in my father's personality. I don't know whether it will be any help but at least I can feel I have done my bit. I don't know whether if the financial issue went to court there would be some need for an indication of his being mentally competent to plead his case, I expect not but surely he could not get away with the lies he is telling in a legal setting? I'm sure this situation is not unique to us.

    As far as my stepmother is concerned, we have no way of approaching her. She refuses to speak with any of us even though we have always bent over backwards to make her welcome as part of the family, and until this all broke she had been quite friendly. None of us live locally so we have no idea who her friends are, the friends Dad and Mum had before Mum died we knew well, but none of them see Dad any more as he has cut himself off from them as well. So not much help there.

    One of my sisters is 'sitting on the fence' and refusing to get involved so has Dad's ear to some degree. She has admitted that the situation is becoming an unhealthy obsession with him and thinks that his wife is 'fueling the fire' by agreeing with everything he says. I have asked her to mention to him about going to the doctors as he keeps insisting the stress is making him ill, but she is unwilling to as she thinks he will then accuse her, as he now has me, of siding against him. He is the one who has turned it into a matter of 'sides', we are all just trying to do the right thing for him and the rest of the family.

    Oh what a mess. I just hope that my letter reaches a sympathetic ear at the doctors and they bother to look into our concerns. None of us is in any way motivated by the money, we could not care less if he blew it all on a horse race or gave it to the dogs home (unlikely as he detests both but who knows). But he is insistent that is all we are after.

    Jeez. I thought it was supposed to be your teenage kids that gave you stress, not your parents. I'm getting terminal stress from both! And my husband's not much help either!

    Thanks again, any other suggestions welcome.

    Helen
     

 

 

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