Dad's Depression is catching - we don't know what to do

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Ponddweller, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. Ponddweller

    Ponddweller New member

    Jun 20, 2019
    Hello all,
    I'm not sure I'm posting for any specific advice, just a bit of an emotional splurge I think. Our background is our widowed 84yr old father lives alone and until June seemed to be managing okay. In June his short term memory ability suddenly disappeared. He saw the GP in June and we're in the sloooow process of getting his diagnosis. He won't see the post-scan consultant until just before Christmas, although from conversations with the dementia nurse and GP I'm 99% sure what the diagnosis will be. He has deteriorated rapidly since then. In the meantime my sister who lives 15 mins from him, and sees him most days after work, has been diagnosed with and started chemotherapy for breast cancer. I live 3-4 hours away and have fairly young children. He doesn't have outside carers other than a weekly cleaner. We have been raising this since August but he's prevaricated and deflected or became belligerent about paying so we took the decision to wait until our power of attorney was registered which happened recently. Carers are due to start w/c 2nd December and he'll just have to wear it. My sister has an appointment to view a local CH on Wednesday and he's previously agreed to go for a look.
    He's become very dependent on my sister. He can manage most practical things like dressing, shopping and cooking but needs to see her every day. Even if she's had a day of chemotherapy he would show up at her house at 9pm asking where she's been and making sarcastic comments. She's exhausting herself trying to accommodate him when she should be looking after herself.
    He's particularly depressed at the moment as he's lost his car. We had tried to stop him driving and I reported him to the DVLA last month as we decided we couldn't wait for the official diagnosis. He hit a parked car and was totally unconcerned. Last weekend he made an hour long trip to visit his adult grandsons and had a breakdown (we presume) on the way home. He couldn't remember what happened, where it happened, where the car was left or who brought him home other than it was a nice man. Obviously we were frantic about the danger he put other people in, and the danger he was in. I reported it to the police but 8 days later we still can't trace the car. As a side note I have now persuaded his GP to declare him unfit to drive to the DVLA. He is calling my sister several times a day distressed as he doesn't know where his car is. He either says he's going to kill himself or glibly says he'll just buy a new car. I'm dreading his reaction when he finally gets the letter revoking his licence.
    He has said he thinks he should go into a home but I'm worried that he doesn't mean it and is expecting us to tell him not to be silly of course he doesn't need to.

    I guess if I'm asking for any advice it would be:

    1. How do people cope with the depression and agitation of the PWD and stop it infiltrating every aspect of your life. It's so distressing to have a parent keep talking about ending it all. I'm sorry if it sounds callous but he's talked about suicide at various times over the years to get a reaction. I'm really concerned about the effect on my sister and I jump whenever the phone rings. It seems like such a vicious circle. The more depressed he gets, the more he needs to express that to us and the less we can cope with being with him. I can spend hours on the phone to doctors, dementia nurses, police etc but when I have to call him I'm physically shaking.

    2. I've read a lot on here about people realising that they couldn't cope and that their PWD needed to be in care. How have people managed that move, especially is there isn't yet a medical crisis and the person has capacity? Although he's not at crisis point in terms of physically managing, he is distressed and starting to need constant reassurance and constant company (although all attempts at groups have been rejected) and I feel my sister is approaching breaking point. Her operation is next month and I don't think carers once a day will alleviate his agitation. I'm afraid that moving in with either of us is not feasible. I have had him to stay for 3 weeks total over the last few months and it's been an enormous strain and regular life was suspended. We were not close before this began and the dementia has just enhanced the worst aspects of his personality and I'm not willing to impose him on my children and husband. My FIL also has advanced Alzheimers.
    Sorry for the length of the post. It really was a splurge. But it's so therapeutic to splurge to people who are experienced in these things. Most of my friends parents are still active involved grandparents - they have no idea what's coming.
  2. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    Not sure how much my words will help, but the limbo land of working out what to do and doing it are horrible.

    Have you spoken with his GP re his threats, it is very common for people with dementia to be depressed and medication might help with both depression and anxiety.

    In my case my mum got lost driving to my house from North London to Cheshire, she ended up in Derby, I suspect she nearly drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway. Once we had rescued the car (she hadn't' renewed the insurance so that took time to sort - a one day only job) I hid the keys.

    My kids were 8 and 12 and it wasn't practical for lots of reasons, including kids welfare(continual bossiness of mum to kids as she thought she had the right as grandma to behave like this), for mum to live with me, brother's kids were younger and so worse for him)

    I moved mum into sheltered extra care flat near me - with her sort of agreement and that has worked, if it hadn't I would have found a care home, mum understood I wouldn't let her go home and she couldn't stay with me (which is what she wanted).

    You clearly need to put something in place before your sister's op, can you find some respite care at a local home to either you or sister ASAP - you want your sister to be able to recover and she won't if she is worn out.

    Dementia is a bonfire that will take all you throw at it and more, and everyone's interests need to be considered here, you your sister and your kids are all important. Crisis takes many forms, just because he can do somethings doesn't mean he can live on his own, and often being in a care home provides the reassurance needed.

    Try not to answer every single call, eg put your phone to answerphone for some of the day to give yourself a break, and the same for your sister.

    Others I'm sure will be along to say how they got their loved ones into care homes - mum was sort of aware of what was happening but didn't really understand, but accepted she had to do what I said - telling me I'd always been bossy (needs a thick skin)
  3. Duggies-girl

    Duggies-girl Registered User

    Sep 6, 2017
    Phew @Ponddweller you do have a lot going on all at once. Not sure if I am going to be a lot of help but I find myself worrying about your sister, she is having chemo and from what I have heard chemo can make a person very unwell and the added stress of a agitated dad turning up in the evening after a day of receiving chemo is not good for her. This needs to stop now, somehow although I have no ideas how this can be done.

    My dad lost his very badly dented car a couple of years ago but it was found the next day. I confiscated the car and hid it at our house and also spoke to dad's doctor, this was how we eventually got him diagnosed and stopped from driving.

    I agree it would not be a good idea to move your dad in with either of you especially not your sister. You are not close enough to be of much practical help (not your fault at all) so I think that you will have to involve the Social Services. It is all I can think of. I have heard of others on here just waiting for some kind of downturn so the SS have to step in.

    I agree that we have no idea what's coming, it has certainly opened my eyes this past few years with dad. I would never have expected him to have dementia but he does and it kind of crept up on me just when I could really do without it.

    You will get other replies soon enough, hopefully more helpful than mine from those who have more experience than me. I am though very concerned about your sister and something needs to be sorted out soon for her sake.
  4. DesperateofDevon

    DesperateofDevon Registered User

    Jul 7, 2019
    My mother talks about not wanting to live daily, it’s her go to place! You just have to accept that this situation & topic is going to be a regular discussion- how you deal with it will depend on how you are feeling at that moment in time!
    Some days I can cope - others I can’t!
    I can no longer have mum to stay for respite. your Dad needs help, as does your sister (chemo is very debilitating!)

    care home respite placement sounds good for your sisters treatments & recovery. Could you not contact social services - adult assessments team & ask them for respite cover to give your sister a chance to concentrate on her own health

    hopefully things improve
  5. Ponddweller

    Ponddweller New member

    Jun 20, 2019
    Thank you so much everyone. Sometimes I think it helps to write stuff down in order to help process where we've got to and what our priorities have to be. Yes, I'm incredibly worried about my sister. She's very stoic and takes an enormous amount on. As an example, she's determined to keep working all through her illness (albeit from home) and won't take any sick leave. I suggested that she tell her GP that she's caught up with our Dad's illness and she was horrified as she hasn't seen a GP since her last child 23 years ago. I can fully sympathise - she doesn't want to be defined as a sick person or as a carer, even if acknowledging those things may help in accessing the help and space she's going to need. I brought my dad here during her last round of chemo but it won't be an option for the next time as my own daughter is having an operation that week.
    I absolutely agree that a care home is the best solution for everyone and we've talked about suggesting respite care to him if we need to cajole him. We'll have to see how tomorrow goes. I really regret not pushing carers earlier but we were advised by the dementia nurse and GP to play along and be nice and not antagonise him so he remained engaged with the process until he was fully diagnosed. If I'd known how long it would take I would have ignored this. Same with the driving. Jugglingmum - how did your mum react to the car being taken away? He's become fixated on his and is always talking about driving the 1.5 hours to his childhood village where he still knows people. We think he probably was doing this sometimes and just hanging about or dropping in on people. I understand now he was retreating to a time and place where he felt safe. But the loss of his car is making him really depressed and frantic. Obviously we won't give him back the car but it feels a bit Catch 22.
    DesperateofDevon - it's a good idea about contacting social services. I haven't as yet as I understood that we'd need Dad's agreement to this. His next door neighbour is a retired SW and we had a long talk about it. I think I was a bit concerned that they'd make lots of suggestions to help him stay in his own home, and to be blunt, that's not going to help my sister one bit. I will contact them today though and talk through how they can help. I'll also email his GP and say that we can't wait until Christmas and he needs help with depression and anxiety right now.
    I can't tell you how valuable it is to be able to talk to people who understand all this. I'm in awe of the people on here and what everyone deals with every day, so thank you for taking the time to write back.
  6. TNJJ

    TNJJ Registered User

    May 7, 2019
    Hi.My Dad was talking about killing himself with a gun(he cannot walk and doesn’t have a gun) as he could not cope and had had enough.
    I alerted his GP.It is a safeguarding issue so they need to be informed.She upped his Mirtazapine from 15mg to 30mg..He does have off days but not as bad as before.

    Dad apparently has “capacity” so the doctor has said nothing can happen until he doesn’t.
    But I disagree.Dad has “fluctuating capacity “which means it varies.
    I booked respite for a fortnight without him knowing.But I did talk to him about it and after 24hours agreed to go. But before that I told him I was having a fortnight off so he could either stay with his carers (4 X a day)or go in for respite...He took the respite and appears to be enjoying it.
  7. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    Mum wasn't happy about her car, but I was always very firm, and she did call me bossy a few times. When we looked at places she looked to see if there were carparks, and if others were driving. My brother started the memory clinic process and his GP said he couldn't see any reason why she couldn't drive - most unhelpful. Of course she remembered this. Once I got her in her flat (took 3 hellish months) she did say she couldn't understand why she couldn't drive and distraction worked.
    When I mine the keys were hidden, no one knew where they were but car was on drive.

    I actually had nightmares that she had had my 8 year old in the car 4 months previously when with hindsight she clearly wasn't safe. It wasn't pleasant, but when rebuffed firmly she accepted in every conversation so I think I was lucky compared to some. Many tales on here of PWD getting very angry about it.

    If your father is self funding I would personally skip SS and just see if you can find a home that will take him, the wheels of SS grind very slowly except in emergency (slower than memory clinic diagnosis) and they won't do anything if they consider the PWD has capacity, whereas if you book a carehome, and think he will stay if dropped off that might work. If SS think he has capacity and he says no they may intervene to say he has to stay at home. As my mum was self funding I just got on and worked out what was needed, and did it. She did have an SW assessment as required for her flat, which was fine as she showed she needed help. My neighbours are senior SWs and they just wittered about support in her own home, and capacity, and were actually of no use, as to my mind she wasn't capable of fully independent living.

    If your father isn't self funding, or you would need to sell the house to fund care, then you will need to go via SS.

    My concern is your sister needs this weight taken off her shoulders - although she can't see this, so you need her onside as well with respite.

    As far as a diagnosis goes, to me it didn't make any difference. The process took about 5 months and mum had been in her flat for 3 months by the time we got the diagnosis. My understanding is they like to see the person of this period of time to ensure the confusion is staying the same - ie some of the time scale is actually part of the diagnosis process.
  8. TNJJ

    TNJJ Registered User

    May 7, 2019
    Have you noticed nearly every PWD has “capacity “ according to SS..Even though we as daughters/son know they don’t.
  9. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    I would add to this a couple of things from my experience.
    When my Dad (some diminishment of capacity but no diagnosis) had to give up driving I said to him do you want to keep having to deal with all the other nutters on the road (his fave rant)? It seemed to work and put the emphasis on others rather than him which was helpful.
    My fathers depression, and expressed wish to die also affected me very much in the way you describe, though I understand how desperate he feels after my Mum was diagnosed with dementia and he sees his own abilities dwindling.
    The things that helped me was having CBT counselling. Like your sister, I had never previously thought of myself as a carer and still have to nerve myself up to ring my father as I never know what mood he will be in. CBT helped me to get some perspective.
    In terms of moving to a care home, we were initially self-funding and we moved Mummy when she started to wander at night, couldn't be left alone and her other care needs were more than my Dad could manage.
    I hope you find the replies helpful.

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