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My dad is at breaking point but won't get help

SueInLondon

New member
Sep 23, 2020
2
Apologies if this has been covered, as I'm sure it has. My dad is 88 and is the sole carer for my mother, who has dementia. She can't do anything for herself at all but he refuses point blank to get help. Their GP is unsympathetic and useless, and hasn't seen Mum physically for two years now as all consultations are on the phone, even before Covid.

Mum wanders around the house all night and is incontinent. She doesn't know where she is. She doesn't recognise her grandchildren. She's underweight and isn't able to wash or dress herself. And yet Dad refuses point blank to get help, other than a cleaner from Age UK. He does all the shopping, cooking and washing and still drives. But he's clearly exhausted. He recently had a bad fall and fractured his skull and had the cleaner not been there, he would have bled to death.

He won't talk to my brother or I about getting help but insists everything is OK; he's a very proud man and I think he's afraid she will be 'taken away' from him. But with winter coming and less opportunity to escape in the garden, plus the prospect of further lockdown, I can only see things getting worse. I need a strategy before there's an avoidable tragedy. Should I write to him, as he won't talk? Ask the GP for help, which would mean going behind his back? I really am desperate and what's even more frustrating is that a carer coming in a few times a week would make their lives so much better, and they can afford it, but he won't entertain it. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
 

Izzy

Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
63,041
69
Dundee
Welcome tot he forum @SueInLondon.

I’m so sorry to read about your situation It sounds really difficult. I think it would be a good idea to contact the GP. If the GP won’t discuss the situation with you then they might at the very least listen. If you put your concerns in writing to the GP it might also be helpful.

It sounds as if both your mum and dad are very vulnerable, especially given your dad’s recent fall. Would he agree to sitting down with you and your brother and having a talk about things?
 

lemonbalm

Registered User
May 21, 2018
686
I'm going to trot out a phrase I seem to use a lot these days. Our parents are from an age where asking for, or accepting, help was seen as a weakness. That generation are indeed stubborn and proud, both good attributes but it makes helping them very difficult! If your Dad is a private man, as mine was, he will be very reluctant to ask for help.

Might you be able to introduce a carer as "a local person or friend who really needs a job" and make it look as though your father is helping them out? It is an old ruse which can work. It could make a convincing story in these strange times where it is likely that people are no longer able to do their usual job.....

Of course, everything is more difficult right now because of the virus but carers do seem to be still visiting homes.
 
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blueorchid

Registered User
Feb 18, 2016
56
It was quite eerie reading your post as it was so familiar. My father was exactly the same. He was also 88.

We tried to talk to him but he'd push us away. We said that it would kill him. It did become too much and Dad died very recently.

Looking back I know that I wouldn't have been able to change his mind. I do wish I'd spent one weekend a month staying with them to help out and give him a break. Is that something you could consider?
 

Mudlark

Registered User
Jan 13, 2020
13
Hello Sue in London. I logged don here today because I have just done what you are considering, namely going behind my stepfather's back and contacted my mother's GP. My situation is similar and for the last 6 months, I have tried and tried to get my stepfather to contact the GP. Eventually, after a distressing incident on Monday, I have just gone ahead and done it. It is I believe the right thing to do and all the health care advisors I called this morning urged me to do it. It feels like a betrayal I know, but I think sometimes people do need help even when they seem not to want it. Anyway I feel for you, it's a hard situation. All the best.
 

SueInLondon

New member
Sep 23, 2020
2
Thank you all so much for your suggestions. Sadly, I don't think 'a friend who needs help' will work (my dad is too canny for that one) and after his fall, I insisted they had a helper for a few weeks but he just used her as a taxi service and then quit. But I have called the GP surgery. They can't put the wheels of help in motion until he has been honest with them in a phone consultation. They said I should try being in the room when that takes place.
Yes, I do go there to visit most weeks but staying the night is super stressful as I have to take my dogs, which disrupts the household, and Mum walks around the house all night. Of course I desperately want to give my dad a break - but what's frustrating is that he can afford help but, as @lemonbalm says, that generation just won't ask for it. Sigh. Onwards! Tomorrow when I visit I will make the GP appointment. This forum has already been incredibly reassuring, if sad. Thank you!
 

lemonbalm

Registered User
May 21, 2018
686
Thank you all so much for your suggestions. Sadly, I don't think 'a friend who needs help' will work (my dad is too canny for that one) and after his fall, I insisted they had a helper for a few weeks but he just used her as a taxi service and then quit. But I have called the GP surgery. They can't put the wheels of help in motion until he has been honest with them in a phone consultation. They said I should try being in the room when that takes place.
Yes, I do go there to visit most weeks but staying the night is super stressful as I have to take my dogs, which disrupts the household, and Mum walks around the house all night. Of course I desperately want to give my dad a break - but what's frustrating is that he can afford help but, as @lemonbalm says, that generation just won't ask for it. Sigh. Onwards! Tomorrow when I visit I will make the GP appointment. This forum has already been incredibly reassuring, if sad. Thank you!
To be honest, my parents wouldn't accept help from anyone except me. My mum thought she was managing fine and I suppose I let her believe that by doing everything. With hindsight, it probably wasn't the best plan!

Perhaps, if your Dad has respect for doctors, as many older people do, he will be influenced by them and take their advice. Good luck.
 

Teeniee1

New member
Oct 2, 2020
1
Apologies if this has been covered, as I'm sure it has. My dad is 88 and is the sole carer for my mother, who has dementia. She can't do anything for herself at all but he refuses point blank to get help. Their GP is unsympathetic and useless, and hasn't seen Mum physically for two years now as all consultations are on the phone, even before Covid.

Mum wanders around the house all night and is incontinent. She doesn't know where she is. She doesn't recognise her grandchildren. She's underweight and isn't able to wash or dress herself. And yet Dad refuses point blank to get help, other than a cleaner from Age UK. He does all the shopping, cooking and washing and still drives. But he's clearly exhausted. He recently had a bad fall and fractured his skull and had the cleaner not been there, he would have bled to death.

He won't talk to my brother or I about getting help but insists everything is OK; he's a very proud man and I think he's afraid she will be 'taken away' from him. But with winter coming and less opportunity to escape in the garden, plus the prospect of further lockdown, I can only see things getting worse. I need a strategy before there's an avoidable tragedy. Should I write to him, as he won't talk? Ask the GP for help, which would mean going behind his back? I really am desperate and what's even more frustrating is that a carer coming in a few times a week would make their lives so much better, and they can afford it, but he won't entertain it. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
My mum was the same she cares for my dad and has been for 27 years he is now 83 and she is 81, this year she finally agreed to have carers in morning and evening to get him dressed but this did not help as they ended up arguing as he didn't want to wait until mid morning for them to turn up. Mum finally had a mental breakdown and I got involved with the SW and they arranged respite he is now in his 8th week mum is no better and says she can no longer look after him but the SW wants to send him home. The GP and Hospital Mental Health Team have both told the SW that she cannot cope so he needs to be a permanent resident but they are not listening she says dad has full capacity to decide where he wants to be she says the doctor doesn't know what he is talking about. The SW has never met my dad she has only spoken to him on the phone, she is now going to get a care advocate involved she has not done a capacity assessment on him. The care home are very supportive and are on mums side as they know dad the SW doesn't. Has anyone else had this issue? Sorry to put this on this feed. Original question please encourage your dad to have more help before he ends up like my mum it is heart breaking to see a parent like this where you have to have her watched and keep control of meds incase she tries to overdose she has had to come and live with me for the time being.
 

Cat27

Volunteer Moderator
Feb 27, 2015
11,666
Merseyside
My mum was the same she cares for my dad and has been for 27 years he is now 83 and she is 81, this year she finally agreed to have carers in morning and evening to get him dressed but this did not help as they ended up arguing as he didn't want to wait until mid morning for them to turn up. Mum finally had a mental breakdown and I got involved with the SW and they arranged respite he is now in his 8th week mum is no better and says she can no longer look after him but the SW wants to send him home. The GP and Hospital Mental Health Team have both told the SW that she cannot cope so he needs to be a permanent resident but they are not listening she says dad has full capacity to decide where he wants to be she says the doctor doesn't know what he is talking about. The SW has never met my dad she has only spoken to him on the phone, she is now going to get a care advocate involved she has not done a capacity assessment on him. The care home are very supportive and are on mums side as they know dad the SW doesn't. Has anyone else had this issue? Sorry to put this on this feed. Original question please encourage your dad to have more help before he ends up like my mum it is heart breaking to see a parent like this where you have to have her watched and keep control of meds incase she tries to overdose she has had to come and live with me for the time being.
Welcome to TP @Tina ledbury
 

Bod

Registered User
Aug 30, 2013
1,335
@Tina ledbury
Tina, you have the hospital Mental Health Team involved, get them to decide whether or not your father has mental capacity for this decision. Their opinion will out-weigh the SW.

Bod
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
321
My mum was the same she cares for my dad and has been for 27 years he is now 83 and she is 81, this year she finally agreed to have carers in morning and evening to get him dressed but this did not help as they ended up arguing as he didn't want to wait until mid morning for them to turn up. Mum finally had a mental breakdown and I got involved with the SW and they arranged respite he is now in his 8th week mum is no better and says she can no longer look after him but the SW wants to send him home. The GP and Hospital Mental Health Team have both told the SW that she cannot cope so he needs to be a permanent resident but they are not listening she says dad has full capacity to decide where he wants to be she says the doctor doesn't know what he is talking about. The SW has never met my dad she has only spoken to him on the phone, she is now going to get a care advocate involved she has not done a capacity assessment on him. The care home are very supportive and are on mums side as they know dad the SW doesn't. Has anyone else had this issue? Sorry to put this on this feed. Original question please encourage your dad to have more help before he ends up like my mum it is heart breaking to see a parent like this where you have to have her watched and keep control of meds incase she tries to overdose she has had to come and live with me for the time being.
You need to stand your ground here and thump the table. Even if your mother was in fine health she would have no obligation to become a full time carer. It would be impossible for a social worker to judge your father's mental capacity on the basis of nothing but a phone conversation. I don't know what capacity your father has of course but the starting point is whether he can understand and retain information given to him about the decision as to where he will reside. That must include information about your mother's health and the impact on her if he went home. To have capacity he needs to understand all the relevant factors, and be able to weigh up the pros and cons. That is quite a high bar to jump over. The care advocate may be helpful, make sure he/she is well briefed on the home circumstances. Above all you can point out that your mother refuses to undertake care and refuses to permit carers in her home, because that is her right.
 

Dutchman

Registered User
May 26, 2017
821
Devon
Apologies if this has been covered, as I'm sure it has. My dad is 88 and is the sole carer for my mother, who has dementia. She can't do anything for herself at all but he refuses point blank to get help. Their GP is unsympathetic and useless, and hasn't seen Mum physically for two years now as all consultations are on the phone, even before Covid.

Mum wanders around the house all night and is incontinent. She doesn't know where she is. She doesn't recognise her grandchildren. She's underweight and isn't able to wash or dress herself. And yet Dad refuses point blank to get help, other than a cleaner from Age UK. He does all the shopping, cooking and washing and still drives. But he's clearly exhausted. He recently had a bad fall and fractured his skull and had the cleaner not been there, he would have bled to death.

He won't talk to my brother or I about getting help but insists everything is OK; he's a very proud man and I think he's afraid she will be 'taken away' from him. But with winter coming and less opportunity to escape in the garden, plus the prospect of further lockdown, I can only see things getting worse. I need a strategy before there's an avoidable tragedy. Should I write to him, as he won't talk? Ask the GP for help, which would mean going behind his back? I really am desperate and what's even more frustrating is that a carer coming in a few times a week would make their lives so much pbetter, and they can afford it, but he won't entertain it. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
I can really empathise with the reluctance to place ones wife into a care home. There comes a tipping point where there is literally no choice either because TPWD is a danger to themselves or others or the carer is physically/ mentally unable to cope.
My point came after months of my wife refusing to recognise me and despairing to get out the house. She went into a home last August. I realise now it was a kindness but at the time I was devastated by her leaving me. Pills/counselling/ friends and family all helped and I’m still crying regularly.
Get others involved even if you use subterfuge because it’s in everyone’s interest. Mum is unable to help herself so you have to be firm for her sake.

There is no way round being upset about the care home option. The guilt is visceral and natural, everyone feels it. But, I’ve found that I now realise that I grieve and that grieving will always be with me. But my wife is safe, fed, washed properly and comfortable.

Keep safe and positive
 

cobden 28

Registered User
Dec 15, 2017
75
I can really empathise with the reluctance to place ones wife into a care home. There comes a tipping point where there is literally no choice either because TPWD is a danger to themselves or others or the carer is physically/ mentally unable to cope.
My point came after months of my wife refusing to recognise me and despairing to get out the house. She went into a home last August. I realise now it was a kindness but at the time I was devastated by her leaving me. Pills/counselling/ friends and family all helped and I’m still crying regularly.
Get others involved even if you use subterfuge because it’s in everyone’s interest. Mum is unable to help herself so you have to be firm for her sake.

There is no way round being upset about the care home option. The guilt is visceral and natural, everyone feels it. But, I’ve found that I now realise that I grieve and that grieving will always be with me. But my wife is safe, fed, washed properly and comfortable.

Keep safe and positive
Fifteen years ago my late stepdad, then in his early 80's, had a fall at home and fractured his hip. Shortly after he came home Mum, then in her late 70's, had to go into hospital for a hysterectomy and stepdad needed carers to come in to see to him; all the council's social services department came up with was carers 4 times a day and absolutely no night time care at all - which was when the care was really needed because stepdad was too proud to use a stick or a zimmer frame so kept falling over on a regular basis when he went to the toilet at night, and 5 ft 3 ins Mum just couldn't manage to get 6 ft stepdad upright. Mum really had to stick to her guns and insist stepdad went into respite care while she was recovering from her hysterectomy, but she won in the end and stepdad went into respite care for six weeks.

On the day Mum was due to be discharged from hospital after her operation (in the afternoon) the respite care place had planned to send stepdad home on the morning of the day of Mum's hospital discharge with NOBODY at home to care for either of them! Aparrently stepdad, whn asked whether there was anybody at home to care for him, told the respite people that his wife (ie my Mum) was there to look after him ! Nobody seemed to be aware that if stepdad was discharged home in the morning and Mum not until the afternoon how would he manage till then and also how would Mum manage to look after herself let alone stepdad as well! Having had a hysterectomy myself in 1999 I knew only too well that even lifting a kettle would be too much for Mum so again she had to dig her heels in and insist the respite period was extended,

As it happened, stepdad never came home after the period of respite and instead went into permanent residential care. He died in 2004 of heart failure aged 85.
 

Ramblingrose

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
I am in the same situation with my parents. My mother needs 24 hour supervision for her own safety and wellbeing. He wouldn't dream of her going into care even though he is struggling as am I! My life is now dominated by helping to care for her. Social services awarded them 9 hours a week care which I cover and more. This in turn affects my relationship with my hubby. As another member commented about her father he isn't short of money. Its this reluctance to have strangers in the home or feeling shameful about her going into care. I am in my sixties, my husband is in his seventies and we should be enjoying what is left of our lives. So dealing with this plus the lockdowns has really begun to get me down. Even two large G&Ts last night didn't help.