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... to need a diplomatic way of approaching my Dad's neighbours??

(31 Posts)
Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 16:49:39

Sorry if this is an epic, but I'd honestly appreciate MN thoughts

Dad's 90 this year, with a massive back story of stunning meanness, abuse, manipulation and hatred of practically everyone. Mum died in 2001 but at least he's stayed active, shopping for himself, buying meals for the freezer, coming to us on the bus for meals and so on

This all changed after Christmas, not long after he finally stopped driving. Deafness prevents him hearing the phone, but my repeated visits have shown he's now spending much of each day in bed - not for health reasons, since physically he's fine, but to save on heating. I know this sounds incredible, but please trust me that I know the man and this is certain, despite him actually being very well off

I've now discovered his lovely neighbours are taking him a dinner four times a week - he's clearly used a "poor old guy" act, which is ironic since he previously hated them too. This has stopped him leaving the house at all, since he no longer needs to shop, and it seems he now only gets up when he knows a meal is coming - I suspect he simply doesn't eat on the other three days, again to avoid spending anything

Obviously this isn't helping him in the long run, and I know it's not for me to tell others what they should do, but the point is this: Is there anything I can (or should) say to the neighbours about it?? I really don't want to cause offence, but I don't like to see folk being manipulated either, and as I said, their kindness is actually making him worse. Frankly I feel a bit stuck - any ideas, anyone??

RandyRudolf Sun 26-Jan-14 16:51:17

He sounds like he might actually be suffering from depression.

greenfolder Sun 26-Jan-14 16:55:24

honestly? leave them to it. my dgrandad was frequently taken out for a drink, fed etc and was known as poor old charlie to his neighbours. there was never less than £100k in his current account.

bodygoingsouth Sun 26-Jan-14 16:56:30

if you had said he had been a lovely dad and a good man then I would advise intervention.

as you say he's been neither then I would leave it be. the neighbours are probably happy to help and he's 90, if he's taken to his bed then there is absolutely nothing you can do with a character like that.

I speak from experience here.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 16:58:03

I used to wonder myself, Randy, but most likely that would prevent him being interested in anything much at all ... whereas he's brightness itself in getting anything he wants or considering some new way to hurt somebody else

Ragwort Sun 26-Jan-14 16:58:41

Can you have a word with the neighbours to thank them for what they are doing and to check that they are happy about it? They might genuinely like helping your Dad. Can you arrange that at least they are reimbursed the expense involved (if appropriate?).

I was in a vaguely similar situation helping our neighbours (by choice) - the DIL came to see me and told me not to let them 'manipulate' me and that they were quite capable of helping themselves etc etc - I ended up feeling annoyed with the DIL who seemed quite heartless - so make sure this situation doesn't end like this?

Tricky situation for everyone involved.

bodygoingsouth Sun 26-Jan-14 17:02:10

he does my sound depressed to me at all. he sounds like he us acting true to the form you have described is the norm.

people don't change just because they are old, there are just as many nice/ vile old people as young people but unfortunately they can play the frail old person card.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 17:04:58

Yes, I'm considering taking them flowers and wine as some kind of "thankyou", especially given that I know he's contributing nothing

I thought about mentioning the things you said, Ragwort, but like you I'm afraid of sounding awful myself and it being taken the wrong way. It's clear they're bought his whole "package" and manipulation (believe me he's very, VERY good at it) which leaves me a bit between a rock and a hard place

Joysmum Sun 26-Jan-14 17:05:35

It's worth talking to them and expressing gratitude that they are so interested in your dad but that it's a fine line between helping out and the problems of 'use it lose it' where a persons abilities deteriorate very quickly if they aren't using their skills.

We had a similar problem with my FIL. The church assumed the family weren't interested because he was telling them he never saw or spook to us. All this came out his first time he was taken into hospital. He was then diagnosed with Dementia and didn't remember our visits and phone calls etc.

Could it be that the neighbour doesn't think anyone is looking out for him?

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 17:08:11

I like that bit about "use it or lose it" Joysmum :-)

I don't think they believe him to be abandoned, but honestly can't be sure - he'd say anything to get free meals!!

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 17:15:07

Body, you're also quite correct about this being a "true to form" thing. I'd like to say it's just down to old age but it wouldn't be true ... it pains me to say it, but he's always been eveil and manipulative

summertimeandthelivingiseasy Sun 26-Jan-14 17:20:28

I would visit the neighbour on a diplomatic fact finding mission - any payment, what do they see happening/not happening, make sure they have your contact details etc.

Then I would check if he is due a check-up with the doctor. If he has previously been looking after himself fine, he may have some dementia issues.

Are there any day-centres in the area?

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 17:23:35

Yes, the neighbours have my contact info - we've spoken before about them having a key which they were happy to do

Definitely no dementia; he does pretend to forget what suits him, but if it's anything to do with money he's sharper than anyone I've ever known

Plenty of day centres in the area, but he won't go - he tried a lunch club once, but they wanted a couple of quid for the meal and he hated everyone there too :-(

summertimeandthelivingiseasy Sun 26-Jan-14 17:24:17

PS - some 'horrible' character traits get more pronounces with dementia. (If you are lucky, it is the 'sweet' ones).

bodygoingsouth Sun 26-Jan-14 17:27:47

can totally see going around to see the nice neighbours but just a thought, they may feel as if you think they are worming their way into his life and are after his money.

so sorry to say this but people get very defensive in situations like this and for all you know your dad could be telling them his family don't care about him etc etc. he sounds the type.

as a district nurse I can tell you op this is very very commen.

it's a bloody minefield with manipulative people but guessing you know all this anyway. you sound lovely by the way.

BoffinMum Sun 26-Jan-14 17:30:31

I would be inclined to just tell him off for being silly, in as kindly a way as I could possibly manage, and give him some incentive for getting up and dressed and putting on the heating, etc. We had to do that with my DGF

jacks365 Sun 26-Jan-14 17:37:29

Maybe a straight forward explanation to the neighbours that getting him involved in shopping and cooking is good for his mental health and general wellbeing and that you're concerned that if he is over catered for that he'll get too reliant and lose key skills. Appreciate the help they are providing but see if they can channel it into something which is more helpful ie getting him out of the house. It is difficult in this situation and I know my own grandfather wouldn't lift a finger if he could get someone else to do it for him.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 17:45:25

Yes, Body - I was afraid of their possible sensitivity about his money; it's just so easy to cause offence without meaning to, and I'm only too well aware he'll have painted himself as a poor forgotten old man - clearly you've seen this before!!

Boffinmum, I've tried and tried about incentives and gentle chiding. Sadly it doesn't work as in reality he KNOWS how mean he's being and actually thinks it's quite clever; any remark, no matter how diplomatic, just gets a crafty smirk. I don't even want to go into the life my mum had with him, afraid to put the heating on even when she was poorly; it was just horrific

So what do I do in the end - risk speaking to them or not? I'm not proud of this but I'm really on tenterhooks about the whole thing. By the way please keep ideas/suggestions coming - I have to nip out for a while but will be back later ...

matildamatilda Sun 26-Jan-14 17:58:30

AH! Try this:

Go to your neighbours and ask them to help you convince your dad to use the grocery delivery service and the "meals-on-wheels" service that you're helping him to set up.

You can say, with a smile: "He's being stubborn about the meals-on-wheels and the delivered groceries, you know how he is. But it would be so good for him and he can absolutely afford it. Would you do me a favour and help me convince him that they're good ideas?"

You can add as a joke: "There's no need for him to be eating all your food!"

That way you're acknowledging their kindness and getting them on
your side.

caruthers Sun 26-Jan-14 18:02:40

It looks like he's found some friends and good for him.

FootieOnTheTelly Sun 26-Jan-14 18:23:47

Gosh, some old people are soooooo stubborn!!!

You could just let them get on with it and then, when he finally passes away, either give them a monitory gift (you could say it was on your fathers request) or give a donation to charity on their behalf. IYSWIM

If you can afford it, would you be able to give them a contribution towards his food? He could live another 10 years confused.

ineedanexcuse Sun 26-Jan-14 18:35:42

Following on from Footies suggestion re a monetary gift after his death.... Tell him this is what you plan to do.
Say you are going to give them an amount pro rata to the meals they have provided as 'that is what everyone does'

Im willing to bet he wont be so needy in future.

Of course that still leaves you with an incorrigible old bugger who wont spend on himself. But if he is incapable of leaving his bed or sorting out meals for himself maybe he should be in a nursing home. And we all know how much (The most expensive home in the area) costs dont we wink

Misspixietrix Sun 26-Jan-14 18:59:55

OP I do feel for you. I know exactly what you mean by the poor frail old man act. I actually did tell him off at one point. I had tried gentle chiding etc before to no avail. To others he's a frail old poorly man who needs a lot of help. I.e cooking dinners etc he's actually more than capable. Drinks like a sailor and smokes like a trooper against GPs advice and some of the venom he's spat at me alone is unrepeatable . Can you not try a casual approach with the neighbours? Maybe say you've noticed / he's said that they bring some meals round for him and did they want any money for it? They would probably refuse but at least then you could get in to further conversation with them and warn them he might be taking advantage?

Misspixietrix Sun 26-Jan-14 19:01:59

I meant my DD obviously OP. I did put it in the original post. I like matildas suggestion too.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 26-Jan-14 19:22:12

Ah, now there are some VERY good ideas there - thank you all very much

I do like the "meals on wheels encouragement", though they'll probably say no need - also it wouldn't get him out of the house any more

There's no way I can pay them for his meals (and that would only mean this carries on) but I'd already thought about giving them something when he dies. What I HADN'T considered was telling him about this, and I really do feel that could be worthwhile - unless, come to think about it, he leaves the lot to them anyway, in which case I wouldn't have anything to share with them!!!!!

Actually the devil in me likes the "expensive nursing home" thing too, but he's way too "able" for that and he's refuse to go :-)

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