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Don't know if he can't or won't

(6 Posts)
toomuchrubbish Mon 10-Mar-14 23:31:11

So. Mum died 2 years ago. Dad was her carer and she did all his thinking for him. They made a great team but now the thinking part has gone and dad is utterly lost.
He doesn't understand the world any more and doesn't really want any part in it. he didn't expect to out live mum by very much so has spent 2 years disappointed at waking up every morning. Given his maternal family's longevity, he could have another 15 years of waking up... the thought horrifies him but there's not much physically wrong with him (another disappointment). he suffers from anxiety and depression and his memory is poor but this is more to disengagement with the world than anything. he has been checked for dementia but doesn't have it.

He's recently moved to live near us. After an episode last summer where he drank too much, stopped eating and didn't take any meds and spent 3 weeks in respite care he had visiting carers in twice a day to cook his meals.

Most of the time when they arrived he was up, dressed, in control of his medication and if they were late had already started cooking meals. He had also stopped drinking.

he had a few friends locally who he saw sporadically but sice they are all young retirees they spend much of their time travelling, away looking after grandchildren etc so much contact was done by phone.

He had the opportunity to move nearer to us which he took. The move was stressful, as we knew it would be and there was a brief episode where he drank and as the move got closer he became more and more vacant.

I expected him to take a bit of a step backwards when he moved just because of the upheaval. However he's gone from getting up mid-morning, but wandering up the village happily, reading, buying a paper etc to rarely bothering to get dressed or shaving, cancelling engagements where he might have to talk to someone (even if we're with him), not eating and I know he's started drinking again...

I don't know to what extent he can do these things but I think the problem is that he can't be bothered.

My plan at the moment is to try and get him back to the GP because he has declined significantly since the GP changed his meds last week but dad seems to have no interest in getting better. he was horrified at the idea of a routine - even a get up, eat, do something, eat, do something, eat, go to bed - routine. he won't join anything and he's now refusing to come out and walk with us or go to the supermarket with us... he's been round and acknowledged that he's not been eating and said that he was going to go to the pub for his tea. We applauded this and somehow he managed to leave our front door and turn left to go home rather than right to the pub and went to bed without eating again.

What am I going to do with him? Can I get him any kind of psych referral? His previous GP had not been involved initially because it was 'brereavement issues' and then wouldn't be involved because he was 'just an alcoholic' so I'm not sure whether elsewhere in the country he might get a bit more support.

I've also posted in mh to try and get a bit of perspective on the depression/anxiety issues
Any thoughts?

Really tough. Can you get him to the GP? Can you police him taking his meds?

iseenodust Tue 11-Mar-14 13:19:35

I think he is still grieving for his wife. My MIL took bereavement very hard and she was referred to the elderly psychiatric service. She saw a consultant and they provided home visits from a nurse for quite a while.

miggygreene Mon 24-Mar-14 06:49:07

Have you ever tried talking to him? He maybe don't have someone to lean on whenever he misses your mom. Do you have kids? Visit your father and bring them! You should understand that it is though for them to live alone..help your father and know exactly what he feels.

poppyXsmile Tue 25-Mar-14 08:47:54

Hi there, just wanted to say that this situation sounds very stressful. You are doing great to be so concerned for your dad. It is hard though xx

SpringyReframed Tue 25-Mar-14 09:03:58

My dad is a bit like this. Not quite so extreme and he doesnt drink or take any meds but it is the same general demeanour. My mum died last October. I talk about her all the time to him but he rarely mentions her unless I do.
He seems to be quite cross that he has been left on his own by her, like it was never his plan. What surprises me is that they used to talk all the time about "when one of us dies" yet the shock he is in seems immense. They were happily married for ever and I have told him how lucky he was to have that and he does see it. (I'm divorced and alone so I sometimes think many be my sympathy button doesnt function like it might!)
I am planning to move house to be nearer to him so I can visit more often but being close doesnt sound like it is enough for your Dad and not sure it will be for mine either.
Old age is a very strange thing. It seems from my experience that you either have an enthusiasm for life or it finally ebbs away and you lose interest in everything, even the grandchildren. Is there anything that can be done? Sadly I am not sure there is only than do the best you can.
Sorry not to be more helpful OP but you have my absolute sympathy.

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