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Can someone please tell me how I should talk to my very depressed and ill elderly father :(

(7 Posts)
fartmeistergeneral Wed 24-Oct-12 21:53:52

He's in his 80s, very ill in hospital at the moment with a blood infection. It's affected his brain terribly, not making much sense at all. But today he was so depressed, it was quite shocking really. Just lay there, eyes shut, all he could talk about was how depressed he was. Didn't matter if I entered into that conversation or tried to steer the conversation elsewhere - it always came back to him talking about how he wanted to end it all etc. Very upsetting.

The nurse just agreed with me that he was very down, think their only concern at the moment is to treat the infection.

Anyone have any experience of this at all? What can I say to him when I visit?

fartmeistergeneral Wed 24-Oct-12 22:26:29


ETsmum Wed 24-Oct-12 23:15:10

That sounds really difficult to deal with sad. I think if it was my dad, I would try to get him chatting about "the olden" days, but not sure how your dad's long term memory has been affected? I think with mine, if I could get him chatting about trains, or stories of when he was evacuated during the war, it might take his mind off things for a bit. Even though mine is in reasonable health for 74, I know he always says my ds cheers him up if he is a bit under the weather, any chance of telling him what the dc are up to etc? Only other thought is taking some music in...sorry, none of these may be any good, but your post struck a nerve somewhere with me.

Hoping that things are a littl easier next time you visit x

fartmeistergeneral Thu 25-Oct-12 08:17:21

He wasn't really capable of speech or conversation. The only thing he could talk about was how depressed he is. A few days back he could have had a sort of conversation about things outwith himself, albeit very confused and words all the wrong way round etc. But yesterday, there was nothing there at all. sad Don't want my dcs to see him like that. Going to speak to the doctor today. Thanks for answering, good luck with your dad!

horsebiscuit Thu 25-Oct-12 08:33:44

Hello fartmeister
Unfortunately I do have experience of visiting both my father and FIL in hospital when they were very ill and depressed. It sucks, and I am sorry you are going through it. The thing to remember is that the illnesses themselves, as well as the drugs and the 'institutional' nature of long term hospital stays (lack of sleep, privacy, sunlight etc) would make anyone confused and miserable. Your role is not to cheer him up- though I know that can be a natural instinct- but to be a companion. Either listening to his complaints gently, or even just sitting holding his hand to let him know you are there. Sometimes I used to read aloud as well- if he wants.
It is you that I am worried about too- are you getting support at home? It can really wring you out. There is something especially horrible about a parent wanting to leave their child, however old that child is, it really hurts. Sending unmumsnetty hugs for today's visit.

throckenholt Thu 25-Oct-12 08:39:31

Can you take in some favourite music for him, or a favourite book you can read to him ? Something to take his mind of how low he feels. That way you don't have to engage much in conversation that drags you both down.

If he is up to it - take in some old photos - talk about good times past. May help to make him feel at least he has had a good life, and it isn't such a bad thing to be nearing the end of it now.

He may well have had enough now - and that is a valid feeling. Don't try to b eover jolly planning things for the future - he may well feel that is not nice because (probably) won't be there.

I had it a bit the other way with my mum - she (up to very end nearly) was talking about things she would do in the future - which was very difficult for me because I could see she didn't have that future - and I could never work out if she knew that or not.

Be kind to yourself - it is a tough time.

Bluestocking Thu 25-Oct-12 08:47:10

Would the doctors be willing to prescribe him something to lift his mood?

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