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Elderly Parents - Stubborn, rude and independent

(13 Posts)
RocketSalad Thu 30-Dec-10 12:58:14


My parents are in their seventies, live in a rural location and refuse to admit they are not quite as capable as they once were.

My father is arthritic (can barely walk), refuses medication and help, calls doctors quacks and other such rude things, my mother has a skin condition which I believe to be cancerous which she is seeking treatment for - currently awaiting a referral. It took me a year to persaude her to seek help for a lesion on her neck only to discover she had them elsewhere but had hidden them from us - who knows how long for.

They will not allow me or my partner or children to help or interfere in any way. When they became snowed in recently we visited to clear pathways to outside coal bunker, to various places outside we know they will insist on going and received much abuse for our trouble. My children (in their teens) whilst they love their grandparents, dread going - they think it is all so silly.

Christmas was due to be spent at our house (ten miles) but they were already making excuses not to come on the Tuesday preceding it. On the Friday my mother fell down the last two stairs at home, twisting her ankle. My father declared she was ok and insisted we carry on without her and my mother.

Then we discovered the same day that we had all been in contact with someone with swine flu. (since then three of us have displayed symptoms)As my father has an illness which compromises his immune system and is also very prone to flu (won't have a flu jab) we have stayed away.

Of course I have called every day. My concern has met with abuse. I then discover my mother has said nothing about us having flu/colds to my father (today) he was pissed off because we hadn't visited.

Also I discover from my father that my mothers ankle is very swollen putting more strain on very nasty lesions on her leg. I again suggested doctors and received more abuse. In desperation I have called NHS direct and am awaiting a call back although I have no idea what anyone can do in the face of such determination not to receive help.

I would call their gp however they hate him with a passion and are furious that he was not able to cure the lesions on my mother's neck, declaring him incompetent. If he were to make a home visit they would also need to remove all security to let him in which they wouldn't do so would be wasting his time when he could be helping someone who wants to be helped.

I don't want to take their independence away but there doesn't seem to be much sense in it. For the record I am not one to over react - indeed perhaps I haven't reacted enough.

peggotty Thu 30-Dec-10 13:00:51

Would it be worth phoning age concern for some advice? Or even social services?

Rosa Thu 30-Dec-10 13:03:18

What a nightmare. Is there perhaps another Gp in the practice or a nearby one who could try . It sounds as if they are scared but just don't want to admit that they need help or can't cure themselves with a hot toddy or bicarb of soda.
I wish you the best as it sounds to me that you are doing all that you can. Is there a neighbour or friend that they trust who you could get on your side and ask to help persuade them to see sense?

sparks Thu 30-Dec-10 14:37:34

They are grown ups. They are entirely within their rights to refuse medical treatment.

I agree with you that there doesn't seem to be much sense in what they are doing. They seem to be acting against their own best interests, but I don't see there is much you can do about it, except worry.

Do you have any siblings? My parents are in their 80s and I find it helpful to talk to my brother about them.

RocketSalad Thu 30-Dec-10 14:39:11

Thanks both!

Spoken to NHS Direct - very understanding and helpful. Suggested I call doctor and appraise him of situation if nothing else. Did this and was transferred to another surgery as theirs was closed. Spoke to really helpful receptionist who discussed it all with practice manager and suggested we got a neighbour or other family member in to check on them (there is only me) before sending a doctor out.

Called their neighbour who is also elderly but she has asked one of her emergency helpers to nip down and make sure they are ok. She is aware they will probably not let him in, and probably be abusive too. We had a discussion about them (so I now know it is not just me) and she agrees they are being rather selfish.

I have since spoken to my mother who was very abusive when I said I had called NHS Direct and put the phone down on me before I managed to appeal to her better nature and ask her to get checked out. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!

RocketSalad Thu 30-Dec-10 14:42:29

Thanks Sparks - yes of course they are entirely within their rights and I understand their reasoning. And of course all I am doing is worrying. And of course it will be me that ends up with the whole big mess when it really does go wrong as I don't have siblings! Hence me ranting on here really!

sparks Thu 30-Dec-10 14:44:58

Rant away! That's what MN is for grin

rabbitstew Thu 30-Dec-10 16:00:36

Were your parents like this with respect to receiving help and medical advice when you were growing up?

RocketSalad Thu 30-Dec-10 16:29:02

OK next question. Neighbour unable to gain access (security is ridiculous) and obviously I can't force them to see a doctor. How much of an imposition would it be to make contact with another friend to request she just give them a call - they are likely to be more honest with her than me.

Argh dilemma!

RocketSalad Thu 30-Dec-10 16:59:47

@rabbitstew, they have always been like this. My father has had two hernias since the eighties, arthritis since the nineties and very nearly wasn't here seven years ago when he suffered a thrombosis. Purely by chance I caught him massaging his arm with an attachment on an electric drill because "it felt odd" and I dialled 999 to tirades of abuse. He refuses all medication except warfarin (here he has exactly no choice). Even refuses to try and address his issues with diet etc. where such simple things can make all the difference.

Mum has been very fortunate health wise until the last few years but refused to seek medical help until it has become desperate.

As they leave things so late before seeking treatment and advice, often results are slow to show or worse, things become so bad they are beyond improvement. This then reinforces their belief that doctors know nothing.

It makes me sad that their quality of life is so poor when with a little bit of care it could be so much richer. I listen to them moan every day about how awful things are. Really have no choice but to accept this is how they choose to live their lives but so difficult when it is impacting on others (children get very upset).

rabbitstew Thu 30-Dec-10 20:55:49

Oh dear sad. They do sound like a couple of old mules! I guess you've probably tried all the possible strategies over the years?! (eg getting cross with them for causing you unecessary worry; asking them to do things just to make you happy etc). Were they this hopeless at getting medical attention for you, too?!!!!! I guess there is a very deep seated fear going on there - maybe a relative left to suffer at the hands of a medical professional? Whatever the problem is, they've left you in an impossible situation. I probably would be tempted to phone the friend and ask him or her to contact them, if you trust said friend to do it in a subtle way, so that they don't immediately think you are telling tales on them!!!!

lamettarules Thu 30-Dec-10 21:50:11

Oh poor you .
I wish I knew what to suggest ,but can only offer a sympathy .
But if your Dad is on warafin ,doesn't this need monitoring and blood tests by profesionals ...?
Could they help ?

RocketSalad Thu 30-Dec-10 22:47:17

Rabbitstew I have done all sorts Ultimately the decision with how they manage their health care lies with them. Damaged relationships are not what they need right now so I am going to have to button my frustration (or let it go on here). There is a family history of phobia re docs and hospitals but I have no issues with the same.

Lamettarules he does make regular visits to the nurse for bloods. I intend to call and speak to their doctor in the morning, not necessarily for him to intervene but to make him aware.

Thanks for your words of advice and support.

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