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slow mental decline in parents - what do you do?

(8 Posts)
miserablemoralvacuum Tue 03-Nov-09 10:52:58

i'm worried about my Dad. His memory, ability to find words, and spelling seem to be deteriorating - he used to be an academic, highly articulate and completely pedantic about spelling - but now there are about 5 mistakes in every email I get from him (he lives in another country). He would definitely not admit it if anyone pointed it out.

My parents hate the medical profession though (in a stupid kind of way) - believe that medics are always out to do unnecessary things and uncover stuff that it would be better just not to know about. And my mum is the world's biggest passive aggressive do-nothing person - there will always be a reason it is my fault that she hasn't done something. My sister is the same.

So I can't get them to take any notice of the fact I think my dad needs to be seen by someone.

The decline is also fairly subtle.

what do I do?

miserablemoralvacuum Tue 03-Nov-09 11:21:31

um - anyone...?

SpeckledHen Tue 03-Nov-09 11:34:27

So sorry miserablemoralvacuum. I faced a simlar situation. My parents were also both academics. My dad always lived in a book and in my mums shadow. If I rang he alwys put her on and didn't liek to talk. My mum died over a year of pancreaticcancer. When she had died it became apparent that my dad had declined dramatically but none of us had noticed - you can imagine why. Even if we had noticed their personalities were similar to what you describe in your family so not much more could have been done. in the ned he got himself admittedto a psychiatric hospital and then took his own life. He had been suffering from heart disease, depression and anxiety and also 'functional overlay' which is the doctors term for being awkward as hell. I am not sure I am much help. I am not sure there is much you can do apart from keep an eye and be there for them if and when they need you.

AMumInScotland Tue 03-Nov-09 11:40:41

Do you have any other family over there who could step in and try to do something? If he won't admit there's a problem, and your mum and isster refuse to face it, then unfortunately there isn't very much that you can do.

In this country, if a person doesn't go in voluntarily, the authorities can only take action if a close relative or solcial services ask to have them sectioned. I would guess that other countries are similarly limited in what can be done without the affected individual accepting that there's a problem.

Sorry I can't think of anything which will help.

KurriKurri Tue 03-Nov-09 11:43:02

Hi MMV, didn't want your post to go unanswered. My Dad has alzheimers, in the early stages his symptoms were similar to those you describe. seven years down the line and his symptoms are quite severe. Not saying this is what your dad has, but there are drugs which can help people with alzheimers, slowing the process down a bit, they have helped my dad. Also in this country until you have a formal diagnosis, you can't access all the help you may need.

Also my mum has had a lot of help from social services, doctors and support groups etc. - from practical things to help my dad - memory aids, exercises etc, to help with sorting out finances, taking charge of his medical decisons, and many others things.

The head in the sand approach doesn't work, as you obviously feel also. Its hard for some relatives to face what may be happening, but if your dad had a broken leg or something he'd get medical help. Its sad when people ignore a mental decline, because there is some help available.

Just to repeat, I'm not saying your dad has this it could be any number of things, but ignoring it won't make it go away, and there could be things that will slow the process down for him if he does have some for of dementia. You could try phoning one of the charities for alzheimers and ask for advice, I think ignoring symptoms is quite a common phenomenon so they might have some suggestions.

Hope every thing goes well, its not a nice thing to face, but having said all that, although my dad's illness is quite advanced now, his eccentric sense of humour has somehow survived, and despite the illness, I can still see my darling old dad in there somewhere. Good luck with your situation.

KurriKurri Tue 03-Nov-09 11:44:31

sorry x-posts - took me a little while to type my reply!

SpeckledHen Tue 03-Nov-09 11:49:20

In case I sound harsh and although I know this post is not about me I did phone the samaritans about my dad and they said they needed him to approach them himself. I was also arranging a second medical opinion and trying to get him into a private psychiatric hospital since he so hated the NHS one - for reasons I think mostly to do with his state of mind.

miserablemoralvacuum Tue 03-Nov-09 12:54:02

thanks for this. Both SpeckledHen and KurriKurri are describing what I've been wondering about. I very much like "functional overlay" as a term grin... unfortunately there isn't anyone else who could step in as my parents' "functional overlay" means they dislike their "stupid" relatives (who are less formally educated than my not-exactly-nobel-prize-winning parents), and their friends are all either withdrawing as things get more extremely silly, or are extremely silly themselves. sad

I'll hunt around the alzheimers' charities to see what might be useful...

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