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Elderly parents

Reasons one might become 'old before their time?'

33 replies

utopian99 · 19/03/2023 16:05

Not sure if anyone can help. My FIL has quite suddenly (within the last 5 years, not just post covid,) gone from being a normal 60-something to what most people would expect from a much older man. Even my DHs grandmother (FIL's mum,) and aunt (FIL's sister,) have commented on this, so it's not just us.

DH is upset and a bit exasperated by this, I think because he thinks some of it is due to FIL giving up/not trying to be and MIL is obviously taking a fair bit of the brunt of it, as she's found herself slipped into slightly more of a caring position when no one expects this for a 69 year old.

I wonder however if there could be something diagnosable behind it (and if so, possibly something treatable?) It's been a pretty fast change, which is why I wonder. My mother developed a thyroid problem in her 50s which made her really tired, among other symptoms, but once diagnosed and operated on went straight back being a normal, healthy, active person - literally within a couple of weeks.

Am I being mad/is this wishful thinking? Who or what would you ask if trying to check?

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MumOf2workOptions · 19/03/2023 16:09

I'm so sorry to read this
I'd get him to the GP and have some bloods done and check infection markers etc...
hopefully you get an answer soon

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whatwasIgoingtosay · 19/03/2023 16:14

It could be the onset of dementia, or maybe depression. My late FIL became very 'old' after he retired, then was asked to help out with meals on wheels and it gave him a new lease of life - being out in the community, talking to others less fortunate than him and being seen as helpful. Maybe he just needs a useful purpose in life. 🙏

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HappyHamsters · 19/03/2023 16:16

Has anyone spoken to fil and said they are concerned about him, has he seen a doctor. If he is depressed and your dh thinks he has given up then both he and mil need his help and support.many people much younger than your mil take on a caring role.

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MichelleScarn · 19/03/2023 16:25

Are they isolating themselves and feeling low, or just wanting to be 'looked after' so everyone else running around after them?

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 16:57

whatwasIgoingtosay · 19/03/2023 16:14

It could be the onset of dementia, or maybe depression. My late FIL became very 'old' after he retired, then was asked to help out with meals on wheels and it gave him a new lease of life - being out in the community, talking to others less fortunate than him and being seen as helpful. Maybe he just needs a useful purpose in life. 🙏

We wondered about this, it has set in since he retired. MIL has tried really hard to involve him in her hobbies though, and DH and I have tried to be encouraging in anything that might be something to get engaged in, but he doesn't seem to have something that could be that engaging. That being said, his eyesight has deteriorated and that doesn't help. He's going to have cataract surgery soon which will hopefully make a big difference to that aspect, so hopefully will help.

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 17:14

HappyHamsters · 19/03/2023 16:16

Has anyone spoken to fil and said they are concerned about him, has he seen a doctor. If he is depressed and your dh thinks he has given up then both he and mil need his help and support.many people much younger than your mil take on a caring role.

I wondered if it could be a depression onset, but it's hard to know how to suggest looking into that. I don't feel it's my place? DH has spoken to his mum about what might help with other physical health issues but so far not about anything regarding mental state. I think it feels like a taboo in lots of families, tbf, so is tricky.

We try to make sure we arrange to see them regularly and DH phones and we both WhatsApp lots for general chit chat etc. We live 2 hours drive away (each way,) so tend to go up for a weekend or have them to ours, but are wondering if that's tiring and it would be better for us to drive up say on a Fri evening, have a whole day on Saturday and then come home late so as not to stay all weekend. Or have them to ours so we can do the cooking/entertaining etc but that means a drive for them, so again not sure of best strategy.

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 17:18

MumOf2workOptions · 19/03/2023 16:09

I'm so sorry to read this
I'd get him to the GP and have some bloods done and check infection markers etc...
hopefully you get an answer soon

He's been diagnosed with a few physical things, not sure if we should suggest checking for something else? What are blood markers? Is that very intrusive though? They're quite traditional and self respecting people and don't like fuss and I really wouldn't want to overstep either..

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thedevilinablackdress · 19/03/2023 17:48

Eyesight will be a big part of I reckon. DM got a new lease of life after cataract surgery.
Hearing is also one to check on.

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ComeOnYouSummer · 19/03/2023 17:51

How is he getting old? Is he sitting around all day? 69 isn’t that young. Does he seem
happy?

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SomePeopleAreJustBloodyStupid · 19/03/2023 17:55

Is he happy with his life as it is? Perhaps he thinks that as he's worked all his life (I assume he has) and is now retired, he doesn't need or want to do anything much. He's earned a rest. Let him decide how to spend his retirement. Not everyone wants to go out and have hobbies

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 17:57

ComeOnYouSummer · 19/03/2023 17:51

How is he getting old? Is he sitting around all day? 69 isn’t that young. Does he seem
happy?

Some of it is physical instability and poor health- the mobility/instability may not be helped by eyesight, and he does exercises to try to help with this. Hoping the surgery makes a big difference there though, as I'd feel worried by that too if my vision was affected tbh. Some is what could be either poor hearing or confusion, but hard to tell which as we do try to speak clearly with hearing in mind - I think DH is more worried by that, as his other (older) family members generally haven't had similar symptoms even into their 80s. Not sure if he's had a hearing test recently though, so that's a thought.

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 17:58

Sorry - meant to say that all of the above then contributes to being not very engaged with getting out to do things unless MIL makes it happen. The eye surgery may make a big difference though..

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 18:00

SomePeopleAreJustBloodyStupid · 19/03/2023 17:55

Is he happy with his life as it is? Perhaps he thinks that as he's worked all his life (I assume he has) and is now retired, he doesn't need or want to do anything much. He's earned a rest. Let him decide how to spend his retirement. Not everyone wants to go out and have hobbies

This is a fair point too.. I think DH is worried that its hard going on his mum, but it maybe none of our business?

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Weallgottachangesometime · 19/03/2023 18:00

Is it linked to retirement?
Did he have hobbies interests that he did pre retirement that he could continue or was his lifestyles focused around work/a working week?

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Weallgottachangesometime · 19/03/2023 18:03

My parents (late 60s) have a lifestyle more like people in their 80s and have done so for a few years now. Partly it is due to my mothers disability (however that is complicated as her lifestyle makes her less mobile/healthy alongside her disability). I think most of it though is down to them just having absolutely no interests or motivation to DO anything. I find it really sad. They waited to retire and now all they do is watch TV all day and occasionally go out for tea somewhere. They both seem absolutely miserable and unfulfilled.

I think you can check FILs health, ask how he is generally etc. ultimately though if it is just a choice then you can’t do anything:

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 18:06

They did a fair bit socially, I'm not sure about hobbies other than watching the football, but they have friends and get out and do things. I think covid definitely didn't help with that for lots of people, but it's better than a year ago.

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Wallywobbles · 19/03/2023 18:08

I think a lot of successful men find retirement strips them of their identity. Often they were so busy being successful that they've woefully neglected the rest of their lives. And so suddenly they become nothing, with no interests, no friends and nothing much to do. It ages them fast.

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Supersimkin2 · 19/03/2023 18:10

This technique for sorting FIL will sound awful but bear with me. It works.

Do not - at all costs - pander to the inactivity. Don’t make the extra effort yourselves and try and persuade MIL to stop busting a gut waiting on him hand and foot.

Why? So you can tell whether he’s unable (Dementia/disease/needs doc) or unwilling (fixable without doc) to cope. A doc needs this info too.

Ideally take MIL away for weekend and see if FIL survives. If she won’t go, do your best to find out why.

We had to do this in our family cos DF was getting so idle we really wondered if he was losing his mind, but like FIL he was too young for dementia so that didn’t make sense.

We were foxed and the care withdrawal cleared things up.

Turned out DF could cope a lot better than he let on - but some things went bizarrely wrong. After pushing and going private, family were told DF had a brain disease that causes apathy and lack of empathy, so he was fine using his DW as a slave. (it’s pretty rare, luckily for you).

Good luck.

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utopian99 · 19/03/2023 18:10

Off to do supper so will be awol for a bit. Thank you to everyone for replying!

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Cottagecheeseisnotcheese · 19/03/2023 18:13

if he can't see properly that will of course affect mobility as he can't see where he is going as well and will be nervous of falling tripping, all of which make you look and feel more vulnerable / elderly
most adults over 60 have some hearing loss so if he is missing bits of conversation it makes life less social, how long till cataract op, if ages is there any way they can afford to get it done privately
once eyes sorted a hearing test, specsavers do them for free loss of hearing can lead to dementia

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alongtimeagoandfaraway · 19/03/2023 18:50

My dad did this. Retired at 65, having worked since 14. Announced he was now an old man and pretty much never did anything ever again. I’m quite sure it was linked to depression as he’d suffered all his life but of course didn’t seek treatment or do anything to address it. Latterly had vascular dementia and died at 82.

My husband and I have a fairly active hobby which is popular with older people. We’re in our 60s but socialise regularly with people in their 80s and 90s who are intellectually sharp and physically active. Infirmity and ill health can creep up on you, no question, but there a much greater chance of living better and longer if you engage with the world.

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MereDintofPandiculation · 20/03/2023 10:35

thedevilinablackdress · 19/03/2023 17:48

Eyesight will be a big part of I reckon. DM got a new lease of life after cataract surgery.
Hearing is also one to check on.

Hearing, because you don’t recognise you’re losing your hearing. I still have to stick my fingers in my ears to see if I have my hearing aids, and I have “moderate” hearing loss. It’s confined to the high frequencies, though, so general noise I can hear as well as ever. I just can’t hear “s” and “t” and similar in speech. With DH, my brain interpolates, when I’m in a group it’s easier to let the conversation wash over me.

I only discovered my deafness because I realised if I rubbed my fingers together beside one ear I could hear it, but not behind the other. I could have gone another five years without either me or my family noticing

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MereDintofPandiculation · 20/03/2023 10:42

free loss of hearing can lead to dementia According to my audiologist, the mechanism is that uncorrected loss of hearing leads to social withdrawal which in turn raises risk of dementia. So no need to be afraid of getting a hearing test, because it can be corrected and thus reduce the dementia risk.

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Cottagecheeseisnotcheese · 20/03/2023 10:51

@MereDintofPandiculation that's sort of what i meant you worded it better, but untreated hearing loss is a risk and the decrease in social activity that comes with it can lead to withdrawal anxiety depression etc

to be honest if I couldn't see my own feet properly I would be nervous about walking and vertainly wouldn't be going on uneven ground etc but hopefully once eye surgery done that confidence with mobility will return

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MereDintofPandiculation · 20/03/2023 12:52

Cottagecheeseisnotcheese · 20/03/2023 10:51

@MereDintofPandiculation that's sort of what i meant you worded it better, but untreated hearing loss is a risk and the decrease in social activity that comes with it can lead to withdrawal anxiety depression etc

to be honest if I couldn't see my own feet properly I would be nervous about walking and vertainly wouldn't be going on uneven ground etc but hopefully once eye surgery done that confidence with mobility will return

Totally! I had a dementia-like moment yesterday when my brain misinterpreted a change of surface as being an actual step and it nearly caused me to trip. I used to work with someone who had had Parkinsons from young age, and he was telling me how much difficulty he had with these raised bobbly strips they put so those with severe sight impairments can recognise where the road crossings are. His brain could not make sense of them, and it sometimes took so long to persuade it to move his legs that he missed the "green man" completely and had to wait till the next one. So anything, physical or mental, which interferes with your visual perception can really affect your moement.

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