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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?

OP posts:

utopian99 · 20/03/2023 20:37

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.

I think DH is worried this is the root of it - a choice to 'be old,' (and would feel sad if that's the case which is why it'sa bit of an emotive point right now.) My parents are also in their late 60s and no sign of similar behaviour, DH's grandma is in her late 80s and only just slowing down and my grandmothers were both pretty robust into their late 80s/early 90s despite challenges such as hearing loss, cataracts for one and controlled parkinsons for the other BUT obviously everyone is different and lifestyle differences will also have an effect so comparison isn't really helpful.

That being said, I can see that hearing is one to check as if diagnosed it could well be a confidence knock, and hoping the cataract surgery makes a big help. If we can check these, I know MIL is keeping them socially engaged and trying to boost healthy lifestyle so then we'll see where we are in 6 months or so..

OP posts:

Courgeon · 20/03/2023 20:49

Some older people do take on that "old person" role and expect to be pandered to. The best thing to go is not pander! My parents made quite a thing out of certain things being "too much" for them when DD was born 16 years ago... My mum was only 60!! I realise looking back she could have contributed a lot more than she did do but used the "I'm too old" thing as an excuse to not help. She retired aged 55. I'm going to be working until I'm 70!

They're in their 70s and 80s now and fully expect to be looked after.. When they arrive they sit and are waited on to the point if they need a knife to cut some cheese or something they won't go to the cutlery drawer and get it they'll sit and stare at the cheese and wait for me to get it. I'm always exhausted by the time they leave. They've even admitted they won't go out for meals but like coming to mine as it's like being in a restaurant! They won't meet me anywhere like an NT property or a garden centre to save me constantly cooking as they say it's "too much" for them and they'd rather relax in my nice house. They manage their hobbies and activities however. It's always mine rather than my sisters house as well.


CheckSock · 20/03/2023 20:53

Obviously no one can diagnose from what you've said here but he definitely needs to get to doctor..

DH started seeming "old" in his early 50s. I "joked" about him being old and unfit, needing a nap in the afternoon, groaning when he had to bend down. He died from cancer at 54.

My Dad is similar (although 79) he has aged dramatically since his prostate cancer diagnosis. A cancer which was only found through investigation for something else.


utopian99 · 20/03/2023 21:08

I hadn't even thought of that - another one to check! DH is going to have a quiet chat with his mum somehow in the next week I think, in a non-interferring but pointed way..

This thread has been really helpful, thank you!

OP posts:

RosesAndHellebores · 20/03/2023 21:10

I hope to goodness it's a choice on one hand and on the other am horrified that late 60s is being whispered as ancient on this thread.

DH and I are nearly 62 and 63 respectively. We both still work full-time and have interests. Opera, theatre, gardening, our home in France, books. We are starting Mrs Dalloway next week and planning a walk through her London haunts in a week or two.

I visited mother and step yesterday. 86 and 78 respectively. Both have had their cataracts done in the last five years and rave about it. Mother still drives, step plays golf, off 4, three times a week. Step was gardening when we arrived and has started "growing" bonsai trees as an extra interest. They played zoom.bridge throughout covid and mother had zoom coffee mornings - they all delivered cake to each other on the designated morning. MIL struggled more in covid but was widowed 15 years ago and never so sociable. She has Parkinson's but is still quite nimble.

Providing the body is willing age is a state of mind. I really hope our DC (28 and 24) don't think of us as decrepit.


Abracadabra12345 · 20/03/2023 21:29

My DH is 72 and struggles because his diary is so full, with voluntary work, theatre and friendships being some of those commitments. During lockdown, he became a grumpy, inactive old man. He’s much happier and pleasant to be around when he is engaged with Life.

I can’t help but feel sorry for your MIL. Why is it her job to get him out and engaged with her social engagements? It must be really hard for her so I can see why your DH is concerned about his lovely mum. You are both (OP and your DH) clearly great people.

There’s no doubt that retirement is a big change of lifestyle and if you don’t have hobbies or friendships outside of work, or a curiosity about life and places, then of course it’s going to be a huge vacuum.

I agree with pps about medical checks and that the eye surgery will hopefully give him a boost of confidence. I assume that this has stopped him from being able to drive and thus be independent?


MereDintofPandiculation · 21/03/2023 08:36

"growing" bonsai trees They do grow, you know! Else why would they need pruning every year?


utopian99 · 21/03/2023 11:06

Abracadabra12345 - in answer about driving, not as much as it should. We were with them the other day and he wanted to get into the driver's seat to take them home. There were some (hopefully subtle) frantic negotiations and MIL took over the driving, but this is a serious issue at the moment. I do totally get how it would feel horrible losing that independence, but we're both worried about a genuine accident happening. It's a horrible catch 22 as what is physically safer is also paradoxically more likely to make him feel worse about things.

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