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Elderly parents

Recently bereaved mother seeking solace in alcohol

39 replies

desperatelyseekingwisdom · 20/09/2023 16:30

Hello all, this is my first ever post and I would be so grateful for any advice as I feel completely lost. I lost my absolutely beloved Dad last month, and my Mum is in very ill health and over the last few years has sought solace in alcohol. Now Dad is gone, and I feel a responsibility towards her. Due to a recent hospital stay she had been required through necessity to reduce her alcohol consumption. Upon returning home I had a heart-to-heart conversation with her and asked her to keep control of her alcohol consumption so that I could work with her to build her independence/mobility back up. She said she would try. I just noticed her weekly alcohol online order contained 9 bottles of red wine and two bottles of gin. What do I do?!

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desperatelyseekingwisdom · 22/09/2023 19:29

Thanks @Loopytiles for your perspective. May I ask what updating the GP would involve - would I write a letter describing the quantities of alcohol being ordered and the recent bereavement, and could I designate it as private? Would Mum be notified of me contacting her GP? I presume the GP would not be able to liaise with me but can accept incoming information. Apologies for the silly questions!

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HoraceGoesBonkers · 24/09/2023 16:32

You can tell the GP she's drinking too much and the GP won't tell your mum you've been in touch.

However, it seems really likely that your mum will be on medication that means she will already get regular blood tests, including liver function.

The GP can't stop your mum drinking either and bear in mind it's unlikely she's going to tell you if the GP has already raised concerns.

I'd also very much emphasise that there is no "make or break" opportunity for you to sort out. Your mum's on a trajectory and will have good days and bad days. It's more realistic to accept that your job is essentially to balance up trying to give her some good days vs the impact on you and your kids. Sadly, nobody can fix her.

desperatelyseekingwisdom · 25/09/2023 10:44

Thank you @HoraceGoesBonkers , that’s a helpful summary of the big picture. It’s very hard to resign myself to this situation not being fixable. But the collective wisdom on here is pointing at this. It’s all very sad and feels like a double loss, that I have effectively lost both parents completely 😰

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HoraceGoesBonkers · 25/09/2023 10:59

@desperatelyseekingwisdom It's brutal and I feel for you, I do. I've been there with an alcoholic relative who died a few years back, and my mum is very hard to deal with. However, your kids are the most important people here. They've at a stage where they need you to help open up the world to them, please don't focus on your mum's world closing.

CollagenQueen · 25/09/2023 16:51

In the nicest way possible, why do you want to limit her drinking now? She's in her last years, she misses your Dad and is a bit lonely. What does it matter if she looks forward to opening a bottle (or two) of wine in the evening? It's probably the highlight of her day. Stopping now won't magically add 10 good quality years on to her life span. I honestly would just let her be.

I am speaking from experience. My Dad (almost 82) has been an alcoholic my whole life. After my Mum died, he seemed to be drinking more than ever. But it seemed to be his main source of enjoyment (that and food), so my sister and I just let him be. Bizarrely, after his last very scary stint in hospital, he has finally decided to not drink any more, after drinking daily for the past 50 years or so. Go figure!

FormerlyPathologicallyHappy · 25/09/2023 19:50

I’d leave her to it, a copd death isn’t nice. It’s not like she has 40 years of good health to look forward to.

desperatelyseekingwisdom · 25/09/2023 21:51

Thanks @CollagenQueen , that’s an interesting situation about your Dad. These elderly parents still have some tricks up their sleeve! Very good luck to him xx

In terms of why I was hoping to limit Mum’s alcohol intake… it’s an interesting question and making me stop and think. I suppose it’s because of the falls, the ill health she was in prior to her last admission to hospital, and the alcoholic fog she was under (drinking through the night due to waking in the night with health anxiety, sleeping until lunchtime and being very grumpy upon waking). I guess I was also worried it would be more difficult to help her manage things and keep her independence. Additionally, I suppose I’m (selfishly?) not wanting her to die as an alcoholic “on my watch”. She used to ask me to buy her alcohol in secret out of Dad’s earshot and it really used to upset me. I feel the alcoholism has driven a wedge between us prior to Dad’s death. So I have some baggage coming into this situation I suppose. You have given me food for thought though.

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Loopytiles · 26/09/2023 07:41

It’s not ‘on your watch’. Suggest seeking help for yourself and considering, with your siblings, options for when she’s unable to care for herself.

CollagenQueen · 26/09/2023 07:48

I think you just have to let her be. She's 79. There's no turning this around now and becoming some virtue of health, and living for another 20 years, is there?

Let her enjoy what time she has left. My own Mum died at 72, my DH's Mum even younger.

I'd try not to make her feel guilty, or a fool either. She's earned her stripes. She really does deserve to live out her final days just however she likes, without judgement. If you can't say "fuck it" at 79, when can you?

desperatelyseekingwisdom · 27/09/2023 09:37

Thanks everyone for your perspectives, I can already see that to have posted here is one of the most important and valuable things I have ever done. Over the last few weeks I have never felt so lost, and your respectful advice and views are helping me to get in a healthy headspace for how to look forward into the future. I’m forever indebted to each of you for going to the trouble to reply.

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funnelfan · 27/09/2023 18:11

i hope you’re familiar with the refrain for family and friends of alcoholics:

I didn’t cause this
I can’t control this
I can’t fix this

It’s hard enough to accept you have a problem and seek professional help when you’re younger, but when you’re elderly and bereaved and probably have other underlying health issues? It’s unlikely.

I’m so very sorry this is bubbling up when you’ve just lost your dad, I would seek help for yourself to come to term with the situation and be ready to help your mum if she asks for it. Wishing you strength.

WishIWasWise · 03/10/2023 14:51

You sound like a good daughter. She’s lucky she has you.

confusedlots · 03/10/2023 14:56

She needs counselling to understand the underlying reasons she is drinking, maybe bereavement counselling if you think that's the main reason.

It is very difficult to address this level of drinking without outside support. There are loads of online communities now if that's something you think she'd be able to access, but first of all I'd help her get counselling arranged

HermioneWeasley · 03/10/2023 15:05

I was a problem drinker, on my way to becoming an alcoholic, from a family of alcoholics. I don’t drink at all now and that’s fine.

but you’d better bet that if I’m nearing 80, with a life limiting illness and my beloved spouse has died I will absolutely hit the bottle and drink myself to death.

as others have said, why do you want her to give up? It’s not like she’s suddenly going to have an amazingly healthy long life. Let her be.

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