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Scared about parents increasingly erratic behaviour

  • 21-01-2021 2:08pm
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭

    Hello everybody
    Posting here as I am hoping to get some advice, because at the moment I am at a loss as to where to turn, and things seem to be getting worse and worse.

    The story is that I live with my elderly father and one other family member. My fathers family have a history of dementia and alzheimers with most of his siblings suffering from it, or already passed away from it. In recent years, his memory has become bad, but he laughs it off if he cant remember a word or place, which I can fully understand. At the time, I began to look into signs of dementia. In more recent times, he has began to forget more and more, and has started making up words making conversation with him really difficult. I have been thinking that some of this is a ploy for attention, as he is a hypochondriac and always has been (90% of his conversations involve him talking about his illnesses and how unfortunate he is, and the hospitals are all out to get him), and when he sees the frustration in me while trying to have a conversation, he smirks and laughs at me. He has now began to accuse my other family member of theft, and to make it worse its theft of the most meaningless things. Some chips from the freezer, used personal grooming products, all stuff that is worth nothing. Everything came to a head recently when he physically assaulted the other person in the house having accused them of theft, and this kicked off a really uncomfortable time. This was a few weeks ago and I thought that things had calmed down a bit, until today he rang me to say that somebody had broken into his room and opened his window, as spite, because they wanted him to be cold. I should note that he locks his door, but is convinced the other family member got a key made in order to steal his stuff. This has happened before where he has accused of theft, then the item turns up and he makes up mad excuses to excuse his own behaviour. When it happens again and I tell him, what about the thing that went missing three weeks ago that you found again, he outright denies it ever happened.

    We are at the point where he has is padlocking furniture shut (one of our dining room cupboards has 5 padlocks on it because he thinks the other household member can easily break through 4). Every time he mislays something, I cower in fear that the accusations are going to start and a massive row is going to start again. I spoke in confidence to a family member abroad who went through this with her own father, and she immediately went behind my back to my dad and told him that she is an expert is these conditions (she is not) and that in her expert opinion his mind is sharp as a tack, and he will never ever suffer from dementia. In his mind, that’s it settled, no further conversation will be entertained. This was a stupid thing to do because now my father outright refuses to see a doctor about these issues and is accusing me of siding against him. I have shown him articles stating that these symptoms are those of possible issues with his memory, but the conversation leads to him getting angry and telling me to f off.

    The effects on the family are terrible, the other family member is suffering from terrible depression and sometimes stays in bed for weeks. Its getting me down too, to the point where I don’t even want to be in the house anymore, so during the week after work, I just go straight to bed, and at the weekend, I spend every waking hour just walking around the streets until bed time. My father lives totally free of charge with us, which of course is great, but now has started saying that he is banning the other person from certain rooms in the house that me and my sibling pay for, that he will get him thrown out and destroy the house. Me and the other family member pay a lot every month to keep the house going, and I don’t think I can keep going like this, as my life is a misery at home. I cant have guests over as he leaves threatening notes hidden around the house, such as a note on the fridge saying “If you touch my f*cking stuff I will kill you” or “stay the f*ck out of my bathroom” in the downstairs guest toilet, as well as the padlocks on furniture and locked doors, he has also wrapped his chair in plastic, as he is convinced bugs live in it (he thinks the other family member put them there) and he does this to avoid them biting him. He also believes that at night, insects come up through our solid wood floors and that this is somehow the other persons fault too.

    He has a history of alcohol abuse, and has been an alcoholic since I can remember. He stands outside our bedroom doors at 2 in the morning shouting how we are nothing but c*nts and he is going to get us. He slams doors to wake us at around 2 or 3 in the morning. I sleep with door locked. He takes toilet rolls from the bathrooms and locks them away saying they are his, and nobody else can use them, and he spends any time at home looking at the TV and hurling horrible racist and sexist abuse at complete strangers on the TV. For example, The Chase might be on, and he will take a dislike to a contestant, and start saying things like, She is a horrible c*nt, and I hope she loses and gets killed on the way home. Vicious nasty things.

    I know the other family member is at breaking point, and Im not far off, as we have absolutely no quality of life, especially being stuck in lockdown, I cant get away from this. I’ve been working since 7am this morning and when I finish at 6, I will just go to bed to get the day over. I know that depression is creeping up on me too now and I feel physically sick from this most days. I have considered just parking up somewhere and sleeping in my car, but its too cold for that now. Even though I have asked him to consider talking to the doctor, he absolutely refuses, and I know he tells lies to his GP (he told the GP he hasn’t drank in over 20 years despite being an alcoholic). If I cannot get him to talk to the doctor, what can I do? I’ve no experience of dealing with this, and sometimes my frustration boils over. Rather than having a row with him, I just walk away and either go to bed or go out and walk the streets. Are there any groups or assistance that anybody can recommend that I can get in touch with who can offer some guidance? I don’t think I can continue to pay 1500 euro a month for a house that I cannot live in, but I also cannot afford to move out. I asked him recently if he would rather we sold the house and broke up, meaning everything I’ve worked the past 20 years for would be lost, he outright told me he doesn’t care about the house, and he doesn’t care what happens to me afterwards. I should note that this is after me taking care of him for decades, and my sick mum for decades before that until she died a number of years ago.

    Sorry for the long post, but I am desperate and I really don’t know what to do. I feel like I am going to snap. I’ve already been prescribed anti depressants from the doc (which I hate being on) back in summer when things got to this level and I felt like I was losing control. Every conversation is a struggle, every moment in my own home is tense, and even the sight of the curtains being moved, or a pen being perceived to be at a different angle, can immediately explode into vicious name calling and as of late, physical violence. I really don’t know what to do. I have always been a good child to him and do absolutely everything for him, so its not that he and I have a bad history. It seems he doesn’t give a damn what anybody has ever done for him though. I’m scared and lost and cant see any way out of this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,804 ✭✭✭tea and coffee

    He really needs to go to the doctor. It could be dementia (which can have a delusions element) or psychosis brought on from his alcoholism. Either way, he needs medical help. Neither alcoholics nor dementia patients want to admit there is a problem so I understand that is going to be extremely difficult.
    Is there anyone at all he will listen to?

    Also, maybe link in with the public health nurse. You shouldn't have to carry this burden alone. You are not obliged to care for him

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,647 Mod ✭✭✭✭Faith

    I believe you can call his GP yourself to express your concerns. The GP can’t give out any information, but they can receive it. I’d almost copy and paste your post into a letter and send it to the GP by registered post so you know they’ve received it.

    Your father is clearly deeply unwell and is a danger to himself and others. The only other thing I can think of is calling the guards when he starts to get abusive. The public health nurse may also be able to help, but I’m less sure about their role and remit.

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    Thanks Tea and Coffee.
    The only person he would listen to is the distant family member, which is why I asked her advice as she went through the same thing. I don't know why she went behind my back and said that to my dad, but anytime I try to suggest it, he gets angry, tells me that she is an expert and as far as she is concerned, he is perfectly healthy :(
    I spoke to her in complete confidence, and she ended up causing more trouble.

    He wont even take his doctors advice seriously, as he has started not taking his meds, saying the doctor was wrong and he shouldn't be on them. He has come off some meds three times now, each time making him sick, and forgetting that he did the exact same thing a few weeks previous.

  • Registered Users Posts: 237 ✭✭Immaculata

    I'm really sorry you and your sibling are going through this appalling situation.

    It seems pretty clear from the verbal and physical abuse, the threats, the paranoia, etc, that your father is, to say the least, not a well man. He clearly needs medical attention.

    I'd suggest you call the Alzheimer's Society helpline on 1800 341 341. Their website is at Talk it over with them, preferably from somewhere outside your house, like your car. They may have better suggestions.

    But if they don't - what I would do is copy and paste your post into a letter, make an appointment with your dad's GP, bring the letter, and talk it over with him or her. Or at least get the letter to the GP as another poster suggested above. I imagine that you'd suggest that you make a further appointment with the GP, and then get your father to that appointment by hook or by crook. I hate to suggest anything other than complete openness and honesty, but it might be more efficient in this situation to imply to your father that your sibling is 'the problem' and that it would be good for you and your dad to discuss 'the problem' with the doctor. This might be enough to get your dad into the GP's office. I've known people dealing with difficult active alcoholics even get a drink or two into that person, or at least approach them when they're not totally sober, in order to get them to agree to go and see a doctor. I know that's a bit underhand, but maybe it's a case of necessity.

    Another approach is to call the guards at the first sign of trouble. If they arrest him, he'll need checking over by a doctor, and that's another way to get him in a room with a medical professional.

    If you and your sibling own the house, and your father has no legal claim on it, you could talk to your local council's homeless outreach officer and see if there's any help there with your father. Because eventually your father's going to end up homeless if he keeps on going the way he is.

    Your father must be at the bottom of things, terrified and miserable. Although you and your sibling can expect a rough time while you get him into treatment, in the long run, you're doing him a favour.

    I think first off, call matters over privately with your sibling. Call the Alzheimer's Society. Contact the GP and go from there.

    Wishing you all the best with this horrible situation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 464 ✭✭Sonic the Shaghog

    Unfortunately sounds like my dad when he was alive.

    Shouting at 3am, telling lads he's going to get them, ye are all ***** etc my God it's bringing it all back.

    I'm still feeling the effects after years of it. Still need anti depressants and anti anxiety to feel normal.

    Interestingly, he didn't have Alzheimer's but it was from years of drinking made him a complete dither head. He wouldn't remember if you called to you him a few hours later.

    Is his name on the lease? I'd either be throwing him out or moving out assuming you'd need his concent to sell cause I'll guarantee he most definitely will care of reality hits.

    He's just used to walking all over you now and is 100% confident you'll never leave and are all talk.

    At €1500 a month you'd rent a nice apartment in Dublin nevermind other places, you'd rent a room in a nice house for 700/800 nevermind if you are outside Dublin.

    Maybe you and the other family member can rent together and leave him to it?

    Honestly, my mam, sister and me are all still on pills years later after all that. Save yourself if you can, before it's too late and you are damaged forever.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭qwerty13

    Did you speak directly to the relative that he trusts? Like do you know directly from this person what they said? Or just from your Dad?

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    Thanks for the advice everybody. Its heartening to read that others have gotten through this kind of thing, and I will get in touch with Alzheimers Ireland to see what they think.
    Unfortunately sounds like my dad when he was alive.

    He's just used to walking all over you now and is 100% confident you'll never leave and are all talk.

    Really sorry you went through this too, it is a horrible situation and I really dont want to end up on meds because of this, as I've never been a medication kind of person. And you are right, walking all over us is the thing. In one recent conversation, he told me outright that I owe him, because he brought us up and made us what we are. In truth, my entire life he was an unemployed alcoholic who never did a tap,never worked, never did anything for the kids and made my mums life misery with mental and verbal abuse. One of my earliest memories as a child was seeing him come home drunk, take their wedding photo from the wall and rip it up in front of her. While my mum worked hard seven days a week in touch physical labour jobs and did everything for her kids. She died young after a very hard life and after giving everything she had to her family.

    qwerty13 wrote: »
    Did you speak directly to the relative that he trusts? Like do you know directly from this person what they said? Or just from your Dad?

    Thanks Qwerty13. I didn't speak to her as she doesn't take my calls, but i did ask her over private message on social media why she said that. She told me that as far as she is concerned, my father is perfect and she wouldn't say anything to the contrary to "suit my agenda". I didn't have an agenda and only asked her thoughts because she went through a similar thing with his brother, who was also an alcoholic, physically abusive to his whole family his whole life and a not very nice person. I had thought i would get some semblance of help and maybe guidance from her, but she did the exact opposite and made things worse.

    She knows too that I have no agenda, as I looked my terminally ill mum since I was 15 years old because my dad wasn't bothered, and that I have spent every day since she died looking after my dad, so I have no idea why she would think i have an agenda. Perhaps its because we are not close to his side of the family (They are all big drinkers, and me and my siblings all take after my mum, who would much rather the beach and an ice cream over the pub any day) and none of us are involved in the family circle jerk they all have on facebook where they frequently tag each other as being "best cousin / brother / niece in the universe and I love you this much" I'm not on Facebook so don't partake and I think maybe she has a hump about that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,021 ✭✭✭Daisy78

    At this stage, for your own mental health would you not consider moving out and finding your own place? I’m not sure what long term objective is here but I’m assuming that you would hope to inherit the family home along with the other family member? It sounds like you have put a lot of work into it but honestly is it worth all the mental anguish you are currently going through? If I was in your situation my first priority would be to find a safe space for myself (mentally as well as physically). You simply can’t manage this situation in the current circumstances even if you want to do right by your father. Obviously finding somewhere to rent is difficult to do at the moment but I’d certainly be putting a plan in place to look for somewhere once restrictions have lifted.

    Leaving that aside unless your father admits he has health issues it is going to be very difficult to get him treatment unless he gives consent , I would imagine. What was your relationship with him like in his younger years? Was there always a nasty side to him or has this become an issue with increasing age? I would imagine that it’s difficult to see him like this if you were previously close. I understand that you don’t want to abandon him or your other family member but I cannot see how anyone will benefit from you remaining in that house.