Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact [email protected]

bad news to a depressed individual: how?

  • 04-02-2021 12:15pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭


    Good folks at boards.ie,

    I am a next door neighbour to a old (84) person living alone who has rapidly deteriorated in the past year. He is just about able to walk, but has been getting thinner and weaker. His mind is pretty good though, but this is becoming a disadvantage because he's a little bit stubborn (took him a few weeks to let me take his dustbins out for him .. which was literally a trivial task for me).

    My general impression is that his mind is having trouble accepting his very low state of health.

    He does not appear to have friends or family ... but finally he gave me a name of his next of kin "just in case", a sister, although he admitted they were estranged.

    I look her up, first hit is RIP.ie: she passed away in 2012. I think this is terrible news ... may I ask you all if I should tell him? Of course he is already depressed because his health is so bad, so it could be dangerous to give him the truth.

    But then again, his mind is not so bad ... he will ask me about my enquiry ...

    OK, just by writing this down, things have become clearer (not really easier though). What I will do is divert him when he asks me so that I don't have to answer, and finally when he has me cornered and perhaps we're not talkign about his state of health (always the topic of conversation) I'll ask him to sit down and tell him.

    Cheers.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 852 ✭✭✭radiotrickster


    stabeek wrote: »
    He does not appear to have friends or family ... but finally he gave me a name of his next of kin "just in case", a sister, although he admitted they were estranged.

    I look her up, first hit is RIP.ie: she passed away in 2012. I think this is terrible news ... may I ask you all if I should tell him? Of course he is already depressed because his health is so bad, so it could be dangerous to give him the truth.

    But then again, his mind is not so bad ... he will ask me about my enquiry ...

    So did he ask you to look up the sister, or did he give you the information in case something happened to him?

    If he asked you to look for her, then it’s only fair you tell him.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,022 Mod ✭✭✭✭wiggle16


    I think you would be doing the right thing by biting the bullet and telling him. I really don't envy you in that situtation but I don't see any other option. I would do it sooner rather than later - at that age people have plenty of time to ruminate and he may well be thinking about his sister more often now that he's brought her up. Again I really don't envy you but I think it would be better to do it sooner rather than try to delay it.

    Are you certain it's definitely his sister? Large familes were much more common in that generation and it wouldn't be uncommon for a person to have an aunt, for example, with the same name and not a huge difference in age between them, and the sister could well have cared for such a relative in their own home before their death. Just something to keep in mind and double check before telling him I suppose.

    It would be a big coincidence obviously though, and the person you found is almost certainly the sister. Maybe have a print out of the RIP article to hand when you tell him.

    I would consider encouraging him to contact ALONE - having an elderly neighbour dependent on you is difficult, I know, and it only gets more difficult as time goes by, as much as you want to help.

    Fair play to you in general. There's too many elderly people out there who have no one at all.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,530 ✭✭✭Car99


    I'm not sure what he would gain by knowing unless he asks again I would not be inclined to give him information which will definitely not improve his mood or situation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,118 ✭✭✭Idle Passerby


    This is a bit confusing. Does "just in case" mean you were to contact her if he died, or was he asking you to contact her now? If he's waiting to hear if you got in touch with her you need to tell him, he's not a child.

    Personally I think he has a right to know. He might not care given they were estranged to the point he isn't aware she's been dead nearly a decade.


  • Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭stabeek


    Many thanks one and all for the contributions, helps me a good deal, especially if i consider your points:
    So did he ask you to look up the sister, or did he give you the information in case something happened to him?
    ANS: It start by him giving me the information "in case of an emergency", but I myself want to prepare myself for such a situation, so in fact I asked him whther I could look her up, and he said yes. So, yes, if his memory is OK, he'll will at some point want to know.

    NOTE: at this point, I've nearly discarded the "don't tell him" option.

    Car99: that;s pretty much what I'm coming around to, thanks.

    wiggle16: some excellent checks there. Means a bit of work, but will follow them. Just saw the ALONE website, could come in useful.

    @Idle Passerby: yes, your point further supports the telling him.

    My doubts are cleared, he will be told, I'll look out for a good moment. Thank you one and all!


  • Advertisement
  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite


    I would suggest asking him if he wants to you just find out her current whereabouts in case you do need to contact her urgently on his behalf. While she may not be here to help him, she may have had children now grown who would make decisions for him. edit - we cross posted.

    Or they may not want anything to do with him - it may very well be that the estrangement is for a very good reason he doesn't want you to know about.

    Does he have any social supports - a social worker, carer or a district nurse that visits him? if not it's worth looking into that for him.


  • Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭stabeek


    @Neyite: great, thanks! Just ringing the nurse right now!


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,930 ✭✭✭spaceHopper


    Based on the RIP notice you should know if she and family, contact one of them. If you are having trouble tracing them contact the funeral home that arranged the funeral they should have details.


  • Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭stabeek


    @spaceHopper. Yep. will do, thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 561 ✭✭✭Sonic the Shaghog


    Are you most definitely sure it's his sister that's dead? Cause I know in even many small rural places there's 2/3/4 people with the same names. RIP especially has led me astray before not as exact as some local radio death notices at times


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 141 ✭✭stabeek


    Are you most definitely sure it's his sister that's dead? Cause I know in even many small rural places there's 2/3/4 people with the same names. RIP especially has led me astray before not as exact as some local radio death notices at times
    Thanks Sonic the Shaghog, wiggle16 brought that up also and I can tell you I've been hoping I was wrong all the time, but each time I got a bit of extra info, it only confirmed I had the right notice.As wiggle16 says, I will have a copy of the RIP.ie notice when I tell him. Thanks!


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,022 Mod ✭✭✭✭wiggle16


    I wouldnt contact the family - i know it's well intentioned but that's not your place and as Neyite said there may be good reasons why they are estranged from him or he from them. If you contact them, you're taking that out of his hands.

    I would definitely tell him, but don't contact family/funeral home etc unless he asks you to do so on his behalf after telling him about his sister.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,419 ✭✭✭antix80


    It start by him giving me the information "in case of an emergency",

    ...

    so in fact I asked him whther I could look her up

    I don't see why you felt the need to pry into the man's life. He's 84. Did you really think his sister would be doing cartwheels?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,351 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    antix80 wrote: »
    I don't see why you felt the need to pry into the man's life. He's 84. Did you really think his sister would be doing cartwheels?

    Pity to die alone, well done op for reaching out and being there.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,321 ✭✭✭Loveinapril


    antix80 wrote: »
    I don't see why you felt the need to pry into the man's life. He's 84. Did you really think his sister would be doing cartwheels?

    The man is elderly, in bad health, reduced mobility and appears isolated. Would it be better if the OP just ignored this man and left him to rot alone? The man is obviously aware that his age and health concerns means that his time is coming to an end at some point in the near future. Imagine how scared he must be to have had to give a NEIGHBOUR his next of kin info, instead of just having a family member or friend notice he could not be contacted and starr worrying.

    OP, you are really kind. Fair play to you for looking out for your neighbour but you should definitely get him support through the local public health nurse and Age Action service.


Advertisement