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Death in Family. Help and Advise greatly appreciated.

  • 03-01-2022 2:30pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭

    This is a slightly complicated story so I'll try to keep this as simple as possible. I'd be very grateful for any help.

    My cousin died on New Years day. (my father and his father are brothers). <Mod Snip: Potentially identifying information>

    The issue isn't with his death, as such, but with his immediate family circumstances. (This may change as time goes on)

    <Mod Snip: Potentially identifying information> His parents are in their 80's. To be honest,as families, we don't really keep in contact as well as we could. Consequently, we don't know or understand their circumstances as well as we might. However, we recently became aware of the fact that his mother is suffering from Alzheimers and this is at a quite advanced stage. We do not know for sure how she is being cared for and this is part of the reason that we need any help or advise.

    Here's the issue as we are aware of it at the moment. My Father went to his Brothers house (i.e my father and cousins father) yesterday morning to offer his condolences and offer any help that he could. There were a number of red flags that were raised as a result of this visit.

    First red flag was that the fact that my father was not invited into the house at any point and the time they spent together was outside, partly in my father's car and in other areas surrounding the house. The reason given for this by my uncle (and I know this may sound somewhat implausible) was that my uncle owns an alsatian that is out of control and to enter the house may cause distress to all concerned.

    The second red flag, and the more concerning issue, is that nobody knows exactly what his wifes situation is as nobody has seen her or heard from her in a while. My dad spoke with a neighbour briefly but didnt really gain any meaningful info or insight during the time that they chatted. Nobody has seen her recently. Nobody has chatted to her. Given her situation (and the surrounding circumstances) we have become concerned about her wellbeing. As you may imagine, we all have put forward all sorts of potential ideas, theories and explanations for what may have happened.

    To summarise, my cousin passed away on new years day. As a result of his death, we have become aware of a concerning situation surrounding his mothers circumstances and that she may be in trouble. We want to try to find out what exactly we should do and what the best course od action is.

    I would very much appreciate any information or advice.

    Post edited by Big Bag of Chips on



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,565 ✭✭✭Princess Calla

    Contact the public health nurse or their gp if known.

    You and your dad could also try "popping" around unexpectedly....I know with covid etc....but bring groceries, milk bread etc. make it look like you are trying to help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    Part of the problem is that my father went out there yesterday and wasn't allowed into the house.

    Another issue I've come across recently (surrounding my own mothers health) is that GP's tend to be very coy in discussing patient circumstances with third parties.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,693 ✭✭✭StupidLikeAFox

    Are you jumping the gun on this on a bit? You haven't kept in contact with the family, but based on one visit and one conversation with a neighbour you are jumping to all sorts of conclusions?

    Either way, you have a reason to make calls to the house now and get back in contact with the family, there will be a funeral and the aftermath where you can offer support. Basically you can increase contact and scope out the situation around this time and have a legitimate reason for doing so. You/your father or family members could reasonably say they want to see your aunt around this time to pass on condolences and go from there.

    I presume your father asked about his brothers wife at some stage during the visit? What sort of an answer did he get?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,565 ✭✭✭Princess Calla

    No I understood the not being invited in, but that was a once off, if it happens a second/third time it increases your validation for being concerned.

    You don't need to discuss your aunt's medical history with the Dr just raise it with them that you are concerned about their welfare and could a "wellness check" be arranged.

    Maybe contact Aware in the meantime they might also give you good advice.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I’m in rude good health, thankfully. I would NOT allow anyone inside the door at the moment, apart from my children and their partners and that’s with us all wearing masks and keeping visit very short.

    Having said that, if you’re really concerned, go to the Gardai and get them tip-off investigate.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,830 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    are they religious? not sure if it could be worth contacting the local parish priest (in this case he may have seen the mother at mass and knows she may be OK, or could use the excuse of the bereavement to call around to check in)

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,522 ✭✭✭Deeec

    Your uncle has suffered a great shock. Call your uncle to offer your help and support instead of jumping to conclusions. I would assume your aunt is already known to the public health nurse and is under their care already. The fact he didn't invite your father in means nothing.

    Post edited by Big Bag of Chips on

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    It's not the not being invited in that's the issue. Not really. It's the circumstances surrounding were bizarre. Ig he had just said covid then nobody would have said a word but there were things (that I can't really mention in detail here) that gave further cause for concern.

    I'll say that there were hygiene issues that were not covid related. I should leave it there but it gave us cause for concern.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    I understand that we may be jumping to incorrect conclusions here and I accept that criticism. I think the state of the house is definitely an issue though. For what reason god only knows.

    However, our primary concern is that we try to establish what exactly is going on so that we can figure out what to do next.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    I understand that everyone handles bad news in their own way and nobody knows what their reaction will be until it happens but this wasn't acting "out of character".

    We all know what acting out of character is and I think you'll agree that there is a line between this and strangeness. This was leaning more towards strangeness.

    Now, our hope here is that we are all overreacting and there is no real cause for concern. But for peace of mind, if nothing else, we've decided that it would be better to be safe rather than sorry. We just need to be pointed in th eright direction.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,410 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    No GP will discuss their patient with anyone without the patients permission.

    OP, please don’t take this the wrong way but I think now is not the right time and I think if you and your family push this issue right now you risk causing a huge family rift at a time when your uncle really doesn’t need it.

    Surely you or your dad knows someone from your aunt’s side. Surely making contact with them at this time asking if there’s anything you can do to help, and asking how your aunt is would be preferable than adding further upset to your uncle. I just think it very strange that obviously having little or no contact with your family you and your dad are now thinking of using the time of your cousin’s funeral to decide something is not right within their family.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,536 ✭✭✭corks finest

    If your dads really worried contact tbe local clergy as tbe majority of older folk are tied into the church some way( priest delivering host etc)

    if no joy have a word with the local Garda sergeant he generally has a grasp of what’s going on locally

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,757 ✭✭✭Odelay

    If his mother has Alzheimer's, introducing new to her people can cause tremendous distress, depending on the stage she is at. Especially after losing her son.

    You'll have plenty of opportunity to meet with some of the family over the next few months. Use this time wisely to understand the situation, you have two ears, one mouth, use them in that ratio.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    But if you look at this from the other angle. As I've said earlier, my uncle appears incapable of taking care of himself. That's based on what we have seen and heard in the last couple of days.If you believe this to be true wouldn't it be that case that he is not capable of taking care of an alzheimers sufferer without outside help. The truth is that we do not know what the story is and we simply want to find out before doing anything further. If we are wrong, then so be it bit the alternative is to sit back and do nothing which is simply not an option.

    I undertsnad that tere is a certain risk involved involved and I apprecite your concern but the alternative is to do nothing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    We don;t necessarily need to see her. We just need to establish if she is receiving the care that she requires. That will do for the time being.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,410 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Your uncle’s son died 2 days ago. Of course the man appears to be incapable of looking after himself at the moment. He probably can’t string a coherent thought together. My point is you and your dad are jumping to all sorts of conclusions.

    Your dad needs to reconnect with his brother. I’m sure he has known about his sister-in-law’s Alzheimer’s for a long while now. But he has not kept in touch with his brother to see what sort of support he needs, how severe her condition has deteriorated. You don’t even know if the woman is in the house or not. They will have lots of visitors to the house over the coming days. Maybe people who know more about the situation than you and your dad.

    Your best option, I think, is making contact with someone closer to the situation. There will always be someone keeping an eye. Your dad doesn’t know, and spoke to a neighbour who might not be too close to your uncle either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,402 ✭✭✭McGinniesta

    When I say incapable of looking after himself. I don;t mean someone who is in shock.

    I'm talking weight loss, poor hygiene (amongst others). We're not jumping to these conclusions lightly

  • Administrators Posts: 13,410 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Talk to other family members. People who are in more contact with him than your dad. In fact, I’d suggest your dad does this rather than you. If he’s worried about his brother he now needs to step up and offer support. But don’t offer unless he’s in a position to follow through.

    Edit: Also don’t underestimate the physical effects of bereavement on a person. My brother in law died suddenly last year. My in-laws, his parents, aged about 20 years overnight.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,522 ✭✭✭Deeec

    OP I think you should edit or delete your original post as your uncle will be easily identifiable from the information you have provided.

    As someone else said above things will become clear over the next few days if there are problems or not. In the meantime your Uncle needs alot of support - a huge shock like this is very hard for an elderly person to deal with. The best thing you can do is make contact with him - offer to help to arrange the funeral, do shopping, offer to care for your aunt, do what ever it takes to help this poor old man out. Posting on a public forum is definitely not going to help in any way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,192 ✭✭✭Tork

    OP, that original post of yours needs serious editing. You've all but provided an eircode for your uncle's house.

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

    Were there any other kids, talk to them. Or was your cousin an only child. Otherwise talk to the public health nurse, they deal with this stuff all the time. If they are going to head help you will need the public health nurse involved.

    After that start by trying to earn their trust so that they will accept help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 461 ✭✭Pistachio19

    I assume by now the funeral has taken place. Was your aunt there? I would contact the local phn and voice your concerns. Maybe they can visit your uncle and aunt to see how things are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭Skibunny77

    OP, you are right to be concerned. I would advise you to Google and contact your local adult safeguarding & protection social worker. They do this every day and can arrange a check in with your aunt. They are experienced in reviewing concerns about people with vulnerabilities particularly in a crisis situation ie loss of a key support. If your aunt has care needs and is dependent on others for care, please do not ignore your concerns.

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

    It sounds like this family already were struggling under the weight of a serious illness as it was and it compounded by a sudden shock bereavement at a typically difficult time of year and everyone landing on the doorstep within hours when the've barely begun to get their heads around it. You've said yourself that you didn't see the house inside, that you aren't in touch with them all that much and you don't know the day to day set up they have so really all you can do without overstepping is to alert professional services that you think could help them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,661 ✭✭✭whippet

    dementia / alzimers are horrid conditions - I know as my mother is suffering and has been for a good few years.

    How people react and deal with it can be baffling to most and of course there is alway the real possibility that there isn't proper care being given.

    In my mothers case - my dad tried his best to keep her at home, the lengths he went to to cover the nature of her illness and in some cases almost bald face lies as to how they were coping. My siblings all live far away and I was left holding the can with keeping an eye on them. I was still over an hours drive away and depended on neighbours to help me.

    What I realised was that my dad would know when I was going to arrive and would have made it look like everything was rosy and good .. but his health was deteriorating and of course he tried to hide that from me and used my mam's cognitive disability to 'backup' his version of what was going on. As in have her talk about how they were just back from walking the dog and needed a rest ... it didn't take long for me to realise this was nonsense and the reality was that he just didn't want to be the one to say that my mam needed full time residential care.

    eventually I had to just make the decision to move my mam in to a nursing home - it was a painful decision but the right one. My dad passed away a few weeks later - I genuinely think that he managed to stay alive long enough to make sure my mam was being cared for and he didn't have responsibility for it.

    In the time that this was all going on personal hygiene, the house deteriorated ... they just were not capable of keeping on top of it and didn't want to ask for help. When I did offer help I was told there was no need and the offer was always rejected - I just did what I could to make sure they were comfortable.

    Elderly people can have very different ways of doing stuff ... what I found from my mam and dad was that they wanted to be in their house, independent at all costs ....

    As for advice - a doctor will not share any information with you - so don't even bother going down that route. You could make a call to the public health nurse .. but they won't share any info with you either. I would suggest being friendly and calling over to offer help as much as possible

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,344 ✭✭✭Thoie

    While people are quite rightly saying that the GP/PHN won't share any details with you, you can still call them and express your concerns. The only response they can give is "thanks for your call, we'll make a note of that/look into it". They won't be able to call you back or follow up with you, but they can do their own checks. You can let them know that you and your family are available to provide support (and specify what kind of support - physical/financial/phone calls). When doing the check in with your uncle, they can lead the conversation around to "maybe your extended family could help out" if they think it appropriate.

    Depending on how advanced the Alzheimers is, it's possible that she's not really aware of the death, and he didn't want people coming in and mentioning it. If that's the case, it's very hard on him - he could be essentially going through his grief alone, while trying to keep things "routine" for his wife.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,661 ✭✭✭whippet

    that is a very good point - when my dad died we didn't say anything to our mam (based on advise from her doc and the nursing home) ... it was really difficult as we went to visit her together just after he died and it felt like we were keeping stuff from her .. but in hindsight it was definitely the right thing to do

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,709 ✭✭✭sporina

    post deleted