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My father, my mother, denial and guilt

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Old 05-31-2013, 06:44 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2013
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JsydFar HB User
My father, my mother, denial and guilt

Hi all.

My name is Jenn, I'm 27 and I am dealing with an increasingly scary situation with my elderly parents.

A little background.
My father is 90 and my mother is 70. They both live in NY while I am in LA. My mother has had various issues over the years from depression and OCD and hoarding to breast and bladder cancer. Recently she has been told she has a failing kidney and yet she is still working 60 hours a week at a high pressure job which she loves. Her mother suffered from Demntia and lived with us briefly when I was 13 but was moved to a facility where she passed 4 years later. My father has had healthy problems for most of his adult life. Heart problems, eye problems, bladder problems and so on. He also was a secretly heavy drinker even though most people including my mother could not tell.

Anyway, about 6 years ago I moved to NY for work and was staying with my parents. I became very aware that something just wasn't ok with my dad. My mom had been telling me for a few years that he was screwing up his finances and not paying bills and was getting more annoyed because he was getting more secretive. He was mixing up names when he would speak and would lie about stupid things ( which was normal for him) but it was happening more and more. He would get very irritated for no reason and lose his temper with my mom. I was in new york for 9 months and over that time things got even worse. What sent me over the edge and packing back to LA was He started losing his inhibitions and it was horrible for me to watch. One night he was watching porn at the loudest volume in the middle of the night and it woke me from sleep. I went crying to my mom to get her to stop it and she told me to go back to sleep and it was "normal". I was horrified. The next week, he left the stove on two nights in a row. I was beside myself.

I spoke with my mother and she just kept telling me "He's just getting older" "he's forgetful" "It's not that big of a deal". I couldn;t believe her attitude was so blase. But I was hardly 22 at the time, I was taught that I didn't know jack when it came to anything and nobody would listen to me. So I moved back to LA for work again and ignored my better judgement.

Over the past 6 years, things have nose dived. My mom would allow my dad to be left alone for 8-10 hours a day, letting him wander on the streets late at night and he would come home smelling of alcohol. She allowed him to continue to live as if nothing has changed even though he was now unable to unlock the front door and would forget to eat sometimes. He also flooded the apartment twice leaving the bath running. It destroyed the apartment below ours and it was thousands in damages. He wasn't always like this, he had good moments and bad moments, but being that I was in LA and my mother is the denial queen, I'm not really sure what went on when or what his behavior is actually like.

Fast forward to this past year, I've been receiving frantic phone calls from my dad looking for my mother. Even after explaining to him 8 or 9 times that she is at work and on the air ( live tv) he will frantically continue to call me and her and anyone else including the security desk at her work. He no longer walks the family dog and refuses to have more than a 1 minutes conversation on the phone saying he has to go run errands no matter when you call. My mother told me he almost got into a fist fight with the guy at the dry cleaners and she has no idea why. He has also been verbally lashing out at her, disappearing from the house for hours on end, losing everything he owns, cannot get dressed by himself, getting up at 3am and getting ready for his "appointments".

I have been begging and pleading with my mom to do something. She gives me excuses every time.

Then Tuesday happened. 1:30am my time, 4:30am NY time. I get a phone call from his cell phone. It didn;t wake me but when I saw it in the morning I knew it couldn;t be good. I called my mother. My father apparently had woken at 4am, my mother had fallen asleep on the couch which was usual for her. He picked up his cell phone and called the home phone 10 times in a row which my mother didn't answer ( I have NO idea why) he then called her cell phone 8 times which she did not answer but she was aware what was going on. He then called me and possibly many other people ( my mom hadn't checked him phone log). My heart sank and I told her we had to do something. Her response, "I called his doctor and we are getting him care."

So here I am, at 27, having been trying to shake my mother out of denial for years and for many reasons I don't know if I believe she is actually doing what needs to be done to help him. She carries the attitude of "it's none of my business" yet he's my father and her capacity of realizing a problem is beyond sketchy.

I'm frustrated with her because I feel like had she been more proactive we could have gotten better care earlier or started easing him in to a routine. She also is taking WAY too much stress on her already ailing self due to what I think is her on perceived guilt and I'm scared I'm going to lose BOTH of my parents during the process due to stress.

I have no other family to reach out to and I don't know how to help my family. I am returning to new york in two weeks to visit but my mother and I are already at each others throats over this. I'm so scared something is going to happen...I can feel it in my gut.

Does anyone have any advice?

I appreciate any help and for taking the time to read this. I don't know where else to turn.

Thank you

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ninamarc (06-01-2013)
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:57 AM   #2
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Re: My father, my mother, denial and guilt

Jenn, you are way too young to be saddled with all these problems! Clearly your dad needs supervision when your mother works. If they can afford it, he probably needs to be in assisted living-memory care. Of course NYC is the most expensive place in the country. Even though your mom is well past retirement age, she is probably working just to get away from her home situation as well as for the money. Your father needs to be evaluated by a neurologist and perhaps a neuropsychologist. There is a form of dementia caused by heavy drinking that can sometimes be helped by abstaining and vitamin therapy--at least it wouldn't get worse if that is the case. But he could also have one of the other forms of dementia--it sounds as if he is ready for long term care, but he definitely needs a professional evaluation.

Old 06-01-2013, 10:01 AM   #3
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Re: My father, my mother, denial and guilt

Is it possible to call a social worker and ask the person to come to the apt for an evaluation? Maybe she/he will see something wrong.
Mom is in denial and she is naive as well. Dad has some sort of dementia at the age of 90. He has been like this for a long while. Surprised that no neighbor complains. At this point only legal professional can interfere. Or if Dad is sick, call 911 for the ER and the hospital may evaluate him and tell Mom what is wrong with Dad.

Since Mom doesn't listen to you and they put the burden on you and blame you for interfering, you can only ask social service to help. Maybe the police or the ER but it depends on the situation. A social worker can come at any time and doesn't need to be urgent like the ER. Sounds like a doctor cannot help although you may try to call the doctor behind their back and tell the doctor/nurse about the whole thing.

Usually a neighbor should complain - bad movie sounds loud overnight. If he calls anyone overnight, the friends should sound the alarm and tell Mom what to do. It is time that people show more concern for Dad. Mom can refuse but the other people can call social service on Mom because she is not doing the right job as a caregiver.

Good luck,

Last edited by ninamarc; 06-02-2013 at 12:31 PM.

Old 06-01-2013, 07:22 PM   #4
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Re: My father, my mother, denial and guilt

Jenn, you are right that something needs to be done. It is not that unusual for a person to bury their head in the sand and ignore a situation as your Mom is doing. It seems easier than dealing with the problem but it only makes things worse. Yes, it would have been better to do something earlier, but now is as good a time as any. You need to call New York State's Protective Services for Adults program at 1-800-342-3009 and press option 6. They can send somebody out to check out the situation and get your Dad the help he needs. The state advocates will then see that your Dad gets the help he needs. It's a major step, but the only thing you can do from where you are with your Mom not paying attention to the situation.

Love, deb

Old 06-02-2013, 12:30 PM   #5
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Re: My father, my mother, denial and guilt

One more thing, if you are worried about being backfired by Mom, you can just say someone calls the social service or protective services. Ask a friend of theirs to do so.
Or you can make anonymous call. Mom doesn't have to know who calls.
I suggest that you keep yourself in the background although you may be the one that calls the shots. This is some trick that you can do and Mom may come to you to complain about the social service. This way it is a win-win situation.


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