Elderly parents won't engage with agencies

Hi everyone,

I’m going to try and keep this brief.

I feel very stressed about the situation my parents are in.

After some awful messages my Dad sent to me over Christmas, I am at the point where I need to cut off all ties with them (or at least allow one phonecall per month).

I find them such hard work and I feel so distressed when we have any contact. Recently I have realised just how emotionally abusive,dysfunctional they have been and continue to be.

My Dad been so irresponsible, selfish and controlling over the years and so has my Mum. I’m fed up of being on the end of their emotional blackmail and their constant reminders of how much I have screwed their life up by being born.

Sorry if this is a trigger to anyone.

The thing is, they live 3 hours drive away from me and are both very vulnerable, Dad has both physical needs - Diabetes, Pulmonary Embolism (in April 2018),a non benign form of prostate cancer and severe depression (which he’ll never admit to) which has got worse lately and he is now on valium in addition to anti-depressants.

My mum, has undiagnosed mental health problems/learning difficulties (My Dad has refused to get any assessments done) and is very much childlike, and not able to look after herself properly. She is completely dependent on my Dad. They are both in their late 70’s.

Whilst they live in a cul de sac, they are very isolated and have no friends because of their behavior over the years (rudeness, narcissism, aggression, selfishness, irrationality, etc - I could go on!).

They live in a three bedroomed house which they have sold to an equity firm as Dad got into lots of debt. Dad has effectively wrecked the house and garden by half finished DIY ideas. The house is full of stuff. It’s difficult to move in there and my mum struggles to get around.

I have asked Dad so many times to get help (for my Mum’s problems) and make plans for later on in life (including power of attorney) but he refuses to do it (but he’ll continue to send me messages of how he can’t cope and worries about mum when he’s gone). I’ve been trying to encourage him to think about housing etc but he just keeps his head in the sand of avoidance.

Unbeknown to my parents, I wrote to a very long letter to their GP and social services back in April 2018, sharing my concerns and asking them to get involved as I was at my wits end. They didn’t tell me much about what they did because of data protection, but Mum reported that a few people turned up to offer help with benefits, so they got carers/attendance allowance.

I’ve heard nothing from Social Services at all.

Should Social services have given me more information?

I guess what I really need to know is how I can get social services involved if both Dad and Mum are refusing to engage with them and there is no one else around to keep an eye on them.

Should I just keep send Social services and their GP an update and inform them on my plans (one phonecall to them a month)?

Personally this terrifies me as I don’t think Social Services will do anything until the police call them to say their house has burnt down (or something) - I hope I’m wrong.

I know I sound heartless and selfish, but I am absolutely beside myself with worry all the time for them and hate to see them suffering and when I don’t feel intense anger/resentment, I feel intense pity, anxiety and guilt, they are so poorly.

I am a proper rescuer and have always struggled with boundaries but from reading various self help books I know I need to set some for my own wellbeing. I feel so alone in all this as I don’t know anyone in a similar situation.

I have a daily battle with depression and anxiety myself plus other issues to deal with and I just can’t take all this on my own. (Brother is overseas and can’t help, husband won’t offer any practical solution except guilt trip me when I haven’t spoken to them for a while).

I’m going to register for some counselling.

Any insights into what I can expect from Social services would be welcome.

Thanks in advance

Personally this terrifies me as I don’t think Social Services will do anything until the police call them to say their house has burnt down (or something) - I hope I’m wrong.

should be:

Personally this terrifies me as I don’t think Social Services will do anything until the police call me to say their house has burnt down (or something) - I hope I’m wrong.

Hi Chocoholic.

Welcome to an extremely quiet forum as I type.

Brief reply to keep you going.

Your posting screams out one word … SAFEGUARDING.

AGE UK … 28 pages worth on the joint issues of abuse and safeguarding of senior citizens :


You will not find a better reference document on the Internet … period !

I’m not really sure what you can ready do that hasn’t been done already. As Chris has stated look at vulnerable adult safeguarding legislation. You will need evidence to get any more involvement by SS. At least your parents are together albeit not in the circumstances you desire. No one can force your parents to except help or people visiting.

Thanks ever so much for the link and safeguarding pointer Chris, I will take a read through and it probably will be a letter to update Social Services on the situation.

Thank you Sunny disposition

Ironically I can find evidence over several years. I obviously won’t be able to provide additional evidence to Social services if I am not in contact with the parents to see it.

Your welcome.

When it comes to senior citizens … I’m one … AGE UK have no equals.

Be interest to learn … if AGE UK become involved … perhaps investigate … any flak to fall on the LA ?

Just one potential safeguarding issue … out of … just how many out there ?

It’s a horrible situation, desperately wanting to get them help to live better, only for all offers of help to be rejected.
My own mum was a hoarder, it drove me nuts. It took my sons and I over a year to empty her house after she moved into residential care!!

How old are your parents?
Dad sounds a very unpleasant man in many ways, little wonder that you have distanced yourself from them.
Would you say he is getting even worse as he gets older? Have you ever thought he might be developing dementia?
He sounds very controlling as far as mum is concerned. Does she ever get to do what she wants?

As you have previously written to the GP and Social Services, I’m wondering if you could ask them to check up again, a sort of “annual review” especially after you have had nasty messages from dad over Christmas.

Have you asked your GP for counselling? I found it really helpful, someone who focussed entirely on me and making me feel better, when I was the one normally doing this for everyone else.

Hi Bowling Bun,

Thanks for your comments. Crumbs that sounds like a difficult time for you.

My parents are both in their late 70’s. Thankfully I don’t think Dad has Dementia, he has always been a very intense, neurotic, ruminator - it’s just his physical health which has stopped him from being able to do anything he enjoys (eg driving to a day out at a stately home, shopping etc) and added to his depression and sense of giving up.

Although Dad had a lot more control in the past, (my Mum was always very submissive to him and agreed with everything he said - she has no confidence at all) Mum has more frequent emotional meltdowns now and will shout at him /nag him constantly to get her way, until he has a go at her back. He is her world though, she really looks up to him and depends on him, which I feel he has enjoyed and encouraged (and is where the control comes in). Although I know they are from a different generation re traditional gender roles.

She is hard work (and I do feel sorry for my Dad), she talks constantly, repeats herself and cannot / will not take things in. She got significantly worse when I left home I think as she had too much time on her hands.

They are definitely prone to self neglect and vulnerable - Mum had 8 rotten teeth out in one go a few years back, thanks to a dodgy dentist.

I will definitely ask Social Services to check up again and pursue counselling for my own sanity.

thanks again

It sounds like you are describing my own parents / situation. It’s crushing and so difficult, I absolutely feel your pain.

Hi Chocoholic
I would echo the “Safeguarding” advice. Jump and an ddown at Social Services . Lodge a formal safeguarding concern with them and mention “self neglect” , hoarding and “learning disability” if you have not already done so. It is worth doing the same again to a different agency such as GP or district nurse.

A picture tells a thousand words. Can you manage to take any telling photographs about their home situation?
Record anything said?

Thanks Alison_2001, Henrietta, Bowling bun - good ideas, I didn’t think about photos.

A welfare officer is seeing them this week & a social worker linked to the GP is seeing them next week.Fingers crossed.

Good, that sounds like a few steps in the right direction.

Thanks for the update!

Oh yes I know this one. My mother right up to the end thought that I was there to look after her morning noon and night. She was of an age that considered it a daughters duty.
Yes Safeguarding is the drum to beat but I’m afraid that Social Services are so stretched that if it looks like someone gives a damn then they will give it a miss.
My friend is currently in hospital after an emergency operation, she’s her mother(who had dementia)'s carer, social services aren’t interested even though her mother only has a cleaner that comes in twice a week seeing her. There’s nobody else to see she’s okay or to see she gets food. Probably if she sets the house on fire someone will notice

In Hampshire, there is an emergency carer scheme, so that if you suddenly can’t care for someone, they know all about you and your caree and provide 48 hours emergency care until something else can be arranged.