I need advice

My mum has had a major stroke and is now living back at home. My dad is caring for her but he drinks alcohol every night and becomes a changed man. I have to stay every night until she goes to bed as I’m worried she may fall in his care as she needs his help to walk up the strairs. I have a young son and its affecting my marriage. I have tried to talk to my dad but he just doesn’t listen.

Have you had a needs assessment done or not? Would dad be happy in a alcohol rehab facility? Try telling him that this is not okay. You can ask the council for a needs assessment. Why does he drink so much?

You must stay with your child and family, this is something that mum and dad need to sort out though.

A bit more information would help.

How old are your parents?
How much care does mum now need?
Has dad always been an alcoholic, or is he grieving for the healthy wife he once had?
What does mum say, if she can speak? Is she worried about her safety?
When was mum discharged from hospital?
Were carers organised for her?

Hi Lisa.
Your responsibility is for looking after yourself and your young son.
Your dad was wrong to stop the night time carers from coming - they are NEEDED.
While you continue to go to help your mum every night your dad will sit back and let you get on with it.
Have you tried talking to the ‘Stroke discharge team’ ? If not then tell them what’s happening. Please stick up for yourself .
Put yourself and young son first and your husband too.

I feel like i have to stick by my mum and my dad would never forgive me if i told the carers he would never speak to me again. I really don’t know what to do anymore

Dad WOULD speak to you again, he would probably behave like a spoiled child for a while, but then accept the situation.
However tough it is, your first responsibilities are
To your child
To your husband.

So many parents seem to forget that their children have grown up and expect them to be “obedient”.

What does MUM say about the situation, even if she cannot talk very well, you could still get her to answer in some way, especially if you pose questions that can be answered with a simple thumbs up, thumbs down; or perhaps blinking quickly or slowly.
For example:
Is she happy/unhappy with the current situation?
Does she want to stay in her home?

I understand you feel you need to be there for your mum but think of the future.
Your mum has only been home a few weeks - do you intend to still be doing the ‘nightime’ shift next month, next year, forever? Best to sort it out now and get the carers to help.

A friend of mine cared for his mum until she was 104, by which time he was an old man too!

Please try to find a BALANCE between mum and your family.

Think of the future. Can dad talk to the carers himself or not? Also speak with the stroke team. Perhaps they can help you.

Because he said he needs it to help him sleep and drinking is his enjoyment out of life

He has just has told me to leave tonight so he put my mum to bed after drinking heavily. I just hope she managed the stairs ok. He is now not talking to me.

Hello Lisa,

My partner had a stroke in February. He is 54, close in age to your Mom. It sounds as though the stroke pathway where your parents live is very similar to ours. My partner had 6 weeks of community stroke support via the NHS, after 7 weeks in hospital. He has had weekly outpatient rehab thereafter after a short gap.

I am not really clear on how your Dad can refuse care that your Mom needs. If she still has capacity, it’s up to her and even if her capacity waxes and wanes, it’s about her needs, not your Dad’s wants. He can refuse to be her carer, but in that scenario, carers would need to be brought in and again, it’s about your Mom’s needs.

Stroke is very amenable to rehab and part of the reason for the community stroke care is pure rehab. My partner went from being followed around by me every time he mobilised, watched by the stroke team in the shower/getting dressed, to managing his self care, mobilising by himself and negotiating the stairs in less than a month. He is still significantly disabled, but what he needs are his choices and not mine.

It is really important that your Mom gets the rehab she is entitled to. My partner had a referral by the community team into the neuro rehab clinic. 55 is a ‘young stroke’ and there is often plenty of scope for improvement, especially if your Mom is still inside the first six months. Is there anything preventing you from speaking to the stroke team who are looking after your Mom and highlighting your concerns and also finding out what the next steps are for her?

Do you think this may be a safeguarding issue? I had similar problems with my own parents after my Mom fractured her hip. In the end I was so worried about my Dad’s inability to cope, how it affected my Mom and their blank refusal to get any sort of support that I called in safeguarding. I have no regrets about it and I’ve done it twice since when there were issues with my Mom’s care home.

As the partner of a stroke survivor, I can tell you that it is devastating to watch your partner’s stroke and try and deal with the aftermath. Whether your Dad has always been this way or not, he may be looking for a coping mechanism. He may think that he knows best about what your Mom needs. Neither of these things are helpful, so if you are worried about your Mom’s safety you need information to start with and then speak to the people who can help - the stroke team and the Stroke Association. It’s usual for a referral to be made to the Stroke Association whilst still in hospital. They support the families as well as the stroke survivor and you get 12 months with one of their reps. Usually, if either they or the stroke team identify a safeguarding issue they are obliged to act.

How amenable is your Dad to joining his local carers association? They will offer him support as the main carer and advice. They may even run courses he could attend. You can also join and have the same support.

Your Mom’s worries are normal. My partner worries about exactly the same thing. If she is actively fearful that she will not be looked after right now, then I would say action needs to be taken to put that right. It is not easy when you are suddenly thrown into spousal care out of nowhere and at first it feels impossible and overwhelming. That’s normal. What isn’t normal is preventing care from happening.

I have a feeling dad thought mum would always look after him, and it’s a terrible shock that he is now going to look after her.
Have you asked him if he wants a divorce? Surely that would be better for mum than being neglected.
Try to concentrate on what mum NEEDS.

PLEASE put your husband and child above parents in all this. Dad may not be speaking to you. Well is that a loss if that is how he treats you? I wish I had stood up to my parents a long time a go. Not bad people, just scared and needy. I put their needs above those of my own and my young family and bitterly regret it. You don’t get your child’s formative years back. They are important. When I did stand up to my parents it was really hard. There was a lot of stroppiness. My Dad was too unwell to ever get over and Mum after 2 years of moaning has finally accepted the care she has in place. However this was worth it to have 2 years with my kids that wasn’t totally dominated by their grandparents and the misery they were causing me. And I have a better relationship with my Mum, we can spend pleasant time together in her remaining years, rather than me hating her wishing her life away, which is where I was at when things came to a head.

Best of luck because it isn’t easy…