Not been on a forum before but here goes…….
I’m looking for some advice/help with looking after my Aunt who is 87. I am her only living relative, she never married and looked after my brother from when he was 9 as our mother was not able to take care of us due to ill health. (me and my 2 sisters were taken into care).
My Aunt worked full time as well as taking care of my brother who developed severe epilepsy among other things due to a hereditary brain disease, eventually it got too much for her and she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown so he went into residential care with her visiting him 3 days a week until he died in 1999.
In recent years she’s developed OCD, she’s a chronic hoarder and can’t seem to chuck ANYTHING away, her house is overrun with newspapers, junk mail and post. She won’t use the cooker because she worries about it being switched off – she went through a long phase of checking constantly that it was switched off before she could go to bed at night – sometimes she would still be up checking until 2-3am in the morning. She refuses to have a microwave and is living off salads, maltesers and whisky.
I live about an hour away from her. She has a fantastic neighbour who very kindly keeps an eye on her for me by popping in most days and doing her shopping for her once a week. I currently visit once a week when I take her favourite - fish and chips from the local chippy – if I try for anymore than once a week she accuses me of interfering and can get quite spiteful and argumentative.
The house smells really bad and is very dusty and dirty. She hasn’t had a bath or washed her hair for over a year, she’s been in the same clothes for a good 2 years now. She hasn’t left the house for over 2 and a half years, she has stopped using the upstairs of the house as she struggles to manage the stairs. She sleeps in her chair and uses the downstairs toilet which is disgusting (I can’t use it as it’s so bad). Her garden is a jungle but she refuses to allow anyone in to do the work for her – she sacked her gardener cause he “didn’t bother turning up” (not true as neighbour said he kept getting turned away and she wasn’t paying him).
She has now started to give her bank details out over the phone to all and sundry, signing up for stuff she doesn’t need and I am worried about her being scammed (she is financially well off). I spoke to the bank and explained her situation and they said they would put an alert on her account but they couldn’t give me any details of what’s happening with her bank accounts – she hides her bank statements. Since I spoke to them she has signed up for household breakdown cover that she doesn’t need.
I spoke to social services/mental health team and they weren’t much help – passed the buck between them. SS did ring my Aunt to ask how she was coping in general and she said her usual – that she’s fine. She hasn’t seen a doctor since before my brother died – not even sure if she’s still registered with one – she thinks they’re a bunch of charlatans and won’t take prescribed medication as she had a very bad experience with Prozac once.
When I try to talk to her about things her stock answer is “I’ll do it tomorrow” – obviously tomorrow never comes as nothing ever gets done. I’ve tried bringing my cleaning bits and hoover from home but get fobbed off with the “tomorrow” thing. She says she’s quite capable of doing things herself and will do them in her own time – she doesn’t need me interfering. If that doesn’t work she’s quite happy to tell out and out lies in the hope that I’ll shut up asking - case in point was when I asked her about what she was having to eat in the week she told me “meals on wheels” deliver a hot meal every day - this is something that is not on offer where she lives - she can only receive frozen meals to re-heat in microwave - when I call her out on this I get told that I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Any advice would be gratefully received as I am at a loss as to how I can help her when she seems determined to neglect herself so badly and determined not to accept any help offered. Nothing I say seems to make a difference and I am loath to try and bully her as it’s not really in my nature to treat her like that – I have a deep respect for all that she did for my brother in keeping him out of the horror that was the 1960’s care system and then looking after him when he became very ill.
Sorry to be a bit long winded about the situation but thought it best to provide all the facts I could.