Trying to help my partner care for her elderly father

I just joined, this is my first post, and I need to try to find support/help for my partner. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to get all this down in writing and, to be honest, I’m struggling, so I’m going to try to convey the situation in the hope that someone can shed some light. I know you will, so thank you in advance.

My name’s Clive, I’m 68 and live with my partner Emma, who is an only child aged 38. Her mum passed away 27 years ago.

Her dad is 85, he lives alone, and has been diagnosed with epilepsy, Parkinsons, glaucoma, prostate cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer and high blood pressure. He is very demanding and is mostly angry. He calls Emma 3-4 times every day.

Most days he calls her and usually becomes angry for one reason or another. He has occasional interaction with his nephew, who lives locally, and more rarely, his sister and brother-in-law, who are older than him and live 2 hours away.

Other than this, he has turned his back on all social interaction with anyone else. He has nothing to do with his neighbours, and ushers Emma quickly into his house when she visits in case the neighbours see or hear something they shouldn’t.

When Emma accompanies him on medical appointments, he tells the professionals that everything is OK, that he feels fine, and if Emma tries to interject with the truth, he will wait until they’re alone before making it very clear she should have said nothing.

2 days ago he called Emma at 7am to say he felt unwell, and had been awake most of the night. She told him to call his doctor when the surgery opened, an appointment was made for 11am. Emma drove over to go with him and a preliminary diagnosis was given - he had had a stroke. He was referred to A&E and as there were no beds available, was discharged around 7pm., having had a CAT scan. Emma took him to his house and made sure he was settled before coming home.

Naturally, this was emotionally draining for Emma, but then this is nothing new for her. As she works full-time, the only regular visit that she makes is on a Sunday, when he insists on cooking lunch for her. He eats his lunch around 9.30am so hers is usually overcooked by mid-day when she arrives, and she is so stressed about visiting that she’s unable to eat anyway.

He blames her stress on her job and her hormones - everything except the truth, which he vehemently denies. He will not accept help or care from anyone except Emma and hits the roof if she even hints to anyone who might be able to help that she needs it.

The whole situation is driving her crazy, and although I’m able to offer emotional support for what it’s worth, I can’t intervene because she’s unable to tell him about our relationship as that would be reason enough for him to have something else to go nuts about.

Emma feels that providing practical help for him is something only she is able to do, and that she is unlikely to get any assistance because a) he wouldn’t consent, and b) the current state of health & social care provision.

I’m not sure what to expect by posting this, but really don’t know what else I can do to get emotional & practical support for her.

Welcome to the forum. Just a few quick questions to start the ball rolling. Is he claiming Attendance Allowance? What is he so afraid/paranoid about? How advanced is his cancer? Does Emma have Power of Attorney? Back later.

Thanks for responding.

He is not receiving any benefits, and probably wouldn’t qualify as he seems to have a pretty good retirement income (details unknown to anyone else except him).

Goodness knows what he’s afraid of. We know he suffered a fractured skull during his National Service. He doesn’t wany anyone to know his business. Just after the loss of his wife, he treated Emma to numerous long-haul holidays and still refers to these as evidence of his love for Emma, but appears to have always been emotionally unavailable.

Power of Attorney has been discussed between them both a year or so ago but hasn’t gone any further.

My opinion is that the loss of his wife was a trauma that he hasn’t recovered from, and has resulted in him treating Emma as if she is the age she was when it happened (11). He hasn’t sought any counselling and poo-poos the idea on the basis that he’s too old.

He’s had the prostate cancer for 10 years or so, and appears to be held in check with medication. The liver cancer was diagnosed 2 years ago and, as far as we know, is not aggressive. The skin cancer also appears to be held in check.

He’s told Emma that he isn’t taking any of his meds apart from the epilepsy treatment.


What practical help does he need? My mum in her later years struggled to remember my age and my own disability. One day she said to me “it’s not as if you are 60…when I was about to celebrate my 60th birthday!
When did you and Emma last have a proper holiday? What would happen if you went away for a week, and turned Emma’s phone off?!
You both need time off, together for the sake of your own well being, and relationship. My husband died of a heart attack in his sleep, at 58.

Hello… I think that sadly, she will need to call Social Services and say that her 85 year old father is living alone and she cannot provide the level of care he needs and it is an urgent safeguarding issue. If she can’t get through to them, then I think she should call 999 and say that for his own sake and safeguarding, her father needs to be sectioned and assessed by geretic psych team.

It’s a harsh thing but it sound like he really doesn’t have capacity to make any sensible decisions… if he is only taking his epilepsy meds, then he is really putting his heath at risk.

The other reality is that at his age - 85 and with all those conditions it might not be that long till he passes anyway. Having just had a stroke at his age, it is likely he will have another one soon.

1 Like

He insists on having newspapers every 48 hours minimum, but won’t have them delivered. He’s been getting them himself until Friday. He’ll need food deliveries every couple of days, won’t have them delivered either so online orders are out.

Fortunately we both managed 2 weeks in Majorca last year & didn’t plan on going away this year. When we do get away, he manages with one phone call each day. He’s a crafty bugger, thinks of anything to get Emma to visit but is abusive one way or another when she gets there.

Time for Emma to turn her answerphone on. I had to do this when mum kept ringing me up. I wrote a magazine about lorries, one of my friends described it as “the best of its type in Europe”! Mum didn’t like me spending time on it, and would ring me when she thought I’d be writing, completely breaking my chain of thought. With deadlines to meet, I’d end up writing or printing in the middle of the night! My income depended on the mag to generate sales of spares, I had 30 tons to sell! So the answerphone went on and stayed on. I could listen to messages, but ring back later.

Hi @Clive1955

Welcome to the forum.

Just quickly- attendance allowance isn’t means tested, so he is entitled to claim this.

I have to echo @mscoachbeth . If I were Emma, I would disengage otherwise she may have a total meltdown. I am an only child so I do have every sympathy with how torn she must feel.

Would Emma consider writing to her Father’s GP saying that they had a ‘Duty of Care’ and that she is backing off offering support for her own mental health? Send it special or recorded delivery. I also feel she should
phone Adult Services and say that he is a ‘vulnerable adult’, and then follow this up with a letter. The issue is if he is deemed to have ‘mental capacity’ then he does not have to accept help . Sometimes it takes a crisis to actually get an older person to accept help. But Emma has a right to a life too. Her father sounds similar to my 85 year old husband as he is in ‘denial’ . I am much younger. It might be worth Emma phoning the Carers Helpline or her local Support for Carers and talking it through? But she does NOT have to care or be constantly on call.

1 Like