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Seeking advice for another - Carers UK Forum

Seeking advice for another

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi all,

I am going to keep this as brief as possible, but this is a convoluted one, so many thanks to anyone who sticks with it!

Two years ago, my (then) 55 and 50 year old father and mother took early retirement due to the stresses of work and very rapidly moved from Kent to Yorkshire. They had no support network there and no one remotely close. Mum has numerous, serious, physical health problems, and has suffered anxiety and depression over the years. Dad was well. However, Dad is incredibly unsociable (a trait I've inherited...) and whereas Mum has found part time work, so has built a small network of work-centred friends, and has human interaction each day, Dad has not.

Dad has subsequently sunk into a deep and long-lasting depression (regret and loneliness have mostly driven this). This has now lasted 18 months or so. He has sought help when I made him go with me on a visit, but tried medication then stopped after 3 months. He outright refuses to go back to the GP, to see a CB Therapist, or to try anything else. We have all tried making suggestions such as joining walking groups, possibly buying a dog, exercising more, etc. (if any of this sounds peculiar, these are attempts to engage him with things he previously loved). He always comes back to the idea that nothing will help him, he wants his old life back and has nothing to look forward to. I should point out that my Mum, wife and I all have extensive mental health illness experience, so we have explored all the avenues we can think of to help him.

Now, the real focus of this post is Mum. As alluded to, she has quite serious health problems. She has suffered mentally as Dad has declined, and now things have come to a head, with Dad all but accusing her of causing his issues (it was sort-of her idea to move--but with his involvement) and becoming emotionally...unfair, let's say. I've a tendency to think of it as becoming emotionally abusive, although this is NOT the Dad I grew up with and I truly believe it's a symptom of his maladies. It's not deliberate. It is, though, wrong and I am deeply concerned for her.

Naturally, Mum is struggling to cope and know where to turn. I am 300+ miles away and teach, so cannot head north at the drop of a hat. Attempts to go up this week in place of a planned trip last week (my wife was ill) were met with snapping and anger from my father, who refused to see us. We tried negotiating with him and mum worked on him too, but nothing.

So, what am I asking for? Well firstly, I guess I just want to get this out and in writing. But mainly, as I am NOT the carer, and now think my mother could be classed as such, I want to know if anyone has any ideas of what Mum can do to try to support Dad, and what we can do from here to support Mum. We've offered her time with us as respite and similar, and I try to talk to her, but she cannot talk to me about the situation unless she's alone, as Dad becomes very upset if she does. It all feels a bit hopeless.

I am open to criticism for this--nothing I/we've done will be perfect--but I desperately want to help and see my parents happy again. However, my Mum and I are out of ideas, and she's really suffering. If you have anything obvious or less obvious to suggest, please do. If you can think of anything I've not covered that would help to get a picture of the situation, please ask. And please forgive me for the length of this!


Hello Will
We have nothing to forgive! You can post as much as you need.
I'm not sure if can be much help to you except suggest your mum has some counselling in her own right? This may help her to cope with your dad. You and she are entitled to some happiness.
I'm sure others will be along shortly to offer practical advice. But I'm listening.
Hi Will
If all Dad wants is his old life back what's stopping him from getting it?
Could they not move back to Kent?
He may not want the same stressful job but what's stopping him doing part time or voluntary?
It seems lots of people think retirement will be a joy but do struggle to fill the time and social void. My BIL hated the first 2 years of his retirement at 65 as he missed the camadarie and banter and it took along time to build up pastimes to pass the time with.
My hubby is looking forward to retiring in a few years and looks at me askance when I ask him what he will do with his time. He's not looking further than not having to commute and doesn't realise just how long the days are.
We had some other friends who retired to their home town up north only to find they missed their life and friends down here too much. They lasted under 2 years before they moved back south.

All of which Is to say how about getting Dad approaching it from a retirement problem rather than a medical one. There must be sites and support groups to help him, after all 57 is nothing. He could end up being a grumpy old man for the next 40 years! Of course your Mum may get fed up and their relationship breakdown and they divorce. It has been known when major life changes happen.

Not easy for you, but their problem really
Give up the idea of "making them happy again". We are all responsible for our own happiness. Try to avoid getting too involved in their dad wants this, mum wants that and urge them to work out what they really want for themselves. They MUST take responsibility for their own actions, and they, not you, need to sort themselves out and do something positive. The more you zoom up and down the motorway almost at their beck and call the more they will expect it.

They may have given up work and the stress of it, but I assume you are still working. Wife? Kids?

I think I'd be inclined to say "What did you expect?" on the subject of moving miles away from home, to a different climate, different culture, and in many ways, a different accent.
Thank you for your contributions. I'll try to answer as many points as I can...

Getting his life back: Dad wants his old house (house prices have gone up more here than there, even if it were to become available), his job and his garden back. Not overly achievable, sadly! His view is that he cannot work/volunteer due to the need to run Mum to the hospital. This is partially true, and something we warned them about before they left somewhere with good transport links, but it's infrequent and could be worked around.

I think that they are too strong to split, but at the moment, the way my Dad talks, it will be him who instigates it. They've always been dedicated to each other; their happiness and possibly (maybe sounds extreme) their life expectancy is on the line. Agreed on trying to get him to approach it as a retirement problem, but it's getting him to rationalise his thoughts first.

This..."They MUST take responsibility for their own actions, and they, not you, need to sort themselves out and do something positive."...is what my (very supportive) wife says, and I agree, but equally, it's hard not to want to help, and it would be good to get some ideas to try to help Mum cope. I have a wife, no kids. My job is stressful but also means we cannot be at their beck and call--probably a good thing. It's worth noting that, to a lesser extreme, we did suggest all of these things mights be issues before they left, but as you rightly say, their choice as adults.

Pet66, I've pointed my Mum towards counselling, and 'instructed' her to go to the GP. She is going to do this.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I don't think there is a panacea, but I'm grateful for any and all help.

Hmmm, it really sounds as though they need to work this out together. especially as a dedicated couple.
Could Dad be persuaded to go to Relate or some kind of joint counselling.? He might take it better if its presented as a joint problem rather than a his or hers problem

It's not easy to say "we made a mistake"

I understand the house price problem, but there's an awful lot of miles between Yorkshire and Kent. Maybe a new start somewhere in the middle, geographically as well as emotionally ;)

And Will, your concern is admirable but you do need manage how much you be a support and a sounding board but to stop short of being responsible. We can't have you being a 'Clapped out carer' before you've even really began :)

The thing is Will, that THEY chose to get out of their old house, lifestyle etc. Almost like a mid life crisis thing. Easier to understand if he buys a Harley! If it didn't make them happy then it won't now. They are just wearing rose tinted specs about their previous life.
I went through the same thing with my mum, only in her case she just moved 3 miles away, from a modern bungalow where I grew up, it was rented, to an older bungalow that needed almost everything doing to it. They moved when I was 16,still unfinished when I was 60! Towards the end of her life she kept saying she should have stayed in the first place, forgetting entirely that she'd bitched for 16 years that she didn't like the cold floors, living on a corner was like a goldfish bowl, she didn't like this, that or the other.
Maybe they've just forgotten what being happy is all about? Not necessarily where you live, what you own, but about being joyful from within? In many ways fate has been unkind to me, but I simply refuse to let it take away my joy of living, especially when I've had a couple of really serious issues that nearly finished me off.
Can I ask when they last took a holiday or break away from their new life? Maybe that might help?
Bowlingbun, sorry to hear about your troubles too.

They go to see friends in Scotland and come down to us fairly frequently. They're not been away alone for a while. They had a trip booked for Bruges until recently, but Dad cancelled it and said he did not want to go last week.

Mrsaverage, some good points, thank you. I'll suggest the relationship counselling. I'm not sure Dad will be keen, but Mum might be interested and be able to do some persuading. As for the house prices, they are unlikely to find a middle ground, but have been open at times (Mum especially) to elsewhere within Kent. Finally, with reference to being a sounding board...agreed, it does get to me, and I often feel more like a parent than child, but cannot completely leave them to it.

Thanks all.
Speak to he dr and have a look to see if there is a carers centre in the area