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Elderly parent abusing GP callout/emergency services - any experiences? - Carers UK Forum

Elderly parent abusing GP callout/emergency services - any experiences?

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Following on from my posts about Dad behaviour when I was away on holidays.... Thought I'd create a new thread for this specific problem.

I spoke to him last night and more details have come out. As I said in my other posts sounds like he had a bad cold/possible slight chest infection. (although he swears blind GP said he had fluid on this lung!)

Turns out he called the GP out to his house 3 times in a week. Each time refusing to get a lift/taxi to the surgery 1/2 mile away. Seems like first time they gave him anti-biotics, 2nd/3rd time they refused and told him to sit tight and take paracetamol.

BUT, hes got an emergency link thing too. TWICE he pressed this and got an ambulance sent to the house. Each time the paramedic checked him over, told him he was ok and left the house.

His rationale for caling them - he felt weak, a little dizzy, and hot and sweaty. No sh*t sherlock if you've got a cold/flu!!!!!!!!

Now Im surprised the GP even came out to see him. I cant get an appointment for my GP let alone a home visit - I thought these were as rare as rocking horse poo! And Im no medical expert but if an ambulance comes to attend an 82 year old they're going to be 100% sure you're not that ill if they then leave you rather than take you into hospital.

Generally Dad is in good health for his age but I can understand its got to be miserable if your ill and on your own. As I said I was on holidays but brother was back and forth.

But surely at some point the GP and emergency services are going to blacklist him? I fear hes causing himself problems with the way hes crying wolf all the time. Anyone got any experience of this happening?

Of course, he wont listen to me at all. Im glad to never admitted to this when I was away. Not that I'd be worried- I knew damn well he wasnt that ill but I would have been fuming that he'd tried to play up on this when I was away.
Yes, I can see your concerns. As suggested on the other thread, I would definitely get in touch with his GP, ideally go and see him, and as recommended 'tell' the GP about your dad, even though it can be 'one way' only in respect of confidentiality. Then ask him directly about what can be done to try and stop your dad calling the GP/Lifeline 'unnecessarily'. I'm sure your dad is not the only elderly person who does this, and I would think that the NHS has guidelines for how best to deal with it. In a way it's brilliant that they are responding so well on a 'just in case' basis, but of course it does use up resources (though I doubt it uses up more resources than a bunch of drunken morons lurching around city centres at night having to be scooped up and taken to A&E, so don't feel too bad about your dad in comparison!!!).

Ask the GP if you dad might ever be 'struck off' for being a 'vexatious patient' (!!!!), so you know what the risks are.

I'm sure the GP will be glad that there is a relative on hand and that you are concerned about your dad's behaviour, but on the other you must stay resolute that the answer is not 'Why doesn't your dad just move in with you?'!!!!!!

I also think you might do well thinking through the 'worst case scenario' which is that he cries wolf once too often (obviously HE doesn't think he's crying wolf!), and then 'really' has a health crisis, which is then missed.

As I say, you may have to face the fact that one day your dad does hit a crisis, and 'no one responds' and the worst happens.

But I think the one thing that will NEVER happen, from everything you've said about your dad, is that he will change his ways!!
jenny lucas wrote:Yes, I can see your concerns. As suggested on the other thread, I would definitely get in touch with his GP, ideally go and see him, and as recommended 'tell' the GP about your dad, even though it can be 'one way' only in respect of confidentiality. Then ask him directly about what can be done to try and stop your dad calling the GP/Lifeline 'unnecessarily'. I'm sure your dad is not the only elderly person who does this, and I would think that the NHS has guidelines for how best to deal with it. In a way it's brilliant that they are responding so well on a 'just in case' basis, but of course it does use up resources (though I doubt it uses up more resources than a bunch of drunken morons lurching around city centres at night having to be scooped up and taken to A&E, so don't feel too bad about your dad in comparison!!!).

Ask the GP if you dad might ever be 'struck off' for being a 'vexatious patient' (!!!!), so you know what the risks are.

I'm sure the GP will be glad that there is a relative on hand and that you are concerned about your dad's behaviour, but on the other you must stay resolute that the answer is not 'Why doesn't your dad just move in with you?'!!!!!!

I also think you might do well thinking through the 'worst case scenario' which is that he cries wolf once too often (obviously HE doesn't think he's crying wolf!), and then 'really' has a health crisis, which is then missed.

As I say, you may have to face the fact that one day your dad does hit a crisis, and 'no one responds' and the worst happens.

But I think the one thing that will NEVER happen, from everything you've said about your dad, is that he will change his ways!!
enny - yes I think Im going to have to contact the GP.

Surely they must be a bit peeved at whats hes done the last few weeks. I'd hate to see anything like him being told to find a new GP. Of course, yes there are people who truly are a waste of everyones time but, like you said, I dont want him to push it unnecessarily so that when he really is ill they think "oh its him again nothing wrong again".

Thing is with him his idea of healthcare is if your ill, phone doctor, they give you tablets, you get better. The idea that you just need to look after yourself for a bit like when you have flu is not in his head at all. The first GP gave him anti-biotics for a week, he took these, then he wasnt better (so prob didnt need anti-biotics in first place), so got gp out again.

Like I said, hes also got a funny attitude. If he feels he needs something then the world has to stop for him. GP needs to be at his door in minutes. No way is he spending his own money on a taxi because thats what they're there for. Which often leads me to believe if your really that ill and its see a doctor in 30 mins and spend £5 on a taxi, or wait 6 hours to save £5 you cant be that ill......
Hi Paul

I think the issue is deeper than simple 'ill health' - I know that you and your brother are keeping an eye on Dad and visiting him regularly but to me his behaviour is shouting out "I'm lonely and I'm bored", and of course he probably is. If you work it out he probably spends far more time on his own than with any sort of regular company. I can't remember if you've mentioned trying to get him to attend a Day Centre or similar where he would have company of his own generation ? If you haven't explored this avenue it might be worthwhile making enquiries of Social Services for any in the area (unfortunately there will be a small fee !).

The "lonely and bored" syndrome is one, unfortunately, I'm quite familiar with. Although I do have some family (sister, nieces etc) I don't see that much of them and since my Mum died 4 years ago I have found myself feeling more and more isolated, lonely and bored. I do try to get out every day even if it's only to the local supermarket - but at the end of the day I come back to an empty flat with just my cat for company. These last 18 months or so I have had various health issues and they seem to be made worse by not having anyone else around to talk to - I can have telephone conversations with my sister but it's not the same as a face to face conversation and, besides which, I don't want to keep on about my health worries when I do talk to her - but at the end of the day I don't have much else to talk about because I don't have much of a social life to report (some weeks my 'social' life is a visit to the GP or the Hospital!!!. I've now actually got to the point where I don't think I could hold a 'proper' conversation with anyone anymore!
But surely at some point the GP and emergency services are going to blacklist him?
I doubt that very much - they have a duty of care to attend.
Susie, I can echo that! It's a huge challenge to 'force' ourselves 'out and about', and in a way, the more we don't, the harder it gets!

I'm extremely fortunate in that I do have my own family (bro and SIL, and SIL's sister's family too) in the westcountry for when I visit MIL (who is in a care home there - considerably cheaper than Home Counties!), and I go down for regular 'immersions', They are a 'full on' family, with endless dramas and a non-stop soap opera running (!), and I find that for a week or so it's very 'invigorating' getting sucked into their dramas. But then, after about a week, I find it all gets far too much, and I actually crave coming home again to my quiet, empty house.....

I definitely ought to 'do more' up here at home, but apart from a couple of friends I see regularly, my 'social highlight' is coffee in town with one of them, and an occasional quiz night!

It does get 'daunting' making a 'new' social life for oneself. I know perfectly well that the only 'social company' I am going to get now is other middle aged (of COURSE I'm still 'middle aged'!) women, so there is nothing actually 'scary' about them, but I do still find myself keeping in the 'rut' that I live in!

I do agree with you that Paul's father does sound lonely and bored, but of course, the answer is in his own hands. From what Paul says, he seems to 'enjoy' worrying and fretting, and certainly 'enjoys' not spending money on anything 'wasteful'!

Paul, on the threat of 'the moment I inherit from you Dad, I'm going to blow it all on something extravagant!', why not start identifying what it is you're going to blow it on? Like a nice fast car with very low petrol efficiency and high maintenance costs?!!!! Start pointing out the models in magazines and garages! Make him want to buy a stairlift instead!!!!
Susieq
I can also echo the isolated feeling. I know I still have my hubby, but he's definitely slipping away. I visit every other day and try to treasure anything positive. I have my daughter's and grandchildren etc. They do have everyday living to get on with and must. So, whatever I make an effort to do, it's a lonely old house to come back too. At least I have a house! ( That needs things doing, put on hold when hubby was starting the dementia)
Sadly, you and Jenny have made me feel a little less morose, knowing Im not terrible for feeling this way. Sadly because I wish it wasn't like it for you both
susieq wrote:Hi Paul

I think the issue is deeper than simple 'ill health' - I know that you and your brother are keeping an eye on Dad and visiting him regularly but to me his behaviour is shouting out "I'm lonely and I'm bored", and of course he probably is. If you work it out he probably spends far more time on his own than with any sort of regular company. I can't remember if you've mentioned trying to get him to attend a Day Centre or similar where he would have company of his own generation ? If you haven't explored this avenue it might be worthwhile making enquiries of Social Services for any in the area (unfortunately there will be a small fee !).

The "lonely and bored" syndrome is one, unfortunately, I'm quite familiar with. Although I do have some family (sister, nieces etc) I don't see that much of them and since my Mum died 4 years ago I have found myself feeling more and more isolated, lonely and bored. I do try to get out every day even if it's only to the local supermarket - but at the end of the day I come back to an empty flat with just my cat for company. These last 18 months or so I have had various health issues and they seem to be made worse by not having anyone else around to talk to - I can have telephone conversations with my sister but it's not the same as a face to face conversation and, besides which, I don't want to keep on about my health worries when I do talk to her - but at the end of the day I don't have much else to talk about because I don't have much of a social life to report (some weeks my 'social' life is a visit to the GP or the Hospital!!!. I've now actually got to the point where I don't think I could hold a 'proper' conversation with anyone anymore!
But surely at some point the GP and emergency services are going to blacklist him?
I doubt that very much - they have a duty of care to attend.
Thanks Susie. Thing is hes got an active social life. He goes out, plays bowls, sees friends/ neighbours etc. In fact, he often says hes never been so busy. He is fine until hes ill then he totally changes around Im afraid.

As for the GP etc, surely at some point they're going to stop doing what he wants. Its human nature that at some point, someone is going to say its Mr X again, probably nothing wrong, he can wait a bit.
jenny lucas wrote:
I do agree with you that Paul's father does sound lonely and bored, but of course, the answer is in his own hands. From what Paul says, he seems to 'enjoy' worrying and fretting, and certainly 'enjoys' not spending money on anything 'wasteful'!

Paul, on the threat of 'the moment I inherit from you Dad, I'm going to blow it all on something extravagant!', why not start identifying what it is you're going to blow it on? Like a nice fast car with very low petrol efficiency and high maintenance costs?!!!! Start pointing out the models in magazines and garages! Make him want to buy a stairlift instead!!!!
Like I said hes got loads to do and even says so. In fact, when hes not ill, a few phone calls a week and a visit once or twice a fortnight and hes happy.

Joking aside, I dont think it'll change him though. He'll die happy that HE didnt waste the money and left something to us.

He does try to give out money now at times. I dont need it but brother does. Its usually something like £200 each. I try not to take it off him but hes made up his mind (and not being ungratedful but its £200). But you can see hes thought about this long and hard for week about giving away this £400 and convinced himself its a good idea.
Yes, I agree with Sue that the medics won't give up on him. As for the pendant alarm service....that is what it is there for. They won't judge him....it is after all a chargeable service. Expensive nhs ambulance etc service? Yep. HEalth service in crisis? Yes. But neither you nor he can solve that. Step back a little from those concerns, for your own sake.

I note he was prescribed ABs, Doctors do not prescribe them willy nilly for the elderly in particular. For many reasons. He was poorly. And it seems he was anxious about his lack of recovery. UNderstandable.
I am concerned about how stressed you yourself are getting about his behaviour. Understandly, as it intrudes on your own family life. Perhaps you will be able, in time, to listen to what other folk who live alone have said to you here. Perhaps you can talk to your own GP about your feelings, when you find time. Stress breeds stress and there are ways of coping with it. Sometimes, one just needs to change perspective a wee bit, yeah?

Living alone, I have to say also has some advantages. But it can be scary particularly as we age....thoughts of who will know if I die in my sleep, alone, etc etc etc. Most of the people I mix with now are widows, like myself. We all have these thoughts from time to time. Very common. Your father is not unusual in his fears.
Hope you yourself can find new ways of dealing with your stress before too long. And as I mentioned before, yes it's a good idea to let his GP know your concerns. He is already on their radar and may be two steps ahead f the game. WHo knows?
Bit more....lol.
Might medics be a bit peeved? I am fairly certain they are tolerant.....as social services have to be too. TIme wasting? Probably a helluva of lot going on in that direction..some people Cry for help POSSIBLY too soon......whilst others must frustrate doctors and social services when they DONT cry for help soon enough. It's life. We are all unique, and can cope in different ways and have differing strengths and different weaknesses. Who amongst us is perfect????!

Medics take it all on board....they see the bigger picture. Part of their job.