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New to the forum - Carers UK Forum

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Hello everyone. I found this site by accident and found the comments and advice helpful and decided to join, mainly as I need an impartial viewpoint.
My partner of many years is 22 years older than me. For a long time the age difference never mattered but over the last 12 months he has become "clingy" and doesn't like to be left alone in the house. I don't work but have battled to continue with my hobbies away from home (I'm out one morning and one afternoon every week, plus walking the dog daily on my own). He has also become verbally aggressive when he doesn't get his own way, for the first time recently this was in a cafe and directed to someone other than me. Until recently, he was such a laid back chap. His memory of past events is sometimes hazy too. He said today that he'd had a text message from someone famous and asked me to remind him who it was!
I don't know if this is all just a symptom of old age (he's 82) or something more. I don't want to approach his adult children if there isn't a problem. I am by nature a worrier so I don't know if it's me over reacting. Any ideas?
Thank you for taking the time to read all this.
He needs to checked up by his GP to find out what could be the cause of his change in behaviour.

Have you spoke to your partner yourself about your concerns?

I think it would be wise to mention your concerns to his children, then it is completely up to them what they do from there on, and as your partner can be verbally aggressive, you may need their support getting him to agree seeking professional help

I certainly would not ignore it
I suggest that you keep a very private diary, and if he is very abusive, record it on your phone, to help the GP. Sadly, it does sound like he's sliding down the slippery slope towards dementia, but at his age, that isn't surprising I'm afraid.
You have my sympathy - my husband is nearly 79 and 23 years older than me. He is very verbally abusive and controlling and it has got much worse since he retired. He has been very ill the last 10 days with cellulitus and actually got upset when duty gp and nurses thought i was his daughter!

No advice apart from keeping a diary. It could be dementia. You say he was laid back so this does suggest some kind of health problem maybe? I have heard that dementia tends to change people's personalities or exadgerate their worst traits. The forgetfulness too could suggest dementia.

But so many older men are in total denial.

Yes keep getting out - cannot stress this enough. I cannot get out much but I do get to cat shows a few times a year and I am Chairman of a local Book Club - husband has to come too and we do go to the pub quiz when he is well enough.

It sounds dreadful but do you have other options to live independently? I do not sadly but if the verbal aggression gets worse, there is a risk of physical aggression so you may need to look at the future. You only get one life.
Sadly, I can only add to the chorus of 'warnings' here.

I would definitely 'keep notes', about his behaviour, noting anything unusual etc, so that little by little you can start to build up a pattern (if there is one), and have something to show the GP etc. I say this cautiously, but could you film him when he is being abusive? (It might make him more so, of course, plus there are civil liberties issues here, understandably - would we like to be filmed by our spouses, even if we understood why?) That said, if he is being verbally abusive, whether or not he is developing dementia it's still abuse (ie, even if he can't control it as he is 'losing his mind' ie, with dementia setting in)(if it is).

I would definitely raise the issue with his GP straight away, as in, make an appointment this week. This puts the issue 'on the table', and although his GP (even if you share one) can't comment on another patient (ie, your husband) he can 'receive input'. You could also 'record' anything you tell him by putting it into an email that says what you said!

There are tests for dementia, but for many of us dealing with an elderliy person with dementia (in my case my MIL), they are not always helpful, in that they seem to focus on intellectual abilities (who is the prime minister, can you count back from twenty in twos, or whatever), rather than address what for carers is usualy the main issue - ie, can they lead anything like a 'normal' life any more, and do they need 'someone with them all the time, 'doing everything for them' . It's the practical aspects of caring for someone with increasing dementia that takes a toll, and becomes increasingly difficult (in the end, very likely impossible, alas) (as they will reach the stage of needing care 24x7, unless 'something else' takes them first).

A useful word I learnt on this forum is 'acopic', it jut means 'can't cope' (ie, with everyday life) and I think it's a very useful one as it gets down to the point. It doesn't matter if they know who the prime minister is - can they still get undressed on their own and into bed, and stay there till morning without wandering aroiund the house trying to boil a kettle in the bathroom (or whatever!)

One other thought - often, so I read on this forum, having a kidney/urinary infection can produce symptoms that can be taken for dementia, but once the infection clears, so does the mind - the GP may point this out to you, and suggest he gets checked??
The other thing I personally would urge you to do without major delay is to do a financial audit both of your own personal situation, and your joint one.

You say 'partner' so presumably you're not married, and that may have significant financial implications (sometimes for good, sometimes ill).

If your partner is going to start needing significant amounts of care then very difficult financial decisions are going to have to be taken, that is the blunt truth of it hat affects everyone in need of care in old age.

To begin with, does he own his own flat/house, and do you co-own it? If he owns it all, or half of it, then if he needs, at some point in the future, to go into residential care, then the value of HIS share of the house will be taken into account, and will be used to pay his care home fees (and they can be in excess of a hundred pounds a DAY!). However, if you own half of it, only HIS share can be assessed, plus, if you are yourself retired, it MAY be discounted all together (others here on the forum know better than me, plus there are the team of experts on Carers UK itself).

Remember that these days, councils are desperate NOT to end up paying for the elderly in care homes, so are very tough on getting the person to pay!

If he has savings, then again (HIS share) will need to be used as well, both for residential care AND if he has care-workers coming in to help you.

Only when both his savings, and the value of his house/flat share is down to £23,500 will the council start paying. (YOUR share should be safe, but, it would potentiallky mean that, if you outlive him, you onlyk get your half, not the full value, which could have gone completely into care home fees, if he lives a long time)(my widowed MIL is burning her way through the ENTIRE sale price of her flat, to pay for her residential care!)

The only way to avoid his savings and his share of the house vanishing into care costs is to take on the ENTIRE burden yourself, for as long as it takes him to reach the end of his life (I have read that the average lifespan post-diagnosis of dementia is 8 years - my MIL has had it for four years now, and a friend of mine's father for six, with no likely end in sight yet for either of them.)

In your situation ,because you have adult stepchildren, this is an added complication. Please do be careful that you do not spend the next ten years of your life caring for their father, only for his will to reveal he's left everything to his children, rendering you homeless! (Worst case scenario!).

A lot will depend, in the coming future, on whether you have a good relationshiop with his children, and, of course, on what their inheritance is likely to be. DO look out for yourself, as for many carers the financial future can be bleaker when their caree has died, than when they are looking after them.
Thank you everyone for your replies. The situation hasn't been helped by my mother being seriously ill and then moving into a nursing home. We live 3 hours drive away and arranging to see her, plus the cost of a b&b as my partner won't stay at home while I visit her, has put an added strain on things. Yes, you've made me realise I need to involve his own family more. The diary idea is good too and I'll start one immediately.

Thanks again, it is so helpful to get other peoples points of view.
Hi LouLou, I wish you good luck in getting your partner's children to help with their Father's care. In my experience (I'm 29yrs younger than my Husband, who is 84) the younger partner (You) will be left to get on with it, but I hope I'm wrong. Best wishes
If family won't help, then they lose the right to have any say in what happens to him. Hold this thought. I had a brother who came back to the UK once every 2 years, and then told me what more I should be doing! A Helicopter relative, drops in, then flies off.
The thing is, this is the time when 'chickens come home to roost', and if those chickens include bad memories of, say (I'm only inventing this!), an 'unwanted' second wife/partner, then the adult children might well, indeed, feel that they have nothing they need offer by way of help and support.

It's a very, very individual situation.

PS - do remember that, legally, no one has a 'duty' to look after anyone else, whether married or not.