vasmd Asked August 2011

What should I do about my dad who is verbally and emotionally abusive to my mom on a daily basis?

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What should I do about my 81 y/o Dad who is verbally and emotionally abusive to my 83 y/o Mom on a daily basis? Here I am again, a year later and the verbal and emotional abuse that my father is giving my mother continues. It had gotten a little better for several months and now it is getting bad again. He has her in tears almost every day. Recently, she bought a ham from the store. He told her (not in a nice way) that her she should have bought cabbage to go with the ham, "Don't you know that cabbage goes with ham?" he asks. So she goes out the next day and buys cabbage and makes ham and cabbage for his dinner. He won't touch it. She tells him, "I made you ham and cabbage." He ignores her. Now here it is 4 days later and he still hasnt touched the stuff. He's previously told her if she doesn't like it she can just leave - this is between two 80+ year olds, married 60 years next February!! Mom has to watch tv in the bedroom cause he dominates the living room tv -- all day long. If the phone rings and he doesn't have it by his chair, she has to get up (with her walker) and to answer it even if he's closer. He's constant making snide remarks to her and she's a nervous wreck most of the time. She tries to hide it whenever I call. I wish I could stop in every day, but unfortunately I live 500 miles away. I've told her to talk to her doctor about this, but he goes with her to the doctor. Should I report this "elder abuse" ?? If I write a letter to her doctor, do you think that will be any good? I don't think Dad would ever intentionally hurt her physically, but he's making her life absolutely miserable and I'm afraid it's going to start affecting her physically. I live with my own daugher and grandchildren, so I cannot move her in with me and I can't afford to quit work and move to their state. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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195Austin Aug 2011
She may have to be the one to decide she does not deserve to be treated like that when I realized this in my own life he lost his power to control me she may need to remove herself from his space it might mean she has to live elsewhere or set up a system where they live together apart each getting their own meals and doing their own cares like laundry-I did and it worked for us-but she has to decide herself that she does not deserve to be treated badly-maybe a social worker needs to be brought in-if this continues she will become depressed and sick-she would be better alone than be abused-and this is abuse.
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mailman56 Aug 2011
I have to say that we try to include him as a courtesy but he rarely wants to go as we are going out for lunch and shopping or a movie. He knows he is always invited but doesn't want to do much of anything anymore.
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vasmd Aug 2011
I guess I would wonder, is she truly afraid that he won't eat for one day or that something might happen to him? Or is he underhandedly intimidating her so that she's afraid to leave him for a day? If that is indeed the case, you should plan her day away in his presence so that he is aware beforehand. Even get him to join in the planning (if possible). Get his buy in, ask, "Is that ok with you??" if he says "no" then you persue why not, if yes - than Mom has no reason not to get away for a day.
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mailman56 Aug 2011
I understand exactly what you are going through as we are dealing with this same scenario with my parents. Sometimes we can get Mom out of the house but alot of times she says no-that it just isn't worth listening to Dad berate her when she gets home. We have talked to Dad about his treatment of her and his response is that he isn't going to keep quiet about things that bother him anymore. We talked to Mom about coming to one of our houses for even an entire day but she is afraid that he will not eat or something will happen and she will feel guilty. He passed his cognitive test with the doctor but does a great job of masking when around certain people. He knows what he is doing which is ironic considering he used to be a mental heath administrator.
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toadballet1 Aug 2011
Perhaps a trip to their home is needed here. Your Mother needs someone to intervene for her. I think you need to see firsthand what is happening or even check up on them to make sure they are caring for themselves. The eighties seem to be the decade when things go awry.
Has your Dad been evaluated for cognitive issues? My experience with doctors is that they do not intervene with family issues unless forced to. There is not much they can do. If you turn it over to social services they tend to overreact and sometimes do not come up with the best solution.
Have you spoken with them about different living arrangements like an ALF? At least your Mom will not be responsible for his day to day care and household chores. Also, she can get out and socialize with or without him.
Sounds like the situation is pretty grim for your Mother. She is basically a prisoner in her own home.
If you report elder abuse, you will have to be involved in how the results play out. It would be good to have a plan first and get as much input as you can from your Mom.
Is there anyone who lives near by who can check in on her or take her out for the day just to get away?
good luck...
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