Follow
Share

Last night my parents, age 70 & 74 and living independently down the street from me, declared they are basically "done" with life. They say they see nothing out there for them. My father admits he is basically trying to kill himself with alcohol. This in spite of the fact that they are in good health (other than alcohol and depression), have a nice home, good financial situation, and one child (me) that watches out for them daily and brings no drama to their lives. They refuse to seek help for their depression. I don't know what to do. My mom's mom lived to 96. When I try to tell my mother she probably has another 20+ years ahead of her, all she says is she hopes not to live much longer. I'm tearing my hair out this morning!!!!!!! They say they don't want to live to an age to become a burden on me. They don't seem to have a clue that they are quickly becoming a burden at this point with their behavior. I run my own business and work 6.5 days per week, and spend my only time off (Sunday afternoons) at thier house while they tell me how awful life is and how they are "done" and they are too old to have positive things going on in their lives. We discuss things like cremation, burial, inheritance, physical ailments, and they bad mouth pretty much everyone they know. Then I go home, crash out in bed, and here I am, its Monday, up hours before the sun trying to get my work week started again. This sux.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Floridakid - Alanon usually has a help line - someone mans it 24 hrs a day. It might be useful to give them a call and they will have someone call you back who can talk to you further, in depth, about you and your issues and what you can do. They will be able to help you more than we can when it comes to dealing with alcoholics. I am so sorry you are going through this. Caring for elders and all their health problems is tough enough. Dealing with alcoholic elders has got to be awful. Spouses you can leave, adult children you can kick out, but frail elders? That's tough. Sorry.
(3)
Report

I meant tried very hard :-)
(0)
Report

Maybe if you go to Alanon they'll go to AA...maybe not...relapses happen even then though. Their "point of view" is the addiction talking for sure. So many people really lose their health and can't enjoy these later years, to watch someone self-destruct who actually could has got to feel tragic - my heart aches for you! I have a good friend who finally had no choice but to watch her husband leave the family to pursue his addictions unhampered and self-destruct, leaving her to raise a whole passel of kids with just one grandparent to help. She tried very hear dto be supportive and encouraging, but he got better, he came back, he got worse, he left...I think he may have passed on recently but it is a chapter of her life she does not talk abotu a great deal. Stay in touch and go on taking good care of yourself, whatever happens after you have done all you can do for Mom and Dad - you need and deserve it!
(2)
Report

envision - I am truly finding that focusing on the good makes me feel better. I tend to be a "glass half empty" person, I always have been. Since we started the Good Attitude thing, I have learned that you are only as happy as you will let yourself be. Life is more challenging here lately for us between our business and the economy, and our parental situations. But we are working hard to see the good in each day, no matter how small. Some days, the "good" is only that nothing "bad" happened. Maybe if you project a good attitude, those around you will pick up on it and feel a little better. If not, then you do it for yourself. It has not caught fire with my parents yet and maybe it never will, but it's helping me cope and to be more in control of my own thoughts and emotions. It's also helping me sleep better at night, to try and block out the negative thoughts. I am trying to understand where my parents are coming from and respect their point of view and the fact that I can only do so much to help them, and the rest is up to them. I'm also working on eating better - foods that give me energy to be the best I can be every day, and that is helping too!
(3)
Report

I am so happy for you that you and your husband are doing things together, that are making your life better. I keep asking my husband to help me with these same types of lifestyle changes, and he just does not get it. I am going to try to "go it alone, and make a Good Attitude Pact with myself. My dad, who lives with me, is the same as your parents and talks aboout his health issues and end of his life.
(0)
Report

Thanks emjo! I do need to check out Alanon. I have printed off a schedule of local meetings but have not attended yet. I run a small business and have been working 7 days per week for over 2 months now (except my day in the ER!), and it's super hard to find the energy level at the end of the day to participate in a group activity. I'm hoping to get my work load under control in the next few weeks. I appreciate you checking back in with me!!
(1)
Report

((((((hugs)))))) - very tough situation, but I think you are right. It is their choice and likely anything will set them drinking again. Don't hold your breath - detach and get on with your life. Have you checked out Alanon, It may well help you. Good luck and keep us posted.
(3)
Report

Update: Spent all day last Sunday in the ER with Dad. He checked out well, so they sent us home :( I was hoping they would keep him. Counselor provided excellent info. for an alcohol treatment facility about 30 mins away. I thought we were on track. Monday, my parents seemed very rational and said they would like the week to get some things in order and make some phone calls and try to begin stopping drinking on their own. Seemed to be doing great! Then about 2 days into it, their next door neighbor and friend died unexpectedly in the middle of the night of a heart attack. I think my parents are now back on a downward drinking spiral. I guess at some point I need to realize my parents cannot cope with life, anything will set them off to drinking, and there is not a darn thing I can do about it. No one in the ER seemed too concerned about his condition and of course clarified that any treatment will have to be voluntary. At some point I guess you just accept destructive behavior and just hold your breath and hope for the best? I feel I am living in crisis mode 24/7 just waiting for the next bad situation....
(5)
Report

This sounds like it needs intervention. Inpatient/residential intervnetion. "Unable to stand or walk" is a legitimate medical crisis, mandating an initial medical evaluation and treatment of anything else going on, followed by substance abuse rehabilitation. In the process, be sure to get support for *yourself* and advice on how to avoid enabling things to continue as they are.
(2)
Report

Floridakid- Sorry to hear that your parents are deteriorating. Why are you waiting for tomorrow? Suggestion, contact primary care, give heads up and seek the doctors advise for advise and suggested next step. To much drama and medical issues to address on your own. Keep us posted. Regards, Sand
(1)
Report

This sounds so much like my parents, except they are 64 and 65, with chronic illness (stroke, HBP, diabetes and kidney failure just for starters.)
Sometimes it just takes telling them, sometimes in blunt terms, the effect they are having on you. You said you "unloaded on them", maybe that's what it took for them to start to see what their decisions are doing. If not, try talking to their primary care Dr., they may be able to help with referrals to some eldercare counselors that could talk to your parents and help them shake off the depression and everything and start living life again.
I hope things are getting better with them! (just realized this post is over a week old!)
(0)
Report

Take them to their Doctor if you can. If you can give him "heads up" on what's going on. Maybe he can write a "prescription" telling them to eat healthy foods, drink water, exercise. Sounds silly, but worked for my husband.
You parents probably still see you as child - so they get to set the rules
But if they see Dr. as "responsible" adult - given their ages they might just respect that white coat and authority figure - and let him set rules.
At least make sure they tell him they are "through with life"maybe he can offer
mental health help.
(0)
Report

No progress. Dad's in bed today and cannot stand or walk. Mom can barely walk. Tomorrow we are driving to the local urgent care or calling 911. I told them they have until tomorrow AM to rest up and decide which way we are going with this. I don't know how I will deal with the both of them at the same time.
(1)
Report

I have been pressing them for a little over a week now. Things came to a head the Sunday before last when I went over to their house unannounced and the situation seemed very bad. I mean, I was on the fence about calling 911. One to weak to stand, the other barely walking. Sand56, I don't remember where you came into this thread, but my parents are only 70 and 74 - their condition has spiraled out of control and they should not be in the shape at their age. I have been checking in every day and bringing food, and telling them they have to start taking better care of themselves or I do not foresee that they can live independently much longer. It is my understanding they live on "Boost" drink and wine. Last year mom ended up in the hospital due to dehydration and poor nutrition, and I could see the same thing coming at us, for both of them. Going out to breakfast is unusual and great, since it means they are eating a full meal and also getting out into the world. I think cabin fever has also been a factor in things. So, a good way to start the week! Thanks for your comments!
(3)
Report

Floridakid:

That is great news. Did anything transpire that precipitated this behavior? Have you shared any of the comments that you received to your original post? When was the last time that your parents went out to breakfast? Change in eating habits to more nutritional food-Wonderful - That is very important. (My mother, eats to many sugary treats and also ended up in the hospital as a result of poor nutrition. Major vitamin deficiency.)

Regards
(1)
Report

Just spoke to the parents after giving them the weekend off from my "oversight" and my opinions. They have eaten the healthy foods I dropped off last Friday, and are going out for breakfast this morning. They asked where some of the healthy things I purchased are located in the grocery store. Maybe we can turn things around before it's too late.
(5)
Report

Sand: I agree for sure. I anticipate a crisis near-term. Last year we spent Mother's Day in the emergency room because my mom had stopped eating and drinking for several days and just went to bed. She became so dehydrated and weak she could not walk and we had to load her in the car and take her. She spent 3 days in the hospital and went through alcohol withdrawl. They had to give her all meds intravenously since she threw up any pills. We are nearly at the same place now...both of them. I run my business and my household trying to stay at least a day or two ahead of the game so that I can afford the time when the next ER trip arrives. Thank you for your post. That's too bad about your friend. It is frustrating to watch someone make such bad choices and have their good judgement derailed by alcohol or drugs.
(0)
Report

Floridakid:

Your father is a alcoholic, in denial and his reasoning skills are most likely impaired (alcoholic dementia). It will most likely take another crisis, "wake up call" for any change to occur. From reading your posts, this event will most likely come in the not to distant future for either your mother or father. Another fall, cancer, pancreatis, liver disease and the list goes on. From your comments inpatient treatment is most likely required.

Your love for your parents and desire to rescue them and improve their lives is understandable and commendable. I could envision myself doing the exact same thing and the situation ripping my heart out. I agree with the ladies above, you need to take care of yourself and reach out for support and guidance. Alanon may be a good place to start. The sooner the better.

Unfortunately, my friend Nancy, who I eluded to in my previous post, was diagnosed with lung cancer. She quit smoking and drinking for 8 months. She has recently resumed drinking as the cancer has met to her brain and prognosis is not positive. She states that she loves to drink and why not. Her husband's drinking has also increased significantly. I would not wish this situation on anyone and believe me it is heartbreaking to watch.

Please take care and keep us posted. I hope I was not to blunt. This is such a sad situation expecially as both of your parents are involved. Stay close to your husband and friends for support.
(2)
Report

Glad we were able to help. Keep us posted on what's going on.
(0)
Report

equillot: Good observation on her part. Tell her thanks for the words of wisdom. Something I will keep in mind when he comes up with reasons why all of this is perfectly "OK". I think I need to participate in our local Al-Anon. I printed out their meeting schedule about a month ago but haven't made the commitment to attend yet. I appreciate you and your mom! Thank you.
(1)
Report

I have to laugh - I was reading some of this to my Mom, who has 43 years in Al-Anon, and she was the one who pointed out that he would not be able to drink if he lost his independence. I have to give credit to the wise ones words :)
(4)
Report

Thanks for the input. I am assuming my dad's state of mind is due to alcohol abuse. He is very defensive about that, stating today that he thinks the negative effects of alcohol are overblown and that it's not really that bad. Sometimes his comments are so out there, I think there could be some dementia setting in, but I think the alcohol is mostly to blame for that. My dad has always been a quirky guy who marches to his own drummer, so I try to remember that as well. equillot, I like that you point out that he will not be able to drink alcohol if he loses his independence.

I appreciate the support you all are giving me. My parents were active and had lots of interests until this started to get bad a year or so ago. Short of a diagnosis of cancer or something like that, I did not think I would be having to deal with these types of issues until they were in their 80s. Somehow dad thinks 74 is super old...?? I don't get that. Not in today's world.
(3)
Report

Unfortunately, as adults, they do have the right to do what they are doing. I agree with emjo - get yourself to Al-Anon. It appears that alcoholism is the major factor here, and they are both choosing alcohol over anything life has to offer them. You may want to point out to them that if they lose the ability to live independently, they will not be able to drink. I doubt that has occurred to them.

Good luck. Try and stay detached from the situation. Do go to Al-Alan. It works.
(4)
Report

FloridaKid, your dad's statement is sad yet so unrealistic, he can't see the forest for the trees. On this selfish trip he hopes terminates before age 80, does he not realize he isn't traveling alone? It's one thing to want to "check out" on your own but what does he think your mom is going to do? Does he think you are going to walk away? Do you think he really means all this or is he wanting sympathy? I feel badly for you being put in this situation.
(2)
Report

((((((Hugs))))) I am sorry. Having read the thread, I suspect that alcohol is the major problem, and the trigger is the loss of the dogs. If addiction is the problem you cannot do a whole lot until things become worse e.g. the need to go to hospital for one reason or another. If (when) this happens to one of your parents you can alert medical personel about the drinking problem, In fact, it would be a good idea to document what you have seen over the past year. Yes, it is their choice to live as they do, but the time will likely come where they do need help. In the meanwhile Alanon would be a support and source of information for you.
Dealing with your own feelings over all of this is difficult, and a form of grieving. Alanon and/or literature on addictions can help you with that, Detachng is important for you and for them.
It is ironic that they say they do not want to become a burden on you, but, in fact they already are, and with their chosen lifestyle, likely to become moreso.
Interventions sometimes work, but you would need support and info on how to carry this out so as to ensure the greatest chance of success.
I do feel for you. My father drank, and as he aged, and developed what likely would now be called vascular dementia, he could not safely live at home any more, so my mother found an excellent treatment center for addictions. He spent some time there and then went to an extended care facility for the rest of his days,
My heart goes out to you. It is very hard to watch people you love self-destruct.
Keep in touch - Joan
(5)
Report

As of today, my dad is indicating that I should stop worrying about them. They are choosing to live the life they want. He says he is fine if he loses has ability to live independently (at age 74) and hopes he will not make it to 80.
(0)
Report

When you wrote, "They gave it all up about a year ago." I immediately felt the red flag go up and thought I'd ask you what happened a year ago. Maybe someone said something, like old people aren't suppposed to _____" or "gee you look terrible, have you been sick" or some offhand comment by a doctor, or something else happened. But well, you may have answered it. They lost their dogs. That could have been enough with someone depression-prone to react totally maladaptively. They need a good kick in the butt like what you just gave them, there is not one reason in the world for them to sit around for 20 years waiting to die. I watched my husband's parents more or less do that. They were immigrants who just more or less never assimiliated. See if they would work with a therapy dog organization to help foster puppies or do early socialization training for guide dogs or something. There is a couple in our Kiwanis club who are really into both of those things. Just my $0.02...
(2)
Report

Always: You did not come off too strong! No offense here. Sad for a 33 year old to be that way, what a waste. I am an only child and my parents have stressed that they never wanted to be a burden on me. I am trying to let them know that they are becoming a big burden, but you have to walk a fine line. I'm afraid they will start hiding stuff and not be honest. So, I'm trying to be gentle about that part. Drunk at a toddler's party is a little much...Most things are good in moderation, you just have to know when to say when!
(1)
Report

FloridaKid, after I hit submit, I've worried that may have come off too strong and offended you. I get over zealous about alcohol some times. I do not tell others not to drink, that's up to them. If I had my way, I'd at least tell my new family to get a grip. Yep, alcoholism is alive and well with this group. One of the sad things is most of them are also afflicted with depression, is it any wonder! The absolute worse thing is seeing a lot of them getting stinking drunk at a toddler's bday party. Yikes!! Talk about bad example. The 33 yr old lost her job and is back at home. I truly believe her parents will get her in rehab soon. I hope she doesn't go to the same place the "phone caller" niece went to 4 times! I don't know how they've escaped DUIs. The city I live near has a humongous prob with drunk drivers.
Anyway, I repeat that I'm really saddened by your parents actions. IF they even recognize they have a problem, they think it is their problem but it isn't just theirs. They've made it yours now. How much do you take? Do you call in the authorities? How long do you let them continue this downward spiral? What a truly heartbreaking situation.
(0)
Report

Alcohol has major drawbacks, that's for sure! It's negatively affecting my parents in so many physical and metal ways, it's hard to believe. Mom has had stomach/throat problems because the alcohol has been so tough on her stomach and stomach acids have damaged her through. They both have the shakes most of the time. They nap on and off all day and then can't sleep at night, so they drink lots more to knock themselves out. Both are taking falls on a regular basis. last year my mom fell face first into a lawn mower in the garage. And then there's the whole depressant part. Always: sorry to hear there's some over-the-top drinking in your family. The 33 year old's situation sounds sad. Is this person functional? From what I have read, alcoholism is under-reported among the elderly because they are able to fly under the radar more than younger people. Working-aged people usually get woken up when they have problems holding a job, or get a DUI, or something like that. My friend's husband (now about 52) has 4 DUI's, lost his license but still drives. Sometimes he drinks until he just passes out. They drink ALOT in front of their children. Their children have learned from them that you cannot have a good time without getting sloshed. The one child is nearing his teen years and I foresee problems because he has seen them drink, and drink & drive so much! I chose to back off of our friendship a few years ago because I got tired of worrying how they would get home, etc. etc. I certainly think it's a learned behavior and when it's too acceptable in a family it can bring real problems.
(1)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.