Follow
Share

She has multiple health issues. She monitors any communication he has, won't allow him to tell us anything, and seems to control his life. She refuses to inform us of any decline in her health - we only know because he broke down and called us when she went to hospital, but he's terrified of her reaction if she finds out. We are thinking of setting up a phone he can access outside the home when he goes on errands, just so he can have a line of communication with us. We just want to provide support and resources for him, and be available if the moment comes when he feels he can't handle it anymore. Merely trying to visit them stresses her out, and she has heart problems, so we are thinking that being up front with her about all this will just give her a heart attack, and/or get dad in trouble too. They have had trust issues in the past (his fault) but he changed and has been a good kind husband for many years. However he has a guilt complex and seems to think it's his penance to accept this treatment from her. We just want to give him the emotional support to stand up for himself and have some aspect of life separate from her. But is it wrong to keep such a secret from her, and play along like we know nothing, even though it is meant to keep from stressing her?

Sounds like Mom has a mental illness. And poor Dad has to walk on egg shells which makes for a stressful situation.

Get him a phone one that pays as u go. If he has a car, tell him to hide it in the glove compartment only turning it on when he needs to use it.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

I'm with Grandma1954 - can see 2 sides. So I'm trying to wear everyone's shoes here..

Rights & Respect surround your question.

Mother can keep HER matters secret (as her right) BUT by disclosing to Father, it puts the burdon on him to stay silent too. He will have to choose to respect her wishes regarding her health or not.

I strongly believe Father has a right to support for HIMSELF as well as for his caring role. He has every right to talk about his own life & his struggles as a carer.

So supporting him, helping him find support, helping him to have lines of communication are great ideas. If this includes a secret phone, well.. he is an adult, allowed to own a phone afterall. Allowed to visit others/spend time away from Mother too.

CeCe you could be writing my future life... it's only a step-down from that now. My Dad is succeeding at walking that fine line of respect & rights.

My approach is to put each request through a 'common sense' & safety sieve. Leave the coo-coo out.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Beatty
Report
CeCe114 Oct 8, 2021
Thanks for your response! I saw this coming a few years ago. It's too bad that it has to be this way, and it took me awhile to figure out how to detach from this melodrama - but the act of my dad reaching out is enough to make me try to reengage. I'm hopeful but also trying to not have any expectations, he might revert to his comfortable status of avoiding conflict - just want to give him a lifeline and support if he decides to take it.
(9)
Report
I would absolutely do that. He is essentially an abuse victim. You can’t abandon him just because you feel it’s being dishonest to her. People with dementia cannot see logic, and sometimes their worst traits are the ones that are dominant. I’d do what’s best for both of them. It won’t kill her to have this a little secret from her, but it may save him.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Lizbitty
Report
CeCe114 Oct 8, 2021
How do I know if it's dementia? She's always been a controlling type, it just got worse as her physical health has declined. The few times I've been able to visit in the last few years, she is still sharp mentally, doesn't hallucinate or anything, just is always suspicious of others motives and overly controlling.
(1)
Report
See 1 more reply
I can see two sides of this.
If she has not been declared incompetent she can decide who gets informed as to her status.
I can understand your father NEEDS to talk to someone and vent, voice that he is afraid, he needs comfort and reassurance. And I understand that he wants to keep you informed as well.
all that said..
I would get him a phone that he can use while he is out. I suggest that he keep it someplace where she will not find it. And keep it silent or off unless he is using it so that there will be no way it would ring and she would hear it.
You probably can not change her mind about keeping you informed but tell her that you would probably worry less if you were kept in the loop.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Grandma1954
Report

My father had paranoid personality disorder and when he developed vascular dementia his controlling ways only got worse - most of it directed toward my mother. Mom was his caregiver and she stood solidly in his corner, not wanting us kids to get involved, even when one of my siblings was exploiting my father financially. My mother was competent; it was her husband and her money so I went along, even when I didn't agree. Until the day Mom's health was compromised and Dad pushed Mom down. Mom wasn't badly injured, but she could have been. That was when things changed from "it shouldn't be happening" to "it's dangerous". I challenged my father's competence and gained guardianship, and permanently split the family.

It's painful to watch one parent "taking" abuse by the other; but I still believe if they are competent, it is ultimately their decision. I supported my mother in other ways the best I could and I would encourage you to do the same with your Dad. But realize you don't ever _know_ what's really going on in their marriage. When I was about 12 years old I went on a road trip with my parents and they were sniping at each other all day. Our hotel room had two double beds and I was shocked that night when right after their latest snipe, they roll over to each other, kissed, exchanged "I love you"s, and went to sleep in each other's arms. And here I thought they were having a difficult time being in the same room... They were married more than 68 years and her devotion never waivered regardless of how outrageous or disrespectful my father became or how the stress came to impact her own health. Don't be surprised if your father displays the same degree of fortitude.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to TNtechie
Report
CeCe114 Oct 10, 2021
Yes, it sounds like we have the same situation, just the mom and dad are reversed! I don't believe Mom is physically abusive, but very controlling, and my dad has tolerated it for years. I'm trying to walk the same line you did, respecting my father's wishes, but wanting to be there if he needs me. What is "vascular" dementia?
(1)
Report
See 1 more reply
It sounds like your dad is being held hostage to Mom's mental illness and/or dementia.

She should not be driving the bus.

I think you woukd do well to think of their needs individually right now. Mom needs more care than dad can give. If the present circumstances continues, chances are pretty good that dad will pass first.

Mom is currently hospitalized? Get dad out of the home. Get him into a facility, even temporarily, send him on a trip or have him stay with one of you.

Brother then informs SW at the hospital that there is no care available at home for mom. She needs an approriate placement, rehab, short term psych hold to get meds sorted or LTC.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report

Because They are classic signs of dementia,
They can still seem very bright As to hide the signs, Yet Her secretive and controlling ways, are telling you It is a mental problem!
I am and eldest son At 63 Who has been told by someone close That my mum has instructed the Carers Not to Give me any information About her health, If it wasn't for the cleaner Keeping me up-to-date yet she only visits once a week, I would be in a terrible state of worry as I am anyway ,But most of the time I am left in the dark! I do feel for you And do agree with others who have said about your dad's secret phone would be a big help for you and dad , but also your Mam at the end of the day ! This is just started happening to me, So at least I can plan For what is coming ahead
I pray That you make the right decision As I know it is a fine balance!
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Drmichael59
Report
CeCe114 Oct 10, 2021
Wow- you really get it then. So does your mom live alone except for visits from care-givers and the housekeeper?
(0)
Report
Your sweet dad needs support and empathy. It sounds like he is doing a great job in caring for your mom, but the stress of 'keeping secrets' will come back to haunt him--esp if something major happens and you all had no idea she had anything wrong. Keeping secrets in his mid 80's and living in fear of mom's temper (I am assuming, perhaps wrongly) that she will blow a fuse if you kids are involved.

I would definitely get a cell phone just for dad to use to call out. He can call the kids and at least have a place to 'dump' his worries and feelings.

No doubt he is used to kowtowing to mom. Wow, and she's only mid-70's? That horrifies me as I am only 10 years away from that I worry so much about being a burden on my family.

It's NOT just about your mom. Dad is a 50% part of this equation. If MOM doesn't want to see family, arrange to see dad on your own.

I wouldn't put up cameras, you already know what it's like in the house. A line of communication would be a good start. Take it from there. For dad, knowing you're there for him would go a long way.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Midkid58
Report
CeCe114 Oct 10, 2021
Thank you
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
Mom is in the hospital now? If so, what if you told the Discharge Planner that it would be an UNSAFE DISCHARGE to let her go back home. That Dad is getting unable to care for her and she is ruining his health.

They may decide to send her to Rehab so they see how see is over a longer period of time. - it’s usually a few weeks. That wouldn’t be your Dad’s fault.

if you go that route, keep repeating UNSAFE DISCHARGE - those are the magic words.

Your poor Dad needs to catch a break somehow. This could negatively affect his health, at his age. At least he’d get a short rest before she came home.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to BeckyT
Report

Does your father have a spiritual adviser, minister, rabbi, priest, he can talk to? It sounds like he does not have an accurate idea of guilt and may be punishing himself unnecessarily. Your idea of establishing a way for him to communicate with you and receive your support is a great idea. My take is that you and he do not have to discuss this with your mom. You are not lying at all. His business/your business.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to rovana
Report

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter