Elder stepdad in law keeps feeling sorry for himself, wanting to go to the doctors. Wondering if he is attention seeking?

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My stepfather- in- law keeps having accidents in the bathroom. I already take care of my mother Post- stroke who is paralyzed on one side and pretty much bedridden. He is an alcoholic and smokes, takes multiple meds, wants to go to the doctor often for abdominal issues. He walks to neighbors’ houses and always talks in a pity-me-poor-me way. Telling everyone how much he cares and he does for mom, (we do it all), not him. Recently he’s been having more falls/accidents. The doctors don’t really find anything wrong with him other than constipation and give him laxatives and pain relief. I feel like he watches us take care of mom and wants us to do the same for him. Doctors and Nurses tell us to let him do things he can, for himself otherwise, they’ll completely depend on us for things. He always worrying and talking about bowel movements, he can’t go, but he barely eats, mostly drinks his calories, - when he does eat he feels like throwing up. Or has explosive bowel movements where he barely makes it to the toilet. We get things for him to eat, then he says he can’t eat it. Then he brags how the hospital fed him and he was able to eat. He seems so attention seeking by all our family and some neighbors too. Does anyone else have these issues with parents. They are in early 60s, not 80s or 90s. Why are doctors not seeing anything wrong with him?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Early 60's? Oy. I'm 64 and still working. I'm so sorry that your mom had a stroke at such a young age and hope that she is working on regaining her mobility.

What kind of doc has FIL been seeing? I think I would want him seen by a GI doc to explore the explosive diarrhea, the feeling of fullness and nausea. He could have gall bladder or liver issues, the latter springs to mind especially due to his drinking. Has he had a complete blood panel recently, with liver enzymes in particular being examined?

It sounds like a visit to a psychiatrist might also be in order if the GI exam shows no findings. It sounds as though there may be some cognitive decline, depression and/or long standing personality disorder in play. Meds might help. So might giving a name to what is going on with him mentally; it will help YOU cope better and understand when and how to set boundaries.
You really described my 90 year old father. He wants attention. He loves going to the hospital because he gets attention. I refer to my father's weekly ER visits as his 'hobby'. And most of them are for constipation.

The doctor was right about not doing things for him that he can do for himself. My line with my father was "the more I help him the more helpless he gets". That is a hard thing to explain to others who think you are doing enough for the elder. But in your case your step father in law is not elderly. Is he of sound mind? Can you have a discussion with him and let him know that you know what he is doing and it will not work.
Man in his early sixties.
Hospital admission - for what?
Multiple meds - for what?
Increasing number of falls - caused by what?
Nausea on eating; constipation interspersed with explosive bowel movements; increasing frequency of bathroom accidents.

When you say the doctors "don't really" find much wrong with him other than constipation...

What has been investigated?
What support is the family getting with your mother's care?
Top Answer
Mthr had untreated colon cancer and managed by drinking her calories, taking laxatives, etc. By the time we were called, her hemoglobin required a 2 unit blood transfusion just to get a colonoscopy. When the surgeon took out her softball sized cancer, he said the hole through her gut was smaller than the hole in the top of a ball point pen. Take your dad to a GI doc - has he ever had a colonoscopy? Sounds like he should have a look-see.
Yes he’s been seen for so many issues, I wonder if the doctors see through it as Attention seeking. He’s a Veteran. Yes he’s had MRIs, CAT ScNs, PET scans, GI workups. Back problems. He started smoking about 10-12 years ago. Heavier when not working which he can’t now. His drinking progressively got worse. He had his back doctor come visit our home to check mom’s situation. His doctor told my husband mom is Well taken care of. When she had her stroke, he was calling my husband every day for help with something while she is in hospital and rehab. So we decided to move them in with us to help him out. But he can’t really do anything for her, so we - me, my husband, two teenage sons, - do. Of course I do the changing and bathing. Boys help with meals while I am at work. Husband helps with changing during the day. We’ve made him cut his drinking down. But we worry if we don’t get him his beer he’ll get in the car when we aren’t around, and hurt someone or himself. Sometimes he’ll drink more and that’s usually when falls occur. My mom is fairly easy to take care of, despite her condition. But he seems to always come up with something wrong with him, too. I ask him sometimes too: Do you need us to change and bathe you too? He seems jealous sometimes of the care we give mom. He’s a nice guy, but when he talks he just sounds sad like he always wants pity. I feel like he would be lost without us. He did mention one time a doctor saying he had early signs of Parkinson’s but then never anything again. When he goes to hospital, it’s alway for a GI issue. My mom was such an outgoing person before her stroke, running around, all over. She was a daycare teacher and then a Nanny. Taking care of Grandkids. But now she gets out once a week. She hates baths. She fights me on baths. She’d rather stay home in bed most of the time. OT/ PT cut her off because she wasn’t improving. When we would sit her up in the beginning, dad would lay her back down ASAP. I get her up in her wheelchair when home, but still have to work myself. He worries about her falling. All the time. Her memory is good, but she gets mean when we try to get her up and she doesn’t want to. My siblings tried to help at first, but their kids are all little. My in-laws all live out of state. We have it handled with mom, but dad . . . He’s an ongoing problem- seeker for himself. Yes I’ve told him to get his head checked, psych consult, but his main issues he goes for are his midsection/back/GI bowel issues.
Someone needs to be accompanying step dad to doc appointments and not relying upon him for accurate information from the doctor. Ditto with getting him to a psychiatrist; someone needs to accompany him and talk to the doc about his neediness and hypochondria.

If you are not going with him to the doctor, for all you know, doc has told him he is in liver failure, has cirrhosis or something serious like that.  How would you know?
Well if he's a typical male (at least the ones in my experience), he is probably not paying attention to dosing and taking too many laxatives when he takes them, which could cause the bathroom issues. If his diet is poor and he's smoking and drinking, it's not surprising he's constipated. I'm 67 and I can't imagine the shape he's in.

My suggestion is to consider getting ready to put both folks into assisted living where they can be around more people and get the care they need. It sounds like you're doing a great job with your mom, but if they were both in assisted living, he could get some "attention" too and maybe that would lessen his apparent need for attention. He could go to activities and have more opportunities for socialization.

The thing is, they're both young in terms of senior care. My mom lived to 97 and my dad 92. So your mom and step-dad could be around another 20 years. I'd get them set up sooner rather than later with more care because their situations will only deteriorate. That's probably not what you want to hear but you and your husband have a right to live your own life without sacrificing your own happiness and/or health for your mom and her husband. They both sound like they need a lot of care.
I sympathize with you--my mother was a bit of a hypochondriac all my life, so I grew up thinking that a weekly run to the dr was "normal" and ER visits monthly, or more often., also normal. Daddy never caved to mother's faked illnesses and so she did not get the attention she wanted. Daddy came down with Parkinson's and while mother DID step up and care for him, along with a LOT of help from family and outside care, she never forgave him for being "sicker" than she was.

Looking back, it was really, really dysfunctional and I did not have a "good" marriage to base my own on. Also, I was called in to be the surrogate mom waaaaay too many times to younger sibs. Very confusing to all concerned.

If Mother had applied the psychiatric care she was forced into even ONE of the times she was admitted for psych reasons, I think it would have been an amazing change and for the good. Never once admitted she was wrong or even mentally unstable. (everyone knew she was!) She's 88 now and still faking multiple illnesses to get attention. (sigh)

Acknowledge that your stepdad is probably jealous....I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around someone younger than my hubby acting out like this. What happened to your mom is so sad, and you are wonderful to step up--but it sounds like the care of mom is causing dad to act out--the suggestion to move both of them to ALF would make a lot of sense. Maybe dad would have more to do--and mom would get consistent care, and you'd be fresher and more able to help when you can.

It's a LOT to ask teens to step in and do this kind of care.

Next time dad messes the bathroom, hand him the cleaning supplies and wish him good luck.
What jumps out to me is that Dad does not have his own family loving and careing for him like mom does.
He is acting out the only way he knows how.
It sounds as though there is also some dementia possibly due to his drinking problem which may have also called liver problems which can also lead to mental issues
It’s so hard to figure out the right answer. When she was in rehab, all she wanted to do was come home. She fell trying to get out of bed one time. I told her she needed to start eating and taking her meds and attempt PT. She did not like being in the rehab. Her 20 days was up and they d/c’ed her home with us. I know they are young. But then I again just had one of my sons friends mom pass away at 54 and a cousin pass away at 58 this past month, suddenly. That’s why it has been somewhat hard seeing other older neighbors and even my own grandmother both lived into 80s. One still alive is 89 and and still cooking for my bio-dad who also suffered a stroke and he can walk, but My Grandma - his mom cooks for him still. I agree with all the above maybe to “trick” him into going to psych doctor, but he prefers to be dropped off at VA and picked up. I appreciate the advice given. We are awaiting his results still from the full body scan recently done.

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