My mom started having back pain in Sept. She does not like doctors and didn't go to one until a couple weeks ago (last time she went to a dr was 37 yrs ago when she had me). She was diagnosed with osteoporosis, but she says she doesn't have it and she won't take her meds. She is severely depressed and says she doesn't want to live. To make matters worse, she treats my father horribly to the point he calls me crying. She is so depressed about having pain and getting older. I found a social worker for my Dad to visit, but he is afraid to go because mom might find out and get even more unreasonable. I live far away from them, otherwise I would just take my dad to the social worker. I said I'd come out to take him, but he said that would make things worse, that mom will get mad at him if I come out. She's not eating, not cooking or cleaning (which is very normal for her).....They don't have many friends in the town they live in (they recently moved) and they don't go to church. Mom stalks my Dad when he's on the phone, she's paranoid he's talking to others about her, so when I want to talk to him about seeing the social worker, etc it's really hard. I don't know what else to do, I'm at a loss.
Your mom is essentially holding all of you hostage and that's not ok. Maybe she has dementia, maybe it's just depression, maybe she's in pain.....whatever the reason, it's not ok. Maybe if you tell her that she'll change. Maybe not. But you can try, for your dad's sake.
I witnessed a few ugly scenes between my happily-married-for-40-years parents. My mom had just beaten cancer and had gone into a deep depression. My dad would call me to come over when he couldn't get her out of bed and I witnessed her call him names and spew poison at him. I was shocked. I didn't know my mom had that in her. My dad was embarassed. It was awful.
Do what you can do to mediate from where you are. Be there for your dad. Try to talk to your mom. But if the behavior doesn't stop I have to agree with the others in saying you're going to have the enlist the help of the authorities.
And while we know the benefits of being able to get away, taking a walk, taking a small break, many of our elderly parents of that generation don't think that way. They don't like to ask for help (hello! not visiting a Dr. for 37 years!). And at the age of 74, I couldn't have PAID my dad to see a counselor or other professional. If your dad is like mine he'll live with it. Period. He may be miserable and trapped but he may think that these are the cards he was dealt and that he has no other choice but to take it.
You are a good and generous daughter to be there for him when he calls and to want to do something to improve their situation. A social worker is a great place to start but nothing will change if your dad doesn't venture out to see the social worker. I don't doubt that he's concerned about your mom's reaction but maybe he's a little scared too. That's a big step. That's airing dirty laundry and I hate to keep harping on the generational thing but our elderly parents didn't rush to professionals when they needed help.
I have an 87 year old patient who has had 2 strokes, is in a wheelchair, is hard of hearing, and is combative not just to me (who can take it) but to his 81 year old wife. Last weekend he punched her and called her a bitch. I witnessed the whole thing because the man had taken a swing at me too but I had to report it to our social worker and the social worker came to the house later in the week and the wife totally denied that it had happened. At the time it happened she was angry and yelling back at him. It was a spectacle. But then totally denied it ever happened. They've been married over 50 years.
Anyway, I got off track. Be there for your dad and act accordingly as you see fit. If you think he needs assistance try to get it for him. But the problem lies with your mom, that's where a change needs to happen and if she won't visit Dr.'s or take her medication or even admit that there's anything wrong she's not going to hop on some therapeutic bandwagon to learn how to control her anger. People only change when they want to. We can't make them. And at their age change is especially difficult.
But do what you can do, HikeGirl.
I think monicalouise, above, explained "why" it's happening very well. What you can do about it, is where it gets tough. Ultimately, they will do what they want...and won't do, what they don't want to...and their defiance can be quite stubbornly animated, even with anger. What my husband, with his parents, and me, with my parents witnessed, is it can even become sort of a game with them...to where they intentionally do things to tick-off their spouse and to thwart any direction or assistance from anyone...family, doctors, caregivers etc. Making their own decisions, and being left alone about those decisions, seems to be what they want...it is one of the last things they feel they have control over...their own thoughts & wishes.
Your dad is probably in a no-win situation. (and he may not be completely innocent in the combative nature of their relationship.) He needs to try to get away from the situation daily or occasionally to free his mind and relax, and release some of the pressure that could be building. He needs to walk away when things become heated or uncomfortable. It may help their relationship too, if they spent some time away from one another. (absense makes the heart grow fonder?) If there isn't some occasional separation, it could lead to physical abuse. (My quiet, gentle father would hit my mother to get her to "shut up"!) Are chores around the house becoming more difficult for her or him to get done? Perhaps you could arrange a cleaning service or a family member or friend to clean once a week. Would also give her/them someone to talk to. She may complain at the prospect...but sometimes you have to ignore that and do what you think is best. You may hear about it at first, but eventually they may come around.
Having a heart to heart alone with your mother about her health care is probably a good idea. Her life doesn't have to be so bleak...but she has to participate in making it better. All you can do is try to explain the benefits of getting her medical issues & pain resolved, with the intention of making her life better. If she doesn't choose that route, there is not much you or your father can do. Some visits from you...will probably be necessary to drive home your points and to do follow-up.
Good luck to you...keep your chin up...and I wish you and your parents, peace.
This is hard because you are not there. I deal with that myself. My Mom has dementia from a brain stem stroke and is physically disabled and has OCD ( she has had that all her life but now that she is not able to get around it is worse) and can drive you crazy with her demands and my Dad reacts horribly and yells at her and calls her names and refuses to get in home care. And I am about 5 hours away. I try and help as much as I can but so far not having much luck. I only tell you this so you know I understand how hard it is to see your parent or parents suffer and be so far away. And feel helpless.
I have been told to call protective services but if I do I am sure Dad and Mom will cut me out of their lives and then what? But I feel like saying the same thing to you. Call protective services. I did call an agency and talked with a woman about the abuse I felt was going on and she helped me some. It was actually an abuse hotline. Not really for elders but she was still helpful. And I did have a serious talk with my Dad about him getting his act together and how he coulld not be abusive and he has since been better. Not great but better.
So- can you talk to your Mom? Make a trip and lay it out there. Tell her if she does not get help you will be forced to call APS. I told my Dad this. Actually -- what I did was tell him that we understood how hard Mom was to deal with. We told him we know how hard it is to be a caregiver as our teen daughter has significant specials needs and behavior problems -we are not just parents -we are her caregivers as well--- and I told him that , though we sometimes want to scream and shout at our girl-like when she spits in my face, pulls my hair...- I don't. I cannot. And neither can he with Mom. YOU JUST CAN'T. I said that a lot. And I told him to get help. He has yet to get help but he is more patient with my Mom.
Can you word it with your Mom in a way that let's her know you care but she still needs to get help or get reported. If she gets reported she will be forced to get help. i think this is a conversation that needs to happen in person.
If she won't change then do what I have yet to do and call APS. If I think my Dad is being mean again I will. I will probably not see them again but at least Mom will be safe. ( she does not want APS involved, either) .
I wish you the very best of luck and blessings!!! I know how hard this is!!!