Questioning father's mental health and why the lie? -

Questioning father's mental health and why the lie?


Hi, Looking for some advice please. Dad is 70, intelligent, lives alone (has done for 20 years). For 15 years he has been telling everyone that he is going overseas to work for a friend running his hotel in Switzerland. He keeps telling people when they speak to him that he's going away next week, always next week...... Everyone feels like he is insulting their intelligence with the lying, and therefore try to avoid him. 2 days ago dad rang me for my birthday, wished my a happy birthday, asked me how I was feeling after a recent operation I had had... you know - normal questions a parent would ask, then says "now, I have to catch up with you and go thru things because looks like I'm going overseas on Monday or Tuesday" I told him I couldn't "do this" anymore and hung up. Perhaps he is suffering from a mental health problem? Apart from the going overseas issue he is completely normal. If it is possibly a mental health issue I would want to email him some evidence of it and say that I would be more than happy to go to the doctor with him to confirm or rule out, but if he isn't willing then I am "done". I love my dad, help!!?



It could be delusional disorder, undiagnosed at this point.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to gladimhere

People, this isn't something new he has been doing it since he was 55, 15 years! I really don't blame her for feeling she "can't do this".

My MIL had a mental problem where she lied when she didn't want to do something or to get herself out of something she had done. She would also take on other peoples health problems as her own. She told my BIL she had breast cancer to get him home for Christmas. He lived two day drive from her. When SIL called to ask why I hadn't called them, I told her I knew nothing about MIL having cancer. But, her friend did have it.

I told this story because this was an ongoing problem with my MIL. So saying she was going to another country to work would not be unusual. Has Dad had other problems with telling little white lies? If not, it is really weird that he is so stuck on this one thing. I would talk to his primary first. Please come back and tell us what he says or if Dad is referred to another doctor. This is interesting.
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Reply to JoAnn29

The reason for his "story" could be anything from wishful thinking on his part to actually believing it to be true, it is interesting that his story has been the same for several years and hasn't changed but also hasn't materialized. Has he ever wanted to arrange a time with you to go over life details in an effort to prepare for his leaving before? Consciously, subconsciously or somewhere in between maybe this is his way of getting stuff in order (POA, will, financial affairs)before his mind isn't able anymore. He isn't able to face it or say out loud that he is failing and needs to take core of this so he is using his "trip" as the reason. He lives alone, maybe he has been having more delusions or memory issues than you realize and part of him knows this but he's too proud to admit it so telling everyone that he is going to be productive over seas is his way of explaining why he will suddenly be gone one day.

Whatever the reason or root cause of his story, I'm not really clear as to why it bothers you so much, why not give him this fantasy, this out if you will? But more importantly don't shut him out and miss the opportunity he is creating for you to go over the important life details you will need as his health declines. Let him give you the access and info because he is going over seas, what he is really doing is making it much easier for you to take over his care and life piece by piece. Believe me if he will do this with you now while he still can it will be much easier than digging through his papers and trying to figure stuff out because bills need to be paid yesterday or a big decision needs to be made medically. This may also be his way of enabling you to see just how much less able he is than you think. Again this may not be a totally continuous purposeful thing so pay close attention and take your clues from him, go along with the trip and ask about the details, you will need them after all but don't point out that he doesn't have details and this isn't happening. Let him remain as hopeful and happy as he can, what's the harm?

Then again maybe I'm all wrong, I just feel like spending some in depth one on one time with him will probably help make tings clearer to you and that's what he's asking for. So many of us have LO's who want to hide everything and not share or fight us on everything, I would make the most of your dad's offer to let you in, so to speak.
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Reply to Lymie61

The brain is a complicated body part. I would begin with talking to a neurologist and see where that leads. It sounds harmless to me, you on the other hand sound like your being "brutal". But , I get the impression that you are at the beginning of what can be a very long, and heartbreaking road.
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Reply to Robert21

Do not send him email to prove to him he has a problem. Instead set an appointment for him to see a geriatric doctor and go with him. Speak with doctor alone before dad's appointment or send a letter. You must be very careful here as you don't want to hurt dad or raise his suspicions. It may result in him shutting you out of his life.

This is the time to discuss POA, DNR, and other documents that need to be in place for everyone.
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Reply to gladimhere

That’s really interesting. I’m not sure if it will help or not, but let me tell you my story.

My husband and I traveled every summer until his stroke. Then, travel became iffy. My husband continually asked his doctors if it was ok for him to travel in so many months to such and such place to lecture or attend a conference, etc. The whole thing was usually made up, but it served a need for him to feel like his old self and to gauge how sick the doctors thought he was.

Does your father’s story of traveling to Switzerland fulfill a need for him to resemble who he used to be or what he perceives as successful? 70 is a rough age because it’s usually after retirement, and strong, intelligent individuals who used to be on top of their game sometimes experience an identity crisis as well as health decline. Pretending can be part of how people cope.
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Reply to JuliaRose