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AIBU with elderly parent

(91 Posts)
Curiousdan Thu 14-Sep-23 17:35:32

My father is 86 and has all his wits about him but he does nothing all day. My mother died ten years ago and try as we might we couldn't get him to go out anywhere apart from the supermarket occasionally and he doesn't even go there now. He does his own washing and cooking but seems to have stopped taking responsibility for everything else. He'd be surrounded by newspapers and junk if I didn't clean up.

He says he's unable to do things yet he goes to the local shop on his scooter. This morning I asked him to accompany his dog to the vet (he had a ride) but the response was, 'I've just got up.' I saw no reason why he couldn't put on a pair of shoes and just go. The dog didn't get to the vet so I've lost my cool a bit. I'm just frustrated with people who need about a month's notice to do anything. I work with older poeple who are still active and learning and yes everyone is different so AIBU for wanting more from my parent?

inishowen Thu 14-Sep-23 17:40:16

He sounds like he's depressed.

DiamondLily Thu 14-Sep-23 17:40:45

Losing his spouse possibly had a traumatic effect, plus his age.

He founds as though he has lost motivation - and I get your frustration, because I've been there, done it etc.

If he can't cope with the dog, then perhaps an alternative home needs to be sought.

Not all older people are the same.🙂

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 14-Sep-23 17:45:09

If he has a dog he has a responsibility to care for it. Frankly by the sound of it he shouldn’t own any animal. He needs, at minimum, a cleaner and a dog walker. If people want to sit in squalor in front of the tv that’s their prerogative, but NOT when they force an animal to live like that. I hope you can do something for the dog who, unlike your father, has no choice in this,

Hithere Thu 14-Sep-23 17:54:53

Agree with GSM about the dog - he takes care of doggie properly or rehoming

Do not enable your father - too many cases of elderly parents placing unrealistic demands on their adult family members

Curiousdan Thu 14-Sep-23 17:56:14

They're not in squalor because I clean the house. I walk the dog, bathe him and get him groomed. It's almost as if I run two homes! I used to tend the garden as well but that got too much to handle. We've bought him all sorts of hobby-type things but he's not interested, just lies in the chair and falls asleep in front of the TV all day. (And I feel so bad writing all of this.)

Hithere Thu 14-Sep-23 17:58:27


You ARE running two homes!

You can choose to stop it if it is too much for you

aggie Thu 14-Sep-23 18:00:37

How much did he go out on his own before he lost his wife?
Maybe he depended on her to do things
Poor mobility and loneliness contribute to of his cussedness

Curiousdan Thu 14-Sep-23 18:10:12

Mostly my parents went to the supermarket together and not much else. My father did most of the cooking and stuff. I've no doubt he's lonely but he won't even socialise with family. And tbh they didn't socialise with us prior to my mother passing. It's very sad really.

1rose Thu 14-Sep-23 19:18:53

He does sound rather down .Try and step back but get him to agree to cleaner as well as cleaning its another person to speak to .Made such a difference to my fil .A gardener for the garden
These take a load of you which will benefit you hugely.
A lot of older people don't do much it's like their world shrinks slowly .
The dog needs a walker even a few times a week so you have dad free days .That's so important you need to keep well to continue to support him .
Good luck

Curiousdan Thu 14-Sep-23 19:30:04

Thanks all. I've mentioned getting a cleaner but he goes mad! He doesn't want to pay (he gets an allowance, which would cover it) and he doesn't want a stranger in the house. In a certain way I think it might hurt his dignity. Same as above for getting a gardener

Siope Thu 14-Sep-23 19:51:38

Just stop behaving as if you’re his mother/paid carer. He’s an adult, with agency, who can live with the consequences of his actions.

M0nica Thu 14-Sep-23 20:43:40

Leave him alone. Call in socially once or twice a week, but do nothing else. Grit your teeth as the house goes to rack and ruin. It is his choice.

One of two things will happen. He will decide to do somethng for himself. Get a cleaner, get a gardener. Or he will decide he is quite content to live in growing squalor. In which case you leave him in it.

The only thing that matters, and I never thought I would ever say this, I am not an animal person, is the dog. If the dog is suffering call in the RSPCA to inspect the house and dog's routine. If they say the house is not fit for the dog then remove it and get it rehomed.

Having the dog taken may be the one thing to ginger your father up.

However, from what you say your parents were never sociable and he is quite happy on his own. It might not be your idea of an enjoyable life. It would drive me nuts, but your father is clearly content like that - so leave him to it.

The main thing to worry about is the dog (did Ireally say that)

Curiousdan Thu 14-Sep-23 21:22:21

Thanks for your concern but the dog is absolutely alright and I will always see that he is. I've been waking and looking after him for ten years and I love him. It's my father I'm worried about. Don't think he's happy but he doesn't seem to want to do anything that might help or interest him. And I often have to remind myself that yes he is an adult and makes his own choices.

nadateturbe Thu 14-Sep-23 21:42:47

He's 86, and doesn't feel like doing much. He coiks and does washing. Let's be kind. If he seems happy, I would let him continue as he is. Everyone ages differently.
But I would insist on getting help with the housework. And maybe organise food delivery.

sodapop Thu 14-Sep-23 21:46:07

It does sound as if your father is feeling low Curiousdan would he agree to see his GP. As you are taking care of the dog it seems the rest is down to your father. You may not agree with his life choices but as you say they are his decisions to make. I can understand how frustrated you must feel.

Curiousdan Thu 14-Sep-23 21:58:48

I want to be kind but the truth is I've been getting crabby lately - hence me calling out on this forum for advice.

Things my father won't do: see a GP, join a group or class, have a cleaner, go anywhere with any one for any thing, get the house sorted (crumbling plaster and broken furniture)... maybe he is happy living this way. It's me that has the problem! But I am trying to adjust my thinking.

The dog is the only thing that keeps my father going (even though he doesn't walk him etc). Think the most frustrating part is we've all been there for him since my mother died but he's waved us all away (and sometimes it has felt like a snub).

VioletSky Thu 14-Sep-23 22:07:32


You are enabling his behavior

All the time he has you to pick up after him he won't do anything to help himself

You need to bit by bit start dropping some of your responsibilities to him and instead focus on having some quality time with him instead, visit for tea, bring cake

Give him some tools to help himself. Leave the number for a cleaner, leve some leaflets about depression etc but remember you can't make him pick them up. It has to come from him

Ultimately you are setting yourself on fire to keep him warm. This is not healthy for you

Ali23 Thu 14-Sep-23 22:11:13

You are definitely not being unreasonable.

Loving an elderly parent doesn’t mean playing it all their way. You have to look after you in order to be there for him, and I would say that being crabby is a sure sign that you are being asked to do too much.

GrannySomerset Thu 14-Sep-23 22:20:43

At 81, fairly recently widowed, I understand the lack of get up and go exhibited by Curiousdan’s father but think the less he has to do, the less he will do, and he is being allowed to withdraw from life. He needs to go to perdition in his own way - you really shouldn’t be running two homes because he is too mean and stuck in his ways to employ some help, and I share Monica’s sentiments about the dog. He is really taking advantage of you.

Callistemon21 Thu 14-Sep-23 22:31:45

If he's falling asleep all the time it could be that he's not eating properly and isn't getting the rights nutrients. Is he cooking or living on junk food?

Has he had a general medical checkup lately? Does he have prostate problems which could lead to him having to go to the loo several times a night and not getting a good night's sleep?

He does sound as if he's given up but the dog needs some care and attention.
If he really loves the dog he must make an effort to go with you to the vets and make sure he's well cared for.

agnurse Fri 15-Sep-23 04:54:52

Agree with M0nica.

Three recommendations:

1. Encourage him to see a GP, if you can. (I realize that you have said he is not willing. I wonder if he would go if you phrased it this way: "Dad, I know that going to see your doctor isn't something you've been willing to do. However, I am worried about you because you seem to have minimal energy and I don't think you are eating properly. I'm concerned there is something causing this that the GP could help with. If you go to the GP, they may be able to do something that would help you feel better.")

2. If you're worried about the dog you need to contact the RSPCA.

3. If he's cognitively intact, the reality is that it is his right to live at risk. I recognize that this is not how you want him to live and that it is far from an ideal situation. However, it's his life.

If running his household and doing his life maintenance is too much for you, I'd recommend stepping back. You're not obligated to do for him what he won't do for himself. That's a reasonable boundary. If he wants to have a clean house, etc., there are people he can hire to do that. If he's not willing, as you say he isn't, to hire those people, it is his choice to live in a tip. That's not your problem.

Madgran77 Fri 15-Sep-23 06:02:08


They're not in squalor because I clean the house. I walk the dog, bathe him and get him groomed. It's almost as if I run two homes! I used to tend the garden as well but that got too much to handle. We've bought him all sorts of hobby-type things but he's not interested, just lies in the chair and falls asleep in front of the TV all day. (And I feel so bad writing all of this.)

You are inadvertently de-skilling him and I suspect have been for a long time. He needs breaking out of that pattern at a level he can manage but it will take time patience and you keeping your "I'll do it" mentality very tightly under control!! He needs a reason to do nice things as well as just keep himself going too. flowers

Madgran77 Fri 15-Sep-23 06:05:58

Sorry just read your updates so dont want my reply above to come over too harsh. I do still think you need to step back and small steps are important. But if he refuses then he consequences for that refusal might be needed? Good luck ..I do actually know what you are dealing with, been there myself

Spinnaker Fri 15-Sep-23 06:33:36

What would he do if you weren't available ? Thinking holidays or illness- does he step up then ? If he does then I would definitely step back a little and let him get on. If he doesn't then I would take the dog home or arrange to have it re-homed. Then get some social care assessment and see what transpires.

You will end up running yourself into the ground if you carry on like this. Please take care not to let that happen flowers