I am seeking some advice. My father, who is 80 and has been suffering from PD for 13 years, has declined in the last 2 years, with multiple visits to the GP and a number of calls to the ambulance and admittance to A&E due to severe abdominal pain, many many blood tests and scans reveal that everything is normal. He is declining cognitively, suffers significant anxiety, is unable to spend much time with others and has become agrophobic.
My step mum (15 years younger) is his full time carer and does everything for him, goes over and above and runs around so that he doesn’t have to to anything at all. I believe that this is an unhealthy dynamic that has resulted in him declining quicker and becoming more helpless. He is rapidly losing his independence and so is she. They are stuck in this co-dependency and he is not interested at all in helping himself. There is apathy, which I know is a symptom.
I am concerned about my step Mum’s wellbeing. She has stopped seeing friends, no longer goes out on her own, apart from once a week to pick up groceries and is no longer able to travel to see her family (she is from the far east). She is isolated, lonely and exhausted.
I am trying to help when I can (I work full time but live 15 minutes away) but she doesn’t like to accept help and would never ask for help. She hides her true feelings from my Dad. She must be strong and says it is “her duty” to look after him. She is not giving herself any time at all and will not leave him for any length of time because he dislikes being on his own and gets grumpy if she leaves him for too long.
Both my brother and I have had open discussions with them both in the hope of helping to relieve some of the burden for her - we suggested the idea of at home respite care a couple of days a week and I gave them details of a reputable service nearby. The problem is that my Dad does not want someone else to come in and look after him and he does not want to spend the money. He became extremely anxious and visibly stressed when we brought this up in conversation. He is so used to his wife looking after him and does not want it to be any different. She does not want to cause him any stress either so this has now gone cold.
The problem is, she is going to have a breakdown. It is only a matter of time. She is not sleeping well, she is visibly stressed and suppressing her feeling and emotions to appear strong for him.
I am feeling stressed and uncomfortable about this situation and am at a loss as to what to do next. I can’t make them do what they don’t want to do, but how can I let this continue? I feel helpless.
As my Brother does not live nearby I feel that this is weighing on me to deal with. But I am not sure what I should do next.
Any advice would be much appreciated.