Quite all right to get upset – no shame in that.
My Mum's aunt gets assistance from my Dad, of all people. She is 91, a spinster, naturally stubborn and snappy at times, and she is so ‘old school' that she would not even let those who were not ‘kin' in through the front door! That included my Dad!
Dad gets her shopping every Tuesday and Thursday (some times even more often); Mum's brother helps out with her finances. With one of our trusted neighbours, Dad had to witness the signing of her revised will, which is very sad of course.
I remember once when she refused an ambulance after coming down with a bad infection. She was so stubborn. Although Dad and my great aunt get on OK(ish), they are from different worlds! Dad will be extremely blunt at times and, when it came to the ambulance being called – which she did not want – Dad said, bluntly, “You are GOING to hospital because you are not well – you CANNOT stay at home. We will sort everything out – I promise.” There was an almighty slanging match, so Dad went quiet to keep the situation calm.
Dad was (and is!) careful never to humiliate her.
This is no lie, but the doctors said she probably would have died if Dad had not TOLD her she was going. (Dad is pretty much like that with all of us when it coming to health – there's no arguing.) She even told Mum that she is glad he forced her to go.
It is all very sad because the lack of abilities for some elderly people can be devastating. Life really can be cruel. That is blatantly obvious of course, but there is no easy way out. However, those who we are trying to care for – and I know this from my experience because my parents are my carers despite my being 27 – simply must accept the necessary help because it really will make everything better for everyone, most importantly the one who requires the care. Seeking help is not a sign of giving up or giving in – it a sign of being strong and saying, “I'm not putting up with this half of a life – I'm getting some support in because I need it.” After all, we've paid the taxes for all of this, however rich or poor we are – that's what social services are for – so we should rightly use it when we really need it.
Why should anyone suffer at all in these circumstances where something can be done? The change of routine or the way in which food is given – i.e. delivered through social services or by other means – is difficult to bear because all one wants is a ‘normal' life. However, it is paramount to remember that this help must be accepted in a way that the individual feels relatively comfortable with, but nonetheless it must be accepted and used to the full – everyone must eat and drink good food and fluids on a regular basis of course.
pave is right, Sean – you must call social services and get advice and get the help in as soon as possible. Call it “tough love” – false pride and stubbornness gets us nowhere. You'll be able to get all the help your Dad needs, you can check up on him every so often as well and you should not then feel under such pressure to try to work around his ways, thus upsetting him and yourself. Of course, whoever helps your Dad will need to work around his ways to some extent, but social services have seen and heard it all before.
Sean, you said, “That people would rally round and help me, though they have never met me before”, but the good thing is that we are real people – we just haven't met you, as you said.
You be positive, Sean – you're getting there. (Hope I'm not being patronising here.) It's OK to be a negative at times because that can help you work out the positives and get everything sorted. (I know this sounds like psycho-babble, but this is honestly just me talking as I do, as if you were in front of me.)
Take care, Sean.
Do let us know how everything goes.