Drinking and the elderly

I’ve ummd and ahhhd whether to write this very personal post.  It seems disloyal to talk about my parent’s private life without their permission but at the same time this blog is about my life and their lives affect mine.  When I Googled my situation it appears to be much more common than I’d realized so I’ve decided to mention it in case anyone else is having the same issue.

As many of you know, my Mum is terminally ill with advanced heart and lung disease.  She’s hopefully not going to pop her clogs tomorrow but her life span is definitely shortened as her diseases are progressive.  She can now do very little for herself and spends her days sitting watching the telly or reading.  This is a choice, I hasten to add, because my Dad and I would willingly take her out but she’s never been particularly social and says she’s happy as she is.

She’s always liked a tipple but it’s been confined to a glass of wine with lunch and a whiskey after dinner, until the past 18 months when her drinking has spiralled out of control.   She’s switched to vodka, because it just looks she’s sipping on a glass of water, starts at 11am and just keeps going.  Each tumbler, I’d reckon, contains a double so by bedtime she’s probably had 6-9 shots of alcohol.

I’ve had to stop even trying to communicate with her past 5pm because she can’t even remember we’ve had a conversation let alone what was said.  I’ve spoken to my Dad about it and he just holds his hands up and says “what can I do?!”.

I’m so angry with her.  As if my bloody life isn’t hard enough, dealing with my Dad’s dottiness, my own health and her physical health, now she’s added yet another stressor to the equation.  I loathe speaking to her when she’s slurring her words and is obviously drunk, and when she’s all merry and life is tickety-boo I want to explode especially as her alcohol-soaked good mood is making mine and my Dad’s life a misery.

Part of me thinks if she wants to drink herself to oblivion be my guest.  Lets ignore the fact she’s on a dozen pills a day,  most of which shouldn’t be taken with alcohol.  However she now falls regularly, and has advanced osteoporosis, so you can guarantee at some stage she’s going to break a bone.  Then she’ll spend weeks in hospital, where she’ll go into abrupt withdrawal and be really ill and my Dad and I will have to do the 60 mile round trip every day to visit her where we’ll find her distressed and crying.  Then she’ll get home and be able to do even less physically than she can now, which means even more work for us.  Plus, if she has another heart attack the medics aren’t going to be able to give her the correct drugs in an emergency if she’s got huge amounts of alcohol in her system.

I want to scream at her for being so selfish.  She might be having a nice time but it’s no fun for the rest of us.  She’s either snappy, moody and belligerent or she’s zen and everything in the garden is rosy.  She’s forgetful, confused and disoriented and spends half the evening asleep.  My mast cells thrive on stress, so all this makes me sick too and I’m ill enough already.

It’s pointless me trying to talk to her about the situation because she either just laughs it off or will just drink secretly when I’m not there.  So I’ve made an appointment next week with her GP, who’s also thankfully my GP so knows us well, for a chat.  Something’s got to change, because I’m so resentful and seething about the situation, and let’s not forget menopausally hormonal, that one of these days I’m going to snap.

I sometimes wonder what more life can throw my way.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Drinking and the elderly

  1. Chronically invisible

    Hi there, I really enjoy reading your blog!
    I wanted to comment on this post as I am a recovering alcoholic.i completely understand your anger. After I got sober I was in a relationship with a practising addict for several years. I frequently wanted to strangle him. That being said, addiction is an illness and most people need professional help to stop.
    Have you tried an intervention? She may not care about her life but the effect she is having on you and your dad is very clear.
    Sorry if this crosses the line but every time I see a story of the family of an addict suffering it breaks my heart. There is help for her if she’s willing. I also found al-anon helpful for learning how to manage myself with a practising addict in my life.
    Best of luck to you.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂 She doesn’t want help, so I guess the best I can do is get help for myself. I feel so much for my Dad though, who is already confused and her irratic moods and frustration must make life doubly hard for him when what he needs is gentle patience. To be honest I wish I could just walk away, but of course I can’t :-/

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  2. Glo

    Depression may be a part of what’s going on with your mom. Seeing the doctor may or may not help. People with addictions only stop when they are ready. Until that point you can do interventions counseling and any number of things with no effect. Addiction is a self centered place. It took me years to reach that eye opening point but the good thing is that for most of us who have been addicts we have that moment that opens our eyes. I so hope that bringing this into a public realm will make that moment happen for your mother. Living with an addict is a tough thing and I hope things change for you.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks Glo. Mum is depressed, and is already on antidepressants. My Dad was also depressed last year because of the immense pressure he was under looking after his own Mom who’s 101, and it’s also something I struggle with due to my own situation. The difference is my Dad and I do things to help ourselves while she just wallows. It’s all about her and I’m just sick to death of it. Like you say, alcoholism is self centered 😦

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  3. kneillbc

    Oh, how frustrating it must be for you to watch. She is clearly self-medicating, either to mask emotional or physical pain, or both. I think you are wise to chat with her GP, perhaps even with your Dad there, so that you can come up with a strategy to replace the alcohol with something that will actually address her needs, and not make her as vulnerable. My father is a recovered alcoholic, and both my parents worked in addictions counselling. You may not be able to change her behaviour, but you can change how you react, and feel about it.
    Lots of hugs!
    Karen

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks Karen. I’m seeing the doctor on Wednesday so we’ll see what she suggests. As you say, I can’t change Mum but I can set boundaries so that she doesn’t involve me in her addiction x

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  4. Elizabeth Milo

    This is so hard. My Mum and her partner both have drinking problems,I have aunts, uncles and cousins who are alcoholics. My husband’s father was an alcoholic and actually became very active in AA in England and his wife did the same in Al-Anon. My best friend had to confront her mother about drinking and get her help. It’s so prevalent and so insidious. I wish you so much luck in dealing with this and hope your Mum let’s go of this. X

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