Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dear Fiona

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dear Fiona

Article excerpt

Byline: By Fiona Caine

Write to Fiona Caine if you have any problems with courtship, marriage or family. You can also email Fiona with your problems (mail@askfiona.net). All letters are treated in complete confidence. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Q My sister is 78 and is nursing her 80-year-old husband who has had a stroke, heart bypass surgery and suffers from diabetes.

He is mobile, yet demands 24-hour attention which she gives without any outside support. He won't go anywhere except to the doctor's.

He won't accept anyone else looking after him and just wants to be a recluse. He sits for hours at his computer or watches TV. For years he has bullied my sister, but now she has turned and hates him.

Yet she goes on caring for him and, at the same time, is just waiting for him to die. My other sister and I visit to check up on her and I think that she could be the first one to die. I have told her to stop shouting at him and to try and make his last years memorable and peaceful. What can we do? S.H.

A I think it would be a mistake to try to influence what is going on between your sister and her husband. There seems to be a lifetime of anger and resentment coming to the surface and, although you clearly care for them, this is not the place for well-intentioned amateurs.

Their problems run deep and I suspect they will need professional help. What you can do, though, is support them as much as you can and, as a start, I suggest you try to persuade your sister to talk to a Relate counsellor (number in the phone book).

Looking after her husband on her own must be stressful and hard work, so she might also find it helpful to contact the Princess Royal Trust for Carers on 020 7480 7788 (www.carers.org) who have over 100 branches and their support network is comprehensive. There is also information to be found through www.carersonline.org.uk.

I am sure things would improve for her if she were able to get some time away from the strain of providing all of his care on her own. Finally, if you have a reasonable relationship with her husband, perhaps you could have a quiet word with him and ask if he would be prepared to accept you or your other sister to look after him occasionally. …

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