How do I help my mother, who is being physically threatened by my father and refuses help?

1 answer | Last updated: Dec 01, 2016
Gracie asked...

My elderly father has physically threatened my frail mother. What should I do? Mother would be unable to stay at home without help of Dad. They have cleaning help. Mom refuses to discuss home health care or hiring more help.

Expert Answers

Thanks for sharing your concerns. I'm a big advocate of paying attention to our instincts, and yours are telling you that your parents need help. How lucky they are to have you watching out for them. First of all, if you think your father is physically or emotionally abusing your mother, you should seek immediate help. If you feel things are at an emergency state, don't be afraid of calling 9-1-1. Emergency responders have experience with family abuse or disputes for all age groups. Also consider consulting with an elder abuse agency. They are usually run by the county. Here is a state-by-state list of contact numbers.

I also urge you to talk to other relatives about your concerns, if you can. Get their input and assistance, so you aren't shouldering this responsibility yourself. Maybe you can approach your father as a team, kind of like a family intervention where you sit down with him, present your concerns, and come up with a game plan for easing stress and tension. Your parents could see a therapist individually or as a couple. Maybe family members can convince your mom to get additional in-home care, to ease tensions for her and your dad.

We often talk of the stresses of care giving our elderly parents. It's just as stressful for spouses caring for each other. More so in some ways, as both are also dealing with their own aging. But there is no excuse for abuse and it should never be accepted or tolerated. You are right to be looking out for your parents, and seeing they both need help. Please let us know how things go.