How can we get Dad's anger and aggression in check and get him the help that he needs?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 26, 2016
Squirrellyshirley asked...

I am hoping someone can help me/my siblings. I'm at my wits end! My parents have been married for 57 years, booth 80 yrs old, my dad has been an alcoholic for approx 10 years and has verbally abused my Mom for 10+. They lived in a VERY remote location on an 88 acre tree farm until my dad got very sick Feb 2010. We HAD to get them to move to town but Dad would NOT!! So we moved Mom to town (out of a trilevel b/c she could NOT do the stairs) and we told him he could live either place he wanted but Mom would NOT live out that far anymore. Well since the "separation", Dad lives in town w/ mom 1 day of the week and out in the middle of nowhere the rest. He is becoming more aggressive, he physically attacked me June of 2010, called the police on me, threatened to put a restraining order on me if I tried to come to the house in town to help Mom. He has started to drive all over the west coast, crashing my Moms car 2 times w/in 30 days in 2 different states, he took their entire LIFE savings and carried it around in a cashiers check for 3 months, finally put it in an acct with only HIS name on it, he is angry ALL the time, believes 5 out of the 6 kids are against him, yells at my mom when he is here at the house in town, paranoid reg people steeling things out of his car, lead in the paint of the new house(no lead!!), any time we try to do something nice he turns it around to be a negative. Two weeks ago, he hit 2 of my brothers, was yelling, screaming, spitting trying to get my mom to get in the car with him (we were at a huge family gathering) and we refused to let mom in the car with him. He took off and drove the west coast again. He knows where he is, he can pass all the mental exams, he can tell you the time/place/date/president/spell WORLD backwards/count back by 7's, he is basically oriented BUT his anger is out of control, his judgment and insight are totally off, he cannot talk a straight line jumping from subject to subject and bringing up irrelevant stories from 45+ years ago. I have talked to an Elder lawyer, Aging Protective service, his DR, Social Worker, Mental Health specialists, etc etc etc! HE NEEDS to be evaluated, he NEEDS a diagnoses, He NEEDS medication to calm his angry outbursts, he will NOT go to the Dr. Can I force him in the car and take him to the Dr.??? How do we get HELP??? He is torturing my Mother and APS will NOT help! If I am there, he threatens to call the police again. He is JUST oriented enough that he could convince a judge he's fine, but he is really really difficult to manage. We had his license taken away last year, he tested in a nearby city, failed, retested in a familiar city with a different car and passed!! When he has his angry episodes, he doesn't remember them accurately. He thinks he was "talking". PLUS we THINK he has gone back to drinking when he is out at the rural house. SOMEONE, please help me!! I worry for my Moms safety every minute!!

Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Dear Worried About Mom's Safety:

I'm sorry you have so much going on with your alcoholic father and his rapidly changing and abusive behavior.

I'm not sure why APS and the police won't take action based on his violence and threats against you and other family members, especially with his known history of alcoholism. Nevertheless, since I don't have a diagnosis to work with regarding your dad, I'll approach your situation as if I were a family consultant.

First, no you cannot force your dad to do anything. He has free will, rights, and as of today, is considered mentally competent.

However, during an outburst or episode of bizarre behavior, you may have grounds to have him taken into custody under the Baker Act, which is applicable if your father is a danger to himself, or is endangering others, such as your mother or siblings. That can be initiated by a call to the police and a request that he be taken into custody for his safety and the safety of others and placed in the local facility that handles Baker Act patients for 72-hours.

If he has been abusing alcohol for a decade, he may have alcohol-related dementia which hopefully can be determined during the Baker Act evaluation period.

I suggest that you again talk to your attorney about the best way to go about having your dad arrested under the Baker Act and placed in protective psychiatric custody for the minimum of 72-hours. Also start asking about taking the steps to begin the process of getting guardianship of your father.

For now, you have every right to protect yourselves and particularly your mother in the home in which she lives. You mother can request that your father not be allowed into where she lives, or if he does spend time there, he be made aware that if he becomes violent or abusive, you will call the police and file a complaint.

The bottom line here you have to initially protect your mom, and ultimately your dad from his bad decisions and irrational behavior. If he drives, he may injure himself or others. His taking their life savings is not a rational decision, and he has also potentially created a legal problem for himself and your mother by putting all the money in his name only.

You are in a very confrontational situation, and while it is your father, you have to approach this with as much resolve and strength as is necessary on legal, medical and common sense grounds and issues as is needed. Your goal is to keep this from further escalating or taking a turn for the worse.

Hopefully between your efforts and those of your attorney, you will find a way to gain control of your father and begin to get him the protection and help he needs from himself as well as the peace of mind your mother requires. Don't wait, and best of luck.

Community Answers

Susanoffederalhill baltimore, md answered...

Hi SquirrellyShirley, I don't have any answers for you but I can empithise with you. My husband and I have been married for over 25 years. 21 of them were great. The last 5 have been a living hell due to my husbands very heavy drinking. Now he is showing signs of dementia due to the alcholism. He went to the Dr. (he has VA medical) and the Dr. said he did not have AZ but thought he might have a touch of dementia. I have been reading the 36 hour day and boy does my husband fit the bill. He is very angry, verbaly abusive, living in the past (35 years ago during our wilder days)paraniod, controlling, jelous - should I go on?
I understand why your mother puts up with his outburst. When you have been married that long it is very painful to even think of abondening someone who is no longer thinking correct.
One thing that you can do is get a POA from your mother so you can make sure her affairs are in order. I mean make sure she has bank accounts, Check on her life insurance - see who the beneficary is - make sure your father does not have access to it as he may cash in the account without her knowledge.
I think the heardest thing is to keep remembering it is the disease not your father. He can no longer make good decisions. He is getting a double whamy from the alchol and dememtia. His body keeps telling him he needs more and the more he drinks the faster the dementia seams to progrss (from what I see).
My prayers are with you. Susan

Squirrellyshirley answered...

Thank you for the responces. He went to the Dr. today (insisting BY himself) and held it all together and told the Dr. everything is fine and that its everyone else's problem.Dr. told him he needs "mental health". Really?? (sarcasm) Gee, tell me something I didn't know!! HE WON"T GO!!!! NOW, he's back at my Moms yelling at her for every car that drives by and insisting that they go "away" and "bond" somewhere for 6 months. Mom doesn't want to go ANYWHERE with him, he's volitile, abusive and angery all the time.

Susan, you are an angel. I don't know how you live in that situation on a daily basis!! At least my mom has a few days of peace when he goes to the other house!!

I don't know what else to do!!