Lesley’s father Richard, now 88, became isolated and depressed after a stroke reduced his mobility.
“It’s very difficult to go from having a parent who looks after you to being the person who looks after them and says, ‘Come on, you need to get ready’ and makes decisions like, ‘You can’t stay here anymore.'
After Dad had a stroke that reduced his mobility, we were encouraged by social services to move him into accommodation that was all on the level, unlike his house.
Moving to sheltered housing
So he went into a flat attached to sheltered accommodation. He had always lived in the area but once he had left his home, it was surprising how few people visited him. There were communal areas but these were about 200 yards away, which was difficult for him. He did try until the nights became cold and dark. He didn’t go, and he got out of the habit.
Dad had a mobility scooter and that was fine for getting into town. But he became forgetful and didn’t switch the charger on. So he’d go out on it and it would break down. He lost confidence and he stopped going out. He wasn’t getting washed and shaved, and was just sitting there most of the time.
We raised the issue with the doctor, and he said, 'Well, he’s getting old.' Social services said they couldn’t make him get dressed. They sent carers to check he took his pills morning and evening, plus to make him lunch. But they only had 15 minutes per visit.
My sister and I both live away. We visited him regularly and rang him every day. He went to a day centre on Wednesdays and we loved talking to him on the phone then because he was really bright and cheerful. But he gradually became forgetful and would say different things to us two minutes apart.
"It got to the stage where Dad was ringing us at four in the morning because he'd woken up and felt sad. It couldn't go on."
It got to the stage where Dad was ringing us at four in the morning because he’d woken up and felt sad. It couldn’t go on.
Much happier in extra care sheltered housing
I heard about ‘extra care’ homes that had sheltered accommodation and communal areas and really well-trained carers – a cross between sheltered accommodation and a care home. We found one for him, pulled up at the door and they welcomed him and said, 'We’ve got some lunch for you.' We moved his things in and said, 'Dad, come to your room now,' and he replied, 'Well, I can’t because I’m playing dominoes!'
It was lovely. We had made the right decision. He was happy and didn’t keep saying, 'Why are you going? When are you coming back?'
In his life, Dad had been looked after by his mother, then his wife, and he’d never had to do anything for himself in the house. Well, he had about ten mothers there! I wish we’d moved him there as soon as he stopped being able to go out."
- Sheltered housing: practical information on when sheltered housing may be suitable for your relative.
- How you can help your relative: suggestions of things you can do if you are worried about loneliness.
- Causes of loneliness in older people: read about some of the possible causes of loneliness.
Last updated: April 2018