Elderly parents, anger and pancreatic cancer

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Elderly parents, anger and pancreatic cancer

My mum is 91 and has pancreatic cancer - yes its a good age to get to and when I read posts by some of the younger people on this forum, I feel that in many ways she has been lucky to get this far in life relatively healthy and happy. But now as the treatment options run out - she has had two courses of relatively mild chemo that are no longer working - she is just really frightened and angry and taking it out on all around her especially my poor 90 year old father who is doing his best to care for her. He is not well himself and is worsening by the day, yet she berates him and nothing is ever good enough including his driving, his cooking, etc, etc. My siblings and I all try to help but our suggestions such as getting groceries delivered, getting more help, etc are rejected outright and they struggle on getting frailer and iller and angrier! Both my parents are depressed and at least my dad is going to his GP to talk about that and maybe get some antidepressants but my mum refuses to do so as she is feuding with her GP - again! She also thinks that taking anti-depressants is giving in - to what I ask? I thought we had resolved her issues with the GP who even offered to help find another GP but no, its back on again - and mum refuses to talk to her or call her or anything. So she has no medical support apart from her cancer specialist and possibly the local Palliative Care team - neither of who seem to be able to offer a way through with this and tend to deflect the issue according to her. I plan on calling the Pall Care people but my mum doesn't want me to - she seems to think that I am interfering in her life and trying to make her do stuff she doesn't want to do.

So, I don't know what to do at present - but any advice on handling the anger (and sometimes nastiness) of an elderly sick mother would be appreciated. She lives 1.5 hours away by car (on a good day) and I try to get up to see her at least once a week but that is also becoming stressful especially when I don't know what I will be confronted with when I get there. She has never been a very easy person to get on with but now she is sick as well, and she really turns on my dad when he is trying to do his best - this just really upsets me (and I did tell her this trying to be tactful but she just dismissed my opinion on the subject) - my dad just dissolves in tears with some of the things she says to him.

Sorry for long post!

Cancer Council Team

Re: Elderly parents, anger and pancreatic cancer

Hi @janec and welcome,


Thank you for sharing your story, this must be an incredibly difficult time for you Heart


Have your parents accessed My Aged Care services as yet? The reason I ask, is that there is an assessment as part of this and through this, they can workout out what home services might be of use or are available to them in their area, though I can see that they may not be receptive to such. It may help to give them a call on 1800 200 422 and just have a chat with them? We've gone through a lot of this recently with a family member too.


I am also going to suggest calling 13 11 20, or even getting your Dad to? Our team may have a few suggestions as well, such as our transport to treatment service perhaps, if your dad needs some help getting your mum to such.


Has anyone else got any suggestions or even some words of support for Janec? 


Sending hugs Heart



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Re: Elderly parents, anger and pancreatic cancer


I can understand the anger and frustration your Mum is experiencing ,Pancreatic cancer is a very harsh disease both physically and mentally,it would be frightening to know treatment options are no longer there,and what lies ahead.


I hope something can be organised with her GP.Depression can rear  its ugly head with such a disease ,try and focus on what you are doing to help Mum continuing your love,compassion and help,her words and behaviour are definitely not meant to hurt anyone,don’t take it personally it’s a frightening time for her .I met people on this forum who I became friends with we were all were suffering pc I am fortunate to be a survivor ,without treatment for your Mums depression that makes it so much more difficult my friends were all on antidepressants that helped them at that terrible time in their lives ,I feel for your dad it would be terrible to see the one he has loved for so long suffering as she is,As you say she is 91 great effort.I hope that your fathers health improves.UnfortunatelyI have no words of wisdom except to take note and please use the list of services available that Kate has provided , my thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family 


New Contributor

Re: Elderly parents, anger and pancreatic cancer

Thanks for your kind repies. My mum has now move under the care of the palliative team and is being admitted next week for symptom control that will then be take over at home by the local visiting pall care team. That should take some pressure off my Dad and my Mum, I hope. They do however remain resistent to efforts to help them but I have kind of come to terms with that over the last couple of weeks, and also worked on finding support for myself with friends and others.

In the meantime, yesterday my husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer following an FOBT test and colonoscopy so we are off on another roller coaster, seeing the surgeon tomorrow and hoping it hasn't spread. It all seems to happen at once with several other friends in hospital or having chemo for various types of cancer.

So I will be concentrating on him for the time being, and then see what happens next!

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