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How do I not resent my dad for taking away my life?

I've been a caregiver for my 70 year old father for 5 years. He's steadily losing his sight and kidney function to diabetes, mostly because he refuses to monitor or stabilize his blood sugar. He's stubborn but we finally have him using a walker because of obesity and arthritis. I have a family also, including a nine year old son and 15 year old daughter. I try to put myself in his shoes but I'm not sure he understands just how much of my and my family's life I have given up to take care of him. I am at his beck and call day and night. If I try to relax or spend time with my children, he calls me for the smallest things, my children resent him and I am starting to.
Status: Open    Dec 20, 2015 - 07:28 PM

Relationships, Caregiving

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6 answers


Dec 23, 2015 - 09:06 AM

You have to force your dad to grow up and stop being a child. He is likely too stuborn to listen to a verbal conversation, and with you being emotionally envolved, I reccomend writing him a letter. This is also to orginize your thoughts and to make it legal enough to establish, as it were, his incompentence to make decisions about his own care. The reason for this is that you may have to peitition the courts in your local jurisdiction that you should leagally be made the decision maker for his care. Then in writing again tell him that if he does not grow up - become an adult, and stop being a selfish time thief, you are going to be coerced into putting him into a care facility. If you don't do this, and end up resenting the person who gave you life . . . that can create a whole litney of problems. I also suggest you ask what to do. Ask, Seek, Knock (A.S.K.) "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you." Matthew 7:7

Feb 06, 2016 - 09:43 AM

I know how you feel. We were thrust into the realm of being my father's sole caregivers three years ago due to an accident my mother sustained that required extensive rehab and left no one to care for my father. He was 97 when he came to our home, he is 100 now. He has gotten progressively more difficult to care for from a physical aspect (he broke his hip so is now in a wheelchair and can only walk short distances, recently diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure which we need to manage with meds, etc.), mentally as dementia has progressed, and spiritutally as he is seeking peace not available from us but only from God but doesn't seem to be finding it. I too have young children, 7 and 10 now, who have in the case of the younger spent almost half of her life with her mom's time and attention pulled in many ways.

I don't have all the answers. In fact, I struggle with the resentment issues frequently. Not only resenting my father but resenting my siblings and even mother for essentially leaving all my father's care and all the responsibility on me. So, I won't suggest I have perfect solutions or that I am some sort of saint. However, I have gotten some advice and made some choices which have helped us and might help you too.

First off, try to stop thinking he'll ever understand how much of your life and your family's life you have given up to take care of him. He'll never understand. Chances are he is in the mode of 'it's all about me' and no matter how much you try to explain it to him he won't care. I know how hard that is because I've been awoken at 3 am by my dad because 'I don't know what I need' and I want to lash out with 'don't you know I need to sleep'. I have had the days when the kids are disappointed because we were supposed to go to a party or on an outing and we didn't because papa needed my attention or was ill or was so ill tempered that restaurant stop didn't seem like a good idea. While I still feel angry at times, and sometimes you just are going to be resentful because you are human, it has helped a little to realize I will NEVER get him to realize how much we've given up for him.

Another thing I would suggest is try to do the things that are really important to your family. We spent the first almost two years doing no travel because it was hard to travel with him. Finally I realized that our trip to Florida, or to visit my in-laws, or just a fun trip was really important to us as a family and the more we denied ourselves the worse the resentment festered. So, I decided to do two crazy things. The first was take a trip from the midwest to California, with a stop in Utah for the Senior Olympics my father-in-law was competing in, with BOTH my father and my mother. My sister thought I was nuts but having my mother along, who also needed some attention, gave us the opportunity to have someone watch my father who at least could call for help if needed. I was summoned to their room the night he made a mess in his pants, I did have some issues with other aspects of the trip, but we were able to watch my husband's dad compete, we got to go to some national parks and hike (my mom sat with my dad at the trail head or at the welcome center), and we even got an afternoon to explore Las Vegas without hearing complaining about everything. Then a few months later we took my parents and sister and went to Florida for New Years. My sister wasn't big on helping with my dad but again it was better than no trip. I did miss pool tiime when my father's needs took precident but we did manage to get one day at Disney World with just us four...memories for a lifetime. Figure out what is really important to you and your kids and then do what you need to do to make it happen.

Recently my husband was admitted to a program to become a deacon in our church but it requires weekends away for both of us...I point blank said respite care would have to happen because I realized if we didn't do this now it would never happen and there would be too much resentment if we didn't follow God's call on this. My father isn't too happy with the respite care but we need to do what is best for our whole family not just him alone.I know how hard to find, and expensive, respite care can be but if that it what is necessary see if you can do it even just every so often.

If you are a person of faith don't hesitate to turn to those around you at church. For the longest time I would put on this 'happy face' with family and know the 'everything is fine, we have this under control' when asked 'how are things going?' Now I've tried to be a lot more honest and while people around me can't take away the work at least I'm honest and I've found great suggestions and empathy where I never expected it.

Do your best and know that resentment isn't all means you care about your father and your family. If you didn't you'd be indifferent to their needs and that would be worse. May you find peace and balance as you deal with this terribly difficult issue.

Feb 06, 2016 - 02:28 PM

Dear Pandabear 43,

To begin with, see if there is any help you can gat from your local Office of Aging. Ours helped us to get a power of attorney for my mother-in-law, meals delivered for her, and gave us some one else to blame when we insisted that something needed to be done (like the delivered meals, or like certain doctor appointments.)

Secondly, establish times when you will go and help him.
You need to have time for yourself and time for the family.
Tell him (or write the letter) that you have other arrangements, and can't always interrupt or upset those plans. See if you can get him evaluated by the Office of Aging to determine if he needs someone to come in and help him--sometimes they can pay for a caregiver to come in for an hour or two each day. That person could help him take his sugar test every day, and help him take morning meds.

You must establish certain times that you will go and be available to help him or take him places, and make it clear that you cannot do that sort of running around every day. Stick to the schedule. He might want to go out and eat, he might lose things and not be able to find them. But, unless there is something life-threatening, you need your time. I don't care if you spend your "off" time admiring daisies, watching TV, or watching clouds. You need your time too.

"Hang in there! We're all in this together," as Red Green used to say.

Shethra Jones-Hoopes

Feb 06, 2016 - 02:40 PM

This is a response not only to the original question, but also to the single answer so far. Caring for two 89-year-old parents with dementia for about two years now, I have experienced being at the beck and call of one in their positin. I have come to realize they cannot comprehend what meeting their needs is doing to my life. My father's care is directly related to his refusal to walk when his doctor and his physical therapists told him he could walk again if he chose to do the required exercises after a stroke. This seems similar to the questioner's father's irresponsibility in taking care of his medical needs.

My father is 6 feet 5 inches tall, and 320 pounds. He has lived in a wheelchair for 5+ years. Do you think getting him to doctors' appointments is hard?? You're right. When I realized I was paying the price (physically and financially) for his refusal to walk, I started to contemplate my alternatives. There was no way my dad's dementia would allow him to contemplate my alternatives, or what caring for him was doing to me. Here is a point I want to make in response to the other answer: I believe all the lecturing, written or verbal, will have little impact. I believe it could drive wedges and sew strife. I believe the person i the parent ROLE has to take appropriate actions -- draw boundaries. Must a person run to the parent the very second he calls? Ignore the insignificant demands, close the door to his room, tell the father you are busy now and you'll be there when you can be, divide "grandpa duty" between family members in time frames so everyone serves and everyone gets a break from serving (all children can benefit from learning to serve the elderly as appropriate -- someday, that man will need his children to care for him; indoctrinating them now to the duty will be a boon to him is his later life)..

My bottom-line message: actions speak louder than words. Don't preach: DO. And secondly, we adult children are the only ones who can control how the parents' demands affect us, what boundaries we set, what mind set we adopt. Mom and Dad cannot control us if we are in control of ourselves.

And a huge, experience-driven toast to my fellow care givers! We EARN every commendation we receive. May love and appreciation for our parents drive our efforts, and difficulties be well handled before they grow to resentment.

Feb 07, 2016 - 06:04 AM

This is a very difficult question, one which I still struggle with almost three years after mother's death. Hind-sight is 20-20, shoulda, coulda, woulda. The closeness mom and I once shared was eventually consumed by demands. It was a difficult situation with no opportunity to collect realistic thoughts without interruption. I tried to keep in mind that this was a fearful time for mom and she reacted from that fear. I not only struggled with resentment for mother's demands, but I became resentful of two adult neices who refused to help at all. I yearned for either neice (daughters of my deceased brother) to just be on call once during the seven years - for a weekend, day or an afternoon. Mother wanted her demands met by family, not strangers. While mom was cheerful and pleasant in an occasional phone call or annual visit - less than an hour - from her granddaughters, she treated me as her personal slave. My teenage son stepped up and helped as much as possible between school and part-time job. My son also stepped up at age 16 to totally care for dad with Alzheimer's - meds, meals, shower and changing several times a day - when I was with mom during her hospitalizations and emergencies. Everything was an emergency with mom. Even with advanced Alzheimer's, dad was so much easier to care for than mom who was sharp as a tack. When the situation began, we had already purchased my son's school clothes in preparation for school starting. Within 10 days, his school clothes were all too big, and I had also lost 20 pounds. Never did we receive even a card or call of encouragement from the adult granddaughters or a thank you for caring for their grandparents - although one had even lived with my parents as a baby. I lost two jobs and quit another caring for my parents which also required more financial expense on my part. During the two years that my parents were still able to live alone, I juggled weekends between my son's activities and tending to their needs and trying to make two very negative parents happy. As a single parent with elderly parents, I used my sick leave and vacation time taking them to their numerous medical appointments. This often totaled 200 miles in a day to pick them up at their farm, drive back to city for appointments, getting medical supplies/errands, taking them home and stubbling in late at night to prepare for work the next day. I realized God left me single because a marriage would have never survived this time in my life. Many, many nights in the emergency room with mom, I'd try to hide controllable tears of physical pain due to my own health issues which I ignored. Only one of her many doctors ever considered me in future appointments or ask about my schedule. Another doctor, looked at me during her appointment and commented that I was in obvious pain. I was having a pancreatic attack, but finished mom's appointment, got her situated and drove to ER for treatment. My microscopic colitis was out of control. With degenterative disk disease, I also struggled with loading and unloading mom's wheelchair. I often believed mom would out-live me and worried about who would care for her. After one of mom's many appointments, I told her that I refused to take her to another appointment until she told me why she would not ask her granddaughters to do anything - even the slightest thing that would give me a break. (and they always did everything in two' I wished for someone to park the car, etc) When pressed for an answer, mom said "because they have a life." I was heartbroken. After mom's death, I addressed my health issues and received five specialist referrals. A stent was placed for 90% blockage in main artery. Through a lumbar puncture to test for a number of diseases, I was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's Disease. While raising my son, who is a wonderful blessing, I put my desires and interests on hold until after he became grown. Then, I put my needs on hold to care for parents. Now, I'm coping with a number of health issues, getting my affairs in order, trying to prevent being a burden to my son, and my outings are to Alzheimer support groups. As you may imagine, there is much more to the story. Bottom line..... As much as we love our parents, it's impossible to have the answer to everything they want or need. It's impossible to care for loved ones unless we care for ourselves in every aspect. Well being, happiness and other interests make for better cargivers. Thinking I would get mom's immediate 'want hole' filled and take a break or move on to a different urgency only drained me - her wants were endless. I felt like she was sucking the air from my lungs. The caregiver is most often the person they blame and treat badly while the caregiver struggles to make them as comfortable and happy as possible. Although I could think of all kinds of things I'd do if I had a free hour (sleep, open stacks of mail, etc) I would urge caregivers to PARTICIPATE IN A CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUP IN YOUR COMMUNITY. Stop enabling the patient for just one hour and accept ways to care for yourself.
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By doreenc4 on Aug 06, 2016 - 04:18 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

Would you consider a nursing home or assisted living? Maybe it's time. He sounds like he needs round the clock skilled nursing care. I am sure he doesn't want to go, but he is only 70 - how long do you want to care for him. You sound burned out and it's time for a change.

I just placed my 93 year old mom with Alzheimer's in assisted living. I cared for her in my home for 2 years and for several years drove out of state to help her. I finally have peace and for the first time in 20 years, I don't have to worry about her any more. She is being taken care of and staff is telling me that she is adjusting well. I could not move her (too emotionally taxing), so I hired a geriatric care manager to do it for me. It was worth every penny and made the move less stressful for everyone.

Please consider your other options. Think about how long you want to sacrifice your life for you dad. What about you, your children, and your husband. You will never get those years back. Get some counseling on how to deal with this. My mom is 93, my husbands mom is 94. Can you really do this for 20 more years? You have done a lot, it's okay to say "I can't do this anymore".

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Aug 08, 2016 - 07:21 AM

Hi I am hoping the situation has improved since you posted your concern. I don't think you can "force your dad to grow up" as it is tremendously unlikely he will change. I think you have to change. It is hard because you have to become the parent and he the child in a sense - you have to take control. He is giving you all the responsibility, so you need to take control and be the one in of the hardest things ever. In any case, I agree with one of the posts that suggests moving him to assisted living or finding an in-home caregiver who can be at his beck and call. Nicely tell him that you have children and a spouse and they have to come first, and he will have to agree with you on that (unless he is starting to have cognitive issues or has always had a selfish personality). He will need to pay for someone to be available to help him, and I suggest that the assisted living is the best route for 24/7 help. I do know how you feel. My mother was draining everything out of me, and she didn't realize due to the alzheimers. I was still behaving as tho she was the parent calling the shots. You can't allow that or you will burn out completely. Figure out how to say no, and figure out how to say "this is how it is going to be". He will get through it and you will feel so much better about his care and him.
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