As dad's full-time caregiver, I secretly wish he would hurry up and die. How can I control these thoughts?


Q: I secretly wish my elderly father would hurry up and die. (I take care of him full-time) Does that make me a terrible person and how can I stop thinking this?

A: Wishing your elderly father will die doesn't make you a terrible person, but your thought do suggest that you're a person in need of some help in dealing with your thoughts. Therapy can help you cope.

Full-time caregiving can be an extremely stressful, demanding experience that has the potential to ‘burn out' even the strongest, most devoted people. Seeing a therapist might help bolster your coping skills. In addition, you could join a support group for caregivers to get much-needed encouragement and practical advice.

Explore options for getting some respite care for your father. Respite care gives you a break from caregiving, so that you can get some down time for yourself to recover and recharge your batteries.

Dr. Robert Bornstein, PhD

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Robert F. Bornstein, PhD is Professor of psychology at Adelphi University, and has published more than 150 articles and book chapters in psychology. He co-authored (with Mary A. Languirand, PhD) "When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or In-Home Care."

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Hi everyone! Wow... it has taken over a year for me to come back to this subject. In fact, I had removed my name from the subscribe list. When the comments were resurrected and I started getting notifications that people were posting I ignored them. I did not desire to revisit this as it brings up many emotions. HOWEVER, after signing in my email and seeing about 5 more, I decided to come back and read up on what everyone was saying. I'm glad I did and I want to give you an update on my personal situation.

My father in law (I was the first to comment on this thread) was so hateful and mean spirited but always acted like a meek, innocent angel with other people, including my husband. I did have lots of support from him and he backed me up constantly. I tried my best to love him, to care for him and to provide whatever I could for him. Not too long after the first "round" of posts last year, we got a call from a person who isn't a family member but she is the step mom of my husband's niece. She wanted to know if she could take "papa" for a week to give us a rest and give him a change of pace! Great!! We arranged the date, took him to her state (about an 8 hour drive) and took a mini vacation. It was wonderful.

He was his sweetest self, of course! When we went back to get him her and her husband talked to us about keeping him and after questions and answers and discussion I found out that he had been telling lies about me! Supposedly I was mistreating him, wouldn't feed him, yelled at him, did everything BUT take care of him... lied on him to my husband... etc., etc. This couple even responded to my outrage of this event by telling me that he had the start of Alzheimer's (no he didn't) and even if it wasn't true that my Father in law believed it to be true. I can totally see how they might think this, but I had been taking care of him for 3 years and they hadn't even as much as visited him! So when I rebutted it was almost as if I was defending myself against a whole family (spread out across 3 states) who believed that I was mistreating him.

I was hurt, angry, you name it... I felt it. My husband and I had a long conversation and we almost left him there regardless of what they believed. We knew what was true but it would be such a relief for us! However, after a night-long time of talking it through (just the two of us) we decided that we would take him back with us, grit our teeth and bear it but would not go on letting the family believe malicious lies.

My husband and I wrote letters to all of the family with nice words saying, you know what? Here's what we have done over the last 3 years. What have you done? When have you called, written cards or letters, sent checks to help us or even called us to say "Thank you for taking care of our grandpa." So, if you want to help now that you think the worse about us without even coming up here and checking out our living situation (you would see that he has a very nice living area of his own, plus the whole rest of the house at his disposal), then he is welcome to make a visit with you for a few days, week, whatever.

Of course, now everyone calls and my father in law got to visit 3 different families (the rest of them bowed out because they were too busy, didn't have the room, etc.). Over the course of a few months after staying in their homes for more than a week at a time, guess what? He started showing his true colors. People started questioning him "testing" him to see if he was delusional or if he really did know what he was doing. I could have told them if they would have listened, but I guess I just feel sorry for them that they felt they had to take matters in their own hands and "rescue" him from us instead of talking to us about what was going on like reasonable adults.

After my father in law came back to us it wasn't too long before he started being very, very mean. He scared me a couple of times because I thought it might get physical. I guess he was upset with me because I had exposed his little plot.

One day I was praying asking God for help and strength. I was at my wit's end! It was like a voice spoke to me and said, "It is ABUSE. You aren't abusing him, you have done everything possible to make this right, but you aren't expected to receive abuse either!" It finally dawned on me that I was under an abusive attack! Either mentally, verbally and eventually it would have been physically. I was able then to lay all the guilt aside (I didn't even think it was guilt I thought I was just trying very hard to get the man to know that I loved him and wanted to care for him until he could see that I was sincere!) and realize that my husband and I had to take care of "us"!

Every time my husband would leave the house, I would stay out of my FIL's way to avoid any confrontations. It was unavoidable a couple of times, but he got worse. To mention just a few, he came in on me when I had my door shut (I never locked my doors before as we respect closed doors), we had to start locking our door at night! He lied on me and we "caught" him in the lies and my husband exposed them and then he started back tracking (so he knew exactly what he was doing.) But when he started asking me to zip up his pants and tried to come in on me while I was dressing and talking to my husband about me (evidently I "needed" a man sexually because I had been married before) my husband decided that it was time for him to go. Before we completely lost all respect for him that we ever had!

This story is getting long. Sorry... to make it a little shorter (too late, lol) After a while, it was decided that the first woman (step mom of niece) would take him in as she was trained in home hospice. We worked out the money details and it was a win/win. She was widely informed on all his shenanigans, even the sexual language and conversations. We were kind, open and honest and asked her if in light of all we had told her she still wanted to do it then we would.

I won't go into any more details, (there are many!!!!) but he was there for a few months when she called my husband and told him, "All of us should get down on our knees and beg Debi forgiveness for misjudging her. This man is 10 times worse than I even imagined." Thank you, God for avenging me. I would not wish this on anyone, but I was so happy that at least the family knew that I wasn't lying. It was a relief for me.

My husband and I are very happy. My husband calls his dad and talks to him (it's always the same sob stories... he is never happy) but I don't. I don't have to. I don't have to put up with abuse, and I don't care to associate myself with it any longer, nor do I have to feel guilty. My hands are clean, my conscience is clear. I will go with my husband if he cares to go visit but as far as mentally and emotionally I have put it behind me. The Bible says that you are supposed to make peace with those who are divisive. Try it once, try it twice. If that still doesn't work, then have NOTHING to do with those people...they are evil. (I believe it).

I have talked a few times with this woman because I have told her she can call me to unload anytime she needs to. I feel for her, I know where she is! I feel for all of you. If your parent has been loving and kind and you can remember them in this light, then strength and peace to you! Still you need breaks! See if the assisted living has any programs where you can drop them off for a day. But DO NOT MAKE YOURSELF A SLAVE to this person who cares nothing about your life, does not invest in YOU, takes all your time, energy and provisions and still wants more! They will never give up. They will push your buttons until you blow up and then they are happy... for a while and then it starts again. Do you know why? Because they are selfish! They resent the fact that they don't have a life so they don't want you having one either! That is wrong. So don't feel guilty about correcting this situation.

Old or not, people should be trying to get along and live in peace and harmony. Sickness and disability is one thing but even then, caring people know that they are a burden and try to show you how much they appreciate it. Selfish people dream up ways to steal your joy, peace and time! LIfe is too short for that. You will be much happier placing them (albeit kicking and screaming) into a home that has the staff who are paid to take care of situations like this. It is better for them! I promise. You are doing what is best not only for you, but for them as well.

God bless. I'll listen anytime I need to to anyone... Been there, done that.
Then I guess I'm (relatively) normal too in this situation. Sometimes I think: who on earth would wish their mother would die in her sleep?

Someone made a comment early on in this discussion that our parents took care of us, but we were "cute bouncing babies" with hope of growing up, so it's not a fair comparison with caregiving someone with dementia. That is what I was trying to describe to someone the other day. If caregiving an elder with dementia is compared to motherhood, it could only be compared to the first few weeks as a new mom. I remember the first few weeks of motherhood when I was beyond exhausted, my child had colic and I was trying to recover from surgery and had quite the case of "baby blues". For the only time in my life, I would walk in my sleep, thinking I heard her cry. Then one night as I was feeding her, she smiled at me and from that day on, life got more hopeful - there was some payback. With caregiving an elderly parent, there is no hope. Every day things get worse and harder. They get more fretful and afraid and negative. You feel like they're holding your life hostage.

This has been a particularly emotional week - my mom has another UTI. There's another thing I thought I'd never say: thank goodness it was a UTI. She had a dramatic downturn mentally over the last few days, so it was a relief to find out that at least a part of it has a physical reason that can be treated.
darrobertson, when I had to place my mom to a nursing home due to her Alz's disease I finally got a big relief as it was so hard on me taking care of her for two and half years. I love her more than anything in the world, but it was difficult when I was her sole caregiver. Finally I got help and finally she got placed in a good place. I've been visiting her and enjoying her much more now. I even miss her greatly since she's no longer in my home, but I know she's in a better care. I got lucky..she got placed in an excellent place! I let Medicaid take over her money & SS checks. It's worth it to me. To save my sanity and for me to be better daughter for my mom now that I have 24/7 staff involved in her care which helps me greatly!