Dad is taking over my life.

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Well here it goes, I'm at my wits end and need desperately to vent to a community that truly understands what I'm going through. My mom and dad lived in my house since 1998. They lived in their own apartment, I lived upstairs with my husband and sons. My mom died of ovarian cancer in 2004. She was ill for 6 years, but never complained and was a joy until her last day. She was an incredible, selfless, wonderful mother. We were incredibly close and she was my treasured confidant. My dad, on the other hand, was always a domineering, stubborn man who loved and cared for us, but was self centered and consumed by the idea that he has asthma and COPD. He has been "dying" for the last 35 years. My mother had stage 4 cancer and never complained. He can't stop complaining. You get the idea. My father also has been a functioning alcoholic for most of his life. After my mother died, my father was getting depressed being alone in the apartment. We moved into a larger home in 2006 that had an area on the first floor for my dad with a bedroom and bathroom, but was connected to my main house. My dad was able to maintain his independence despite extensive arthritis, hard of hearing, cataracts and has his breathing issues because he was able to drive. I had been becoming concerned because he was drinking more and having many fender benders over the last few years. This past summer I went to Florida for 4 days with my family. Dad was home alone, but I had organized my brothers and a family friend to check in on him each day. No sooner had I reached Florida, my brother called to tell me my Dad had fallen in front of our house and suffered a head injury. He had bleeding into the brain in two locations and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. This injury compounded his mobility problems as well his vision issues. His eyesight deteriorated dramatically after the fall. He reluctantly agreed to a home health aide because I had to go back to work. (I'm a teacher). He threw the aide out by week three and said he would be fine alone. I installed a gas shut off valve for my stove and removed all the alcohol from his reach. I then went to work and hoped for the best. I provide everything he needs, meals, transportation, laundry, etc.. His physical condition improved, but the eyesight did not. I brought him to a retina specialist who confirmed he has age related macular degeneration in addition to extremely large cataracts. He is legally blind in one eye and has marginal vision in the other. Now that six months have passed since the fall, my dad at 87 and in his physical condition wants his car back to drive and regain his independence. Of course, my brothers and I have refused that request. (I have his keys in a safe deposit box in the bank). We offered to get him a driver, he refused. We offered to bring him to the senior centers in the area. He does not want to talk to those old people. He is 87. He is not very social and tends to mock others for enjoyment. I have not allowed my father access to alcohol except for a glass of wine at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He has not had an asthma attack or any COPD issue in six months. Alcohol is a major factor in my dad's health issues. He basically is punishing me for imposing the no driving and no alcohol rules. My husband is a saint. He takes him to do errands on the weekends and he comes out shopping with us every Sunday. Other than that, he is home due to his refusal to acquiesce to any transportation alternative we have offered. Therefore, he tries to manipulate and guilt me at every turn. He will conveniently forget to buy things, so I have to drive him somewhere when I get home from work. Also, he will defrost and clean meat that I hadn't planned on cooking, so when I get home I have another unplanned job to do. When I am off from work, I am not allowed to just stay home. Dad wants to be entertained and carted around. I do not always give in to him. Everyone says to create boundaries, but I am the one who is here. At some point, I am forced to address him and his unending requests. I feel terrible, because my boys are teens now and it is really intrusive to have this dynamic going on. If I get tickets to a show, he'll whine and cry that we are leaving him. We can't go on any vacations because he can't be left alone. He won't go to my brothers' house and believe me my sisters' in laws are not offering. I feel trapped, guilty and resentful that the quality of my life is being sacrificed. I have spent years caring for my Dad without help. I feel like I am letting myself, my husband and my kids down because my role as daughter has overrun my existence. I have talked to my father and he says I am killing him and if I give him his car back he'll be fine. I can't do that, he has no place to go and won't go. (He is well off financially). What do I do to not lose my sanity. Just want MY life, please.


Oh my goodness. We have been going through this. MIL moved in with us 6 months ago. I do not know how you have done it for as long as you have. My MIL is also quite financially stable. But, she wanted to have the run of our house. It was very tough on our teen son, less so on the college students. She ran my husband ragged. I will say that on school holidays, we basically did not tell her there was no school. I would take the day off work, but we left around the normal time. Then I would take my son to breakfast, then to a movie. Sometimes we went to the library. I never felt bad because he deserved to enjoy his day off, and we needed time without MIL. Around the holidays, I just couldn't take it anymore. She also does not drive, although she did want to. She just recently has given up on that, thank goodness. My husband started taking her to check out places for her to live. During this time, I did not go out of my way to give in to all of her ridiculous demands. We started watching what we wanted on tv, which annoyed her. Think "Failure to Launch". She was eventually ready to move. She did reject all of the senior living options and went to a regular apartment. My husband calls everyday, and is trying to limit going over there to 2 times per week. It is alot easier for him as she was cranking at him almost every day over something ridiculous. Now, if he senses she is getting in that mood, he goes home. Our home is so much more relaxed. I want to help MIL, but I am not willing to sacrifice our home life for her. I most definately am not willing to make the last years our son lives in our home miserable for him. If your father can afford to move to a senior facility, I would not position it as an option whether he is going, just which one. Get your brother to support you. SIL had absolutely no intention of ever taking her mother in, but she was very helpful in convincing MIL she should get her own place.
We discussed that, but my concern is he is still hanging on hope that he will get his car back. If he leaves, I have to give him his keys. The DMV will not revoke his license without doctor intervention and the doctors do not want to be involved. His insurance carrier will not cancel his policy. He will definitely get behind the wheel. In addition, having no other social connections but me, he will certainly stalk us driving by my house, work and my kid's school. I fear that we will be the ones he injures or worse in an accident. He will not sell his car. It sits idle for the last six months in front of my house. He recently renewed his registration and continues to pay insurance.
Wow. You sound like an extremely insightful and caring person. If you are having a tough time, imagine how someone with less insight and fewer coping skills would be handling this. Your family is really lucky to have you.

Losing the ability to drive is a Big Deal. I think my husband mourned that loss for at least a year when he had to stop driving because of dementia. I can sympathize with your father. That is a big blow. But it is Not Your Fault and you do not have to accept punishment for it. He forgets to buy something? Guess he'll have to wait until the weekend when he does errand with your patient husband. He thawed some meat? If it can safely sit in the fridge for a few days, let it. If not, throw it out. Your cooking is not controlled by his whims. (This assumes you have asked him not to "help" this way with meal prep.) Setting boundaries isn't the issue -- enforcing the boundaries is.

Boundary enforcement might help. It is certainly worth a good hard try.

But that might not be enough to reclaim the quality of your life. You only have a few more years with your teenage sons. (You'll always be their mother, of course, but the relationship changes dramatically when they are adults.) If you miss out on a high quality time with them now that opportunity is gone forever.

So ... No where is it written that your father has to live with you. Perhaps because it has been so long it seems like the natural or only possibility. It is not. Especially since he is well off financially and still handles the activities of daily living he can find a wonderful assisted living place. They will have regular transportation to shopping malls, and a wide range of activities he can participate in or ignore. Your family can have to dinner on Sunday and take him on errands. You can visit him often and talk to him by phone daily. Notice that I am not suggesting you abandon him. But everyone (perhaps including him) MIGHT be better off if he isn't living in your house.

But what if he doesn't want to go to assisted living? What if he refuses? Well, you can't make him move into ALF, but you can make him move out of your house. Keep that firmly in mind as you work toward an in-home solution.

It is your house. Your rules. You set the conditions for him living there. If that includes a daily health aide, then he must abide by that (just as he is abiding by the no driving and no drinking rules. See, you do have the power to enforce boundaries.)

I hope you can work something out to preserve the quality of your life, to fully engage in your final years at being a parents to youngsters, and to cherish that wonderful husband you have, while still having Dad in your home. But if that isn't going to work out, keep in mind that there is an alternative.
Thanks so much for the support. I do have a wonderful husband and family. My brothers are supportive as well and they have stood with me to present a united front to my dad. As supportive as they are, they too have families to support and I cannot expect them to be here as much as I am. You struck a chord with me though. I realize it is not setting the boundary that gives me trouble, it is the constant confrontation and anticipation of discord when enforcing those boundaries that gives me stress. I am adamant about not missing out on the special time I have my boys all to myself. We had planned to take a trip to Italy when my oldest graduates high school and I refuse to deter from our plans. As you said if that means a home care aide, then that has to be. Thanks for the pep talk. Since my mom is gone, there is no one for me to vent to. My husband is in the trenches with me, I try not to lament about my problems on the rare occasions I get to go out with my friends and my brothers although sympathetic, feel guilty for not helping me more. The last thing I want to do is to lay guilt on someone else when I hate the feeling myself. Thanks again.
My vote is assisted Living or a nursing home! You have done enough, so let him know he will now be going to a home. Let them deal with him from here out. It really is as simple as that. Call a social worker, have him evaluated, and let them place him. It is not is reality, plain and simple. Let him kick and scream all he wants because you have done plenty for this selfish man. Kick him out and do it soon. He has lived a good life, and now you need to live yours. Tell him you will no longer be his nurse maid, his mother, his wife, or his jailer!
This sounds so much like me and my Dad. Wow. What can I say. I have had my Dad here with me for 7 months but I put him in a small two room house with a kitchenette and bathroom. His tv is blaring all day. He wants me to be his taxi and purposely forgets things at the store after I have ask him if he needs those items. This era of men, I think, think that we owe them our time. My Dad gives me 500 a month and thinks I am supose to do for only him. This includes all utilities and evening meals. I have had to learn some tuff love lately. The other day I told him I would like my sisters to help take him visiting his sister as he wants to get every week. He got mad at me and told me the whole reason I chose to move here was because you do nothing. I am retired and have 4 kids and 6 grandkids. I pick up 3 grandkids one day a week after school. I take two grandkids to meet there Mother for my son two days a month. I try to engage in school with them and sports. I am also an artist whom hasn't painted anything since he came here. I illustrated a chidrens book so where he gets off saying I do nothing I will never know. I have narrowed it down to one day a week to the grocery store. If he runs out in between I will get someone to pick it up for him. I do my shopping on a different day because he will not let me push my own cart. I have gotten one sister to agree to take him visit his sister once every two weeks and then I will take him once every two weeks and thats it. Thats all the going he is going to get unless my other sisters and brother wants to do anything in which I doubt they will. You cannot let him control and bully you and thats what it sounds like. It is hard I know. Lots of hugss to u.
Karol, thanks for the support. You are right he does try to bully and control me. Just today he had a tantrum because I refused to take him to the store for cranberry juice. He started to cry and yell that I treat him badly and what did he do to deserve this treatment. If that doesn't beat all. All this drama because I dared to say I wanted to stay home and relax on my one day off. He even began to beg my husband to take him when he walked in after a long days work, just ridiculous! I pray for patience and hugs to you too!
Yes it was hard for me to realize my Dad is trying every avenue to control mine and his life. My husband helps out also because I am tired of being around him. I clean his house once a week, prepare all his evening meals, take him shopping for groceries, take him to the bank once a month, take him to see his sister and one of his son in laws. I took care of my Mom whom died of cancer and she was a breeze and loved her for her thanfulness. He cannot control much anymore since he cannot drive and live on his own so they try to control us. He has enabled his self to be dependant upon me and kills him to think he would have to ask someone else to do something for him. I too pray that he will settle down and adapt. It is hard to put them in Nursing homes but sometimes it comes to that. I did make my Dad sign over Durable Power of Att. to me. That way if it gets too bad I can do what I need to do. Especially if he was to have a stroke or something. Again good luck
Dvhenal- sigh. It sounds like you have a necessary short term goal of getting him to accept driving is not going to happen. That is not an easy one. MIL was adamant she was going to drive, but as time went on, it was obvious she didn't really want to drive. She could not keep the directions to home and back straight. She kept talking like she was going to drive, but then one day just signed the car over to my husband and told him to sell it. What a relief. I agree, doctors, DMV - no one makes this easy. We purposely let her license expire thinking that would force her to take the written test and driving test. She would never pass it. But no- even with her license expired, she can renew within 2 years without soing anything. There are lots of threads on how to get them to give up driving. I would research that. Then long term, come up with a plan to get him moved. Do NOT feel guilty. It is not your responsibility to make him happy. Your first priority is to your family. We also did the abroad trip when our oldest 2 graduated from HS. Those are memories I would never give up. We let the graduate set the itinerary. My oldest loves British literature, so we spent 10 days on a Britrail pass visiting sites of all her favorite authors. I would have never dreamed of doing that, but it was awesome. Don't sacrifice that. I would definately start enforcing boundaries. My MIL had endless ridiculous requests. She wanted her bread cut an exact thickness, her laundry dried outside, her dinner plate warmed before we put her dinner on it. It never ended. One day I just got sick of it. We are not a hotel. I stopped doing it. She actually instructed me to take her sandwich off the griddle with a different spatula once because she liked the other one better. Seriously, who cares. I just started ignoring the requests. Also, if this helps, I told my husband if it made it easier on him, I would be the bad guy. I really didn't care at that point. I wanted our life and our home back. We were all bending over backwards for this person, and the more we did it, the more she demanded. I finally just stopped. I realized nothing would really make her happy, so I didn't worry if she was happy or not. My family was my top priority. I really feel for you. Myou are in a miserable spot.
Thanks, My Wits End, for all your support and advice. All of it very sound. I am struggling with the guilt. I just have to keep remembering that the position my dad is in today derives from decisions he made (drinking, not getting cataract surgery, not cultivating hobbies and friendships) they are not my fault and I refuse to continue to be put through this misery and forfeit my life for his. This is ridiculous. My father was a tyrant in our house growing up. What he said was law. I often remind him that if my grandmother (mom's mom) had tried to pull what he is doing he would have thrown her out on her ear. Of course his reasons for being miserable back then were justified, mine are not. I always marvel how my dad does not appreciate what I am doing for him. This situation is certainly a powder keg. He will have to find alternate housing if things don't change drastically. I can't do this much longer. I am tired of sneaking around my own house to avoid him. I am tired of being badgered constantly. I am tired of him making plans for me. I want peace and I want to be left alone to live my life and enjoy it.

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