Caring for my widower Dad.

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Hi! My mom passed away 8 months ago and I have now had to take over the job of taking care of my father. Mom did everything, as far as running the house, even though her body was giving out. She was the "brains", so to speak and dad was the "muscle". She told him what to do & when to do it. Now that she's gone, I am his only go-to person (an only child). I go through his mail, pay his bills, order his meds, go to appointments with him. He had three horrible months until we got him diagnosed with depression and he has improved since being on meds. I don't mind helping him, but I would like him to try a little bit more to do things. He cleans, does laundry and minimally cooks, so he's doing some stuff. Sometimes I just feel like I have to keep him entertained & find myself driving the 60 miles roundtrip a few times a week to cook for him and visit. It's a strain on my marriage and is starting to really wear me down. Anyone else been in this situation? My mom's last coherent words were "Who will take care of your father?". Now I know what she meant. She did a good job of it so I have big shoes to fill. THANKS!


I think it is important to get him OUT and doing things, fishing, golf, a good card game, a superbowl party. Man Stuff. In a Man Cave. With other MEN.
rvgirl72, you do not need to fill your mother's shoes in taking care of your father. The husband/wife relationship is special and unique. You need to maintain that special relationship with your husband. That has to come ahead of what you will have with your father. Keep that firmly in mind. Do you think your mother would have neglected your father by making several trips a week to help someone else?

It is wonderful that he is doing some housework. Encourage that, and praise him for it!

He does need to be entertained ... that is, it is not good for someone with depression and in mourning to be isolated and spend too much time alone. Your role is not to fill that void but to help him discover ways to fill it for himself. Go with him to the senior center a few times. See what ongoing activities are available there. (My husband discovered a senior bowling league where he didn't feel overwhelmed by everyone else's skills.) Many centers sponsor bus trips to interesting places. Many provide low-cost hot lunches.

Some men love to hang out at a diner or McDonald's and have coffee with a few pals in the morning.

Arrange to do the things he needs help with in the most convenient way for you. Pay bills online. Manage his medicines online or by mail, from your home. You may need to continue to make the round trip several times a week for a while, but your goal should be to get him involved in local activities and to reduce your visits to, perhaps, once a week.

Keep your husband informed of your plans, your heartaches, your fears. Don't shut him out of this part of your life. It is reasonable that you spend some time helping your father at this juncture, but keep it manageable and don't neglect your marriage while you are doing this.

Does you husband get along well with his father-in-law? Maybe sometimes he makes the trip to visit dad, and they do guy things together, while you stay home and prepare (or order in) a special dinner for his return.

Don't try to fill your mother's shoes. Help Dad find his independent stride.
Your experience with your dad sounds like mine. Not only did my dad have expectations that I would pick up what my mom was doing for bills and stuff around the house, but he also wanted constant companionship. My siblings that live away were no help and made me feel guilty for not spending even more time with him than I already did. My dad demanded so much attention from me that I was not noticing what was happening with my own family. My daughter was going through a tough time at school and did not say much to me because I was so busy with Grampy. She started to grow apart from me and felt a lot of resentment. 3 years later she is through high school and we are starting to put things back together with our relationship. I hired a housekeeper to help my dad and my husband helped me put up a loving boundary up to keep my dad from emotionally drowning me. It was hard to do, but I have a more distant, but manageable relationship with my dad now. We have had to spend money on hired help, but it is worth it. Every time I see my dad he tells how needy he is for me. But I now know that the less squeaky wheels were needy for me too. Make sure to make time for your husband. It is easy to lose yourself in your father's world of need. Find the balance that you need to live your life, but know that you are an important person, too. Take care.

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