Dad (73) is a wreck...

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My dad is a wreck. He's had Type II Diabetes for almost 20 years. He's overweight, drinks too much, and doesn't take care of himself.

My mom passed away almost 5 years ago, so he doesn't have someone in his ear nagging at him. My brother and I are at our whit's end. Last year our dad was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure and kidney disease. He was hospitalized after he thought he had a stroke. He's on a ton of medications too.

Last week he was back in the hospital and now is diagnosed with AFIB.

He's overweight and we've discovered that he's drinking way too much. He hides it too. He drinks vodka during the day. A swig here, a swig there. He thinks we don't know, but we notice.

We've already had a sitdown with him to discuss his poor health and bad habits. We've caught him lying about his drinking.

But he's a stubborn man. He watches Fox News all the time, which has made him bitter.

He's not taking care of himself and we've told him that he's on the path to either a stroke, heart attack, or death.

He tells us that he's gonna change. But we all know that he's not. He's never exercised (except when my mom made him go when she was dying with cancer 5 years ago). He's NEVER eaten healthy. He always adds salt to everything.

He skips meals and sneak drinks, which is a recipe for disaster for someone who's a Type II Diabetic.

He brought up the idea of looking at some type of assisted living, which we were very happy to hear. If it's his idea, he'll be more likely to do this.

But he wants to move to an assisted living facility 3 hrs away from us, at the beach. We told him that we can't help him if he moves- my brother and I both have young kids. His girlfriend even said she's not too keen on him moving.

I'm at a point where I don't know what to do. As cold hearted as this sounds, I think the best route is to let him drink himself to death. Make it fast. He's not going to change.

My brother is trying to get him to move closer to him, but it's not gonna happen.

Is it wrong to sit back and let my dad slowly kill himself?

As I mentioned, he's stubborn as a mule and what's really bad is that he lies. We can't trust him. He lies so much that he fools himself. He thinks he'll start eating right and exercise... something he hasn't done his entire adult life. Why would he start now?


If you know that you can't trust him, at least about health issues, why do you keep having these conversations?

How about one final conversation with him about his health? Make it clear that you care about him very much and you would really like to see him take better care of himself because you would like him to be around and functional as long as he can be, but that you promise not to bring these topics up again, unless he asks for advice. You just want to be sure he understands that you haven't stopped caring, you're just stopping beating your head against the wall.

Then realize that the time you have left with him may be shorter than you'd like. Make the most of each visit. Stop nagging. Accent the positive. Let his grandkids build some memories of him. If he moves 3 hours away (or anywhere) show up a few times a year for family get-togethers.

It is very, very painful to watch someone you love do self-destructive things. My heart goes out to all of you.
I agree with Jeanne. I've recently come upon an organization called Moderation Management that seeks to help people MODERATE their drinking. It's a concept based on a lot of research and seems to be working for lots of folks. You might introduce him to it.
What jumps out at me in your post is the fact dad is the one who suggest assisted living. This is huge! This is the biggest fight caregivers have with elders. Hells bells! Let him go! Cruise around this site and read all the horror stories about getting crazy old people into care facilities. And by the way, three hour drive is nothing. I'm ten hours from my folks and I'm dealing with their care and talk to them each day. He will be fine and the assited folks may be able to control the drinking.
Btw....Girlfriend? Is she able or willing to help out?
Hi guys- thanks for all your input.

Yes, his girlfriend is supportive. We really are lucky to have her!

But she's not one to rock the boat and tries to avoid conflict if possible. She really loves my dad, but she's his girlfriend, not his wife. She's helped, but her job is not to care for him. She has her own life and grown children who have little kids too. She's a few years younger than him and likes to get out and travel.

That's one of the issues. When he's with her, we feel better knowing he's not alone. But she lives 1.5 hrs away in a different city. When she's gone, he has no one to answer to. And who knows what he's up to.

We're also worried that he may drive. If he's swigging here and there, he's risking a lot getting behind the wheel. We've warned him about this. I told him his liver processes alcohol differently than a 50 yr old.

Especially with all his meds and condition... if he fades off, he can kill an entire family. We told him that we love him, but we're more worried about innocent people on the road over him.

If dad is still mobile, can care for himself, take care of finances, has a girlfriend, can afford a place near the beach, I'd let him sink or swim. His big problems are drinking and Fox News and I'm not sure which is worse. I don't mean to sound dismissive, but the addiction stuff is next to impossible. I'm from a family of drunks and druggies and in all honesty, I've never seen any intervention, b*tching, nagging, threatening,counseling etc work. My relatives either died from it or decided to quit. (Usually died) don't beat yourself up about dad. Do what you can for him, don't wreck your life over him and come what may.
Set boundaries, now and live your life. he is going to do, what he is going to do. Plus, he is an alcoholic and that is a difficult thing to get around.
Thanks for the advice!

I was expecting different responses... more like "he's your dad, you gotta do everything possible to take care of him."

But I just don't see him changing. If he does, it will be a miracle. But I suspect he'll either have a massive stroke or die in the next 2 years. The latter will be more humane.
How about this, budfox? "he's your dad, you gotta do everything possible to make peace with him, to cherish good times, to encourage positive but realistic relationships between him and your children."

Don't stop loving him. Just stop thinking you can or should control him.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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