My father is living with us and I'm feeling trapped.

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I'm feeling trapped. My father has had 2 strokes and has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment/vascular dementia. His wife left him a year and a half ago, at which point, we discovered he had no savings or means of living on his own. He asked to move in with my then fiancé, now husband, and myself, so we left our downtown apartment for a bungalow in the suburbs that would accommodate all of us. My father lives in the basement, at his insistence, with his dog. He has a separate entry and exit, but does not go out often. He has no kitchen in the basement, so he has created a makeshift kitchenette with a mini fridge and microwave. His driver's license has been revoked and he does not have many (if any) friends. He has many challenges with lower body mobility, he is likely suffering from undiagnosed depression, and he has a terrible temper. I prepare many of his meals, since he would order massive amounts of take-out if permitted, and it puts a strain on his type-2 diabetes. Almost all chores fall to my husband and I, with the exception of those performed by a homemaker who comes for 2 hours once every two weeks, which is all we seem to qualify for. My father makes multiple demands a day, becoming increasingly anxious if they are not answered immediately. We have very little time to ourselves and are constantly exhausted. My father doesn't have money to go to a retirement community, he is not in a position where he would easily qualify for long-term care, on top of that he is highly resistant to other living arrangements, but I'm nearly at the end of my rope. I didn't want this, but he is my father and I have felt there are no other options and I won't see him poorly taken care of, regardless of how frustrated and angry I can become with the situation. I think a lot of this is venting, but any help or advice on finding balance on a budget, getting some alone time for my spouse and myself, and perhaps, finding alternate forms of care for my dad, would be more than welcome. Little extra context, we are both in our early 30's and live in Ontario, Canada.


Sarah, since you are in your early 30's, makes me wonder if your Dad is receiving retirement funds [whatever is available in Canada], or some type of disability benefits. If Dad could chip in maybe he could have a housekeeper come couple times a week just to do his area of the house.

Are there any Adult Day Centers nearby that your Dad might enjoy being around an older crowd. I know some older people balk at such a suggestion but find they do enjoy the activities. Some places have full-length movies once a week. Some offer lunch at a very reduced price.

One thing many of us had learned is the more we enable our parents, the more demanding they will become. They want us to change our lifestyle so that they can continue theirs with no changes.
"One thing many of us had learned is the more we enable our parents, the more demanding they will become. They want us to change our lifestyle so that they can continue theirs with no changes."
Amen, FreqFlyer- Amen!
I'm sure you have discovered that one of the problems with living in suburbia is that community resources are harder to come by. You may not have access to a senior's centre, but explore your local Adult Day care to see if there is any way he can fit in there, most provide transportation. This will get him out of the house and provide a social outlet, something that will help his moods and his cognitive functions. Expect him to resist but be persistent, think of it as medicine for his mental health, maybe not the best tasting but none the less good for you.
What care are the psw's providing for him? The schedule seems unsuitable for any assistance with bathing or personal care. Speak with the case manager about what you feel you need and negotiate, even if they won't give you more hours you can ask for flexibility in the schedule. And remember that you (he) can always pay for extra services (unthinkable as that may be to those of us used to free medical care).
Hang in there a little longer, there is help for you somewhere! Research your local eldercare resources online and get in touch with them. I had to hire an eldercare representative to help get through the excessive red tape to get him to qualify for additional benefits. It was money I didn't have, but worth it in the end. Online searches may turn up respite care in your area, or you can post online looking for help. And as cwillie mentioned, if you need to pay for help, consider doing it. If you and your husband don't take care of yourselves, you can't take care of Dad.
Additional random thought: Perhaps what your Dad might not do for himself, he might be willing to do for his dog. See if he might be interested going with his dog to a local dogpark. A dogpark can be a social place for Dad (as well as his dog), and it might help his spirits. No dogpark? Get creative, for example perhaps he can get his dog to be a therapy dog at a local hospital. Of course this all depends on the temperament of the dog and Dad...just a random idea.
Thanks Freqflyer - you're right, I have to be careful with the enablement piece, I often find it is easier to do something myself than to walk him through doing it himself, but that leaves me more exhausted in the end. He is receiving retirement benefits and some disability insurance, in addition to some small spousal support payments from his ex-wife. He sporadically has a maid service come in, but his level of the house becomes filthy almost instantly once they've gone. I have suggested a few adult day centers a number of times but he is resistant - he says he doesn't want to feel like "a geezer" and I'm not sure how to compel him to go. Cwillie, do you have any persistence tactics that you would suggest to either entice or enforce his going to the Day Centre at least a few times a week? The Homemaker is only providing cleaning services, he has refused any help with bathing or personal care. He bathes sporadically, when he feels strong enough, and I have shown him how to give himself a sponge bath on days when he cannot shower, I occasionally supervise this activity myself :S . LittleMidnight, I like the dogpark idea, I will see about taking him to one soon, because of his mobility issues, we have been walking the dog and caring for her on his behalf, he just really has the pleasure of her company at this point.
Sorry Sarah, my advice is do as I say and not as I do, I was never able to convince my mom to attend Day Care, lol. Looking back I think I could have gone myself to see exactly what was offered there and then accompanied her there until she found her place. Not every program is suitable though, and our small community seemed to cater to people with dementia and at that time mom's impairments were mostly physical. I do regret that we allowed my mom to become so isolated, I feel it contributed to her decline.

You mention a "homemaker", is this a PSW paid for by CCAC? I thought the days of a gov't funded maid service were long gone , here they will only allow personal care, meal prep, and respite time for caregivers, light housekeeping just means doing up the dishes after the meal and sweeping up the crumbs!

It's a very low-cost service we pay for out of pocket from Carefor, affiliated with CCAC, but we went through them directly for this service. It's fairly useless, as far as I can see, and when we spoke with CCAC, he refused any kind of PSW support in terms of bathing, dressing or meal prep, and because he manages to sound relatively competent during appointments, they let it go at that, despite the reservations I expressed. Attending a day program event with him could indeed be a good way to get him engaged, I could take a day or a half day off and attend with him to see what goes on and be able to speak with him positively about it. He does have one more visit with a CCAC-directed physio before that service allowance runs out, but they haven't focused on anything he can do outdoors, and I suspect he will drop any of the exercises he has learned once she stops coming.
Talking about this in an open-forum is really helpful, thank you all for your advice and support.
Does he like to go for car rides? Learn to say: "Hi dad. Let's go check out the library." Many libraries have senior meetup groups, book clubs, discussion groups, etc. Drive him over to the library and go see the librarian. The librarian knows what's offered at the library and will engage your dad on a level you will never be able to do.

Is he a veteran? If so, drive him to the service members club. If not, take him to a service organization like Lions, Rotary, Red Cross, and inquire about getting him involved as a volunteer.

Recognize that your dad is an adult. He is not a child. Do not treat him like a child. You also are an adult. Do not allow yourself to be treated as a child. And while you're at the library check out Roz Chast's book "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?", read it, and have your husband read it.
Hi NYDaughterInLaw - the library is a good idea, we could definitely check that out, I do like to think he engages with me when we do things though. he's not a veteran, but he may be able to do some kind of volunteer work... the cognitive and mobility impairments make that a bit difficult though. I do hope I'm not treating him like a child, he often behaves like one, particularly in the evenings, when his dementia issues are more pronounced. I searched Google for the book you recommend - not what I expected! It looks great and I'll look forward to picking it up, thank you!

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