71-year-old father makes up illnesses for pity...Help please!

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I am beyond burned out! My mother passed away in January 2011. I have been dealing with my father since then and I don’t know how much more I can handle. He acts like he is dying when there isn’t anything wrong with him. First he said that he had COPD and struggled to breath. Veterans Affairs paid for oxygen therapy to be put in his house until a Respirology & Internal Medicine doctor did the right test to find out that his lungs are healthy. He was telling people that he possibly hand lung cancer and when I found that out I told him to stop lying and making up diseases he didn’t have. He said he had a bad heart and that his heart hung lower than the average person which once again wasn’t true. He has sleep apnea and Post traumatic stress syndrome from being in the military for six years 1963-1969. He’s gone around telling people that he has diseased skin from the mustard gas that was sprayed on him. Once again he doesn’t have any medical problems from mustard gas. He has sensitive skin to certain products like perfumed shampoo’s, soaps, lotions etc. That’s not from being in the military. He has lied about his time in the military telling people that he had to deal with the enemy face to face and that he had to take bodies off of meat hooks etc. He did peace keeping duty in Cyprus for the Canadian Army that’s it! He lies 24/7 and when I approached him about all his lying he just became angry and distant. I tried talking to his psychiatrist and she has fallen for his bull. She wrote me a note telling me that my father was her patient and she would deal with him her way. He’s in the hospital right now because he has pneumonia and he is hamming it up like he is dying. My sibling said she watched the nurses roll their eyes. I tried giving him attention. I go on morning walks with him. I’ve tried to get him into social programs but he just won’t do it. Then he complains that he’s bored and lonely. He really can’t stand my sibling because of the problems my sibling has caused in the family. My sibling just dumps everything on me anyway. I’m disabled and really do have diseases which has caused me to have 19 major operations with the removal of several organs. I don’t act like I’m dying I keep pushing forward. Can anybody suggest some guidance for me? Thank you ~Tina~


First I would want to know if your dad was like this all his life? How did your mother deal with this? If he's been like this his entire life, then I doubt you can do anything to curb the lying or fabricating. It means mom dealt with it, and you kids didn't have to. But if this is new since your mom died, that's another thing.
Yea, wondering if he was hypochondriac with your Mom, and did she baby him and do everything for him?
Sounds like he needs acknowledgement for his achievements. Could this be?Does he have guy friends around? Even one or two? He needs to work part time, play golf, go to a men's breakfast once a month/week where he can tell fish stories to them. Other guys will set him straight. What do you think? Sounds a bit wimpy for 71. Sorry. Anyway, maybe focus on his military service and have a veteran's party. Maybe he needs to go to VA hospital and see what he can do for the guys( and women) coming back from Afghanistan and Irac with definite problems. I'd run that by him, see how he responds. I think he needs a new purpose, and maybe a girlfriend; No disrespect to the memory of your Mother.
All the best, and Thank Him for gis service to our country. Blessings.
Lord what a mess he creates... and as naheaton said, if he has been this way all his life, then it's up to you to take care of you... of course he gets angry when you call him on those crazy stories....you are bursting his bubble....
My dad also had 'imaginary' illnesses and was constantly calling 911, on the other hand all he did was talk about wanting to die... one day, my oldest sister had had enough... and while he was lamenting his impending death, my sister said, " Fine, then STOP calling 911"..... You can imagine how that was received....
But as you will read on any thread here, over and over again, YOU have to take care of YOU...possibly some temporary counseling to help you with how to do that.... So many of us have our own ways of dealing with the stresses of our lives.... I work on my codependency issues, that helps me to detach with love, sometimes, other times all I can do is keep my mouth shut.... hopefully you will get a lot of feedback and see some things that will help you to take care of you... prayers for you, and angels to help you carry such a heavy load....hugs...
So, Dad is a hypercondriac. I'll bet everyone who knows him knows this. Surely his psychiatrist knows it. The hosptial nurses quickly figured it out.

Maybe you can figure out why this bothers you so greatly and address that aspect of it. If you are sick of hearing about his imaginary ailments, make health an off-limit topic. "I'd love to go walking with you this morning, Dad, but let's both agree not to discuss health issues. I need a break from that topic."

Does it bother you most when he talks to outsiders? If you are present, can you just roll your eyes to give them a clue things are being exaggerated? If someone asks you about it later, could you just laugh and say, "It is kind of you to be concerned, but Dad does tend to get pretty dramatic when discussing his health."

Somehow I doubt that you are going to be able to cure him. So I suggest that you try to protect yourself from what bothers you most about this disorder.

Good luck to you!
Thank you all for your guidance. Yes, I roll my eyes when Dad tells his tall tales to folks. No, my mom was far from being the nurturing type of person. She never took care of me or my sibling when we were sick it was always my Dad. I've been trying to get Dad set up with a nice lady. He got mixed up with an alcoholic that lived on a Native reserve which; soaked him for his pension to buy booze...that was a nightmare. He does go to monthly luncheons for Military Vets and they tell their stories however; Dad said he's getting tired of their stories because it depresses and upsets him. He does go for coffee at the coffee house and meets up with friends however; he is losing those friends with all the lies he's been telling. He does have a few male buddies that have tried to get him to join functions with them but he won't do it. He has had ladies ask him to join functions but won't do it. He always says "Well when I have this medical proceedure done or that medical appointment taken care of I will join blah blah blah but never does. Now from what I understand my folks have been lying to each other most of their marriage. Dad, has been telling tall tales to the family for years until I investigated it. He asked me to write a book on his life so I did a lot of investigation only to find his life was a fictional story. He wants to be the war hero with all the fame and glory I guess. He doesn't have all the medals on his jacket like his buddies do however; his buddies were in the military most of their life where Dad only spent 6 years in the army.
Why does it bother me that my father is a liar...well wouldn't it bother anybody if they tried to have a relationship with a family member however; all you ever got out of them was lies? If they said they were sick and you had to ask them what was wrong but they lied about it...would that tick anybody off? I mean it wastes everybodies time while others suffer while waiting for the person full of fudge in front of them at the hospital is using up the resources others desprately need. I suppose it ticks me off because I am one of the real people that has illnesses that has needed urgent care and I've been behind a faker that just wanted attention. Plus, I've worked in the hospitals and dealt with people that just wanted attention while others that really needed it had to wait their turn. It's sad really. I suppose the reason the lies bother me is because I want to know my real father...who he was as a child, where he went to school, his life as a young adult not the fictional character that he has fabricated. Why is wanting people to tell the truth so wrong? Perhaps all I will get is the fabricated father and I will have to live the rest of my life with just that. I'm just feeling overwhelmed and very alone. Thank you once again for all your guidance and suggestions folks. It has given me food for thought.
I am sorry for what you are going through with your Dad. There is a lot of info on AC about detachment-I think if you set boundaries and refuse to discuss his illnesses when you take walks with him-let him know up front you are not going to talk about his health. People probably have his number-my late husband use to talk all about his health especially at church and finally I just refused to take him with me when I went-every conversation had to get around to his health-most people were polite but as time went on less and less would start a conversation with him. I think the idea of his volunteering at a VA hospital would be great if he would do that or maybe helping at a food bank or visiting others in the hospital or telling him to write his life story. He probably will not change and you will never have the father you want to have-my mother will never change all I can do is detatch myself from her. Tell yourself you do not deserve to be treated that way. My husband use to exagerate greatly also. You can't change his behaivor only your reaction to him. Cut down the time you spend with him to save your sanity. Keep coming back to AC there are a lot of conversation you can get involved with -check out cmagnum's dysfunctional families and you will fine you are not alone.
Wanting people to tell the truth is certainly not wrong, Tina. And being ticked off at liars is natural. None of this is your fault. I just think that you are not likely to change him at this point, so doing things to help you feel less at the end of your rope about this seems a reasonable approach to me. Set some boundaries about what you will and won't discuss. Focus on the positive parts of your relationship, like his nursing you when you were sick. He did serve six years in a war situation (for which peace-keeping is a euphomism) and whatever happened to him there he has pts from it. Maybe he exaggerates or flat out lies, but that doesn't negate the service he rendered.

Many of us wish our parents were different than they are/were. You see it on these forums all the time. We wish our mother was more understanding or our father drank less or our parents less self-centered, or less critical, or more realistic with their money, or more social, or less gullible, or more trusting, or ... different than what they are. I wish your father were more mentally well and could share his true past with you. Perhaps with the help of his therapist he will improve.
Tina: Have you ever told your dad that he lies? Have you ever told him that you would like to know the truth about his life. Have you ever asked him why it is that the truth is not good enough for him? Why it always has to be something beside the truth? I was in therapy years ago. I always felt that I had to be an over achiever. My parents instilled that in me. If I didn't shine and wasn't completely responsible and accomplishing something, then I didn't have value. Maybe your dad had something similar growing up or maybe he just felt less than those who were around him. It comes from a sense of insecurity, not feeling that your are good enough.

Having said that, I can't say with any certainty that the root of your dad's problems are in that area. You have to ask him. Maybe you already have. Just some food for thought. I'm putting my arms around you and holding you close.

Tina, I had and still have similar situation with my mother. She is always lying, always has; but I always gave her the benefit of the doubt. So I understand what it is like having a parent that habitually lies - you never know if it is the truth, always trying to separate truth from fiction. And what is particularly difficult is that often the lying is so obvious for attention. She can turn on the charm when she wants to and to who she wants.

It is completely frustrating - and to some extent manipulative. This is the difficult part trying to decipher truth from fiction. If I call her out on it; there is hell to pay. So, I understand if you are unable to confront him with it. Confrontation makes it worse in my case. The only way I can deal is to keep my distance and constantly change the subject. This I have been taught through the help of professionals. The main problem with the lying is when is it real? And when is it crying wolf? I've been told it is a personality disorder. But that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. Especially the part when the lying is just to get what she wants. Hugs to you and take care

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