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My Dad (94) and Mom (82) live in a nice Independent Living Facility where one meal/day is provided. They have many acquaintances and join in the multitude of festivities the community provides.


They function well as a team, though the situation will change dramatically when one passes. Dad can walk, is 95% deaf, and had glaucoma laser surgery 2 months ago - so vision is not optimal. He walks with a walker because the deafness has left him with no equilibrium. Dad's latest brain scan determined his brain had begun to "atrophy."


Mom has little to no lower body strength but still manages to get around with the help of a walker - though getting up and down from a seated position has almost become virtually impossible. We are probably one year away from a motorized wheelchair - if that long.


Recently Dad ran a routine errand in the car, about 3 miles from his home, and ended up lost, 30 miles away, getting ready to go up a ramp into oncoming traffic. Through the GRACE OF GOD he was stopped and both car and Dad were brought home by police. As a result, DMV received a notification of the incident and, Dad has subsequently had to turn in his license. Dad CONTINUES to remain adamant that he was "just confused" and got turned around and that he can drive and has been doing so for 80 years.


Since the loss of his license, his anger has escalated to an uncontrollable height. While he doesn't act out physically, he emotionally abuses my mother who is already beginning to lose HER mental faculties. Her short term memory is not good, so I would not say she has Alzhemers, but possibly early onset of dementia.


The emotional abuse has always existed in the 64 year marriage, but the escalation because of the loss of his license (which is, of course, my mom's fault) has become so problematic my mom wants to leave. She loves him. She can't stand him. He is killing her. She cries at the thought of losing him. She wants to live with me. She can't leave him. I sit by and listen and try to encourage her to the best of my ability (from 5 states away), but it is killing me to know how abusive he has become.


Mom now must drive him to his appointments and, by the time they return home, she has to "take a nerve pill" just to be able to breath and keep from having a nervous breakdown (my words, not hers). He yells and tells her what a lousy driver she is the entire time they are driving.


The obvious solution is peace will come when God's time has come. MEANWHILE, what can I do to keep my Mom from having a full on nervous breakdown and get my Dad under control. He will not allow her to visit any other single ladies in the community because he fears she will "share their business." He accuses her of flirting with other men and workers throughout the community and brings her to tears. She tried to hire a cleaning service because she has ALWAYS kept an immaculate home, but he will not allow anyone in his home! I love my Dad and Mom, but my Dad is no longer the father that raised me. He is a constant victim, never takes responsibility for anything that happens in his life, has never once uttered the words, "I'm sorry", and has no empathy or sympathy for any other living human being except ME! I have an older brother but their relationship is different because my brother shares many of my dad's traits. I simply am seeking anyone's thoughts on how to 1) keep my dad from mentally and physically destroying what little time my Mom has left and 2) get my Dad under control.


Any comments, thoughts and ideas are MOST WELCOMED!!


SIGNED,
A very frustrated, very sad, loving daughter.

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ConnieB, according to my husband, the absolutely worst aspect of having dementia was having to give up driving. He mourned his little special edition Miata for at least a year. I can sympathize with your dad. Getting old, and even worse, having dementia, is painful in many respects.

It sounds like the safest and sensible solution is to sell the car, or give it to a charity. Get it out of there. It is natural for your dad to be despondent about this. The problem is that he is taking it out on his wife. Without being judgmental of your father, your mother deserves some protection. On the other hand, she has chosen to put up with this kind of behavior (if less extreme) for 64 years.

Both your parents apparently have dementia. Sad. Hideous. Terrible. And Not Your Fault. There are some treatment options that may make the situation more tolerable. But it would require their cooperation. Do your best to increase their quality of life. But also keep in mind that this is Not Your Fault, and all you can do is your best.

We'd love to hear how this situation progresses. We learn from each other!
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I have 1 story to share with you that very clearly illustrates the past several years of our lives. My husband and I made plans for Just the two of us no cell phone, except for our 17 year old daughter...she was a huge proponent of this much needed break for us. We got people to take care of the animals, the yard, we covered every possible contingency. we gave dwe gave daddy a handful of money,told him we had to go to Washington to see my doctors. Yes we lied this one time. this one time.just to have a few days to get to know each other again. My husband surprised me by getting us a suite at the nicest hotel in the state it was five star... And this particular suite was not available to the general public, it was only for use by owners of the facility. My husband is a very popular man in town and is able to accomplish these feats so he does it in order to surprise me. He feels bad that I have been through so much... We both have....so imagine my surprise when we walked into this unimaginably gorgeous suite and as I went to put my purse on the countertop, my phone rang. It was daddy. Another emergency... I didn't see my husband for the entire four days. I stayed with our little dog while my husband ran off to care for him. My dad having forgotten all about the appointment we mentioned to him, was absolutely thrilled!! I spent 4 days looking at my husbands unpacked bags...still sitting by the door. I was too depressed to eat or drink anything and I became very ill. Some vacation that was. Soon after, my husband had his heart attack.. Perhaps some of the readers will now understand why we are moving out of state.
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Connie, I just reread your post because something didn't seem right, & I must apologize because you have already gotten them into a nice facility. Step one...done. you are definitely way ahead of us, not because we haven't tried. And mince meat, I like the idea of the celexa I have heard good things about it and if there's any way I can get daddy to take it, I am positive I can get his doctor to prescribe it for him. Anything is better than this, but we will not be his caregivers anymore. We will be backup players, but our responsibility is to eachother and our children. End of story. I hope things get better for you. This is a nightmare I would not wish on anyone. I hope you keep moving in the healthy direction you seem to be. Be an advocate for your mom's social life... But make sure its not at the expense of your own life. If they were in their right minds, they would want that for you. soon enough it will be a self correcting problem. That sounds extremely harsh but my dad is even older and he is extremely unhappy and negative. Eventually God will take care of all of this. In the interim we have done all we can. We will provide him with helpful phone numbers, give copies to his brothers and their wives who all live nearby, but he dislikes them all because he says there are old and disgusting and boring. Reminding my husband that he is his only contact with the so-called real world. more guilt from my poor husband to deal with. Daddy began Victimizing him as soon as he realized what a man of honor my husband is.we will visit and be available for emergencies, but only emergency calls will be taken in the middle of the night.the local ER has already admonished us not to have him call them anymore for dizziness or vertigo. They gave him anti nausea pills which he promptly threw away. Zofran is a lifesaver. Ask any cancer patient. As such, I speak from experience.They told him that is all they will ever do for him and for him to please leave the beds and ambulances for those who really need them. of course he threw away the pills, all of that drama is how he gets his attention, so why do anything to help himself?! More guilt for my poor husband to deal with. It sounds terrible but I've said it before, save yourself.
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Connie, the situation with your dad is almost an exact replica of what we are dealing with with my 87 year old dad except for the fact that my mom passed away, since then all of the abuse such as the driving comments are heaped upon my husband. There has NEVER EVER been a please or thank you. Especially not for me. Surprisingly even to me, he has never even said i love you to anyone in the family. he simply feels entitled to 100% of my husband's time. he gets disgusted if my husband has anything to do that relates to our children or me. He cannot understand why my husband would" waste" his time doing anything for us. after all can't we all see he is busy enough?! He basically thinks of my husband as an indentured servant. Nothing is ever enough. Daddy doesn't care that my husband had a heart attack, dammit the buttons on his TV remote are giving him trouble so the heck with the heart attack....he needs my husband to get over there immediately. He even told my husband that from now on he is priority number one, two, three, four and five... My husband didn't think I would believe it so he let me listen to the voicemail. I would not suggest having your mother move in with you, but if there is any chance at all you can get your dad into an Al facility, that could be a lifesaver for you both.. By that I mean you and your mom. And in home caregiver to help with the unhealthy dynamic would be great because he seems to still have some sense that what he is doing is so wrong. The fact he doesn't want your mom to socialize is evidence of this. He doesn't want his dirty laundry out there for scrutiny by "normal" people. he is victimizing you and your mother and also isolating your mother which will cause her to become depressed over time. and you do not need to take it. You also should never feel guilty for your feelings. I know so many elderly people who are delightful to be around. My uncle is 94 and he is an angel. Always positive never complaining never demanding. Aging with grace is possible for anybody. your dad needs to stop these destructive behaviors, or he needs an intervention of some kind. a nurse in the home could put an end to the abuse just by being there to witness it. Hopefully your dad would still be ashamed of himself enough that he would treat your mother and you with more respect.
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Connie, thanks for the info. Sorry to hear about your brothers illness. It sounds like you've got things in hand. Sadly, sometimes elder care is crisis driven. With a very angry and stubborn elder change will only happen when there's no choice.

I'm also the sole caregiver for my folks due to the early deaths of my brother and sister. A few years ago I would never have imagined that I would be all alone in this, but you do what you have to do. I've managed ok so far but the really hard stuff is yet to come like getting the car keys, transition to assisted living and so on.

I'm in northern Mi but my folks are in WV where I grew up. It's about a 10 to 12 hour drive deepening on weather and construction. I was down home for a week just recently. Every time the phone rings I get a knot in my stomach thinking I'll have to jump in the car and head out. Oh well, such is our life........
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Lindaz: My mom actually said she would give up driving because of dad's abuse. So this may be a partial solution. Dad's complaint is, "you people have me caged in and I can't go anywhere!" Of course not true because there are numerous transportation options but he believes none are good because, "these people don't know how to drive!" So..... But if one way to get him to stop bringing my mom to tears every time she drives him somewhere is to get her to stop driving, that's step 1! Thank you for your input!
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Windyridge: My folks are in FL and I live in VA. I go visit as often as I can, and have even purchased a little condo 3 miles from their front door so I can visit comfortably.

My brother and I have established all of the necessary estate docs, wills, POA's, HIPPA approvals, etc., that are needed. But dad still handles all of their financial affairs.

As for my brother, he was diagnosed with salivary duct carcinoma last year; has been treated & is in the periodic checkup phase. Mentally he just checked out on worrying about mom and dad and figures whatever will be...will be. I understand and that's why I am pretty sure the future caretaking will fall to me. I will never move mom in with me, but WILL move her closer into assisted living when that day comes. She wants to be near me and would come willingly.

You are blessed to have a dad who is loving to your mom!!
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Babalou: Thanks for your input! Impossible to get dad to see anyone that is going to evaluate his mental status. He still handles their finances and buys & sells stocks on line. His mental situation is tricky because he can still do these things, yet when you ask him what year it is, he'll say 1815 or 1915. Short of drugging him and taking him to a geriatric shrink unwillingly, this is never going to happen. And even after his car boondoggle incident, it took every trick in the book just to get him in for an evaluation. He is not an easy man. But I will certainly keep your suggestions in mind.
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Hi Connie, It sounds as if are going through a rough time now, as is your mom...So, okay, Dad has a dementia of some sort going on and shouldn't be driving and mom shouldn't be driving either with the weakness in her lower limbs - you kinda need that for the brakes, gas pedal etc and your dad yelling at her all the time, while driving, could lead to an accident. Perhaps you could get their doctor involved (if he/she is compassionate) and let the doctor be the bad guy by saying 'No more driving for either of you!'. Also please let the doctor know about dads non-stop aggression (this a well-known feature of early to mid stage Alz.) but it can be treated. If he won't take the pill on his own it can be added to his coffee or some other drink or food. Living 5 states away makes this all the more harder on you, but think long and hard before having mom move in with you. Being a caregiver is a very hard and often frustrating job and your own life goes pretty much out the window. Best of luck to you! Lindaz
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Brain atrophy is dementia, early onset happens when in your 50's and 60's. The ages your folks are is late onset. They are going to have to be separated, dad to memory care, and mom to assisted. Itis wonderful that independent living has worked for them for so long, it is quite rare.

I suggest you check with the Alzheimer's Association for classes in your area to learn about what they are both going through. It will be very helpful to you as well as you try to understand what all is about to start happening.
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Hi Connie. I have a similar situation with my folks except without so much anger. Dad has dementia and is usually ver caring towards Mom, but he can't understand they they need help now and won't allow me to do anything that makes any sense for them.. It's like he's stuck in 1960, everything is fine, don't be getting in our business.

I'm also watching out for them from 600 miles away. Dad doesn't know it but I've been taking care of the bills and finances for some time now. How far are you from your parents?

Also, how are you fixed to handle their affairs as things get worse? Do you have POA, are the wills and end of life affairs drawn up? You mentioned that your brother has some "issues". Does he cooperate in their care?
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Geriatric psychiatrist appointment for each of them. Yes, antidepressant meds can work wonders, but dad has to take them. If dad's dementia has8been diagnosed yet, get him a full neurological/neuropsych workup.
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Mincemeat: thank you so much! It makes me feel better just knowing my situation is not unique.

I am going to investigate the Celexa. My challenge is getting him to agree to take it. He is still sharp enough to get on his computer and look up drugs and their side effects. Once he knows the side effects, then he usually decides to have one or all of them, then he stops taking the drug. He refuses to take the ARACEPT previously described.

Regarding the van that takes people places, dad won't use it. He seems happier when he is just complaining about things. The vans go out to the stores for 60-90 minutes and he complains he gets tired and cannot stay that long.

I will be visiting next month to make another assessment.

Thank you, once again!
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Also, band together with your brother ...discuss escalating to assisted living so that they can get more oversight.

And for the safety of the world at large, if your Mom is getting dementia....the car has got to go. If father is that angry, he may just drive for the heck of it someday.

Best to you!

I feel like I have stood on my soapbox and preached to you, but I have just been through this in the last 12 months and I thought I would share what we had to do. Sorry to be so matter of fact. All of this is not pleasant but necessary.
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Your father sound like mine almost to a T. The anger of losing the license and the "fear" of others discussing it is a big deal and he will amplify it to take up all of his emotional time. The blaming of others for everything sounds familiar, along with browbeating the family.

My suggestion is to get him on some sort of antianxiety drug. Celexa has been a miracle for my father. Really toned down the nastiness and accusations.

Does the facility have a van service to take them to appointments? Sounds like mother does not need to be driving as that makes her the bad person now.

Most importantly, you may consider being your mothers advocate and act as a buffer. She most certainly does need to get out of the apartment and socialize as much as is possible.

The stress of living under his domination may be too much for her. Only you can be the judge of that. I urge you to consult the staff at their facility. Consult with their primary doctor. My empathy for you ....this is tough!
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