Guilt over parents in care.
For the last 4 years I have made a 7 hour trip (14 hours round trip) every month to visit my parents and have taken care of them and their problems, through the stages of cleaning up their house on each visit and dealing with crisis, then onto organising their help at home and then sorting things out when my Dad asked that they go into care when they could not cope at home. My mother has dementia and my father is a ‘narcissistic personality’ and has been a very difficult person to deal with throughout, even although I always did everything he asked me to. The care home where they live is very good and the carers are very kind to them. My mother has settled in well and is only confused about time and place, but otherwise is thriving physically and in fact has come off some of her medications for diabetes because she is so well cared for. My father on the other hand has been difficult throughout and was constantly saying that when my mum died or became too ‘off her head’ – his words – that he should be ‘transferred’ and complaining that he shouldn’t be there and was tricked into going in by me and my mother. In fact it was my father’s choice to go into care with my mother and he was so happy to do so that he insisted that I gave up their local authority house immediately as he had no intention of ever going back. Once they were in care I moved house to be nearer to them and am now only 3 hours away. I initially visited them once a week but my father was becoming even more difficult and was quite unpleasant and abusive towards me. When I added the cost of visiting them and the time taken out of my working life (I live alone and am self-employed so I have to work full time for a living), I decided to start visiting once a fortnight so that I could have time off to myself on alternate weeks. Shortly after that my father started refusing his food and medications and ‘took to his bed’ and although he is now getting up and eating again, he has lost a lot of weight and is no longer in good physical or mental health. He is distant and very aggressive about me – saying nasty things to the staff about me and acting as it is my fault he is the way he is. He used to phone me every day on his mobile phone (and often 3 or 4 times a day) but has stopped doing that now and doesn’t use his phone at all. He seems to have lost interest in life completely and won’t try to help himself at all. I have tried all sorts of things to interest him but he refuses to do anything. He just wants his life to go back to how it used to be – which was mainly going to the pub and smoking – and is furious that it can’t be like that again. I know in my own head that I have only done what he wanted but it doesn’t stop me from feeling horribly guilty and responsible for his current state of health. I am not sure that I could have done anything differently as my father was very domineering and I always did what he wanted but I wonder if I should have realised that his decisions were not always rational and stood up to him and said no. I also wonder if I should have insisted that he didn’t go into care and only had my mother put in care (he no longer wanted to take care of her) and left him in his own home with carers. In hindsight I cannot seem to sort out in my head whether I really did push him into his decision and it makes me feel so terribly responsible now.