I give up.

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I give up. I’m not talking about the stuff I’ve previously given up on: ever being happy, ever going on a vacation, ever getting that puppy I wanted, ever getting a descent job, ever having another human being love me romantically, ever having renovations done on the 39-year-old house I’ve lived in all that time (but it’s not my house), or ever getting help with my father. I’m talking about giving up on trying to get my father to change his clothes. I’ve been told it’s my fault that he hasn’t used soap or shampoo consistently in more than two years, that he no longer brushes his teeth, that he won’t change his clothes, that his finger nails are half an inch long. He won’t let me help him. He has undiagnosed FTD. He just cares about nothing. He won’t let me hire someone. His psych nurse says, “You look awful” and “You need help” but she never says how that can be done against his will. He finished his cognitive testing almost two weeks ago, and not a peep from them. Anyway, last Friday, I put relatively clean clothes where he dumps his dirty clothes, and he did change for the first time in a month. So, I told him, I will put the cleaner clothes there for a changing every Saturday morning, and I did get a “Ya” out of him. This morning, he had not changed. It would be just as easy to put the clean clothes on as the dirty. After asking about three times with no response, he finally raised his voice a little (which he hasn’t done in a while but he loved to yell most of his life) and said, “Because they’re not that dirty!” Ok, I don’t care what they look like, if you haven’t changed your clothes in a week, and you don’t use soap or shampoo, and you don’t brush your teeth, and you stink like a rotting corpse, and you don’t even use toilet paper anymore, those clothes need changing. So, come arrest me for neglect but I’m not ripping the clothes off of him. I officially give up.

26 Comments

I feel for you. Nothing I can say will make dad less stinky, so all I can do is send sincere best wishes and prayers in your direction. God bless you for taking all this on.
Maybe giving up is what you need to do. You have fought and fought and fought and you're right in that you can't make someone do something they don't want to do. You can't hold your father down while you brush his teeth or give him a bath or change his clothes. I don't blame you for giving up. Maybe it will give you some peace to not have to chase after him everyday. You're doing the best you can and that's good enough.
I would have a frank talk with his doctor and tell the doctor exactly what is going on and that you can't do it anymore. If the doctor had no ideas, I would call the county and say the same thing. They will probably be familiar with self-neglecting people such as your father. I wish you were in better financial circumstances so you could leave. Since your finances are so intertwined it makes it harder. Do you have any work training or experience? Talk to someone at the Labor Dept to see if there is work you qualify for.
I only recently got him to a PCP doctor for the first time in 5 years (what a struggle that was because there's nothing wrong with him according to him), and this new doctor is pretty hands off. The podiatrist only cares about his feet. Aside from that, he hasn't seen any doctors in three years. I have a job, not a good paying one though. I have a masters in analytical chemistry but my job doesn't require it. I don't want to leave. The animals and plants in and around the house are my whole life. Since dad sleeps 20 hours a day, he's not a big burden. I just hate watching someone rot away. And, then people blame me. I used to beg my brother to trim my father's nails or take him for a hair cut (I did get him to a hair cut last Thursday when I went) but he won't help. When I offer to tend to my father's hygiene in any way, he just tells me that it doesn't need it.
Your father is living his life the way he wants to. There is little chance he'll change.
I got the results of his testing. While she recommends that he get an MRI, stop driving, and get help, he doesn't want any of those things, so she was like okay! They won't force him so that's that. The fact that he won't use soap, brush his teeth, change clothes, talk, move, etc. has no relevance. In a testing situation, he still tests average for intelligence and most memory skills. Most of his life though, his non-language intelligence was way above average.

Results of impairments:

Mild: motor grip bilaterally, motor coordination, digit forward registration, line quality, planning, organization, semantic verbal fluency.

Moderate: word pair registration, flexible attention, word pair recall, recognition memory.

Severe: motor speed bilaterally, focused attention, figure recall (none), phonemic verbal fluency
Your father has been diagnosed with Mild to Moderate cognitive impairment. Inform the DMV. Set a date to leave and tell your dad he's on his own. Stop rotting away in this hell of your dad's creation.
Zombie, you apply for Guardian status, based on the test results. You inform the judge he continues to drive and ask the judge to court order the car be disposed of. By the way, once the MD says you should not drive, your license is officially suspended. If he defies the judge, you are not the bad guy. Life is better when someone else is the bad guy.
Sorry, I missed the severe level. Wow, he's quite impaired. Did the doctor not emphasize that to you? As in, can no longer live alone ? Move out and call the County.
I don't know why you think I should move out. Not only would I be abandoning my father when he needs me the most but I would be losing my home, land, animals, etc. While I lament that I can't have renovations done and that I have to smell my father at times, life here is like having a zombie (dead body) in the recliner. He requires little work because he won't let me take care of his person. I clean the rest. The psychologist seemed to imply that he was in much better shape than she thought, and since his intelligence is intact, he's not considered incompetent. A lawyer told me a few months ago that I should not try for guardianship because I have full medical and financial POA and there would be no need to do so. Even if I were declared his guardian, I cannot force him to accept someone to say wash him.

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