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My father is in an ECF for rehab following surgery. I live across the country but have been calling daily. He has been unusually weak and we haven't spoken much. There are some relatives he speaks to daily on a normal basis. However, since his recovery isn't going quite as planned, he has asked me to call them daily and say everything is fine since he doesn't want them asking questions and saying the wrong thing." I said I was uncomfortable with this as these aren't relatives I ever speak to on the phone and it looks funny for me to be calling daily. He said if I don't do it I'll make it more difficult for him. He has always been secretive and I'd like to just tell the relatives no news is good news. That I'll call if something arises but not daily just to say he is fine. I agreed to do it this week so as not to stress him more, although it stresses me more. Thoughts?

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He is back to normal! Called today and reminded me of some financial stuff I would have forgotten. Also details about his hospital bill, discharge plans, how they left out part of his breakfast, etc. We'll see how it goes from here. Thanks for all your support and ideas:)
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The elderly can take up to 6 months to recooperate from the anstesia from surgery. This effects their cognitive reasoning and paranoia levels. I would get to know these people better, they could be a god-send in an emergency and let you know if you need to step up in his care level. You are starting to reach the point of the grey area when roles will start to change and he becomes the child. i wish this had spell ck.
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By the way, what is an ECF? I'm not familiar with that acronym.
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Whoa, imaamy, I think you are letting your imagination run away with you here. As emjo says, take a deep breath. Stop the panic, please.

"Extreme sleepiness is a precursor to dementia."
1. Maybe. But I persoanlly am being treated at a sleep disorder specialty center for excessive daytime sleepiness. And no one has even hinted at the D word. Do you think they are hiding something from me? :) Lots of things can cause sleepiness. Surgery is high on the list.
2. The man is recovering from surgery for Pete's sake. Cut him a little slack. You can't make a few phone calls and conclude his level of sleepiness is pathological!
3. IF (please notice the caps) IF your father is in the earliest stage of dementia, dashing out to see him will not change that. You will have months and years to deal with it.
4. If you'd like to visit your father, and maybe that would make you feel better whether it makes him feel better or not, get a reasonable plan together and cover all the home bases first.

Maybe he is playing on your guilt. Maybe he is punishing you for not making the calls he asked you to make. Maybe he is genuinely tired and weak right now. But whatever is going on, it can wait until you can talk to his nurse and to him.

Try to get a good night's sleep. Resume your contact attempts at reasonable intervals tomorrow.

Hugs!
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((((((amy))))))I understand that, and it must be quite frustrating. He is not a well man, and has had surgery, so I think you can expect him to be tired. However, I also think it is wise to keep informed about the meds he is on, and his condition in general. Honestly, I don't find anything strange about it. I have found it is very hard to get a hold of people in a hospital at times. Relax and try again in the morning, He is in good hands, and if he said he didn't need you to come out for his surgery, I think you can accept that, and let the guilt go. My mother is 5 hrs drive away but the last two years I did not see her very often because of my own health issues. You can only do what you can do, and you need to look after you.
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Thank you Joan...my concern tonight was not being able to reach any nurse as the facility. Really it is in an upscale neighborhood and highly recommended as one of the best in town. And the phone just rings or repeats "press 1 for this, 2 for that?" I really do think he is tired and wonder if they are giving him something for anxiety or agitation or whatever in addition to the meds he was on long before the surgery (PD). I don't think he would basically hang up on me if he felt he could talk, and he hasn't asked me to come out. I offered before the surgery and he said he could manage. Strange situation!
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(((((((imaamy))))))) I would take a deep breath, and continue to call to find out how he is. That is not too early to go to sleep, and just because you read that in a book about sleepiness does not mean your dad has alz. Even if he is in early dementia, you rushing out is not going to stop it - he is in hospital, and you have a toddler to look after. Sounds like your buttons are being pushed. You are feeling guilty because you haven't seen him in a while. Do you think he is playing on this? If you really want to see him, plan to go there in a way that does not stress out you or your family. If it is difficult for you to go because of your toddler - the toddler (and your husband) come first. Don't panic! And don't act out of FOG -fear, guillt or obligation. That is what dysfunctional people use to manipulate their family members. Look after you and your family. (((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))) Joan
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Something is really not right. I called today not having heard from him and he said he was up and about to walk, call back. I did and he said he was trying to sleep (8:30 pm) and would try to call me. I called the facility and tried to get a nurse to speak with. The automated system kept spitting me back to the same recording. I hung up and called again...the woman I finally got said she would transfer me and it just rang and rang. Feel like I should get on a plane ASAP and see what is going on. I read an article that extreme sleepiness is a precursor to dementia:(
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I haven't heard from him today and don't know if that means he is mad I forgot to call the others yesterday. If I call him, I get, "I'm too weak to talk. Thanks for calling." A few days ago we did speak for more than 20 seconds and I asked what has been the best meal? "I can't talk about the food." I said, "well I thought you said the food was good?" Reply: "It is good but I can't talk about the meals." Wow.

Speaking of guilt, I haven't seen him in a long time. I feel I should go visit but we have a toddler I'm home with an no other care lined up other than PT preschool. I really need to get a Plan B for the future!
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Thanks sister frustrated :), sounds like a good book. I have wrestled a lot with "honour thy father and they mother " and had it thrown at me many times. I knew what was in my heart, and it was not disrespect, but self preservation, which is what I see from imaamy. Finally, I came upon a very good commentary on that scripture with many other scriptures to support the views expressed, and it satisfied me. In a dysfunctional family, we are to forgive , but not put ourselves back into a situation which is damaging to us. "Do not provoke your children to wrath" needs to be counted in the equation, too.
"If guilt works on you, remember this is your problem, not theirs". Absolutely true!
As "they" say - "No one sends us on a guilt trip - we have to buy the ticket," and I would add, get on the bus.
I find I get weary sometimes from all the drama, the craziness... but resistance is not futile! :) (((((((hugs)))))))
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One more comment that I think could help in these kind of situations. I dusted off a book that I used years ago as my daily guide (!) when it came to my family, esp. my mother, called "Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life". Authors are Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. They are Christians and for me it is important not to be "right" but to know that in God's law, I am in the right. If so, I am on the right track and I am checking myself and my ownership (or not) of the issue/problem. On page 245: "If guilt works on you, remember this is your problem, not theirs". BINGO. There are many helpful references in this book to deal with parents. As Christians we get "Honor thy mother and thy father" all mixed up and feel GUILT if we don't accommodate their whims or desires. We do NOT have to do that to 'honor' them. Anyway, great reference book for daily life in a dysfunctional family! It also relates direct Biblical passages that validate and support drawing lines in the sand!
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Right on, Sister "EMJO"! Ha! I call this "the emotional fruit salad" in my family! If IMAAY's father is able to speak and is coherent there is not reason he can't speak for himself. I don't even get why someone else is supposed to get involved in this. But nutzo family dynamics although clearly nutzo are hard to understand in particular unless you are part of the family! This just rings of 'all off base' though to anyone who has 'been there'. I have personally not reacted - though believe me! I want to usually immediately when something newly nutzo happens! - but I find staying out of it usually causes things to simmer down. I am becoming the perverbial jello that cannot be nailed to a tree! Be jello and be happy! And you know, in every family, "there's always room for jello"!
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"Peace at any price is not really peace". Amen to that.
What struck me when I first read your title "Boundaries vs keeping the Peace" was that boundaries should keep the peace - for you.
"You would prefer to be out of the craziness". Amen to that too. Reading between the lines, I susoect there has been a lot of craziness in your family, and you are wise to keep out of it.
This certainly is triangulation - you getting dragged in to deal with dad's problems with people he connects with regularly. Hmmm - looks like manipulation to me. My thought is that is it his business to deal with, and not yours. I do agree that if there is a drastic change in his health, calling relatives is your responsibility, but not just to keep things from being difficult for your dad. I see that as up some cans of worms.
"basically he is asking me to lie" Coming from a dysfynctional family myself, that is a big red flag, and I wouldn't be any part of it. If you do, it means you are compromising yourself, and that does not work - or not for long anyway.
Good luck, and let us know how it is going! It sounds like you have survived your family's craziness pretty well. Keep it up!
(((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))) Joan
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This kind of stuff goes on all the time with my parents. I think it is related to the old dysfunctional 'triangulation' technique! Last year my siblings and I all put $$ together to pay for an 80th birthday cruise for my father. My mother immerses herself in gossiping about other family members, couched in 'just getting it off her chest' (ie, it is all about her so if she's stressed out re a situation that isn't really HER situation, she can vent and pretend it's because she emotionally 'cares' so much that it's causing her to (fill in the blanks ) - be so tired, so depressed, so worried, etc.). Shortly before the trip she tried this with me regarding one of my sisters and her kids, who had moved back in with my parents after a year in our city, during which my sister made no effort to adjust to the move and literally dragged her whole family down. She demanded and whined so much from my brother in law, who is totally cowed by her, that all his time off caused him to lose yet another job. We helped them tremendously during that year in many ways and when my mother just wanted to tell me about her being so tired, so stressed, so you name it and began talking about my sister, I had to stop the conversation and say that this wasn't a topic I could discuss with her. It really amounted to gossip and I didn't want to say anything not so nice about a person I was pretty frustrated with at the time. My mother became FURIOUS because NO ONE tells her how it is going to be - and I just did. A few days later I received a call from my dad who pulled emotional 'blackmail' saying that if I did not apologize (I did nothing but set a boundary) they would probably not be going on the trip. That meant that a)all the money we and my siblings had put into the trip, which was nonrefundable, would go up in smoke and b) everybody's good time, of course, would be ruined by ME. My feelings meant nothing in this and I was the one who put this whole nice thing together for my dad in the first place!
I stood my ground and said I hoped they would still go but that I had nothing to apologize for; that if I did I certainly would do so. I told him that I thought it would be very unfortunate if she were willing to ruin his birthday because of this but that I was going and they should go too and have a good time.
They did, but she punished me the entire time and I still get 'nasty grams' on a fairly regular basis bringing this up over and over and over. She has trashed me to my family and they all just want to make it stop, so they are also all over me to just say I'm sorry so we can go on down the road! I did send her a note about 7 months ago acknowledging that we were both stressed out at that time and I hoped we could move on, and that I was sorry for my part in anything becoming escalated. Not good enough. This NPD woman has ruled the roost forever (they have been married 60 years) and it isn't going to change now. But I am no Neville Chamberlain and I have had enough. Just because someone is older doesn't mean they cannot be nasty and manipulative and you have to at some point just be true to yourself, once you have truly examined yourself and your own motives. Peace at any price is not really peace.
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Yes for sure there are some pre-existing chronic conditions affecting thought and decision making. I feel I should do whatever I can from far away and a short phone call shouldn't be too much, but basically he is asking me to lie. I even feel bad that with the time difference I honestly forgot to call the relatives until it was too late. I'm gonna be in trouble.

I didn't even realize I used right and left!
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I like your clever use of right and left, imaamy, even if it was unintentional. :)

It sounds like an interesting story. I know my own response to the request would have been "that's not going to happen."

I wondered if the surgery may have had an effect on your Dad's thinking. I wondered if he is also concerned that he might not say something right, particularly if he is not feeling well and is on medication. Let us know how it all turns out, imaamy.
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If I gave you the full background to this family relationship, you'd be amazed. Could be right he needs it to focus on, but I'd prefer to be left out of the craziness!
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I think jeannegibbs got right to the issue in her first paragraph. I'm so amazed at the wisdom on this forum!
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They say the wrong thing, huh? I'm smiling. Does he like to have something to grouse about? Maybe a few relatives saying the wrong thing gives him something to focus on. Do you think he really wants them to stop calling, or is that just something to complain about?

It is great to be able to take bowel function for granted, but with age that becomes less reliable. At my husband's geriatrician's office recently we were going over the litany of bowel issues, and she was giving advice about what to do in various circustances. She shook her head and said, "No wonder old people talk so much about their bowel!" It can truly be central how a day goes. I remember listening to my father and thinking, as you do, "I don't really need to know." And now I am listening to my husband, and though I don't especially want to know, I need to, to help him manage his health. I just try to divert him when he starts talking about it to other non-medical people.

Long distance caregiving must be challenging. It sounds like you take it seriously and want to do it well. Dad is lucky to have you!
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Totally agree but he won't tell them, and he;ll be upset if I do. He called today and said he feels better and will try to call tomorrow. He wants daily contact via someone. Well he will call and then grouse about how they said the wrong thing. And on another topic, why do elderly need to give daily bowel reports? I don't really need to know...
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I think you are on the right track with your own solution there. You might also tell them that he needs his rest and quiet time, keeping outside stimuli to a minimum, so that he can recover quicker, and be able to resume his daily social routine. Ideally, HE should tell them that, but hopefully you can get the point across to them.
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