The idea of taking care of dad on my vacation makes me ill.

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VENT: My dad has suddenly decided he wants to go to the beach. He is weak, we've been through a heckuva year. Actually it's been five years - some good, but this one really stretching me - so much, it's the first time I've quit a job in less than a year, in part because it meshed so poorly with the amped care my father needs. The thought of taking him - when he increasingly snarls at me and the kids, when I need to transport toilet seats, and hope there's no problem with dialysis (he's been to the center before and it's been fine) is making me sick. Mostly, to be honest, because he's not very nice. He's starting to have cognitive problems. The condo we go to is a favor from a friend. I'm so tempted to tell him that the elevator isn't working - which would kill his ability to go (my husband stays at home - and Dad lives with us) But how crappy would that be to 1) lie to my Dad 2) deny him the beach trip when this has started to feel like his Holy Grail. On the other hand, thinking about hauling all of the stuff, taking care of him, dealing with his snarky comments, makes me sick to my stomach. Plus I have normal mom stuff with two teens and a 23-year-old and his girlfriend. I want to cry. Actually i want to go to the beach without any of them. Help me. I'm seriously thinking about lying.


BTW, I just stumbled into this - and SO grateful, even just reading the other questions. I feel like I am in a safe haven. Things have been very, very stressful. Just got through a 40-day stint in the hospital with dad, with him remembering very little. It basically cost me a job and broke me from an emotional strength perspective. I have felt so guilty about this silly beach trip - but I have been emotionally crawling toward this respite. And now, I don't see how I can deny my father a wish, but I can't get control of my own sadness and hostility about it. My own behavior - considering a lie - also makes me feel even worse. My dad has heart failure and kidney failure. He's wobbly. I think he's having cognitive issues tied to blood flow.
Why don't you go alone? We all need time to regenerate and two teens and another with girlfriend does not sound the least bit refreshing or restful to me.

Or send all of them so you can stay at home alone.

There is.nothing wrong with lying to save yourself. Therapeutic white lies.
gladimhere - thank you. I have gone on other trips by myself. I would have lost my mind if I hadn't....but no way to dodge/dump everyone for this trip. It's been planned. Typically, I state what I need - but I think this time, I'm caught between this sympathy for Dad wanting to go to the ocean, and this fatigue. I think I'm also caught off guard by a rather rapid decline in his cognitive function - which makes me concerned that I would deny him and then he would die - and I would live with that forever. I need help on getting my mental framework ready for this trip. I think the first step is probably taking your words - does not sound the least bit refreshing or restful - and realizing this vacation will not be for me.
You need some time for you! And there is nothing wrong with that. Plan something now. Find respite care for dad. How old is he? How long has he been living with you?
I think you have three options:
1) lie to your dad about the elevator
2) tell your dad the truth, that you need a vacation from him
3) take him along and grin and bear it

Personally, I vote for #1, as the least harmful to everyone. But you might want to make a pros and cons list for each option.

I took my husband on many trips during the 10 years he had dementia. None of them were exactly a "vacation" for me. But he was my husband, and he was very kind and pleasant to me. I think that is very different than "vacationing" with a grumpy parent.

Is there any way you can do both? Go off with the kids, and have your husband bring him for the last two days (when the elevator is "fixed.")?
I'm not going to address the beach. I'm going to address dad's mental and cognitive state. Have you had those assessed? Has he been to a geriatric psychiatrist? Has he been worked up for vascular dementia?

If you're going to do this, you're right, it won't be respite for you, you're having to have to see it as a gift to your dad. And to make that work, you're going to need help from the rest of your family..the kids get tasked with some of the planning and organizing and doing.

When I was a kid, we'd take vacations to a cabin in New Jersey, with all the same cooking and cleaning tasks for my mom, with none of the conveniences of home. Not a vacation for her, she'd usually start ranting in the middle of the week. So plan this so that there are some moments of joy for you, like a walk alone on the beach, or a massage, when the kids watch dad.
I just came back from attending a wedding out of state. My father wanted to attend but since he doesn't like to drive (as a passenger) as it is a long drive he said he couldn't. Around 2 weeks before the wedding the ring bearer's parents couldn't attend. So they wanted us to take their tickets and fly with my nephew to the wedding. My Dad said "Oh then I'll come since you are going to fly". I don't know how (yes I do) but I just blurted out, "Well we'll have to see if there are any tickets left on that flight". My dad is totally blind, diabetic and very hard of hearing. The thought of taking him is just like "tiredonlychild" - I take care of him 24/7, I Want To Go By Myself, Husband & Nephew. I don't want to make arrangements to get a wheelchair at the airport, make sure gate attendant knows my Dad can walk but it is so much easier in the wheelchair, take him to the restroom on the plane. This is an ordeal. He is capable of going on his own but I have to go down a very narrow plane aisle saying excuse me, excuse me to everyone he bumps into, then show him where everything is, etc etc etc. He is quite loud since he is blind and I have to talk loud because his hearing aids do not help him much. He has severe hearing loss. That's just one of things I need to do for him. He is a person who has always said what's on the tip of his tongue, like "what's that smell" and he doesn't know that someone may be eating something smelly or whether someone passed by and smelled, etc. With my Dad I have to say "I'm Sorry" quite often to someone. So.....I told my Dad they no more flights on the plane. I felt bad but relieved. My son was already coming from out of state to stay with my dad - it was worth our flying him out to stay with Grandpa. I did enjoy the wedding with my grandchildren in attendance and other family knowing I didn't have to check on my Dad, is he cold, does he want something to eat / drink, restroom, tired, etc. The moral of my story is - go ahead and lie. I did for my sanity and my husbands.
I went through this with my mother. She wanted to go to the beach in Florida. This sounds simple enough until you consider that she has to stop every few minutes to go to the bathroom. Each bathroom trip takes 20 minutes. So the 6-hr drive would turn into 10 hours. My mother wouldn't be able to walk on the white sands of the gulf coast. She can barely walk (with a rollator) on the sidewalk. The only thing she could do is sit on the balcony and look out over the ocean. I suspect she would be back in the room watching TV very quickly and wanting to go out to eat. Within one or two days she would want to go back home, so there would be the long drive back.

I told her no, that I couldn't do it. I told her she needed to call my brother and see if he would take her. She didn't want to bother him. (He goes to Florida quite often, so it would have been easier for him than me.)

Sometimes when I tell someone I need a vacation, they say "why don't you take your mother and go somewhere." They really don't understand that she is what I need a vacation from. :-) Taking her on the vacation would turn it into double-duty work.
I took my grumpy elderly parents on a five day trip to a family reunion a few years ago. I too felt guilty because they really wanted to go. It was a living h#ll. They fought the whole time, grumbled and complained and my husband and I spent the whole time tending to them. Neither one of them seemed to enjoy anything about the trip.

It sounds like you need this vacation away from your Dad. I'm all for the white lie route. To soften his disappointment perhaps you can come up with a special summer day for your Dad when you return. Maybe a family picnic or something similar that he would like.

Thanks everyone. The advice is so good. Now. Lemme tell how it went. I told the white lie. Elevator isn't working. He promptly said while at dialysis, "well, book me a hotel oceanside and I'll go there." I gritted my teeth and said, okay. Because this is what happens when you lie, or at least when I lie. Everything instantly got more complex, with more needs now having to be met. I literally got off the phone and stormed around the house screaming in anger while he was in dialysis, because NOW I get to take him, pack him and all his stuff, drive him to dialysis, and drive him back and forth from his hotel, along with our (my friend's) condo. Then I took Xanax - a resentful move, because it's a direct result of being a caregiver and being under so much stress. Then I took a deep breath and booked him a room at a Methodist retreat center called Epworth by the Sea, which is riverfront. He knows Epworth and likes it. It's a ground floor, handicapped room. The good news, after the smoke cleared with me, I realized he'll be okay there (he's wobbly but uses a walker, his vascular dementia doesn't affect his functioning just his mood (ugghhh) and higher level tasks like paying bills, etc) and it's filled with like minded, gentle people who will be more aware than a typical hotel. The irony - he's so cheap with us. soooo cheap. But for this, told me book whatever - I told him the range of prices for oceanfront/riverfront hotels - he said, all good. Book it for me. So I did.
This is the best it's going get. The good news, he goes to the beach and will have his own space and he won't be complaining about the kids, the condo, the bathroom. I can see him for lunch/dinner - maybe take short walks and it could - could - make for some nice memories. Here's hoping. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the input. I'm still struggling - hard - with anger and resentment. I'll have to reframe this trip by the time we leave. Thanks so much, everyone.

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