How can I appease my father? He wants constant attention...NOW. And nobody can do anything right.

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My dad is 83 and had his leg amputated from poor circulation 2 years ago. After rehab, he was able to come home and could transfer himself to a wheelchair etc and only had home healthcare come in 3x a week for physical therapy and baths. He was doing great. He also lives with my mother, so he is not alone, but she cannot lift him. In the fall he started developing more health problems. He is no longer able to put weight on his remaining leg, has congestive heart failure and his leg from foot to thigh is swollen, his heart is only working at 30% efficiency, and he is getting aspirated pneumonia from food going into his lungs. So we put him in a nursing home for rehab as he fell once and then kept calling the police because he "needed help now.". But he is not progressing. He calls 911 whenever he can get a phone and demands to go to the hospital, he threatens everywhere he is at that he is going to call the police, he's going to sue them, etc. He says he is not getting the care he needs and being refused his rights. The hospital doesn't want to transfer him to the commode because of the danger to both him and staff, as he had an incident where his foot slipped, hit equipment, and tore his toenail off--of course he threatened to sue. The staff at the Nursing Home is sometimes short-handed and one person (woman) cannot move him so they use a hydraulic lifter, which he hates; says it hurts and you can hear him yelling in his room. Now he is demanding to come home. He would need 24 hour care and even with that, one person cannot lift him, nor do I think they would put up with his shenanigans. He is out of control. The hospital just called today and said they are trying to do the best for him. it is just chaos with him and anyone he comes in contact with that works at the hospital or nursing home. I know this is just because he has nothing left to control in his life and he is lashing out. He doesn't want to be "left in the bed to just die." Not for sure what to do at this point. it's frustrating for my mom, me, my other siblings won't have anything to do with him; and I'm afraid that he will get thrown out of the nursing home with his demands. He wants constant attention...NOW. And nobody can do anything right. He has been in the nursing home since early December. He's gone to the hospital at least 7 times since mid November...at 3 times since he's been in the Nursing Home. One time 2 x in 24 hrs!

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Poor guy. I would not want to be left in bed to die, either. Does he get transferred to a wheelchair or some other chair for part of each day? How does he spend his time? Does he read, watch tv, play cards?

Why does he keep wanting to go to the hospital? Does he think he'll get better care there? Does he? What kind of "rehab" services is he getting? Can he learn to minimize the risks of aspiration? Are there things he can/should be doing to reduce the swelling in his leg? Is there any hope that any of his chronic conditions can be improved?

He feels that he is not getting the care he deserves and his rights are being violated. Perhaps it would make him feel better to talk to someone from the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Every state has this program. Look it up on the internet and help him make contact. Advise him to come up with specific examples of what he considers deficiencies and also that he will be taken more seriously if he can keep his temper in check and talk calmly and factually about what is wrong. Maybe you can help him practice what he is going to say.

I suggest this to help him understand that you take him seriously, that you care about his anguish, that there are people in "the establishment" whose job it is to care about what happens to people who have lost their power to control their own lives, and to give him something positive to focus on for a while. Whether there is anything in his long list of complaints that really should be addressed and corrected remains to be seen. But at least he can exercise his right to be heard.

It is very caring of you to want to ease his burden. I hope you can succeed in at least some small ways.

Keep your mother's needs in mind, too. Under no circumstances should she be expected to have him at home. She can visit him as often and as long as they both like, where he is. But she certainly cannot handle what the professionals with around-the-clock staffing are having a hard time handling.

Best wishes to you all. This is a very difficult journey you are all on.
This does seem to be a difficult situation for you and I can appreciate all that you are going through. Been through similar situation before as well. It is frustrating and I feel for you and your Dad and Mom. And of course, unfortunate about other siblings not having anything to do with him Been thru that too - have done everything by myself for my mother, father and mother in law. So that is unfortunate; but such a common thing. Do you think your Dad could have some dementia? Obviously, there is anxiety. Would you and your Dad be open to some anxiety medication? Ativan can work wonders and calms the patient down. But, you have to ask for it. Or any other medication that the Dr. might recommed. It is worth asking as you don't want him to be thrown out of the facility. And this is a real possibility. It happened to my mother, but she calmed down with medication. Just a suggestion. Seems like he requires a lot of care that only a facility can provide. You might be surprised, that after some time, he might adjust better; especially with medication. It doesn't change them much or make them like zombies; it just seems to make them calmer and therefore, happier. My father had been in rehab and then briefly in a nursing home as he required 24 hour care and was quite sick. I visited him frequently and called him a couple of times a day. And since the staff knew my father was very sick and might not have much time left; I even asked them if he could have a beer or two as it was something he had loved his entire life. And I know he was missing having that luxury. I asked the social worker and she said absolutely.! I was shocked! All I had to do was provide it and they kept in the fridge. I don't know if this is anything your Dad would be interested in, but it was the best thing I ever did for him. He was only allowed l or 2 per day; but I will never forget his reaction and happiness to be allowed this one thing he loved. It gave him some control. He was wheelchair bound at this time; so it all worked out. He did not last long as he had previously been so ill; it was comforting to have him in the facility at the time his body started failling - they took wonderful care of him and kept him painfree on the spot. Hope this might help. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
I HAVE A SIMILAR SITUATION WITH MY 63 YEAR OLD HUSBAND. HE REFUSES TO DO ANYTHING FOR HIMSELF AND GETS ANGRY WITH ME IF I TELL HIM TO DO IT. OF COURSE I GET ANGRY BACK AND THIS DOES NOT HELP THE SITUATION. I HAVE TAKEN TO WALKING AWAY FROM HIM, GOING FOR A SHORT DRIVE OR WALK. WHEN I GET BACK, HE HAS CALMED DOWN. WE CANNOT KEEP GIVING INTO THEIR DEMANDS AT RISK TO OUR OWN HEALTH. IT IS NEVER EASY BUT SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO PUT OUR FOOT DOWN. MY HUSBAND IS MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED AND NOW WEIGHS 355#. HE IS AT HOME AND I HAVE NO HELP IN THE HOUSE........TO KEEP MY SANITY I HAVE TO DO THIS.
My father is 86 and in a care home (with my mother but in separate rooms) - he suffers from chronic anxiety and like your father, wants constant attention - immediately - and gets very angry all the time - unlike your father he is reasonably fit apart from his macular degeneration which has nearly blinded him. He tells me he has 'broken his shoulder' and then I find out from the nurses he has 'a sore shoulder'; he says he has 'cracked a rib' when he fell and then I find out he has scraped his elbow; he pushes and pulls at my mother with impatience and when he is advised not to do this as she might fall he breaks down in tears and tells me everyone hates him now. Then I overhear him in the room with my mother telling her that everyone hates her! Believe it or not my dad is actually ok mentally - no dementia (that is my mothers problem), but he is so frustrated by not being in control of his life that he uses emotion to manipulate people (especially me) and gets extremely jealous if he is not the sole point of attention - my mother waited on him hand and foot and hung on his every word all his life - old school! The staff are starting to realise what he does and spoke to me about things in case I thought there were problems with the care, but they also decided that he is so dependant on positive emotional feedback that they would 'make a fuss' of him to make him feel better. So you see he still manages to get his own way in the end even though its still manipulation. There does not seem to be an easy answer to this one. On one hand you know you are being swayed by emotion, but on the other you know they have a rotten life as they are just 'waiting to die' and if they were fit and well they would be living independently and not making everyone's life a misery. I try now not to expect my dad to be 'reasonable' and to count to 20 before I respond to demands and requests and then ask myself if it is really going to put me out to give him what he wants. If it doesn't then it is not really a big deal for me to give in, and if its going to cause more problems I tend to say that I'll 'go away and deal with that' which gives me time to either find a way to do whatever it is he wants without further problems or I sometimes also find that if I say I will do something (a problem demand) and then do nothing, that my father actually forgets all about the request immediately after I am gone - in otherwords its just angry, demanding words aimed at me when I am there to vent his frustration. So I play the waiting game a lot.
As to the demands to go into hospital - I had this also - even when he went into care - he is of the school of thought that you will get the old fashioned 'nurse by your bed' and doctors advising you type of attention if you are in a proper hospital. I make sure I point out newspaper articles criticising poor healthcare in hospitals and lack of adequate nursing staff and then I praise the nursing staff at the care home and their expertise, and slowly he is stopping the hospital demands and realises that it would actually be a scary place to be as he would be alone and not in his own bed anymore and would not get put to bed;dressed; his own table for meals; company etc.
I have been finding lately that when I talk to my dad - I just listen more, and instead of trying to find solutions to his problems instantly, if I distract him with asking him how he feels etc and not trying to 'solve' his emotional issues, then it seems to calm him down. I also try to make him feel good about himself by saying things like "Your room is really nice Dad, its the best one on the landing, they must like you here as you seem to get special treatment etc etc" - then he feels special and liked and sometimes even smiles!
I hope this makes you realise that its not just your dad's physical condition that is making him like this - its rage and fear and frustration.
Good luck and you are not alone.
Thanks for all your suggestions. I know we are not the only ones dealing with a difficult parent/spouse. My brother and mother spent all yesterday dealing with his situation. Hospital wanted him released the night before; he refused to go back to the nursing home. He told me he would probably change his mind and go back the next day. The next day they said they did not have a bed for him any more. So the social worker at the hospital was trying to find somewhere else to take him,which would be 30 min. away from mom, vs. 5 min. He was livid that he couldn't go back...to the place he griped about all the time. Threatened to call council for aging or somewhere like that and wanted a hearing...TODAY. Wanted to call the police, etc. When my mom went to get his clothes at the nursing home, they said they would give him one more chance and that was it, no more; told her about all his bad behavior to the staff. Mom & brother tried to tell him his bad behavior was burning bridges at both hospital and nursing home. He has gone so often to the hospital they dread to see him coming, he is so difficult and demanding. The nursing home said they think he is psychotic and needs to go to a psychiatric facility to get him on mood altering drugs. But that means having a Durable Power of Attorney--don' have one nor would dad want to sign that over to someone...he has never even bothered to make a will which we have all begged him to. That means declaring him incompetent.

A friend told me her mom was so mean they had to move her around from facility to facility as she would get kicked out. I hope we do not have to go through that. My mom worries and stresses and is embarrassed by his behavior and it is affecting her health as well.

My dad has always been one to call an ambulance about everything.The last few years he has gone to the hospital more times than I can count. I think he has a total fear of dying or something. Even when he was in the hospital, when his toenail was torn off when his foot slipped while being transferred, he wanted to be taken down to the ER for his toe! I said what are they going to do for you there that they can't do for you right where you are?

For a man who was a superintendent of schools, it is surprising that he doesn't read. He hates TV. He retired early and spent the remaining years, until his leg amputation 2 years ago, raising cattle, mowing hay, having a garden...outdoor activities. Even after his leg amputation, do you know what he did this summer? He got a 70-some year old helper and they repainted his treasured tractor. I would go by and see him out in his wheelchair under a shade tree sanding the side of his tractor. My mom & siblings thought it was a waste of money, he wasn't ever going to use that tractor again, but who cares, it's his money and was keeping him busy and giving him a purpose. Even old and stuck in a wheelchair, he could do something useful. Now he eats, sleeps and stares at the walls thinking about his situation...or gripes.

And yes, they have talked to him about his aspiration. He should be on a "thickened" diet. He had this problem 2 year ago, they put him on the thick diet. That lasted about a week. Then he was crying "I can't take it any more." So went back to regular food. And has not had pneumonia since until November. So because they told him 2 years ago that he would keep getting pneumonia and die, he thinks they are wrong and he is right.

The hospital told me his situation is not good. Basically that he was not going to get better, he would not get stronger, just keep getting weaker, keep getting pneumonia and if he took a turn for the worse once in the nursing home, to consider calling hospice.
Sharon,
I am so sorry to hear about your Dad...but I understand. My mother in law was diagnosed with Alzheimers 8 years ago. Five years ago she had to go to an assisted living home. She was aweful to deal with for about 1 year. She would tell anyone who would listen that we stole her money and her house. She called all my neighbors and tried to turn them against me. She called all her neighbors and the one neighbor had my husband investigated for elder abuse. The other siblings never came around since she started having problems because she was so erratic and they didn't understand the mental complications. She would sit by the phone and call,all day long. She talked to the Ombudsman Program because she was also claiming that the home was mistreating her. We knew she was not being mistreated because we were there every day! As soon as we would walk out and a nurse would walk in, she would be telling her how we never come to see her and we don't do anything for her. She practically lived with us for 7 years after my father in laws passing. She ate all her meals with us, went every where we did...even vacations. But she didn't understand what was going on in her mind. She lashed out at us because she knew we would never leave her....
I had her assessed by our family doctor and a psychiatrist and she was placed on medication. It didn't make her goofy or tired. The psychiatrist wrote a letter to her stating because of her condition, she could not longer live on her own and needed additional care. This helped me because she would always ask me when I was taking her home and I would tell her that when the doctors say I can,,,I will.
She was in a nursing home for 5 years total. The last 4 years were better. We always took her home for all the holidays. And she stayed over night for xmas and Easter until last year until she fell at the home and fractured her back.
This past year has been wonderful..She has never,ever been mean. She never complained about me not being there because she acturally thought I was there all the time.
In November, I did get to bring my mother in law, my other mother and she always told everyone I was her "best friend", home. She could no longer use her legs at all and was filling with fluid. The doctors told me I could bring her home and it was the best thing I had ever done.
I always felt guilty that she was in the home. I was with her 24/7 and slept on a couch next to her bed. She knew she was home. It was just amazing. I had hospice and they were wonderful. She had a problem eating but the first few days she was so happy. She had a decent appetite and she would talk and talk and then she slowly quit eating. The day before Thanksgiving, she could no longer speak to us but she would call out to her mom and dad.
Then Thanksgiving Day was like a miracle. She woke up to the smell of coffee and a fresh turkey in the oven. She kept asking me what she could do to help me. (Even though she hasn't been able to move for months.) I had to give her liquid morphine for pain and acetominophen suppositories for exposives fevers but on Thanksgiving, she woke up and she was fine. No meds...all day. She talked all day long...telling us the things she needed to tell us..especially how She was having a little bit of a time so I elevated the bed and I got in bed with her and just held her...just praying the Lords Prayer and in my mind just praying that the good Lord would taker her quickly. I kept telling her that I would take care of her son and her grandchildren. Once she calmed, I got my husband and my children(15 & 21) out of bed to spend time with their grandma. It was beautiful. Before we brought Mom home, I talked to my kids and they also wanted her here. I didn't want them to feel sad because she died here. She wa only home for 12 days, but I cherish that time. God gave us a wonderful gift.
This is a long story to tell you that when our parents are older and ill, it is very difficult. Just realize, this isn't your dad talking. I am sure he was accustomed to taking care of himself and everyone else and then when these things happen, they lash out at the one they can count on....you.
Hopefully with the help of doctors or if he has dementia,he will move to another stage..Please don't resent him. I would pray that the Lord would take Mom because she was so different and she just didn't understand. I was reasoning with a 4 year old child.
And now I am greatful, that she chose me to be her daughter in law,her daughter and her best friend. She came home to pass and she knew I would take care of her. She could trust me when she was in her most vulnerable situation. And most importantly she was always treated and could also pass with dignaty. I think this is the thing the our parents have the most problems with because very quickly, they are wearing diapers, stange people are putting them on the toilet and combing their hair.
I hope this helps....I will keep you family in my prayers.....Sherri

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