I am only child, his daughter and have been doing caretaker tasks since 2006 when my mother died of a stroke and his health began to slowly decline. He is diabetic Type II and was just diagnosed with anemia and polymyalgia rheumatica (looked like a stroke) after an extended hospital stay. It seems that he may have dementia but he just changed doctors and it hasn't been officially diagnosed. We have never agreed unfortunately on politics or religion and it is a challenge now with Mom gone and no siblings. Parents had me late in life so there are almost two generations between us - a gap which I work at like a dog at to constantly bridge. He doesn't like my friends and he's not very social so it's just me and a housekeeper/friend that comes once a week. He has attacked my weight, my money (or lack thereof), my career. The excessive criticism is a bit less now since I don't think he feels very well (he was just in hospital for a month). Stairwells have been added to his house, rehab has worked well and he has cane and walkers on both levels. I moved in old house in '09 for a year to help him. It was difficult so I returned to my home state and eventually relocated to be closer to him.
I was recently in ER probably with caregiver burnout and it was as if no one gave a damn about that. The stress of moving has isolated me from my friends and hurt my job situation and my health. My friends have younger parents and have NO clue what I'm going through. My marriage dissolved, dating seems impossible. He refuses to move or to enter any facility even though I had a promising career and many suggested he move to make it easier. I love my dad, he's been very generous with me in many ways but I don't know how to talk to him or manage this hostility. Now our conversations are literally one hour or more of detailed explanations of all his aches, pains and various disorders. He expects me to listen without comment, attentively for a hour or even 90 minutes to 2 hrs of his straight talking (he's a retired professor). If I try to say ANYTHING at all, he gets upset and acts as if any contribution I make or ANY opinion I bring forth is garbage. Sometimes he gets quite upset and insults me. If the insults are harsh, I get panic attacks which may be getting worse. I've tried to give myself breaks to rest but my heart won't stop racing and I get headaches and lose time from work. I've tried for years to limit calls to 30-45 min - often close to impossible. I try to cheer him up but often he negates or violently argues with me. After visits or phone calls, my heart races, I'm so exhausted I want to sleep for days. I help coordinate the care, make calls to Visiting Nurses (which he just dismissed), do what I can but in some ways we've never gotten along and now it's harder. I'm doing everything I can. He seems to appreciate my capabilities when it comes to helping him with his care but everything else about me he acts like he truly dislikes. Question: Improving our relations decreases both of our stress levels and improves health which is my main concern. Is there anything else I could try to promote healthy communication? Also, how can I help myself stay strong because he has no one else??!! Please, please don't say I'm a terrible person I think about that alot anyway!!!