What do you do about a father who won't let go of "things" that didn't get moved to his new state? Family moved him to keep cost down.

Asked by

He constantly complains about "stuff" that didn't make it in the move. Although he had time to sort through prior to the packing, he didn't make any attempts. He is 90 and complaining about model airplane plans that he's going to use someday, spices that were tossed, a wet suit from the 60's, etc.....

I discussed how this makes us feel when he complains, and asked what we an do about it now? He stopped for awhile, but is back on it again. How do I steer him toward gratitude for the help instead of constant criticism about the job that was done?

Answers 1 to 5 of 5
Top Answer
It's "His Life" you are tossing away pieces of. It would be different if he was not Aware, but he is. Think about it that way instead of your own hurt feelings. No one is discarding your things, right?
It's a big job to take on an elder, yes. But if he knows his things are being treated cavalierly, he may decline more quickly. Ask him to tell you the history of the wetsuit, the model plans, and find out what he would like to do with his time now. He needs to occupy his time in a way that makes him happy, and still feel useful.
Think how You would feel. Good luck:)
Try to put yourself in his shoes. If you "read between the lines" this may be that he feels out of control of his life and others are making decisions for him. Also, from his perspective there is a certain amount of fear involved.
Going forward, try to include him in any decisions and get him involved in activities (a local senior center, Veterans Groups, etc.) This may divert his attention and get him to start doing things that he enjoys.
I understand how hard it is to deal with a parent who does not appreciate what you have done for him. Even if you had moved all of his things, he would find something to complain about. It is very frustrating when you are doing your best and someone keeps agitating and complaining. He is grieving and he is taking it out on anyone who will listen. Many of the people who went through life with him are gone and all he has left are his things. They remind him of happier times, his personal history and when he was in charge of his life. I would put together a binder with copies of old family photos in plastic sheets and leave it on the coffee table for him. He won't thank you but you might find him looking at it. When my 85 year old dad moved into our house, I spent some time taking him to the dentist, the eye doctor, the dermatologist and a hearing specialist. It might seem silly but it made him feel so much better when his teeth were polished, his cataracts removed and his hearing aid updated. It made him feel special and ready to create a few new memories. Keep us posted and if you need to vent, you have an online friend who will listen.
I had a similar situation with my Mother... She knew she was moving, and was encouraged to back her things (she is 84 and very capable) she chose not to or would not anyway my sister my husband and my son and I had to do it... everything that would not fit in her new apartment came to our house!!! For weeks she would ask me where is this or that. Finally I said Mom Do you want all the "stuff" and she replied well NO it won't fit. I tried really hard to make sure she has the things that make her comfortable! It was amazing to me the things she chose to throw away. It seems that it is impossible to please her at times. take care.. Being in the middle of this is hard...
Thanks for all the encouraging words. I've taken a hit from many, thinking we "tossed" everything. He had 3 outbuildings, a house double the size (& packed), including help to sort prior to the move, etc. He was also asked about nearly everything that was donated or tossed. I adore him and do understand his anxiety. He is a product of the depression and keeps EVERYTHING way beyond repair, shelf life. Appreciate the forum.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support