How do I know when my father is really ill or faking it?

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So my father has been living with us for this entire year. And I am, right now, feeling at the end of my rope.

I work hard all day at my job and take care of a teen-age boy. I'm a single Mom as well.

It seems that my father cannot WAIT for me to get home so he can hit me with another piece of bad news. His back hurts; he did not sleep last night; he is feeling weak; he is dizzy; he had a period of confusion . . . and today - the biggie . . . he has chest pain.

His caregiver/companion was here all day; he did not mention it to her because she is not 'family'. Though she was here all day and would have been more than happy to take him to the doctor. I had to work late as I feel like I'm getting further and further behind in my job.

My son tells me that my Dad has been out looking for me twice this evening. He did not answer his cell phone.

When I finally get home - he hits me with the chest pain. Now he did not go walking today because he had some. He will not go walking again until it goes away. He did not call his doctor; he did not tell his caregiver.

I have dealt with so many of his so-called health crisis this year; I cannot even begin to name them all. We had plans to visit our family back home and he could not get out of bed that day because he was 'weak'.

This has been going on for years. How do I know what is real and what is a cry for more attention? How do I deal with this? Call 911? Insist he go to the nearest Urgent Care? It's starting to give ME chest pain.

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Top Answer
Gawd Ringo, I can relate! My Dad does the same thing to me. I quit working 4 yrs ago when I moved him in with me. Our Dads might be completely different or not, I do not know. There are days where I wish I could go to work just to get away from him. I finally realized that it is his dementia and depression that makes him obsess over any trivial thing and makes it into a big thing. When my Dad was following me around constantly and driving me crazy I just hugged him and that's all he wanted then. Now there are times when he has an issue about one thing or another and thinks we need to go see a doctor and I remind him that we already saw a doctor for it and asked if he was doing what the doctor said? he would forget. He forgets a lot, and then I realized one of the reasons he nags me about something is because he is afraid he will forget.
You poor thing, that's got to be really tough on you to work all day and come home to your fathers needs, be it real or unreal. It's taken me these past 4 yrs just to figure what I have out about my Dad. Sorry I don't have any magical advice for you on this. The only thing I can think of would be to sit your Dad down and tell him how his wanting it to only be you to fix everything for him is just to much for you to handle and explain to him that you can't do everything and would he please help you out by asking the caregiver for help when he has an issue. If he can't work with you then perhaps you might want to look into AL that is nearby. We have to take care of our physical, mental and emotional needs or we won't be in any condition to take care of the ones we love. It sounds to me like you need some time for self care and some "me time" without guilt. We all need this and it's good for our aged parents to know it.
oh Ringo ~
I had that situation occur again & again. I never knew when to be concerned or the wolf was lurking.

Sometimes my strong father ignored pain. It was always about 3 AM when he'd call to say he was feeling the worst pain ever. Off to the ER. Discover he had broken sme ribs in a fall which occured several days prior.

Other times his normally alert behavior would become fuzzy, his kind demeanor would become cranky.
Yep ... the dreaded UTI. He became immune to the standard antibiotics. Eventually his growing prostate required a catheter so he wouldn't be up pissing every 5 minutes.

I have no advice. Serious sympathy tho ... I'd never know when he needed medical attention or if he was watching TV when they rattle off dozens of possible side affects of a drug they are advertising.

Good luck.
Your father should meet my mother. Two birds of a feather. This is probably just manipulation on his part. Mom does this also. She uses all her little aches and pains as excuses for not doing anything she doesn't want to do but can out shop me anyday of the year, seriously. It is always, "I can't sleep, my legs hurt, my stomach hurts. etc." however she is the healthiest 81 year old you ever saw. When I suggest that she see a doctor for whatever ache or pain she has, she turns on me and says "just don't you worry about it." SOOO.... If your Dad is really not ill and is manipulative, tune him out as best you can. Believe me if he were really sick or having chest pains, he would want the world to know! These guys thrive on attention and he doesn't bother the caretaker because she probably isn't as easy to manipulate.
Are you sure we all don't have the same parents, the things that you are saying my 99 year old father always has back pain, then the stomach upset but boy does the tums work really fast in less then 5 min when I get it to him the stomach upset is gone. Then we go on to dizziness so that he can't get up. I finally started writing it down when he would have all his different things, and yes there is a pattern to it.
I know the feeling about them not saying any only to you because my father does the same thing he waits intill I get home to say anything even if my husband has been with him all day. I don't know how you do it working full time, I only work 2 days a week, but it is wonderful to get out in the real world.
Hang in there. :)
Well, after a sleepless night - worrying about his chest pain - I spoke with him this morning. Surprise ~ the chest pain is gone.

However, it did spur me to have another conversation about AL with my father. I told him that I would worry less and probably he as well - if he were in a situation where he had nurses and aides trained to handle all of his medical issues. He agreed that this might be the case. I advised that I wanted to re-visit ALs after his cataract surgery in September and he agreed.

Really, last night was the last straw; it probably was manipulation on his part OR just the fact that he does little all day but obsess over his every ache and pain - AS he has done for the past umpteen years.

I love my Father very much; but do not think our living situation is good for either of us. He is too isolated; refuses Senior Center, etc. I am currently functioning as his surrogate wife/mother/cook/nurse - and it's awful. I've been functioning as his 'surrogate wife' since my mother died in 2001. Cooking, arranging doctor appointments, keeping him entertained . . . it's NOT normal.

He seemed to like two of the AL Centers that we previously visited - though he does not want to spend the money - I think he should now. He can't take it with him and he needs it now. He needs more than I can provide. I feel like I have reached the end of my caregiver rope as well.

Though my son is a teen-ager - he still needs me to be fully present. I CANNOT take my eye off the ball now; this is when kids get into trouble.

Thanks for listening. I hope no one thinks I'm a terrible person.
Ringo,
No one thinks you are a terrible person we have all been there done that, we need to do what is best for us.
Hang in there. :)
I agree with feelingnuts, I just hope he will go along with it when he finds out how much they really cost. Mom and Dad (now deceased) couldn't pay for anything while I was growing up, no college, no weddings, no vacations, no anything. They had to save for their "old age". For years Mom has thrown it up to my brother and I that she wants to go into assisted living, then a nursing home. Now she is 81 and lonely, will not keep up her home, can't do anything for her self (not because of her age or physical abilities). So, I started talking to her about visiting a very nice assisted living just a few miles from her home and across the street from my brother. She won't go, now says she just wants to go to a nursing home when she needs it and she does not want a caregiver in her home. Finally I realized she isn't going to spend a nickel on any of this. Just be an unhappy old woman. She is only happy having a pile of money and not spending it. I sure hope your Dad doesn't pull something like that. Mom will spend some of her money on her care, she has burned so many bridges she will have to.
ringo - just wanted to add that I agree about being present for your son. I personally believe its every bit as important to be available to your teens as it is with toddlers. A majority of them anyway.
Ringo, I am so happy to see you've talked with your Dad about AL and at least now you know what direction to take. It also makes the whole situation so much more bearable that you can talk with your Dad and know that he is willing to accept change. One thing I want to share with you though is why wait until after your Dad has his cataract surgery? They say that the recovery is easy afterwards but it still takes time with the bandages etc for healing. It might be better for your father and you if you can get him into AL beforehand. We went through this surgery twice a few years back with my father and everything went fine with him, he recovered fine but a certain amount of care was needed to make sure he healed well afterwards. If you can't get him into AL beforehand at least you have a caregiver there when you're at work. Thanks for keeping us posted :)
Ringo1 NO ONE thinks you are a terrible person. I moved my 85 yr old mother in with me and its been a 3yrs now. I have all the issues you have, I work all day, I have a 19yrs old daughter who I have in college. I left a 20yr miserable marriage bought my current house thinking my life would be better..its only more challenges with my elderly mother. She tells everybody I am the mother, and I hate it..but once a week usually Sunday, is my day for rest and I do something for myself alone! I know I will have to make a decision soon for my mother's care outside my house. So when you have done the best you can for your parent..as a caregiver or placing them in AL or nursing home, that is still done for the best. Be blessed.

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