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Not really a question, but wanted to share something positive that may have come from my stepping away from my dad's caregiving.


After Dad went into a NH in Nov I lessened my role with him to deal with the extreme burnout of caring for him in my home. He still called constantly to complain about literally everything. After my MIL, whom I was close with, passed away a month ago I asked my mom and sister to take over his calls. (*note my parents have been divorced nearly 20 years but have become cordial in the last 5) He would still try to call me with manipulative voicemails left because he was upset I wasn't available to him anymore.


Then...2 weeks ago, my iPhone tanked. Can't afford a new one for a few weeks. Dad literally cannot contact me. At first he raged at my mom about this. Said I've abandoned him, that I'm ignoring the "abuse" at the NH ("abuse" being a broken soda machine and the food not being restaurant quality). His bad behaviors towards staff have kept him from being received into AL facilities. We're talking about throwing food at the walls and staff, threatening bodily harm, threatening hunger strikes, refusing services like PT and showers. As far as all testing and doctor visits have shown, he is fully mentally competent and capable. He is just physically disabled, entitled and a narc.


During one of these raging conversations he was having with my mom, she finally had a "Come-To-Jesus" talk with him. That I cannot rescue him, I am fully unavailable. That the only person who can change his outlook on life and how people respond to him is him. Treating the staff badly makes the staff not want to treat him kindly, in the same way that you don't treat the people who handle your food badly. Acting like a 3 year old when you're a competent 71 year old is fully immature and won't make people want to be around or help. He went radio silence for 2 days...said he was just going to stop eating, stop talking to anybody and just die. She told him that would be his choice.


Well something clicked! He called my mom 2 days ago to say that he's contacted a Medicaid ombudsman about some shady things the social worker was doing. He'd had a meeting with the NH director. Dad said he's changed to having more positive interactions with staff and noticed they are kinder to him. He allowed showers again, and PT has returned. He is applying to get into a VA LTC facility in the area. It's like, I had to leave the picture completely and someone else had to tell him all the things I've been telling him for years before he decided to start doing these things for himself.


I'm really hoping things stay this way. It might be better that I stay fully disconnected (with the exception of moving his things from my home to wherever he lands) since it makes him more productive in his own life! I had felt a little guilty about it, but he's showing some progress in an area I haven't seen since I took on his care nearly 5 years ago. Just something I wanted to share with you all!

Regarding my mom's "Come-to-Jesus" with my dad. My mom has learned to how to stand up for herself and others since she and my dad divorced. We learned a while ago that my dad's favorite emotional blackmail move was threatening to die. To take all the pills in his pill minder, to go on hunger strike, or just telling whoever he was upset with that he just wanted to die. Of course while he was in my home, I was afraid of him dying here. It caused me a lot of anxiety and would force me to pay more attention to him. But with all that bluster, when a moderate level stroke hit in November and the doc at the ER is asking about DNR directives, my Dad immediately stated he would want everything possible to save his life if the need arose. Bluff called.

So when the Come to Jesus happened and he threatened all this dying stuff again, my mom made it known that we would all respect his wishes on that. I had just gotten through the death of my MIL who chose hospice and to let the good Lord take her instead of continuing chemo and the whole family respected her wishes. I think that was the switch with him..he now knew that that particular piece of blackmail would not get him anywhere now. And she was very up front that unless he wanted to be deemed mentally incompetent, he would have to do things himself. If he wanted the staff to be around more and be more helpful, he'd have to be nicer to them. Of course he did his pouty few days of feeling sorry for himself, but probably figured out that we are all serious. The games were over, and it was time for him to adult again.

Like I said before, for anyone reading, my father is mentally competent with no evidence of dementia or Alzheimer's (according to docs and facility), so this approach may not work for patients with those conditions. This is just how we dealt with a parent who got lazy, was already entitled, and had spent most of his life being taken care of from his mother all the way to his second wife and me.
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Thank you all for the support! It really means so much to me. I'm sorry I didn't come on sooner to respond. I'm still without my iPhone, and share one computer with my husband and 4 kids so internet time is limited for me (although it's been quite peaceful!). I am truly surprised to have logged in here and see so many more responses!!

Even tho I remain disconnected, there are others that are checking in on him and Dad is doing his own advocacy. My mom messages me through FB to keep me updated. I am reminded of the saying "Necessity is the mother of invention." I did need to treat my dad like I would my growing children...that at times they have to know there are things they have to do themselves in order for them to rise to the occasion. It's still difficult sometimes. I took over my dad's (and late stepmother's) care right after his stroke almost 5 years ago. I did everything for him because he acted as tho he needed me to. I was a daddy's girl as a child, but once I hit my teen years he had no interest in me. And once I married and had children he pretty much left the picture altogether. So I think I still had some unresolved issues surrounding that. But my 4 children need to be my utmost priority, as I prepare one to fly the nest next year, the next prepare for life as an adult with disabilities, and the last two are not even teens yet and need their mama still. And I need to get back to being the mom I was before my dad came back into my life with all his needs and demands. I was the best mom before that time. Now I'm barely productive, and everything demands so much energy.

I never meant my post to be inspiration as I just wanted to share this positive turn with those who understand the most. But I do feel so blessed to know that perhaps my post can help others. All the posts here have helped me immensely!! I always felt I was alone in feeling like I did about caregiving for a parent, and this forum helped me through some very dark days. Thank you to everyone who posts!
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I have said this before many times. I do not care who the patient is or why they do what they do. First try to help them with medical means and a doctor's help but that does not always work. Some of them are simply, nasty, abusive and most difficult to handle and help and be around. Not a single person on this earth deserves that treatment from anyone and they are a plain fool if they allow it. And they should not feel guilty or neglectful if they will not put up with it. Be very firm and in no uncertain terms explain the bad behavior will NOT be tolerated under any circumstances. I don't care if you have to move heaven and earth, you cannot and must not allow them to harm you physically or emotionally or financially or whatever. If they persist, you have no choice but to DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM THEM. They may improve and you can decide what to do then but if they don't, WALK AWAY. That is the only way you will find peace.
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Thanks so much for sharing your experience, it must have been extremely hard to do but it worked hearing it from someone else. You are Awesome!
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Thanks so much for sharing. When I began to be concerned about the safety of my mother, and my father's alarming lack of concern, both the social worker at the Alzheimer's Resource Center and my pastor suggested that I may be enabling him. I backed off quite a bit in what I do around their house, and am working on getting my mother moved to a memory care assisted living facility. I have been wondering what things will be like for my father once she moves. Your experience really encourages me to go about living my life until he asks for my help.
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Good for you! Thanks for sharing. My experience is not to this extent. I had to stop always be the one to "fix things". Ask long as I did, others would stand back and allow me to do the work. All because I thought I was being helpful.😨 Yeah right. But you are so right about stepping back. I agree with you to just leave well enough alone because it sounds like he's resolving and getting what he needs. Wow. 😀
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As the Norse say "Hip Hip Horrah" for you! Great job and fantastic outcome!
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Miranova;

So happy to hear that this all had a positive outcome! I agree with your mother, stay AWOL for as long as possible, even for the moving of his stuff (have someone else take the items there or arrange to move it to his new digs BEFORE he moves in.)

Clearly he's gotten over the 'hump' and bringing yourself back into target range now would probably not be a good thing! Eventually, and that can mean a long while from now, you can perhaps return to making visits. Once he is 'on his own' and doing for himself again, you can visit as a daughter, not as a care-giver or whipping post!

Like 7again, I had a good laugh about your mom's 'Come-To-Jesus' talk!!! Glad she could really set hit straight!

Sometimes people need to be put in their place, make them see reality even when they don't want to. Funny, this brought back a memory - I had to have my ex restricted to outside when picking up the kids for visits (tried letting him spend time alone in a room with the kids on weeknight visit, but he'd always hound me instead - he pushed it too far one time, so that was it!) So, during one pickup/dropoff he asked why I had the order continued (it was originally temporary), as he's been good... Sure, you have. But that's because you are out here and if you start anything I do not want to deal with, I can turn around, step in the house and shut the door. He had what I called at the time the 'light-bulb' moment... Oh, that's true... ;-) Not quite as severe as mom's 'Come-To-Jesus' talk, but still got the point across... once... That light didn't come on too often.

As someone else said, despite recommendations to set boundaries, stop enabling or go AWOL if necessary, some people can't fathom this. They might consider it heartless, but it really isn't in most cases. Obviously if someone requires hands-on care, you have to provide alternatives before stepping away. Miranova's post just highlights the fact that sometimes this is what it takes.

Too often we can get into a rut doing things a person is quite capable of doing or jumping when they say so, or doing something over when what was provided was rejected. Many times it was just easier to go with the flow, but then it can become a nasty habit and snowball until you are used and abused!!

Nope. Just like with kids, draw the line (make sure the line is reasonable and can be maintained) and stick to it! This is what's for dinner. Don't want it? Fine. Don't eat. But you don't get anything else until the next meal... >>I<< should pick up your toys after you scattered them everywhere?? Nope, either pick them up and put them away nicely or they will be trashed (I actually did throw some of my daughter's items out the window once, second floor window! Never had to do it again!!!)

So, cheers Miranova!! Sometimes there can be some happy endings!!

P.S. I posted the link for this thread and instructions for how to search for it into another thread (paulfoel123) as backup to what we've been encouraging him to do!! His dad does not, as best we know, have dementia, nor does he live in a nursing home or with paulfoel123, however he is demanding and manipulative and needs that 'Come-To-Jesus' talk! Maybe we can enlist Miranova's mom to call said Dad and clue him in!!!! :-D
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Miranova, Thanks for sharing your success story! You had the strength and courage to step away! I love it! Just goes to prove the oft-stated fact: You can't change others; you can only change yourself. Just remember: No Guilt
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Congrats on the breakthrough. Had a chuckle regarding the "come-to-Jesus" conversation. What wife has not had that conversation with her husband when he gets too carried away with his own drama?
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Check in with Professional Persons and Visit Occasionally...xx
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Thank you for sharing your story. I am in a VERY similar situation with my Narc father who is 83. He is mentally competent (if he wasn't, I would've stuck him in a home years ago). He is a hoarder, and has totally taken over my life. He refuses to go to doctor appointments anymore because he is afraid to end up in a hospital and not allowed to come home. He can't have in home care because his trailer is so nasty and falling apart that if anyone sees it it might be condemned and he will be removed. I do not have any other family to help.

In your case I feel sorry for the nursing home workers to have to deal with it. You are smart (and I admire your strength) to remove yourself from the toxic situation.

I am going to have to leave my dad soon and let the State take over. I just can't do it anymore. Your story is inspiring.
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Wonderful! Please keep caring for yourself.
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Yes, good post and also just really positive to hear about him making that shift. Wishing continued peace to all, and hoping your son thrives as well.
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Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy that you have been able to take your life back so you can focus on yourself and your son.
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Thank you for sharing. My mother is in no way ready for NH, but when the time comes I will remember your post. Thank you so much.

I am glad that things are working out for you.
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Thank you for the kind words and affirmation! I know this sort of thing may not work with parents who have Alz or dementia, but since my dad has neither we determined he just became overly dependent upon me and got a bit lazy. My mom came by to pick up some documents he needed this evening, and she had just been in to visit him. His demeanor is much more positive. Even though he had wanted me to do everything for him, I think he's better off doing the things he is capable of since he now has more control. He always said he trusted me to take care of things, but he was never happy with any decisions or care plans I directed. So now that he's making the decisions and doing the things, he can't place blame upon me for his unhappiness.

Mom and I discussed the situation a bit more since we were face to face and decided that until he gets settled into an assisted living, I remain fully detached. We fear he would go back into old habits if I made an appearance. Which is just fine with me, personally. The hell he put me and my family through while he lived here is something I'm still working through in therapy. Although I will say it wasn't all on him. I've been doing "advanced" caregiving for my teenage son with disabilities for a decade so part of my burnout is from that...but it feels different since it's my child and I will always be happy to take care of my baby.
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Thank you so much for your post. When we advise an adult child/caregiver to step back from the helicoptering roll, I’m sure that many of them think we’re advising them to abandon ship. Your post proves that what we say does have a positive effect. So many people post that mom or dad calls them dozens of times a day. When we say, “don’t answer the phone!” they must think we are so mean! And off-base. You proved that it DOES work!

I hooe this means things have turned the corner for you and your father. And thanks again for posting.
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Wow, that is an amazing change. I'm betting there will be some 3 steps forward 2 steps back pattern, but hopefully the trend will stay positive.

I'm just sorry he never listened to YOU!
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