I am the youngest of 5 siblings and 4 of us take turns being with my dad who still lives in his own home. My dad is 97 years old and is just plain mean sometimes. His mind is somewhat ok, especially while the day goes on. (mornings are not good and after a long nap is not good) We never really had a father daughter relationship and he never really showed much love or affection while I was growing up. I never heard "good job" or "thank you". I try my hardest to please his favorite foods or talking about the good times that have passed. My problem is that he was critical of me growing up and is still critical of me now and I still never hear thank you for all you do. When the "mean" comes out in him I tend to be mean back to him because that is what I put with as child and I have no patience to continue with the verbal abuse. I'm sometimes at my wit's end and dread when it is my turn to take care of him. Depression has set in and I have no desire to do anything when I get to my own home.....)-:

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It sounds to me like it is time to resolve the ambivalence you have toward your father. Have you ever had counseling for your less-than-ideal childhood relations with him? I think that might be a good step toward relieving the depression.

Another possibility is to bow out of the caregiving rotation. Do your 3 siblings share your feelings, or was their relationship to him different? It everyone is having this problem, perhaps it is time to bring in paid caregiver or companions or aids. If you are the only one, then either there is paid help to make up for your turn, or the other siblings can fill in for you or your father can go without a child helper those days.

Here is what well-respected therapist Pauline Boss says about this situation:

"Taking care of someone who years before was abusive or neglectful of you is beyond what is expected of you. Caring for a family member who was or is physically or psychologically abusive is dangerous. Feeling as if you want to retaliate is also dangerous. These are justifiable reasons for NOT being a caregiver. ... Each case is different, but with most, I encourage some kind of continued management -- often through a social worker -- to make sure that the caregiving team or the nursing home professionals are treating your family member well. This may be the best you can do given your history together."

I am sorry you are in this situation. If your father just became this way toward you when he developed dementia I'd advise you to hang in there and remember how he was in the past. But as it is, I don't think you have an obligation to continue to take personal care of him, and you do have a responsibility to be good to yourself.

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