Well here it goes, I'm at my wits end and need desperately to vent to a community that truly understands what I'm going through. My mom and dad lived in my house since 1998. They lived in their own apartment, I lived upstairs with my husband and sons. My mom died of ovarian cancer in 2004. She was ill for 6 years, but never complained and was a joy until her last day. She was an incredible, selfless, wonderful mother. We were incredibly close and she was my treasured confidant. My dad, on the other hand, was always a domineering, stubborn man who loved and cared for us, but was self centered and consumed by the idea that he has asthma and COPD. He has been "dying" for the last 35 years. My mother had stage 4 cancer and never complained. He can't stop complaining. You get the idea. My father also has been a functioning alcoholic for most of his life. After my mother died, my father was getting depressed being alone in the apartment. We moved into a larger home in 2006 that had an area on the first floor for my dad with a bedroom and bathroom, but was connected to my main house. My dad was able to maintain his independence despite extensive arthritis, hard of hearing, cataracts and has his breathing issues because he was able to drive. I had been becoming concerned because he was drinking more and having many fender benders over the last few years. This past summer I went to Florida for 4 days with my family. Dad was home alone, but I had organized my brothers and a family friend to check in on him each day. No sooner had I reached Florida, my brother called to tell me my Dad had fallen in front of our house and suffered a head injury. He had bleeding into the brain in two locations and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. This injury compounded his mobility problems as well his vision issues. His eyesight deteriorated dramatically after the fall. He reluctantly agreed to a home health aide because I had to go back to work. (I'm a teacher). He threw the aide out by week three and said he would be fine alone. I installed a gas shut off valve for my stove and removed all the alcohol from his reach. I then went to work and hoped for the best. I provide everything he needs, meals, transportation, laundry, etc.. His physical condition improved, but the eyesight did not. I brought him to a retina specialist who confirmed he has age related macular degeneration in addition to extremely large cataracts. He is legally blind in one eye and has marginal vision in the other. Now that six months have passed since the fall, my dad at 87 and in his physical condition wants his car back to drive and regain his independence. Of course, my brothers and I have refused that request. (I have his keys in a safe deposit box in the bank). We offered to get him a driver, he refused. We offered to bring him to the senior centers in the area. He does not want to talk to those old people. He is 87. He is not very social and tends to mock others for enjoyment. I have not allowed my father access to alcohol except for a glass of wine at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He has not had an asthma attack or any COPD issue in six months. Alcohol is a major factor in my dad's health issues. He basically is punishing me for imposing the no driving and no alcohol rules. My husband is a saint. He takes him to do errands on the weekends and he comes out shopping with us every Sunday. Other than that, he is home due to his refusal to acquiesce to any transportation alternative we have offered. Therefore, he tries to manipulate and guilt me at every turn. He will conveniently forget to buy things, so I have to drive him somewhere when I get home from work. Also, he will defrost and clean meat that I hadn't planned on cooking, so when I get home I have another unplanned job to do. When I am off from work, I am not allowed to just stay home. Dad wants to be entertained and carted around. I do not always give in to him. Everyone says to create boundaries, but I am the one who is here. At some point, I am forced to address him and his unending requests. I feel terrible, because my boys are teens now and it is really intrusive to have this dynamic going on. If I get tickets to a show, he'll whine and cry that we are leaving him. We can't go on any vacations because he can't be left alone. He won't go to my brothers' house and believe me my sisters' in laws are not offering. I feel trapped, guilty and resentful that the quality of my life is being sacrificed. I have spent years caring for my Dad without help. I feel like I am letting myself, my husband and my kids down because my role as daughter has overrun my existence. I have talked to my father and he says I am killing him and if I give him his car back he'll be fine. I can't do that, he has no place to go and won't go. (He is well off financially). What do I do to not lose my sanity. Just want MY life, please.
Losing the ability to drive is a Big Deal. I think my husband mourned that loss for at least a year when he had to stop driving because of dementia. I can sympathize with your father. That is a big blow. But it is Not Your Fault and you do not have to accept punishment for it. He forgets to buy something? Guess he'll have to wait until the weekend when he does errand with your patient husband. He thawed some meat? If it can safely sit in the fridge for a few days, let it. If not, throw it out. Your cooking is not controlled by his whims. (This assumes you have asked him not to "help" this way with meal prep.) Setting boundaries isn't the issue -- enforcing the boundaries is.
Boundary enforcement might help. It is certainly worth a good hard try.
But that might not be enough to reclaim the quality of your life. You only have a few more years with your teenage sons. (You'll always be their mother, of course, but the relationship changes dramatically when they are adults.) If you miss out on a high quality time with them now that opportunity is gone forever.
So ... No where is it written that your father has to live with you. Perhaps because it has been so long it seems like the natural or only possibility. It is not. Especially since he is well off financially and still handles the activities of daily living he can find a wonderful assisted living place. They will have regular transportation to shopping malls, and a wide range of activities he can participate in or ignore. Your family can have to dinner on Sunday and take him on errands. You can visit him often and talk to him by phone daily. Notice that I am not suggesting you abandon him. But everyone (perhaps including him) MIGHT be better off if he isn't living in your house.
But what if he doesn't want to go to assisted living? What if he refuses? Well, you can't make him move into ALF, but you can make him move out of your house. Keep that firmly in mind as you work toward an in-home solution.
It is your house. Your rules. You set the conditions for him living there. If that includes a daily health aide, then he must abide by that (just as he is abiding by the no driving and no drinking rules. See, you do have the power to enforce boundaries.)
I hope you can work something out to preserve the quality of your life, to fully engage in your final years at being a parents to youngsters, and to cherish that wonderful husband you have, while still having Dad in your home. But if that isn't going to work out, keep in mind that there is an alternative.