Elderly father expects married son to be live-in caregiver. Does anyone know of any alternatives?


My husband has been living with and caring for his 80 year-old father since his father fell about six weeks ago. His dad is practically helpless. He needs assistance getting out of bed, using the bathroom, etc. He is probably capable of making a simple meal for himself, but he won't. However, he is capable of playing the slot machines at the casino. Or at least he was until he fell out of bed and hurt his arm. My husband has been coming home every few days for a few hours at a time. But he can't stay the night because his dad seems to need care 24/7. Whenever he tells his dad that he's coming to see us, his dad pouts. I should add that he has a nurse, a home health aide, a social worker, a psychologist, and a physical therapist who visit him regularly. Right now he has help on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. His daughter visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are working on getting someone to visit twice a day. He will not go to an assisted living facility or nursing home until he is forced to. My husband feels obligated to live with him. Does anyone know of any alternatives? His dad lives 30 miles away.



It isn't good for your marriage, and I'm really sorry that you are going through this.

Try and support your husband. I think if you force your husband to come home or you guilt him to come home then he might resent you for the rest of your lives. The father may not have long to live, but your marriage could carry the scars for years.

I'm also, agreeing with Countrymouse, help your husband understand he has a bunch of help. I have been in your husband's shoes. You should pat yourself on the back, because you have chosen a devoted, kind man. Remember that and don't punish him for being that way.

He is going through a grieving process and eventually he will want to back off himself and if he doesn't, gently remind him that his family needs him.

Elderly people like your father in law are really incapable of seeing others.They just take and take.

Since I am like your husband it really took me going somewhere where I couldn't physically go check on my mom to kind of make me see things more sensibly. Although, according to my husband, I still don't think rationally all the time.

By the way - my name was chosen, because I feel like the mythical character who got his wings to close to the sun and they burned causing a crash back down to earth. I'm a woman, but I feel that way about my circumstances - I got too close. Maybe call your husband Icarus - tell him to look it up!

Your husband is worried about his frail elderly father. That is why he agrees to this silly arrangement, for which there is no practical need: FIL has a good, strong support network.

Six weeks... not that long, but getting that way...

It is your husband who needs to change, or rather readjust, his perspective. Did he have much to do with his dad before this accident? - wondering if it's possible that he's feeling some responsibility or guilt about having "neglected" the old man.

Whether or not, your husband needs his anxieties and possibly guilt to be soothed and put back in their place. Give it time, be patient, but start thinking in terms of deadlines and a step-by-step scaling back of the amount of time and input DH gives to the situation.

This FIL sounds just like Dorker's MIL! SIL could be DH in this scenario.

Nearsighted, if your husband wants a lesson in setting boundaries, there is a wonderful discussion " I'm so disheartened and Angry". It's a cautionary tale.

H should speak with the psychologist and social worker that FIL has. Does H have to haul FIL for these visits? (Just curious.)

Just to clarify. I am not opposed to helping parents. My sisters and I did. But we didn't abandon our immediate families to do it. Moving in for a short rehab period might be acceptable. I would say FIL's short period is up. I spent nights at the nursing home for a couple of weeks until my mom settled in. I certainly had no intention of making that permanent.

If FIL needs someone there over night (and it is reasonable that he does) then the family better figure out, with FIL, how that period of time will be covered WITHOUT disrupting the family lives of his son and daughter.

Ya know, I have heard several translations of the Ten Commandments, but I don't remember any version that says, "Honor your father and mother so that they don't pout."

Has your husband always thought that he has to do whatever his parents expect him to? Most of us have had some experience, in late adolescence or early adulthood of "differentiating" from our parents--saying "no, I can't do that", whether it's following a career you don't want, marrying outside of the "tribe" or in some way establishing yourself as an independent unit.

Why does your husband think that what dad wants matters more than what he wants or what you want?

Or would husband rather hang out with his dad than be home with his own family?

Explore that. Let us know what you find out. Don't explore in an angry or demanding way, Just explore what it is husband really wants.

Divorce comes to mind. Oh wait, we can't divorce our parents can we? Sigh.

Who on earth decreed that Dad must have what he expects? He pouts. And ...? How about if you pout. Will that convince your husband to honor his vows to you? Pouting shouldn't count as a point in an argument!

Your husband needs to live with his immediate family and visit his father. Not the other way around.

Father is one selfish old geezer.

If he needs 24/7 care, then he should really be in a facility where that can be provided. You said he would not go AL or NH until he was forced. Well, then it's time to flex your muscles.