Sometimes I just wish I could pull Dad out of AL. I can't detach.

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...because it's more Unassisted Living. I swear that for $5K a month, things should be taken care of, but I find myself having to follow up on WAY more than I'd like to. I've tried almost every alternative in the book, and much to my dismay, Unassisted Living was the best option. I chose AL because it was the best option. Him living in my house was a disaster, and I was afraid he was going to burn my house down. Independent Living didn't work because Dad doesn't have the capacity to manage 24 hour oxygen, meds, etc. with his sight. A small solo apartment with overnight help 3 nights a week was horrible. They were "ghetto" chicks that ate up his food, spent his money, or didn't show up at all because they were in jail (I'm not kidding about the last one). AL was my last, though expensive, resort. At least there 1) he got breakfast 2) the adult day center provides free transportation to and from three days a week, and the AL staff can at least handle Dad's insomnia, constant complaining, and medicines. However, I still feel like I have to be way more involved than I would like. If the TV breaks, Daddy calls. He complains CONSTANTLY about the food (because he wants me to bring it every night). Dad's cable isn't working and the cable company says its for non payment HUH? Cable is part of his rent!!! So now, I'm at work worrying about what's going on at the Unassisted Living place again... productivity shot to hell!! I can never know if the lazy evening staff (one of the CNA's is downright mean) is doing their job, and sometimes I think I should just save the damn money and rent something one level and pay help to come in again (maybe at a higher price point to weed out the bad ones). That would mean I would once again have to cover overnights, but if I'm constantly having to follow up on dumb S*** why not save the money? I HATE feeling like I still have to intervene when I pay a freaking A**load of money to NOT worry about this stuff. The staff, in an effort to help, started automatically sending food to Dad during meal times, and he's biting everyone's head off because he feels like their forcing him to eat. Guess who gets an ear full... Is it ok NOT to give a flying flip about his stupid eating habits anymore? Seriously! I'm SICK of hearing about this. I'm at a point where I don't care if he eats or not. I've bent over backwards and he's only happy when he gets his way... Translation: me bringing him what he wants when he wants it. AARGH!!! It's cold and rainy out today, and I so do NOT feel like driving 45 minutes to visit an old grump who is never happy. I just want to go home, have a glass of wine and cook something I want to eat for a change. Yep... one call from Dad, the AL or hospice never fails at putting me in a VERY bad mood!!!!

24 Comments

Tiny, just this one time...

Call your Dad to check he's ok. By ok, by the way, I mean not in genuine need of anything according to standard definitions of need.

Then go home, have a glass of wine and cook something you would like to eat.

If you do that - and turn your phone off, for heaven's sake - what will happen to your Dad?

Nothing. Or at least, nothing awful. Nothing he won't enjoy complaining about next time.

But he's going to complain anyway, yes? So. There you are then. Might as well give him some new material in exchange for taking the evening off.

Just try it, as a little pilot scheme. Could be, you could get used to this...
It sounds like your dad's level of care might be better met if he were in Memory Care. If I recall correctly, you didn't think the one he qualified for was up to his standards. In light of your recent diagnosis, I might revisit the prospect. Assisted Living works well for those who just need some assistance. For those who need much more, it's not likely to work well. That's why my LO's doctor filled form for what is called Special Care Unit in our state.

I found that when my LO was in a regular AL, the staff called me a lot with issues and my LO seemed unhappy and dissatisfied. It turned out that she needed a higher level of care. It made it harder on her and all involved to stay in a regular AL. When she got into a MC, she seemed much more content. The staff understood her and was trained to meet her needs. She was more comfortable with the other residents too. She seemed to relax. I never got another phone call for me to come and deal with things. Only if she was going to doctor or hospital, but, that's it. They knew how to properly take care of her.

I hope you can get some relief, but, trying to get perfection for your LO, might not be feasible. Sometimes, things are fine and that's okay. They don't have to be perfect.
tiny, this new chapter of your life - dealing with your own health - requires you to start drawing boundaries. The reality is that your dad has become used to you making his life comfortable and as he wishes for it to be. But that's not sustainable, especially in light of your own health problems. He's going to have to get used to eating the AL food and you need to be able to cut the complaint sessions short. The maintenance man can help him with the TV problems. Please take CM's advice - taking care of yourself first is not selfish - it's simple survival.
tiny - I don't think that pulling him out is going to solve anything, but rather create more problems. He is jerking your string continually Enough, already!!! It is time to look after you.

It could be that he needs a higher level of care and/or a meds adjustment. Having that evaluated would be worth spending time on. Trying to please him with meals etc is just staying on the merry go round. Set a limit for phone calls. e g .answer only between 5 and 6 pm alternate days or whatever suits you. Then take the rest of the time for yourself. He is narcissistic and you will never please him. He will complain whatever you do. If you bring him the meals he likes, then he will find something else to complain about. You are his narcissistic supply. If you stop giving him all that attention, he will find someone else in the ALF to give him attention. Let it happen.

I have cut off communication with my narcissistic mother several times. She manages fine. Now she is in late stage vascular dementia and that she can't call is a blessing for me. The staff look after her and call me (infrequently) about any issues.
I agree with reconsidering memory care. In addition, we think now that I may be a trigger for Dad's complaints, as I'm the 'fixer' for all of his needs. It seems that he doesn't offer those complaints to anyone else -- they only come to mind when I'm there. Could it be that's the nature of your relationship now?
TinyBlu, I think your title line identifies the problem nicely. You need to be able to detach. Moving dad is not likely to change that. If he needs a different level of care, then do consider moving him, but not to solve this problem.

Many persons in care centers at all levels have no family to visit them, no family to call for every detail of their care. I've seen this in my mother's NH. I've also seen how kind the staff is in looking after these folks. Even if you were not available to your father at all, he would survive and most likely thrive. I'm not suggesting such a drastic change, but recognizing that people can get along with the service they are paying so much for may help you detach without guilt. Bringing him a special meal a couple of times a month is a generous treat. Cooking for him every night is ridiculous. Listening to him constantly complain about his meals is ridiculous.

You were hoping that placing Dad in a care center would relieve you of hands-on care. Why hasn't it worked out that way? Because Dad has not bought into that, and because you are catering to him. Why should he buy in?

Work on the detaching with love and without guilt. I suspect things will improve a lot!

The more you do for him, the less staff will do...

Get it?
Tinyblue, You should not need to be so hands on when You are forking out $5,000 a month Girl, and the more involved You remain the Less Those with responsibility will do, as They will adopt the attitude AH SHER SHE'S TAKING CARE OF HIM. Let Them get up off their butts and earn the money instead, hence I agree 💯 % with Countrymouse, Linda 22, Jeannegibbs, & Marcell2 go home and relax, run a good hot bath and unwind. Take the phone off the hook except when You need to ring a Friend, and enjoy a nice glass of wine. You must keep reminding Yourself that You are the most important Person Here, hence take great Care of Yourself Tinyblu and You will see that Your Dad is well taken Care of. Yes of coarse He will moan and complain for Your sympathy but let it in one ear and out the other. It's survival.
Tinyblue, You should not need to be so hands on when You are forking out $5,000 a month Girl, and the more involved You remain the Less Those with responsibility will do, as They will adopt the attitude AH SHER SHE'S TAKING CARE OF HIM. Let Them get up off their butts and earn the money instead, hence I agree 💯 % with Countrymouse, Linda 22, Jeannegibbs, & Marcell2 go home and relax, run a good hot bath and unwind. Take the phone off the hook except when You need to ring a Friend, and enjoy a nice glass of wine. You must keep reminding Yourself that You are the most important Person Here, hence take great Care of Yourself Tinyblu and You will see that Your Dad is well taken Care of. Yes of coarse He will moan and complain for Your sympathy but let it in one ear and out the other. It's survival.
Everyone is spot on in their advice here. You also need to examine why you feel you need to cater to him. You already know that it doesn’t fix anything or change anything and yet you continue the same behavior when he complains. Elderly people with dementia complain...bottom line. They just do! If you have the personality of a control freak or fixer (speaking from one who knows) then it makes it harder. You need to give yourself some tough love, as it were, to stop it. The best advice my sister gave me is "ask yourself, is he dead or bleeding from an orifrice?" If the answer is no then you don’t need to run over there. I also do not allow calls at certain times. I need my time away from it all and that is why he's in AL. So he can get the necessary care and you can have a life. It is hard to give up control. But if you don’t, you’ll be bonkers. He can deal with the food and if someone is really and truly mean, report it to the director of assisted living. His life doesn’t have to be perfect does it? Is our life perfect? No! No one's is. So let him adapt and adjust and know that you won’t jump every time he asks. Just sayin'. The other thing I would add is to limit your visits to once a week. 

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