Stubborn father, live-in son, and cheap father.


My father, he's 83 and a widower of two years. He does not drive anymore (forced by the family and the DMV), has diabetes, heart issues, sight problems, hearing problems, forgetfulness, and he has mild dimentia.
As a good son, I moved in with him, to help, with the support of my siblings and his brother. But our help falls on deaf ears.
He is stubborn, but also a freindly guy.
He wants to do what he wants to do. He wants to make decisions on his own, and those decisions are very often "bad choices", despite logical solutions. He thinks he can still drive a car, even though he has totalled 3 cars in one year. We finally got him tested twice by independent driving evaluators....they said "no way should he be driving".......and now he is not driving.
He's has a lot of money in the bank, but he loves the dollar much so that he will not buy things from regular stores which means he buys sub-standard products that in the long-run, wastes money, or could harm his health.
He waits until he has one pill left, for his heart medication, before scrambling to get more.
He wants to be in control of his meds.
I suggest to him...."if there is an emergency (eatrhquake, or.....), you should always have two weeks of medication. He dissagrees because he will be spending more $$ that way (shoot me now). Thank g-d I have a 15 gallon barrel of water in the house for the two of us. He thinks that is unessesary.
Since he does not drive or have a car anymore.... he wants to take the public bus, because it's the cheapest. I told him, that the money he's saving on a car and insurance, could go to UBER or a taxi for independance. He does not want to pay for either. He can barely walk 1/4 mile before needing to stop for rest......yet there he is, wanting to take the public bus.
In essence, he is a cheapskate. He can afford better and safer transportation for the rest of his life.....but he wants the cheapest transportation, despite his walking disability.
When I take him to the market, he says, "I can walk a lot if I have a market cart." I told him to get knee braces, or a high-end walker. I bought him a top-of-the-line walker, but it sits there in the livingroom, unused. He walks at 0.1 miles an hour, like an injured penguin.
I understand he wants his freedom, and his respect. I understand he does not want to be seen, or want to think he is incapable of walking on his own without a walker.........but the reality is, he could be a lot more mobile with the walker.
If it sounds like that I won't take him everywhere he wants to go.....that's correct. I won't take him to get 99cent values at the dollar store. I refuse to. I tell him that the crap food he buys at the dollar store is......utter crap. I tell him that 99cent apples and lettuce and other food is "on their last legs of freshness"....but he refuses to believe otherwise, even though it rots in 2 days when he buys it. Basically, he is willing to eat rotting food.....but I am not....and I won't let him (or me) eat rotting (or close to rotting) food.
He spends hours on the net, researching and spending $$ on miracle supplement cures for his aging....healthy joint cure products, brain power supplements, diabetes miracle cures, vitamin supplements,.....yet he will not engage in a proper fresh plant diet. Yet this is where I have already stepped-in, and I cook him fresh and custom healthy meals almost every day, out of my own pocket.
I just don't know how to handle this stubborn man. He says he loves my help, but if my help means that I succomb to his unhealthy and irresponsible living.......frankly, I feel like an enabler.

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Randy, oh my gosh some parents can be so stubborn. My Dad always waited until he used the last pill in the bottle then call the mail order service, then call me to go to their post-office box twice a day. They had a perfectly good mailbox at the end of their driveway. But no, Mom didn't want the postman seeing what type of medication she and Dad were taking.... hello, who does she thinks sorts out the mail at the post office?.... [sigh]

My Dad loved his rolling walker, the type with hand brakes, a basket and a seat. You'd think I had bought him a Shelby Mustang he loved that walker so much. Mom on the other hand refused to use one. She didn't want anyone to think she was old. Sure, Mom, without a walker no will know you are in your 90's... [sigh]

Ah yes, the Dollar Store, my parents had discovered one some years back, but this store rarely sold food, so it was fine for the products they wanted. They have been frugal their whole lives being teenagers during the Great Depression. They taught me to do the same, glad they did. Yep, I would also head to the discount rack at the grocery store :)

Now, trying to keep Dad off the ladder was a different matter. He was in his 90's, he shouldn't be cleaning out the gutters... he refused to hire anyone to do the work he could do. I just turned away when I saw that. Same with shoveling snow. "What if there was a emergency and he needed to get the car out of the garage" [my parents didn't drive]. Ah, Dad, if there was an emergency you dial 911, the fire department and EMT's have their own shovels. But that didn't stop him.

I think it is very commendable that you are trying to accomodate your father's desire for freedom of choices. But, I personally feel that at times when a person has dementia, you need to override their decisions in their own best interest. Medications is one of those decisions. Talk to his doctor, explain the situation and he could order a social worker to come up with a solution about the meds or you may need to just take over. About the walker, some older people are not comfortable with new equipment therefore they resist. You could also ask the doctor to order a couple weeks of therapy to help him adjust to the walker.

Yes, we've looked into "auto refills" for his prescriptions. In fact I overheard his phone call to renew his prescriptions.....they offered "90 day" scripts...but he does not want them. I have a feeling that he likes filling scripts at the last minute, because it may make him feel "attended to", rather than an anonymous lonely mail-order patient.
He seems to enjoy the complication of staying healthy.....and the extra work involved......that the urgency is part of his health program.
It's almost like a placebo effect.....the more he has to struggle to attain meds, the better he feels when he actually gets them.
It's a whacky idea for sure....and it's difficult to understand for rational and well-meaning children of elderly parents.

Since you say he is always looking for a bargain, have you looked into the mail in prescription services that send the meds to your home every three months? Most of the copays were cheaper than the local pharmacy and you wouldnt need to worry about running out.

Sometimes you really have to pick your battles. The 99 cents store, eh, I'd stop fighting that. (My mother loved to shop there, too.) The pill thing is worth some effort. Does his drug store offer auto-refills? He could wait until he runs out before he picks them up, if he thinks that saves money (?) but at least any doctor approvals would be taken care of and the medicine would be ready to pick up. And you could still go to eat on the pickup days.

When my husband would forget his pills when we traveled it was a real hassle to get some away from home, until the national drug store chain we use could look up any prescription filled by them anywhere.

The notion that he'd become dependent on a walker is just silly. I'd keep encouraging that, but not as a Big Deal. Frankly, the thought of an 80-yo boarding a bus carrying a walker terrifies me. Does he shop in stores that have motorized scooters? My husband got a real kick out of using them.

I am Randy's sister. Unfortunately I like almost 2,000 miles away but my dad comes to visit every couple months for about 3 weeks at a time. I think his 99cent store shopping is more about the thrill of the bargain than anything. This is not something new with him, he has ALWAYS loved the thrill of a bargain sometimes if it doesn't make sense. When my parents were repairing their house 20 years ago after an earthquake, he drove 2 hrs each way to buy some tile. However, the money he saved he spent in gas to drive 4 hours. But yet he would love to continue driving despite understandably very high auto insurance rates (we have 2 adults 2 teens with 4 cars- 2 that are 2016s and our rate was less than his). Randy got my dad the walker which I think is brilliant and I hope someday he will give it a try. The shopping cart at the grocery store allows my dad the freedom to walk at the speeds he prefers BUT they are only available in grocery stores. Now that he is trying to take the bus everywhere, I think the walker would be so much better for getting to bus stops, etc. His fear is he will become completely reliant on a walker and not be able to walk without it. Understandable, but I don't know enough about it to know if that is what happens. The pill thing is something is really difficult to deal with. He does that when he is out here with me and a lot of the time we have to go to the local VA to the ER to see a Dr to prescribe what he needs, then see a pharmacist to talk to them (mandatory), and then wait for the prescription to be filled. He actually loves when we do this because our thing is to have lunch there together- which I would GLADLY do with him without the whole prescription thing. He is the sweetest, kindest, happy-go-lucky guy you would ever meet and I love him with all of my being but it is really difficult when you know life can flow a lot smoother for my brother & I since we are ultimately the responsible ones to work to make sure when he uses his last pill on a Friday and he needs a Dr's approval yet they won't be back in until Monday to try to work something out. Randy is a fantastic cook, my dad has it good- yet buys from the 99cent store, the sale rack at the grocery store, and frozen meals.

I kinda know the lecture that's in front of me....

"Let Him do what he wants, because to him, it keeps him busy, and accomplishing something. A goal like "saving money" might be unimportant to you, but very important to him. He may find this as his way of purpose."

(darn you, inner self !!)
Report much of what you said is correct.

Thank you Jeannegibbs.
Yeah, family finances are taken care of. We are concerned about his health and well being. We owe a lot to our father, and feel he should be in good shape and comfortable in his age.
In fact we would rather that he embellish his last spending more on his "freedom"

Tell him that you are glad he is economical, and it really is important that he have enough money to last the rest of his life. But you really do not want him to scrimp in order to leave you an inheritance. Have a meeting with Dad and your sibs, where you all assure him that you would rather he spends his money on himself than save money to give away in his will. (This is logical talk, of course, and that may not work for him, but try!) Give specific examples, like a cab instead of a bus and truly fresh produce from a reliable grocer. If all of the sibs and your uncle reinforce this message, it MIGHT sink in.

About shopping with a walker ... according to my husband's geriatrician, many elders do very well pushing a market cart. There is no reason to insist on a walker for that kind of walking. Maybe that can be a compromise bargaining chip.

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