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Hi all, I am 40 years old and have been watching my 74 year-old Dad go downhill for the last 5 years. I just had a very upsetting encounter with him and found this board for hopefully advice, sympathy, and empathy with others going through the same thing. My Dad had smoked for close to 50 years, he got the flu 5 years ago and quit smoking in the aftermath. His withdrawal was awful. He was very anxious, his mood was volatile from raging to childish, he couldn't be home alone, he couldn't leave the house (not even for a 10 min drive to my house) without a bag of food and water which he carried everywhere. He was always very sensitive to any discussion about depression (his Mom was probably depressed) but I managed to gently bring it up under the guise that quitting smoking had caused a problem. i.e. it was the Nicotine, not HIM. He did go to Kaiser and I think he was prescribed an anti-depressant or maybe an anti-anxiety. Over time his symptoms faded but today he is a different person than the one we knew. My Mom and I, the only ones who have any interaction with him are at our wits end. He and my Mom care for my kids after school (8,6,6) and my niece and nephew (13,12). They are the only 'thing' he has in his life. He picks them up from school, takes them to after school activities, goes to every practice and game. He adores them and they all (2 in particular) adore him back. But there are issues, food is one of his triggers. He wants to feed them brownies or waffles everyday after school. If I or my Mom suggest that he needs to cut back he blows up. "They are hungry, do you want them to starve?" "They eat healthy, I also give them carrots and grapes!" "There you go again, I am slaving away making them something to eat and nobody appreciates anything I do!" God forbid we ask him to take it easy with the syrup on the waffles, he will sit on the sofa in the dark with his hand over his eyes for 2 days. His reactions are completely out of proportion. When the kids are together they can get wild and anyone would need a break but he won't take one. My Mom will see he is tired or getting overwhelmed but he won't go upstairs or heaven forbid go out of the house for a break. He gets mad if you even suggest it. He hovers over the kids as they eat micro-managing them. He can't let them play on their own, he hovers and micro-manages their play. If my Mom takes them out of the house to give him some peace he tags along, he can't be home alone and he doesn't "trust" her with them. Unless he is doing something with the kids he is watching the news 9am-11pm. He falls asleep in front of the TV, can't sleep at night, is miserable the next day and the cycle repeats. We have suggested every hobby we can think of, he just gets mad. "I like watching the news, I am isolated, it is the only way I know what is going on." "Don't you want to know what THEY are doing to us." Personal persecution is a theme of his. He has isolated himself from everyone. The circle keeps getting smaller. He didn't have friends of his own but my Mom is gregarious and has a huge group of friends. They (including my Dad) used to socialize a lot. She is bi-lingual and many of her friends are as well and now he can't stand to hear anyone speaking Spanish. She has to close herself in a room to talk on the phone so his ears aren't offended. He hates all her friends, and can find a reason (no matter how irrational) to dislike anyone. My Mom, sister, and I are out almost out of the circle as well. He is so difficult to talk to, he turns the most bland topics into a rant about politics and can find something negative to say about anything. It is exhausting and when we object to something he says he blows up. "Oh, I guess I can't have an opinion!" "No, you are the one that is always negative!" "I guess I can't say anything." More worrisome is that my niece is on her way out of the circle, she is a 13 year old and can be rude. He will go into raging rants about her (not in her presence) and I have heard him mutter b!tch under his breath. I never heard a curse word from him growing up. My Dad makes traveling so unpleasant. He is rude to everyone, finds something negative about everything. Is always sure he is getting cheated. He gets tired walking but insists on staying with the group then gets furious and blames us even though we tell him ahead of time (Disney) he should probably sit this one out. He is relatively healthy, he takes cholesterol pills but will blow up if we suggest he fix his teeth, get his eyes checked, get a hearing aide. He rails at the kids for not pronouncing their words. Everyone else can understand them. The latest blowup was about an Alaska cruise. He said "the kids won't enjoy it" and like a dummy I called out his negativity. "You are just like your mother, CRAZY" "You are making a big deal of this" "You don't know my life" "I don't talk to anyone for a month." I feel so sorry for him but he won't acknowledge he has a problem. What to do?:-(

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I am always sympathetic to people who have dementia. I have that diagnosis, too. It can be hard to recognize when to seek help, and it can be hard to take the initiative. But I hate the "not me" person I can become and I try very hard to seek and accept treatment. I am currently on two antidepressants, use a blue light, exercise, see my med-manger psych doc 3 or 4 times a year, have done counseling when dealing with difficult life situations, avoid social isolation, avoid books and shows that I find stressful (I could never watch news all day) and eat chocolate! For any of that to happen, though, I have to be aware that there is a problem. Fortunately, I am.

So as sympathetic as I am with your father, I'm going to suggest looking hard at Midkid's experience. She recognizes that her husband has choices to make, and the choices have consequences. She has issued some ultimatums and he knows she means them.

I understand why you are tiptoeing on eggshells, I really do. But is it possible that you are enabling him in his unhealthy ways? Might some conflict become a wake-up call? What if he "blows up"? What are you afraid will happen? Is he a danger to himself or others, in that state of mind?

You say the conflict generally arises when you disagree with something he is doing with regards to the kids or when you push back on his negativity. That is a kind of blackmail on his part, isn't it? You tell me something I don't want to hear and I'm going to "blow up." You want that?

You are living in a household where someone has mental heath issues and nobody is doing anything constructive about it.

Here is my suggestion: See a therapist. Not your dad -- you and perhaps Mom see a therapist. You are in a dysfunctional situation. You deserve all the help you can get to deal with it. A trained professional objective outsider might be able to help you sort this out much better than we can.

Best wishes as you struggle with this challenge, and come back and tell us what you are trying and how it is working. We learn from each other.
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In many ways, you are describing my DH. He has been Txed for depression for 12 years--beginning back when he was doing a chemo-type TX after a liver transplant. Anyone would be depressed! He did take the AD, but it has never really helped him. He is also losing his hearing--and I think that is the primary cause of the depression--you can't hear, you feel isolated, you get lost in your own head and thoughts. He's spiraled at times so much I didn't think he was ever going to get out of bed. EVERYBODY has to yell to get him to hear them, and he feels "minimized" by this---

Two things I've done: One: moved out of our bedroom b/c DH, like yours, MUST have the news on 24/7 when he's home. That alone would depress anybody. He knows the moment he moves the TV into the den I redecorated for this purpose, I'd come back. 3 years and he still doesn't put me ahead of the TV. SO, he's kind of lonely, too. His choice.

Two: I gave him an ultimatum on the depression and refusal to get help...He gets help, therapy and perhaps a change out of meds or I was going to leave him. Period. He knew I meant it, and has been going, although sporadically to a therapist. The meds were just "upped" b/c when he's actually SEEING his psych doc, he feels pretty good, then he's home and tanks again. His choice.

Third: He is getting his hearing checked (next week---fingers crossed. I am going to go with him to the apt b/c I NEED to hear myself what's going on what our options are. If his hearing loss IS untreatable, I'll never bother him about it again. We'll figure out to cope.

Fourth: I have had to grow a VERY thick skin--he's grouchy, tired, angry, a LOT. He wants to do things with the grandkids but cannot muster the energy--and the moms won't let him take the kids alone as he simply cannot hear them.

DH spends WAAAAAAAY too much time on FB, trolling for a fight. I won't argue with him, I won't discuss politics with him and so he has FB feed running 24/7 so he can always be at the helm to shoot down "some idiot" or harangue some "left wing radical". I think the combination of deafness, clinical depression, WAY too much negative TV and poor sleep habits have all colluded to make one miserable man.

His choices. I do what I can, but I am simply a buzzing sound in the background. I know that he is depressed by the fact he's getting older, but at 66? He's got a ways to go. I'm so sad somedays when he chooses to not even get out of bed..some days he'll make it 3-4 days in bed, only getting up to snack. This is ALL the depression.

It's HIS CHOICE to not approach his psych doc with a request for an antidepressant that actually works for him. It's HIS CHOICE to want a TV in his room going at full blast even when he's asleep.

We also have 5 kids, 5 inlaws, 14 grandkids and so many wonderful things in our lives. He just does not acknowledge any of this.

Seeing his therapist has helped a tiny bit. I am going to print out some material on different antidepressant and have him chose one to talk to his doc about. There are so many and he has been on the same one for ages--and like I said, it has never worked.

And it's really, really sad. So much good in life for him, and for your DH too. They can be so thick skulled about things.....I probably didn't help you at all--except to say that I put my foot down, I really stomp. And he knows I WILL leave him if he doesn't straighten up. I've only used that threat one other time in 42 years: he didn't get to spank the kids.

Good Luck--you certainly aren't alone in this battle.
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He will discipline the kids but hasn’t crossed lines with them. They are happy to eat as many waffles or brownies as he offers. His only reason for existence is those kids. It is the only thing he has that gives him a sense of purpose and I think his only source of happiness. Using them as a bargaining chip would create a huge rift and would be a nuclear option.
The conflict generally arises when my mom and I disagree with something he is doing with regards to the kids or when we push back on his negativity. He will not allow any discussion about seeking medical help.
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Is he explosive around the children? Do they have to walk on eggshells?

I'm not sure I'd want someone so volatile in a position of watching children.  Is that a possible bargaining chip?

You do realize, don't you, that this could be a brain tumor? Or the beginnings of vascular dementia from a series of small strokes?  Is your mother not able to influence him?
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He is not on medication now other than for his cholesterol. He won’t even admit he has a problem let alone discuss treatments for depression. I can’t imagine him going to doctor.
His personality has changed so I definitely think something is going on but he thinks the whole rest of the world is the problem, not him.
It feels like our only option is to learn to walk on eggshells better.
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If this is a change in his personality, it's a symptom. There might be something metabolic, could be depression, could be some other sort of mental illness.

The point is, he NEEDS to see a doctor. Start with a good physical from either his personal physician (who gets told beforehand what is going on), or possibly a geriatrics doctor.

I think referral to a geriatric psychiatrist by another doctor is the route that you'll have to go; YOU don't have the standing to insist that he goes.

Depression isn't curable, but it is treatable! Antidepressants work for a great many people. He doesn't have to live with this terrible psychic pain.
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Is he on an antidepressant now? If not maybe that would help. I have a friend that is very volatile when he is off of his antidepressant and he’s only 61. He also gives the grandkids all kind of junk to eat. You are blessed but being on egg shells around dad will take much from the relationships he has. Bless you.
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Original poster here, I maxed out the last post but had a few more relevant points. I guess I really needed to get this off my chest.
I realize everything he says or accuses us of is a projection of how he feels.
There are no external factors that should give him stress. We are a close knit family and we have always been healthy and issue free. (no drugs, bad significant others, good jobs etc.)
His 2 daughters and son-in-laws have stable high paying jobs. Finances are not a source of worry.
His 5 grandchildren, who he sees almost every day, are healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids who greet him with huge hugs (well maybe not the teenager) every day even though they rarely go more than a day without seeing him.
We are so blessed that I wonder that we don't have more than this one cross to bear.
I try to remind him of our many blessings but for the last few years he is always just a hair trigger away from a blow up should we step on the wrong eggshell.
I remind myself that there has to be a medical reason for this behavior, it is illogical and irrational but he doesn't recognize he has a problem at all and bringing it up to him is out of the question.
Any recommendations on how to cope or books?
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