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I just realized yesterday that my father is laying one heck of a guilt trip on me. All this time, he's been telling me how unhappy he is, how he just wants to go home, the food is horrible, this place is horrible, you get the idea...


On my way up to his room yesterday, one of his CNAs got on the elevator with me and began telling me how great he's doing - participating in activities, going to the dayroom, playing dominoes with others, interacting and engaging with other people! When I get to his floor, I see him out in the dayroom, playing dominoes and seeming to be enjoying himself UNTIL he sees that I am there. Almost immediately I see his attitude change, he starts getting pissy with his playing partner and with me. So I take him downstairs to see my uncle and within two minutes, he's saying he wants to go back upstairs. As we are going to and fro, he's telling me how much he hates this place, etc. By this time I've realized what he is doing and I start to become a little detached and when he clams up and won't pay attention to me, I decide it's time to go. So, as I'm leaving, I run into another CNA and she begins telling me the same thing - about how he's engaging and going to activities...and it really begins to sink in that he's putting a guilt trip on me because he knows how I feel about him being there. I am the one that cries when it's time to go cause I don't want to leave my father someplace he's not happy.


So as this realization came to me, I begin to get angered that he is taking advantage of me like this! So do I say something about it to him or just let it ride and just keep in mind what he's doing? I feel so stupid for not seeing this earlier!

First of all, it's the LAW that they complain about the food in these places. If it weren't for complaining, they'd be mute 95% of the time, let's face it. As far as the guilt goes, it's also what they DO. My mother is in memory care now, after they wouldn't let her back into the ALF she lived in for 4+ years due to advancing dementia & mobility issues. To hear the aides tell it, she's doing GREAT. To hear her tell it, she's doing HORRIBLY, OMG, she hates it, they're all CRAZY and NUTS and yada yada. She truly DOES have a filthy attitude lots of the time, especially towards the others who REALLY have dementia, she really DOESN'T, she's 'better than', dontcha know? But my point is, don't listen to what Dad is telling you, listen to what the CNAs are telling you. He's doing FINE and laying in on thick for YOU. Who knows why they do this, except to use us as a sounding board. I often wonder what they'd do if we dropped dead? Who would they have to suck the life out of then? If they only knew how difficult OUR lives were with regard to all of this, they may lighten up a bit. Then again, if only WE knew how difficult their lives were, we might lighten up a bit too. Sigh.
I guess we're all doing the best we can, huh?
Good luck!
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Laceysterror Jul 20, 2019
thank you so much! you made some valid points that I didn't actually consider..I know why he lays it all on me, it's because I sometimes cry and breakdown when I'm trying to leave so he knows he can get to me....I guess he has enough time to come up with new ideas and ways to provoke me...
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I am 77. Quite honestly, old age isn't about "happy all the time". Are you happy all the time, even though you are younger? Were you ever happy all the time. The end of our lives is full of loss. I think that when your Dad sees you coming he sees the person he feels he can "Unload onto", as that's kind of what we do with ones we love most. The problem is that you are picking up the luggage. Don't expect him to be happy all the time, and don't require it of him, and don't think that you can fix everything, because you can't. I would, if this continues, say to him quite gently and quite honestly "Dad, I don't think that my visits are making you happy. And they certainly aren't making me happy. When I come and you are in a bad mood I may not stay too long. This is very hard for you having to be out of your home and I understand that, and it is very hard for me to see you unhappy; it's all I can think to do is to keep our visits short when they are not making either of us happy". Hon, don't pick up the luggage full of guilt, and do remember that only decent, kind and caring people feel guilt; others simply don't care. When I visit my bro at Assisted Living their director tells me that 85% of the stuff they deal with has to do sadly with the guilt of those who cannot be everyTHING to everyONE. Please just accept that not everything in life is happy, and in the end, the end of life is about loss after loss after loss. There are moments of happiness, but otherwise it is a trial for all who go through it and it is a trial for all who stand helplessly by hoping there is SOME way to make it OK.
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DollyMe Jul 20, 2019
Good response. I was thinking about this very thing last night. When in life has the patient been totally happy, when in life has everything gone their way? I read these posts on here from some people and as a caretaker they believe that everything has to be just perfect for their loved ones, not one minute of unhappiness or unrest. The caretaker puts themselves through all kinds of gyrations, both mental and physical to try and make everything just right, for something that is not going to happen. This outlook fuels caretaker guilt, which in itself is counter productive, and accomplishes absolutely nothing.
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Everyone thank you so very much for all in information and suggestions. Every one of you are correct in all your statements about me, guilt, concern, etc....I had already decided not to say anything to him because he wouldn't remember 10 minutes later. You all have been very helpful in alleviating my grief and explaining to me that I allowed him to use me like that, I did break down before leaving so many times, but not anymore. He's never been a complainer though, even when he was actually sick with a cold or when he broke his arm, he never complained or mentioned it one time.

But thank you all for coming to my aid, it means a lot to have such a group care enough to explain things to me in this new world I'm dealing with.
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No, do not confront him about it. Just be grateful that you found a place dad is doing well in. Accept your blessings wherever you can find them. Don't ever expect dad to tell you that you did good. You did, just be satisfied that he is doing well.
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No point in taking it up with him I tried that with mum didn't change anything as she was too used to making me feel bad.

Try accept the situation you can't change it. Try to change your thought patterns. You know his ok safe and engaging with others, this is all positive. Put your hard hat on, take the guilt trips on visits them put them into a virtual bin in your head when you leave and get on with your life.

I have been dragged down by my mother's manipulation for years and now I'm seriously ill. I wish I could have changed the way I dealt with it and let it affect my health a lot sooner.

Good luck x
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Do not interrupt a game of dominoes.
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Laceysterror Jul 20, 2019
actually I joined in and played several games with him and his friend...
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He has Dementia. They become like children. Even if he wasn't doing well, its no longer what he wants, its what he needs.

We do what we have to. He is 83. Why is there more Dementia? Because people are living longer. When I graduated 50 yrs ago the life expectancy was 65 to 70. Its now Seniors caring for Seniors. In ur situation, u probably work.

You did the right thing. I heard an aide say "they brought him too late". This was concerning a man who was brought to the AL in his later stage of Dementia. All he wanted to do was get out. Maybe if they had placed him in an earlier stage, he would have adjusted and as he worsened more likely to except the place as home.

In a perfect world it would be nice to have a parent in our homes. TV always pictured people with senility as just sitting quietly. Where in reality, they have to be watched like a child. Bathed, toileted, and messes cleaned up. Always on ur toes. The minute u sit down, ur needed for something. It takes a special person to caregive. I was not one of them.
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plum9195 Jul 23, 2019
Absolutely, "back in the day" if you got ill you died - heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes...your family didn't have to worry about taking care of you long term because it was a rare person that lived with a serious illness long term. People lose sight of this fact. Of my 4 grandparents, 3 went from diagnosis to death in less than 2 weeks. Of my husband's grandparents, the same.
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How is it stupid not to spot one thread in the whole tangle of emotions?

But I am so glad that you have!

I doubt if your father is consciously or deliberately doing anything to make you feel bad. Maybe, I don't know, the two of you got into a sort of negative feedback loop - your caring about him is important to him, he gives you these little yelps of dissatisfaction, you respond, he continues the yelps. But actually - he's fine! He just wouldn't want you to think he no longer needs you at all, or that he hasn't noticed that *you* have anxieties about how he's doing; and of course he can't admit that you and everyone else were right all along, and he was wrong, and he should have made this move years ago..!

Say nothing to him, just nod and smile or look concerned, as applicable, and be glad to know that (at least when you're not looking) he is thriving. It's all good!
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Sometimes in life, one finds oneself in a situation they do not like. At all. And as humans, we try our best to improve our situation. The terrible truth is that many elderly find themselves in many situations they don't like. One by one, or sometimes, more than one freedom or enjoyable thing of life is taken away. Aging and illness is not for the faint of heart. You could look at your dad's behavior as manipulative and as someone said "like a 3 year old." But I wouldn't. I would chalk it up to the fact that your loved one is making the best of their difficult chapter of life. The fact that they complain to you means that they feel comfortable admitting their unhappiness to you. That doesn't mean that you take them home and care for them 24/7 or that you should feel guilty. It is highly likely that they are where they need to be. But what they do need from you is your ability to listen and validate their feelings. Don't dismiss their feelings. Read up on how to actively listen so they feel heard. It takes practice. Do be their advocate to identify any problem that might need addressing. After that (each visit) do try to feed their soul in some way. Beyond the basics, try to find ways to brighten their day, something positive for them to focus on. I used to take my dad for rides and car picnics for example. With my mom, we would sing one of her favorite songs. Make sure that the last thing the two of you talk about or do is a positive thing (a joke, a song?) Imagine yourself in their shoes and then, do the best you can sans guilt.
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MJInslee Jul 23, 2019
Beautiful comment. Very uplifting for me. Thank you.
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My tactic with people like this is to act really oblivious and stupid, like I am not picking up on their bad attitude, and I act happy and cheerful. I ignore the nastiness. When they see they're not getting the desired rise/anger/guilt out of me, oftentimes the snarky person backs off. I tell myself in my head, "I'm not going to board their guilt trip bus!"

I wouldn't bring it up as the conversation probably won't get you anywhere and it'd be just a circle of frustration for you both. The important thing is that he is happy there...when you're not there to trigger his petty side (we all have that side). More than the aides telling you he's happy, you have witnessed it for yourself.
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pronker Jul 23, 2019
Yes to this! Acting is a profoundly useful skill.
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