Behavior changes in 63 year old Dad. Any advice on the next step?

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I will start out by saying that I am 22 years old. My dad isn't where I need to take care of him but he is getting older. He'll be 64 in March. We think we started seeing his behavior get worse when he turned 60. He's always been sarcastic but lately it's gotten mean and pretty much the only way he'll respond. He treats my mother like dirt and when she tries to stick up for herself he makes her feel worse. Same thing with me and my sister. Just today he carried on an hour long argument for me not responding to one text message that was sent last night even though I responded to a second text message. Saying I "ignored it." A couple of weeks ago he asked me what time I was going to be in town to celebrate my mom's birthday and told him "hopefully by 6. Depending on the traffic." He then responded with a paragraph-long text about since I can't "make a commitment, he's just going to make the reservations without me." Even though I SAID I was going to be there. He just recently retired in May so he pretty much doesn't do anything all day so he expects my mom, me, whoever to be home at all times or if they aren't he constantly wants to know WHEN they will be home, WHAT they are doing. If my mom tries to say ANYTHING that he doesn't agree with, he accuses her of "arguing" with him. She can't stick up for herself because she's "arguing." He constantly accuses (my mother mostly) of "keeping things from him," "lying to him," "throwing him under the bus"- when all of that is so far from the truth it's crazy. He says he doesn't like "drama" yet he is always the one who starts it. He'll go to my 41 year old sister's house JUST to argue about how he thinks she should raise her daughter (who is 20 and lives on her own, by the way). He is making everyone in his life miserable but he doesn't see there is a problem. I've already researched all the different medications he takes to see if there is a behavior change as a side effect in those medications but to no avail. He has high blood pressure and he recently got diagnosed with diabetes, He kind of treats that like it's a joke also, he doesn't check his blood sugar as much as he should. He acts like HE'S right and the doctor is wrong or something by not doing it. I want to have some sort of behavior intervention but I don't know WHO to talk to, let alone if I did, he'd say we are "throwing him under the bus" again and then therefore be even meaner to my mother because she's the one who is with him all the time now. I live in a completely different city and my dad treats me like I'm 5. He treats my mom like she's his property or something and I have NO idea how to stop it. There isn't one day where he doesn't say some hurtful remark to my mom, me, my sister, or even my neighbor. He's not just treating his family like crap now, he's gone on to treating everyone that way. I guarantee if I were to try to tell him how I'm feeling, how EVERYONE feels, he'd say I'm being disrespectful. How am I supposed to stick up for myself and tell him that he hurts us if he's constantly going to bring me down in every response I make? It's always MY fault. It's always my mom's fault. It's NEVER his fault. How do I fix this? There HAS to be something neurologically wrong or SOMETHING dealing with his mind. I even recently graduated with a degree in Psychology and I have no idea how to even approach this situation. He hasn't always been like this. I used to LIKE going home, now I kind of hate it and I wouldn't if it weren't for my mom, friends back home, and my family dog. I just need advice on what to do. I'm so confused at this point that I don't even know where to start. I just don't want my mother to have to live her life being miserable because the way my dad treats her and not being able to say anything. My sister and I have an out because we live somewhere else but my mother doesn't. Life is too short to be mean and of all people who I thought would understand that, I thought my dad would. But apparently not. Is behavior intervention a good idea, bad idea? Can I even contact a geriatric psychiatrist for help seeing as I wouldn't ever get my dad to go because he doesn't see that anything is wrong? Can the geriatric psychiatrist give me advice even if I just email them?

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As a nurse and social worker, the first red flags I see are the uncontrolled diabetes which will effect his thinking, blood sugars, attitude, etc. The second is the fact he is recently retired throwing him into a depression. When one has had a job to go to for decades, when it is over, an emptiness and downward spiral may happen (usually in men). He needs a hobby, volunteering, or a part-time job so he can take the focus off himself and his feeling of impending doom, his own eventual death, and re-focus on the positive. If you can get your mom, other sister and a therapist in a room with your father so you all can express yourselves without him exploding (that's why the therapist is present), talk about the issues since his retirement, and then have your mother go with him to his doctor and have the doctor explain how vital/important keeping his diabetes checked and controlled, and then your family may begin to heal. I also would recommend an antidepressant if all medical workups rule out any organic illness. You are doing the right thing by discussing your issues here and smart enough to know when to ask for help. I'm 65 yrs. now and have a very busy life and so can your father. Keep us informed about your family's progress and best of health to all of you in 2014!
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It's pretty obvious he hates retirement and did not plan what to do with himself. You can start by sending a copy of your question to his primary physician. Under HIPPA the MD can't tell you anything, but that doesn't stop him from hearing your concerns. The doctor should check him thoroughly for medication interactions and any aches & pains that might make him crabby. Diabetes can definitely affect mood; low blood sugar will make him crabby, high blood sugar will make him confused. Your mom should have a good check up too, and you should go with her. You can both share your thoughts about Dad and he can help her only if she asks for help. If dad has an older brother or sister, go to them and ask them to reason with him. Sometimes the back door approach works best.
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That resonates with me a LOT: my family went through something similar with my father, especially when he retired. It turned out that he was a high functioning borderline personality, and not having work to go to made him short circuit. My mother took the abuse- she was his only 'occupation' so he would make her keep in constant touch throughout the day via phone (before texting was invented), She felt like a prisoner and at the time, all us kids were out of the house. She took the abuse until SHE abruptly short circuited, and kicked him out of the house and divorced him, but she was in the hands of an opportunist who was after her for her half of the divorce settlement. My brother and I were not part of her life- she just had had enough of anything to do with my dad. The short of it is, you could lose your 'normal' parent if there is not an intervention- totally depends on what he has. What is your mom's opinion of the way she is treated?
The one thing I am doing with my dad now, is I refuse to communicate with him in the 'immediate; realm of texts or emails. There is too much opportunity for abuse in instant communication. Like your dad, my dad was texting me these novella length missives about his perceived maltreatment, etc. At first I made a 4 hour reply rule as a boundary, which definitely helped. It is much better to actually speak with people on the phone who are like that. That will help you in the short term keep your own sanity. Look for a medical reason first (measurable things). Then maybe she can ease him into seeing a psychologist who he can talk to to help adjust to retirement. Maybe even joint sessions to help them both ease into having him around the house. That is a very common time when couples divorce, so there should be no stigma attached to that. Good luck.
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I have half a smile on my face remembering how ancient I thought 63 year olds were when I was 22. Or 43 year olds, come to that…

The other half is not smiling at all: you're right to be concerned.

What did your father retire from?
How is your mother's health? How old is she? Does she still work/did she work?
What does your older sister think about this?

My brother's just about to turn 60, and he seems to have had a marked deterioration in temper, too. He was never one to suffer fools gladly, as they euphemistically say, but he's becoming increasingly bad-tempered and explosive about it. It does make me wonder if there's more to it than some kind of male menopause/intimations of mortality/rage against the dying of the light.

The diabetes has got to be a factor with your father, especially if he's non-compliant. See if you can find a plain-talking leaflet about it for him, ideally one addressed in no-nonsense terms to a male audience. Along the lines of: if you'd like to go blind, suffer amputations and devastating disability, and die slowly and painfully, go right ahead and ignore your doctor's advice. I always manage to muddle up my hypos and hypers, not having a diabetic in the house (touch wood) (yet), but extreme grumpiness is - someone will correct me, I'm sure - a precursor to hypos, isn't it? If your father is messing about with oral insulin prescriptions, that could do it. And excessively high blood sugars will be doing his brain, eyes, extremities, everything, no good in general. He needs to cut the cr*p and do as he's told on this. Or get serious about getting fit, stop eating sugar altogether, lose a ton of weight and see if he can be one of those people who succeed in reversing the damage - it has been done. Does he like a challenge?

It could be a host of other things, too; but don't start worrying about those until you've covered the obvious.

I wonder. Is he trying to control everybody else to avoid sorting himself out, do you think?

Do you know any of his friends, former co-workers or similar well enough to talk to?

And I don't know how you'll feel about this, but your mother can always leave him.

I don't blame you for feeling confused and unhappy, I would too. Very hard. Stick with it, keep us posted. Big hug.
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I agree with pstiegman. It sounds like depression related to your dad's retirement and maybe the onset of diabetes. True, his Dr. won't discuss this with you and maybe there's another family member that can get through to him but in the meantime I'd just stay out of his way. Limit your contact with him. It's a shame that your mom gets the brunt of his boorish behavior but none of you should have to be held hostage by your dad. When you go home to visit stay at a hotel or with a friend. Meet your mom for lunch or dinner. You can't change your dad's behavior but you can change yours. Is it fair? No. But you detailed in your post what happens when you do interact with your dad. Interact with him as little as possible. It sounds like he's stewing in unhappiness and is taking it out of those closest to him. Stay out of his way and let him stew.
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Wow, this brings back memories. My dad always had a temper and when he retired, he made my mom's life a living hell for a while. She had been a stay at home mom and resented having him underfoot all of the time. She finally got so fed up she basically stood up to him and told him he treated our family dog better than her and she wasn't going to stand for it. She'd leave if it continued. It shocked my dad so much, he changed. I was away from home by that time, so it didn't affect me when he retired.

As he got older, he mellowed quite a bit and things went back to "normal". When he died, my folks had been married for 68 years. When I mention this now, my mom doesn't remember any of it. But it's burned in my brain because it was the first time my mom really stood up to my dad. So your dad can change, but he needs a pretty big wake up call to understand how bad his behavior has gotten and how much he's driving away his family and friends.

I totally agree with the idea that his diabetes may be affecting some of his behavior, but I imagine his retirement is the bigger factor. His "purpose in life" (as he defined it) is now gone and unless he finds other things to occupy his time and attention, he's going to be a bear to live with. He needs hope and a new focus.
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Good advice about the diabetes and retirement for the causes of his behavioral changes. Your father has faced two major stresses in a short period of time. Hopefully he is willing to address those issues before it gets worse.
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I know this sounds like I am really reaching but I have heard of stories where peoples behavior has changed dramatically due to a tumor on the brain. I know that sounds extreme but I would have him get an MRI if you have eliminated most other possibilities. Its better to be safe then sorry.
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Maybe let's concentrate on ruling out the other possibilities for now..?! "Present fears are less than horrible imaginings…"
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All of these responses are so helpful, thank you so much! It definitely helps to hear people relating to my story as well as all the advice added on to it. My mom knows about this post and I have read all of the responses to her. She wants me to add in that she's is 7 years younger than my dad. She is still working and is no where near retirement. Her health is good as well. They have been married almost 32 years this February. My mom obviously doesn't like the way he treats her but it's been going on for so long it's hard for her to stick up to him because he always blows up on her whether she's "arguing" or not.
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