What would you do? Help with brainstorm.

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Hello Everyone,

I hope my question doesn't come across as "uncaring" or otherwise. I am in such a dilemma without a solution and just know that someone out there can help.

My father was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia and when it first came to (although I think he's had it all his life in very minor ways), I did everything from taking him to the doctors, mental health institutions, let him stay at my house until he got better, managed his eating, gave him his medication - caregiving! I have six siblings who helped very little if any.

During the course of time that he stayed with me (off an on for six months, then consistently for one month without any breaks - I also work 40 hours telecommuting and have 2 young children, 4 and 6, on summer break), at the worse of his illness, he would talk to the walls, talk to himslef, hit the wall, not bathe for weeks, follow me where ever I went and phone me to come home at certain times. Initially, I told him and the siblings that I can do 4 days on but I needed 3 days off. When no siblings would take him and he refused to go home 3 days, I called an end to it. I had lost one contract with my job, I was in fear of his hygiene (still am) and I was plain exhausted. We got into an argument after I insisted that he give up his apartment, live in a senior center nearby so that I could limit my driving time. He totaled his car in the apt parking lot and requires that he be taken back and forth 45 minutes per way (with my two children). Just recently, he asked me to take him home so that he could bathe, feed the cat, etc., I did and took the kids to a mall next door. I gave him 3 hours while we waited, came back and he said he did nothing but sit on the couch (so no bathing). He has refused moving to a senior center (because only old people live there - he's 74). So, I told him that he will have to leave. He took a taxi home and it has only been 2 days and already he's calling me to pick him up so that he can stay with us again. I have gotten him to a point where he is 80% better and he can take care of himself with the medication. Since he was 55, he has not taken care of himself in any way. The children have all paid for his living in a fund. He's bailed on bills only to have such crappy credit that if he ended up in a senior home, we'd have to co-sign for him, if that is even allowed. I've worked since I was 13 because he overspent and couldn't care for the family. In college, I worked 2 full-time jobs so that one paycheck could go to him to pay for the mortgage. I did this for 2 years. I gave my tax refunds and he happily took them. My argument is that I have very little 'good memories' of how well he treated us. None of the children do in fact. He's simply not done his job and all his life has expected us to carry him on our backs. This is another one of those situations. He is able to take care of himself and/or take one of my alternatives (we even pay for his apt today) and move to a senior center nearby so that I can take him there 3 days and he can stay with us 4 days, if that. Problem is: it's all about him and nothing about us. I really do not want him back here. What do I do? Just talked to him yesterday night and said I might let him back home. I really can't do it, if only for hygiene reasons. Help. (Please know that I am one who always puts others ahead of myself, but I am having a very hard time wanting to do this.) Thank you, in advance.

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Christina, first I want to say I wish you only the very best. I know someone who is a paranoid schizophrenic, and I suspect your father has ALWAYS suffered from this illness to some degree. It is rarely diagnosed in later life - almost 100% of the time it begins to appear when a male is 18 - 25. Some people self-medicate with booze, etc., but it sounds like your dad has been mentally ill for a long time, your entire family has suffered for it, and this is probably why your sibs don't want any part of taking care of him.

Darlin, you need to talk to your dad's doctor or the local Mental Health Association in your community. You are NOT your father's keeper. Your CHILDREN should NOT be subjected to having to live with or care for a mentally ill person who has no interest in taking care of himself. There are facilities where he can be appropriately cared for, and he belongs there, under the direction of professionals.

I mentioned this in my response on another discussion thread, but I think it applies here too: Honoring your father and mother, does NOT mean sacrificing yourself (or your children) for them. It means doing whatever you can to ensure they they are safe, have a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. Your father is NOT your responsibility. If his doctors believe that, when medicated, he is capable of caring for himself, then if he does NOT take care of himself, it's on HIM. Do NOT "guilt yourself" into thinking that you are in any way equipped to give full-time care to a mentally ill adult. This is a trap, and you owe it to your family not to fall into it. Your #1 responsibility is your own family, especially your small children.

Schizophrenics are notorious for feeling OK when they are medicated, and because they "feel OK" they stop the meds. This is a vicious cycle, and you do NOT want to be trapped in it. Trust me. Don't do this to yourself.
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Your first priority should be to yourself and your children, not your father. You've done the best you can and he's still unable to do something as simple as maintain his own personal hygiene. (And as an animal lover, I'm worried about the care his cat gets, if he can't even care adequately for himself.) Anyway, he belongs where professionals can deal with his medications and behaviors. He likes your house because you let him do more of what he wants to do. I can't say I blame him.

But for your own peace of mind and the safety and care of your children, he needs to live in a setting (maybe even a half-way house for folks with mental illness) where his medications will be monitored and he'll be required to maintain the daily activities of living (like bathing). Good luck and keep us posted. You've gone above and beyond to help your father out - you don't have to carry him for the rest of his life.
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Hello OrangeBlossom and Sandfox,

After comparing myself to so many others who do make sacrifices for their parents that I sometimes say that I should do more. Unfortunately, I am and have always been a bit black and white where there is a line that one doesn't cross and once they do, I tend to have to draw that line. As I still feel that my father is 80% better, I find now that it has been more of a personality issue (much like we've gone through in the last 20 years) with him not wanting to do anything for himself. I don't think I carry any guilt, but in some ways, I do feel sorry for him. I do feel that he's lived a not so great life that sacrificed everyone around him in order to save himself and we all gave him what he wanted .. until now. It's an impossible situation to prolong. I can see that even in my best, I could only last 3 days at most before the frustration begins to build. I've said 4 days, but the more I recall the flaws which I can't get out of my head, the less I want to help. As for POA, he has nothing but debt that he will be leaving us to sort out. So, none of us, to be honest, are racing for POA. Frankly, we'd all want emancipation. Again, I apologize in advance if this post offends anyone due to familial expectations. My father simply never lived a good life and did very little for others, e.g. unless it benefited him, in my recollection. Again, thank you all. I have spoken to a few relatives who have stated that I need to keep him out, if only for my children. I also think that, without rationalizing, he could improve if he is forced to take care of himself. I'm not sure.
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Thank you Sandfox! LOL, that has to be the shortest post I ever wrote - I am usually very long-winded. Christina gave so much input, it was not hard to extract the facts and find the answer in her own words. It is so true that the answers are inside us and we just need to listen to our gut - not always easy. It is hard to be objective when we are emotionally wrapped up in the situation. I am struggling right now with a decision on whether to ask my uncle for compensation for his care. I will post my question online here as soon as I get the nerve to do it.
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orangeblossom5 has got it: Go with your gut reaction. You don't want him there. He sounds like a huge burden to me and you already have your hands full. He needs to be in a facility where he can get the care and supervision he needs.
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Dear Christina, You have honestly stated "I really do not want him back here". That's your gut answer, and it is the best solution for you and your children (who you already know MUST come first). Your children will always be your first priority and keeping that in mind will help put everything else in perspective for you. It seems to me you owe your father nothing. Your six siblings are of little use to you. Your father has a dangerous psychological illness and although you got him to 80% better he will never be 100% and always be a potential safety threat to you and your children. Who has POA and/or HCP? If not you, then do what you have to do to get it. Check out the section on this website under Money & Legal for information on that and Elder Law. If you are financially strapped, check with your county for free legal aid. IMO your father belongs in a nursing facility where they can manage him so he is not a threat to your family or himself. You can visit if you feel like it, but above all don't let him or anyone make you feel guilty about your decisions! God bless you.
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