I'm getting depressed caring for my dad and find myself spending more time at home. How can I take care of myself to better care for him?

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He always looks for sympathy from people and mopes about. He is very capable for looking after himself even still driving and going out but now is getting thinner and cuts his portion of food into a tiny bit. He likes cooking the dinner when I visit and is very able to prepare a good meal but has always been one to run to the doctor with the tiniest thing. My mum gave him an awful lot of attention and now she isn't there and he is looking for it from anyone he can get it from. It's embarrassing and annoying and is making me feel really depressed and guilty. I challenged him about it and suggested he was trying to make me worry which was horrible and then I went home after intending to stay over. My plan is not to stay over any more and just visit a few times a week. He refuses help from social work or anyone in the way of day centres, art groups etc. If he goes to the nurse to get a plaster changed he never stops talking about the nurse! He just loves attention but isn't interested in anyone else. He probably has Asperger syndrome (undiagnosed) since I have it which could explain not being interested in anyone else. Any hints on what I should do would be grately appreciated.

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Hi RLP
Good idea. I used to write up a daily diary and it was really good and should get back to that again. Hopefully when my sister arrives on 1st of July she will be a good help with my dad. She is better at communicating than me with people so hopefully we can decide between us what can be done. I think my dad would be happier in sheltered housing flat as he is in a biggish house on his own at the moment. If he was in some sort of supported accomodation at least he would be getting some company and other older folk to chat to. I can speak to my sister about this and with him. I think I have my own situation a lot better now as at long last I have managed to get back to living at my own place where I am happier and can get to places easier from.
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Thanks Hapfra. My dad goes was at the doctors for his yearly health check and they seemed pleased with him or that's what he said. He is to get a blood test and not have anything to eat before he goes. Probably because he'd got thin they are wondering if there is a reason. It's up to them to look after his medical health I guess. I went to see him today and came back to my own place after. I find that better although I get really tired travelling. He has my budgie just now and likes having him.
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I think everyone has given you excellent advice, but I wanted to add that the calendar idea is great not only for your father but for you, also. I started keeping a calendar to record my own needs, illnesses, and Dad's positive milestones when my father became ill. Now that he has passed away, I have continued to keep one while I take care of my mother. My situation is the reverse of yours. My Dad was the gentle, easy one to deal with, and my mom had a traumatic brain injury 4 years ago that only exaggerated her tendency to be angry and confrontational. The calendar has helped my doctors set guidelines for me with my own health issues which helps me feel less guilty when I say "no" to Mother about something. Please take care of yourself and let us know how you are doing. RLP
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I think it would be greatly helpful to you both if you rule out any physical or psychological ailments--and take it from there...Your dad may simply be holding back in letting you in on the bigger picture...Have patience, be helpful, but also be good to yourself as well. If he becomes my relient on you as time goes by, you may want to discuss the situation with him, your family doctor, or a social worker on aging. Caregiving is not an easy task---but it does offer many rewards..
Best~~Hap
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Thanks everyone for your kind replies. I feel so much better today after reading them.

Hi Addiewrain55,

I get on okay on my own provided my stress levels are not too high which is the problem just now with my dad, but I feel much more reassured that it’s his choice in what he does with his life really and he is very lucky in comparison to many other elderly people who can’t get out or don’t have visitors etc. He is 88 years old and amazing for his age.

I have a brother who doesn’t do a lot in the way of helping but I figure the less I do for my dad, the more he will do as in visiting more than he did. I also have a sister who lives abroad and she is coming to visit in a couple of weeks with her two children and will be staying with my dad. That will take the pressure off a bit too.

My mum was always really thoughtful and would never have expected me to do what my dad seems to want and would never have been that manipulative. She had a lot of illnesses and yet would try to be positive but not my dad, he’s different. My mum would be mad at him if she was around now.

The calendar idea is good and I can choose days when it’s easier with transport to get back again. I spoke to the social work department and they contacted him and he just said he didn’t want them to come and assess him as he was fine and had me to look after him. To attend day centres he first has to be assessed by them.

I don’t think it’s a case of cutting up his food into little bits or eating less as he’s getting older as not long ago he wolfed down who portions of fish and chips an occasional treat from the local fish and chip shop and not even a pensioners portion! Now he will cut the cup cake in half and leave it sitting there so I can see what he’s having for his supper. I worked with elderly people for a while ie about four years part time and it often struck me that some of them would behave like little children as though their brains were going back to that way. Some of the very elderly people even looked a bit like very young children.

Thanks again for your help.

Hi Naheaton,
Your post kind of make me smile this morning after a bad night of hardly sleeping. I can’t imagine any female putting up with him for long! He is often very cheeky to women who work in coffee shops and I get mortified when he shouts ‘hoi, where’s my coffee’ or turns and gives any woman who he hears laugh a glare. He wants silence and lets folk know if they disturb it in any way. I think he’s so old he just can’t be bothered with any delay or annoyance as apparently he used to be very patient and polite to people. I don’t think he could tolerate a relationship with anyone just because of the age he is but it’s the type of thing that I never thought about and could happen with a younger person. That would be terrible to see someone being used for their money. I think my dad just likes to be seen as ill and in need of being looked after.

Hi Jeannegibbs
Thanks for that Jeanne. I know inside me that I have done an awful lot to help my dad and I also gave up completely over a year of my life to helping him ie being with him most of the time and losing the company my own friends. It’s strange how people can end up thinking no matter how much they do it is never enough and other people and relatives also seem to have expectations that they wouldn’t do themselves. My sister was very pleased about me looking after him and kept trying to persuade me not to go back to my own place as it was keeping her mind at ease She still had her own life with her husband and children and friends. All my aunt seemed to do was criticise me and turn up wanting me to look after her as well for a day. I’ve put her in her place and I don’t think she realised what she was being like! Anyway I must try and distance myself a bit from him and start living a bit again.

Thanks again for your replies. I really do appreciate it. It made me think this morning that there are some kind people in the world.
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Scotchargus, it sounds like cutting back on the frequency and duration of contact with your dad is a good plan. First and foremost do what you need to do maintain your own high level of functioning. You are a worthy individual and deserve good care yourself. As the flight attendants tell us, in an emergency put your own oxygen mask on first, then help those you are with. You'll do much better helping your dad if you take good care of yourself.

I can see why you feel bad about the whole situation. It is sad. But I can't see that you have earned any guilt. You did not create the situation. Your mother's death was not within your control. Your father's attitudes and possible condition are not within your control. You did not request the limitations Asperger's imposes on you. In other words, sad as it is, this situation is NOT YOUR FAULT. Don't waste any energy on guilt. Do your best and take credit for doing your best.
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Scotchargus, your dad is a prime candidate for an unscrupulous gold digger of a woman. He's needy and loves female attention, so I think if it were my dad I'd first protect his assets from him giving what money he has to the first pretty face that throws him attention. After that what he needs is to stop focusing on himself constantly. Maybe if there's a senior social club type of thing in your area he might like to go sometime. But first, please protect him from himself with the money thing. I see red flags all over the place for that to happen. Good luck.
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Hi, I have an 18 year old son with Asperger Syndrome. This situation sounds like way too much for you to be doing.

Sometimes a dad will miss a mom and will do things like not eating or wanting attention...things like that. He might do things like that for a long time. This isn't something you can fix. You can visit your dad once a week and if you want do something nice for him that is ok too. And that is really all that you can do.

Since your dad is able to be on his own and seems to be able to care for himself, then it is ok to let him do that.

Is everything ok with you? Are you ok being on your own in your own home...are there people who are helping you too? I know it is very hard every day to have Asperger Syndrome. Please do whatever you need to take care of yourself first.

Honestly, I would never expect my son to do so much for me. I would not want my son to feel guilty or depressed at all!!!! Do you have any brothers or sisters who can help or other relatives? Please try not to feel guilty. These things happen with older people.

I think you have a good plan. Here are some things you could do:

1. You can get a calendar and mark one or two days each week to visit your dad if that is ok with you. Tell your dad which days you will visit him.
2. When you visit your dad, only stay as long as you are able to remain calm and at peace. If that is just one hour, then one hour is ok.
3. If you get worried on other days, it is ok to call him rather than visit.
4. If you have a social worker who visits you, please tell the social worker it is too hard to take care of your dad yourself and ask the social worker to talk to your dad and get help.
5. Tell the social worker you are worried that your dad is not eating enough. Tell the social worker that you are not able to make sure your dad has enough to eat. 6. Tell the social worker you are worried about your dad's health and that he might need to see a doctor because you are worried he is too thin.
7. Sometimes older people like to cut up their food into little pieces. My dad did that also for many years. My dad also got thinner as he got older.

It is ok to do these things. I hope things get better for you very soon!
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