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My dad is 90 and now alone after his wife died last month. My family moved back to the area last fall for several reasons, one of which was they were both approaching 90 and I anticipated they would need help. It happened virtually immediately with serious medical issues for him, and her ending her hospice journey. He is dealing with grief, loneliness, and ill health. I have been with him every day for 3 solid months between 4 and 12 hours a day on average ( during chemo some days were 24). This chick is exhausted! I have enlisted my brother to come on Sundays so I could have a day with my own family... but dad wants me there then too! We have a cleaning lady who comes once every 2 weeks from senior services and he wants me there too, so I can keep an eye on her. I have recruited my sister in law for weekly dinners which she loves to do (alone now that other brother passed) but he puts her off and just wants me.
I love my dad- but I’m struggling. We were 12 hours yesterday at doctors and the emergency room.... I went over today to drop off a prescription and make sure he was set for the day and came home. He didn’t want me to go but I had a migraine and told him I had to take care of myself with some rest.
It broke my heart. I can’t be there every moment and he won’t come live with us despite being an extreme fall risk and his refusal to give up the stairs in the home. I worry constantly and am frazzled. I haven’t had time to unpack our house or get a paying job.... a source of contention in my marriage.
I just need him to get back to a modicum of good health ... but I fear it will never improve. What / how can I be there for him without sacrificing my entire existence? What are the words to use in conversation to help him feel better about being alone/independent? I suspect he has depression- totally normal- but would never admit it for help. But I also cannot be his whole world- it isn’t healthy. His ill health currently is preventing his driving for the most part- so that’s depressing for him too. 🤦‍♀️😬

Ok, ask doctor to evaluate him for PALLIATIVE CARE AND/OR HOSPICE.
Your dad should not be driving any more. It's a risk to him and other cars on the road. My relative who is a fireman said most elders in car accidents "are the cause" Why? because they are old, and they don't argue as much, they tend to agree..
So, take the keys away when you can. It's tough, but you don't want dad to lose everything if someone sues. Tell the DMV he needs a driving test and written test. This will deem him safe or not.
Your dad should not be alone, especially with stairs. If you do not have Power of attorney, who does? He needs backup in his corner. If you cannot get him to understand, get him the emergency button he can wear if he falls. That's a monthly fee too.
If he ends up in hospital, a social worker would suggest a 30-60 day stay at Medicare nursing home. Take it, they won't ask twice. Then you will be able to figure things out, and find a place for dad, before the nursing home social worker says time is up, he cannot go home, where are you moving him? Start looking for places near you now before that time comes. You can look for assisted living places, and take tours with him, they will give you a lunch and show you around.
Look for adult day care in your area. he can go there a couple days a week, socialize, and have games, to keep his mind thinking...
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hollandgirl Feb 13, 2020
Mayday- I think you have misinterpreted my post. But I thank you for your reply anyway😁👍
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So, your dad is 90, and this is not the first time you dealt with illness as his wife was in hospice. He is depressed and every right to be. GEt him out socializing... adult day care. Look up areas, maybe you two can do a bingo night if there is one in the area. I did that with my mom when it was in town. Everyone realized, we weren't there to win, we were there to play and have fun. Well, we won a few times. Maybe you can do that too. These assisted living places do have functions and games and socializing. Look into them and schedule a few tours. Make it fun for you and dad. Tell him, it's for fun and something new to do to get him out of the house.
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Your questions seem to be avoiding the obvious issues, unfortunately. At age 90, your father almost certainly shouldn’t be driving. It’s going to get worse, so don’t regret that his ill-health is stopping it. Nothing is going to help him to feel better about being alone - he has lost his wife, and lost all the people who are so actively involved at end-of-life. He isn’t independent now, and his dependence will get worse, not better. He is ‘an extreme fall risk’, he ‘won’t give up the stairs’, and it is only a matter of time until he falls badly and breaks bones. Your house is a mess because you haven’t had time to unpack. Your marriage is under stress because you aren’t earning, quite apart from the fact that you are over-tired, over-stressed, and not much fun to be with. Your father is lonely and frightened of being alone. However sorry we must all feel for him, his demands on you are totally unreasonable and have to stop.

You have got to the point where it isn’t about what your father wants or chooses. You have to stop propping up ‘fake independence’, and make the decisions yourself. Think very carefully before you choose to have him move in with you, and start to check out Assisted Living options. You can be a good daughter when round-the-clock staff are coping with the hard lift care. The alternative is that you will collapse (you can see it coming, can’t you?), and then your father will simply have to go into the first care bed that’s available. Facing facts is very hard, but it really is the best thing for him, for you, and for your marriage and family.

Writing to us has been your first step. Read your post again and believe what you said!

PS I am truly sorry if this has made you cry, but it is the truth, and I send you my love too.
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Harpcat Feb 15, 2020
You have written a very honest answer. I hope the OP takes it to heart. So many red flags in her post and you have helped to sort them out without being mean.
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I don't know how this will sound to you, but - you're already doing this right.

Don't panic! It is VERY early days. Your stepmother (?) died only weeks ago. Your father is in ill health. You've only recently arrived in the area. And yet already you are correctly reaching out to other sources of support, and gradually gradually weaning your father off total dependency on you. Exactly right, even if at the moment it feels like a maelstrom.

To set your and your husband's mind more at rest, I'd suggest you set yourself a timetable for the next (say) 12 months. (12 months depending on how you expect your father's medical situation to pan out).

It should run something like: perhaps some shorter daily visits, then not daily visits but a phone call instead on alternate days, then perhaps longer visits twice a week with phone calls in between, or whatever pattern works for you.

You will also need an emotional boundary or two to help you stand firm when you know your father doesn't really NEED you but he thinks he does. Once he's got to know the cleaning lady better, you can greet her but then leave, for example, and then a week or two later not be there at all. You and your DH could take him to your SIL's for dinner, stay for a drink, and then leave Dad to be taken home later by your brother. Above all, remember that when you quite correctly took yourself home the other day even though he asked you to stay... absolutely nothing happened. He was fine! - and you got some rest. Keep that as a prime example of why it's best for you to decide the agenda.

What's this about the falls risk and the stairs? Can you describe what's happening?
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hollandgirl Feb 13, 2020
thank you for your helpful message Countrymouse! Out of all the replies you seem to understand where I’m at.
Dad has a blood clotting disorder that manifests itself in his legs and he’s been managing it for a decade. He has poor circulation and pain. He also has developed arthritis in his right hip. In November he was diagnosed with a cancer in a localized tumor on his foot (only and highly treatable). He has completed the first half of treatment, cancer is basically gone, just gave a few steps left to finish up. But all these things result in swelling in legs, feet, ankles. He uses a cane for added stability but has issues regardless. He can’t stand for long periods, he gets dizzy, and his legs feel like he’s lifting bricks. He has both an upstairs and downstairs in his home (dryer is in basement and he finally moved his bedroom to the main floor after his wife passed.)
He is recovering from chemo fatigue- excessive tiredness, falling asleep every 20 minutes etc) he is improving and regaining strength slowly. But he still is very weak and tired to where he has no energy even to get up to go to the bathroom and it’s a struggle. Thanks to a bad prostate he has to use the bathroom hourly and so he never gets good rest anyway and it prevents him from going out in public for long stretches. Everything is timed to getting back home to the bathroom and with the small windows of energy he has.
I firmly believe he will get back to his former self. The man has been a healthy, bright, active man outliving all his classmates and many younger. Heck, 6 months ago he was cutting down a tree out back with an ax- slower than he used to but he sure as hell did it! I’m proud he is not a person to give up- to those who said he needs hospice and take his keys, I can only say they don’t understand at all. He drives better than most people I know! He isn’t currently driving as it isn’t safe with his current conditions. Being old doesn’t mean you should be punished if you’ve done nothing. IF he regains his health I hope he can resume his active lifestyle and freedoms. If not, we will address it.
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Sounds like he is wanting you to step in as his wife. He is not independent as you are making up for everything he can't or won't do.

You think that things are crazy now, just move him in and see what happens, your relationship with your husband will go down the tubes. Your first responsibility is to any minor children and then your husband.

If he is lonely why not consider placing him in AL? He can be with people his own age, attend activities and who knows meet a new significant other, that happens quite frequently.

Don't sacrifice your mental and physical health for him, let alone your marriage. He won't change, it is you who has to.

I wish you the very best.
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I am with Dolly. He wants a wife and u all ready one to your husband. And if there is already contention in ur marriage, having Dad living with you will only make things worse. Your husband has sacrificed already. Your loyalty is to him.

Time for a sit down with Dad. "I love you Dad but I can not be everything for you." If he has money, discuss an AL. Explain its like having an apt of his own but with advantages. He gets 3 meals a day. Some there to help him with anything he needs. Socialization, activities. Things that he cannot expect u to do. You have a husband and a new home you haven't been able to unpack. You need to get back to work. Your husband needs you too. If he won't do that, then he will need an aide to come in a few hours a day.

If u don't have POA, see if he will assign u. Tell him without it you will not be able to carry out his wishes. Your hands will be tied and the state could step in and take over.
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hollandgirl Feb 13, 2020
Yes, I am his POA😁👍
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It’s actually my husbands idea to have him live with us- that way we can all pitch in where needed and when he doesn’t need us, he has company and family. My husband is retired military and only putters for work- he would always be around. However my dad will never leave his home of 60 years... it would have to come down to us or a facility. But when that time comes I’m sure he will be beyond our care ability.
When he had to move my grandma (his mom) out of their home and into an apartment it was difficult. We checked on her daily, drove her places (she never drove), etc. My family has lived this before with her and I often refer back to those times with him for reference. She did not have these mobility issues/ she was just old. I often think it’s a double edge sword to not feel your age- it keeps you going but makes reconciling the need for help and lifestyle modification very hard.
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Three months is a normal amount of time for most people to adjust to their new normal, which is your dad being a widower. The first few months are the hardest and you have been there for him every day, literally. And you recognize that not only can you not continue like this but also that it's causing strife in your marriage. So it's hurting you (migraine) and your spouse.

You are neglecting yourself and your own family. That is not sustainable. And moving your dad in with you is only going to make things worse. If you don't believe me, read what others on this forum have to say about living with their parent. For some it works but for most it's a decision they regret.

You can help your dad without being there every day. He needs to be around people his own age. There are many transportation services available. He must avail himself of them.

His attitude is never going to change as long as you go over there whenever he wants you to be there. Learn how to establish healthy boundaries. Your dad is treating you like an ersatz wife and you are enabling him becoming dependent on you and only you. Enabling is disabling.

After my MIL died my husband also visited his dad every single day for 3-4 months. We ate dinner with him 2-3 nights a week for those months. It was the right thing to do. And then FIL needed to make his own way again in his world. It's not easy but it's the healthy approach to life. Your dad can grieve AND socialize. The longer he wallows the greater the risk that his depression will become severe and chronic.
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hollandgirl Feb 13, 2020
😢 his wife died January 8.... sounds like it will be spring for the new normal in a few months....
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CountryMouse- he has a urinary defect which makes catheterization without surgery impossible. ( we had that little nugget come up when he went into the hospital 8 years ago for his pacemaker and the well intentioned nurse jammed a catheter in repeatedly against a birth defect in the tube, resulting in damage and surgery.) 😬
I am hoping to get him using adult diaper protection products for when we are out longer or night. He was mortified when we went for an appointment and he didn’t make the bathroom- wet himself everywhere. Poor guy.
We now use wheelchairs to speed us along through the corridors as he cant go much more than 30 feet without collapse at this point.

I agree with all the comments about ersatz wife. I can see that. I also see that we need to be partners to cover all the needs. I often tell him that. I’m only here to take up your slack until you can do things on your own. Some days that’s more than others, for sure. Some days I feel sorry for him when he’s low and crying over his situation. He’s a good man who spent half his life involved with his parents so they could be independent and he was a good role model and I’m happy to help out. Those being the words... help out. ENable not DISable. 👍
If what you all say is true and he will only decline more and more.... it’s even more important to get him independent as much as possible so he can retain that ability.
Sidebar- we are also struggling with his hearing due to the chemo effects. It may or may not be permanent but we’re working on getting him into the VA to possibly get a discount or coverage for hearing aids. Not being able to hear the phone or the doctors has also created a dependency that I wish to fix for him. 👍 More independence!!🎉
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Hollandgirl, first, I love your avatar!  The red tulips are so striking, and so beautiful at a time when flowers in my area are hibernating.  

I'm touched and impressed by your dedication and support for your father.

My first reaction is that he wants you near him b/c he's still grieving, is alone, his health is deteriorating, and you're a link to his deceased wife, plus he's frightened...all legitimate concerns, and a lot to deal with at this time.

Some thoughts...

1.    Do you think your father would be comforted if you arranged to "be with him" by computer?    I don't like to suggest tech devices for someone who's older, but I've seen ads (I believe in the AARP newsletter) for some type of computer which allows for communication similar to Skyping.   You wouldn't be with him personally, but you and he could chat while you're at home, and he still has the comfort of your presence.

It doesn't have all the bells & whistles, but doesn't need to.   

2.    Regardless of time spent with him,  I'd get a medical alert, as well as a lock box.    I reviewed, called, researched and went with a company that also provides home security.   Their response and support were the best, and that was demonstrated quickly.   The pendant was position sensitive and alerted even when Dad bent over.    I was very, very pleased with the device and support.  

3.   A lockbox, installed directly into the studs next to the door frame (as opposed to the kind that fits over a doorknob) would allow EMS to enter if you're not there.  So that base is covered.    I give EMS the lock box numerical code; they came when necessary, and if I couldn't get to Dad's house in time, I met him at the hospital.

With these additions, you have more support for emergencies.    I think the changes, as well as the walking limitations are underlying conditions for his desire to have you with him.   He's perhaps frightened, uncertain, unsure of himself, which I completely understand. 

(I'm also thinking of how you can reassure him by providing support when you're not there, so he doesn't feel alone and frightened.    I would introduce one aspect at a time though, so he can acclimate to the change.   And each change that enables him can make him stronger, emotionally and physically.

4.   My father used a bike pedaling device to exercise his legs while sitting down.   He listened to music while doing so; it was a form of entertainment for him.  

https://probablyinteractive.com/best-pedal-exerciser/

They're available through catalogues (such as Miles Kimball, etc.) for about $15 (+/-).    The larger, more substantive ones are used by rehab centers.

This could strengthen his leg(s) and avoid standing, while also providing relaxation through favorite music.

It can also help circulation in his legs and perhaps reduce swelling.

5.    Instead of a cane, a rollator would provide more stability, and he could sit down to rest when necessary.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Medline-Steel-Rollator-Walker-Folding-Rolling-Walker-6-Wheels-350lb-Weight-Capacity-Burgundy-Red-Frame/37617768?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227027181905&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=43660437992&wl4=pla-83603988512&wl5=9016840&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=37617768&veh=sem&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyb_Ur8jP5wIVh7zACh3qIAXGEAQYASABEgLTkvD_BwE

The handles are lockable and adjustable.    The "four wheel drive" provides more stability than a walker.   The basket underneath provides for carrying things; my father used it for his religious books on church day.

Best recollection is that we got a script from one of his doctors and Medicare paid for the walker.  

6.  Hearing:   once he's enrolled/accepted through the VA and benefits are eligible, he can get a hearing exam from a VA affiliated doctor and the extent of hearing deficit is determined, he can get hearing aids from the VA. My father's were free, and were made by Siemens, definitely high quality.  
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pegleg1 Feb 15, 2020
You hit the nail with a hammer. Some great advice, especially getting a senior computer and then talking with him on it. However, one must be careful or it will become another way of demanding her attention. Good points/\.
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Part two (I'm very wordy!):

7.  The VA had and I believe still does have a caregiver support program, as well as podcasts.   From the VA updates I get, it's still trying to expand support for Veterans as well as their families.    If you're not signed up for the VA newsletters, that might be a good option to keep up to date.

8.  If I remember correctly, the VA also had a small friendly visitor program.   I had asked for someone with a dog, as my father loved the neighbors' dogs and their visits.   

9.   Since your father is kind of tied to his home, (a) if he's a church member, contact someone and see if they also have a visitor program, and/or (b) consider Meals on Wheels.   The food isn't the greatest, but the people are extraordinary.   They became acquainted with my father, relayed to the coordinator any concerns, and she in turn would call me if something seemed amiss.  

They were good people, and provided brief interaction 5 days a week.  

10.   Driving.   My father was disappointed when he stopped driving, so I made extra efforts to take him where he needed to go, choosing scenic routes if possible.   After a while he admitted it was nice to have someone else drive so he could observe the scenery, watch for wildlife, etc.   There definitely is an acclimation period.

11.   Your local Senior Center may have good programs, and if they also have small buses (as they're called here), pickup may be arranged.    If he's able to get to a bathroom by himself, he would be close to one when needed. 

You have a good grasp of the situation, what your father needs, and know that weaning off your daily visits will be good for both of you, but it will take time.
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hollandgirl Feb 13, 2020
Thank you Garden for the constructive response. 👍 I appreciate the thoughtfulness.
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I can see how difficult this is for you, and how much you want your father to get back to where he was a year ago. You are looking at extremes – no one has said ‘he needs hospice and take his keys’, and only one poster suggested that he might be evaluated. You are saying ‘I firmly believe he will get back to his former self’. He may, but you need to consider what if he doesn’t. At over 90, my experience has been that something traumatic seems to take more out of the person than expected, and they may not get back to where they were. While you follow all of CMs good advice in this adjustment period, it is still worthwhile to check out your and his future options. You can see that the current situation is not sustainable.
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hollandgirl Feb 13, 2020
Margaret: See first post from Mayday for both comments. And others about driving.

I asked in my original post
“What / how can I be there for him without sacrificing my entire existence? What are the words to use in conversation to help him feel better about being alone/independent? “

and that’s what info I’m seeking- not about taking his keys, committing him to a facility, or about his moving in with us, or my marriage. (Gees, yes I said my husband wants me to have a paying job. It was a sidenote not a headline.) And in my world there is no “fake independence” as you say- filling in the gaps for a loved one with shortcomings isn’t fake- our disabled vets with no legs who require assistance come to mind as an example. Parents caring for a child with cerebral palsy, or caring for the aged isn’t creating fake independence but enabling them to live full lives within their abilities. 👍🙏

I welcome constructive recommendations on aging in place, and assisting him to be independent in that place.👍
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I misinterpret most posts.. That is not unusual for me. So, I hope I didn't step on any toes... and I'm going to do it again, please accept my apology. Your dad wants you around 24/7. I am suggesting if you get him busy elsewhere, outside his home, it may help.?? Again,please accept my apology. I am usually off base with all my posts, but it gets things off my chest.. No harm intended.
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hollandgirl Feb 14, 2020
😁👍 accepted
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See my other post, I am going to put my 2 cents in about being alone/independent. at age 90, and I know people age differently, but he should be socializing, and some cities as Garden artist says, offer senior taxis or buses for shopping or doctor visits. Do check into that.
I seriously do not know how to tell a 90 year old :  the words to use in conversation to help him feel better about being alone/independent.
As my friend's dad used to say to me: You have to be tough to get old.: i was 14 when he said that.
My FIL would tell me: These bodies don't last forever.
It almost seems they will last forever, and then it happens. They don't, and then you miss them and all the worries and issues..
My friend just moved her mom, step-dad, and FIL into the same facility. It's a one stop shop for all 3. FIL is in the memory care unit now; he was in the senior living part of facility, but dementia is getting to him. Her parents are older, and they are in the senior living part of facility for now. At least they have people around for help, a dining hall, senior activities: games, music, socializing, lawn bowling, etc. They can add more "caring" needs when the time arises, like monitoring their daily medications, etc. cleaning their rooms, to hygiene care, helping them bathe, etc, to more of caretaking..
My neighbor had his mom in a facility, but decided not to pay for medication monitoring. That didn't go so well.
You and your family have decisions to make, maybe not now, but perhaps later. Do take the time and look at all options, lay them on the table, and think about them now, while you have time.

I really don't know how to tell someone at that age to live independently or alone.
Again, it my 2 cents.
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Abri-Form "diapers" are great. They change her 2 times a day, and one for night. I don't get anything else but those. Keeps everyone happy.
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The best I can offer is to join the club. My 91 year old father had a CVRO and lost all his eyesight in his "good eye" and is nearly blind in the other so he cannot drive at all anymore. He still thinks he's in charge and still thinks of me, the youngest of 5 as the baby of the family despite the fact that I'm the only one of 5 kids who even so much as offers anything other than the occasional phone call. He now lives with myself and my significant other and has become much more than a mere annoyance. In fact he's a regular PITA, but he's my dad and despite our love/hate relationship I'm still committed to his everyday care which includes feeding him a minimum of 3 times a day, taking care to ensure he gets all his medications daily and on time, doctors visits and all the other things any 91 year old coot with extreme memory loss might require.
Hey, I can't begin to tell you what fun it is to be his daily servant, but it is what it is. The rest of the family lives several states away and of course their daily routines are eminently more important than anything I could possibly ever require such as a free moment and some slight enjoyment in life. Luckily my significant other and myself get to get out of the house perhaps once a month for an hour or so every now and then if that, but it certainly beats sitting it all out 1000 miles away with zero financial responsibilities, right?
Ehhh..I could be utterly filled with resentment and hatred, but what would I gain by such feelings? I can't spend resentment and hatred so instead I suck it up and soldier on in hopes that someday I can tell the rest to piss off when the bill comes due and they all demand their cut in dads estate. I have to take whatever I can get these days.
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MAYDAY Feb 14, 2020
It seems to fall on the youngest kid in the family. I wonder why that is. Coincidence? Maybe, mabe it's because we are bit younger and have the energy? I don't know. I know too many" babies of the family" who are doing what you are doing, I also. I'm kinda glad they have that confidence in me :) I suppose..
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If you have to be there daily then maybe your father should not be living on his own. Moving him into your home WILL NOT END WELL. It was a nice gesture on your husband's part to offer it but he has not idea what he is getting himself into. You think it will be easier....all it eliminates is the drive to Dad's place...and now you won't get a moment's peace as he will have 24/7 access to you....and he will use it!

If you can't convince him to try AL then you need a home health aid or just someone to come in and sit with him daily. But it can't be you. You need to stress that to him. Start by cutting your visits back to every other day. And keep cutting back until it is manageable with your life, not his. He isn't going to like it but why are his WANTS more important than your NEEDS? You have to get away from the idea that you have to be everything for your parent. It is just not possible.
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Hollland Girl, please check your PMs.   

BTW, I think your observations about a family caring for a wounded Veteran or child with a disability are very appropriate.   So would the Wounded Warriors.
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Words..,
Tell him what you are going to tell him.
Tell him.
Tell him what you told him.

“Dad, I need to discuss my availability for this next week”
(Pull out YOUR calendar or phone and a pen and HIS calendar)
“I’ve got Wed afternoon open and Friday morning”
(Write your name in the calendar for Wed afternoon and Fri morning)
“You are stocked up in the kitchen so although you like to go to the store on Monday, that doesn’t work for me this week. If you have a list, I’ll pick up what it was you needed when I shop for my house.”
(Write the word grocery list on Monday).
“Sally will be here on Thursday so I won’t be”
(write Sally’s name on Thursday of DADs calendar) “and Bro will be here Saturday”
(write Bro on DADS calendar)
“and I’m spending the day with DH.” (Good and bad here. Good that he knows others are important to you, bad as you don’t need to be explaining yourself).
“So do you think you will be okay on Sunday or would you like to have dinner with us? I can send DH over to pick you up at 1.” (Including him in your life with others).
“SO (looking at your calendar again) Wed afternoon I can take you for your haircut and an early dinner.”
“That leaves Friday morning wide open. You think about it and we can run errands or work on your paperwork for a few hours and I’ll make us lunch.”
”If you have some errands left to run, Bro said he will be here by 9 on Saturday.”
“We can set up next weeks schedule when you are at my house on Sunday.”
“Love you dad.”
(Big hugs and out the door, leaving behind the calendar for his next week).

Now will this work every time or even the first time? Probably not entirely but it’s a start. Don’t over explain. That will make him go down rabbit trails. Stick to HIS calendar.

Set your intention and then carry it out.
You can use what is called therapeutic fibs...dr said I needed more rest, plumbing issue, car problems. Personally I think it’s best to just focus on when you WILL be there and not be explaining why you aren’t. Not sure I would even say why you won’t be there Sat.

Recognize that this will be hard for you as well. You are all in and it’s hard to pull back. He will need your help more and more regardless of how well he is doing now. Find another driver for unexpected trips he might come up with. Help him think about alternatives to you. You might even need to reschedule an occasional appointment (of his) if he is being too needy. In other words say No. (and that’s a complete sentence).
Its not unusual for elders to become fixated on a favorite caregiver. It’s less energy on their part. They don’t have to explain. You are intuitive with his needs. Others not so much. In fairness, the others haven’t had a chance. It’s therapy for him to use his social skills, his words to get his needs met. You know what he needs before he does is my guess. It’s easier in the moment to just do it for him.
Stop that. It’s not good for him in the long run.
So focus on his calendar.
Fill out his calendar on when you are available.
Stick to the calendar as much as possible. Push back on things having to be done at his whim. Delay if only for a day and send in backup often.
At some point gave the talk about you not getting any younger and who is his backup (bro?).
Measure your success. Track your hours with him, traveling to and from him, running independent errands for him and talking about and to him.
Then consciously reduce it weekly. Not neglecting him. Keeping a close eye. Consider cameras. MediAlert etc.
If he keeps calling for daily attendance let him know you need to look for an assistant.
Let him ask. Let him call. They forget they are asking for help. It’s a fine balance. Pace yourself. He’s precious I know. But your constant presence is possibly preventing him from facing this next phase of his life. Pick up the book “Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande. The five questions might be helpful.
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hollandgirl Feb 14, 2020
97yearoldmom: YES! Thank you! This is precisely what I was looking for. 😁👍 I appreciate every word you wrote and will start immediately. 🥰
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One visit to the Emergency Room with my elder, the doctor came in and talked with me. He said everytime she is admitted, a part of her will go away. This will be her base line, here and now, until the next time she comes in. When that time comes, that will be the base line for us to evaluate her. A little piece everytime will disappear. Well, if that didn't get me in the gut. It did help me understand that she will never get back to the previous "base-line" This will be the "New Normal" for her, for now.
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You do have to find a way not to as you say, "sacrifice my existence," Dad has needs, and you can help him, but you have to put limits on what you do. You can't go on this way.
At some point you have to be satisfied that you are doing so very much, and that whether dad understands or likes it or not, you need time off.
Your dad expects you to be there everyday because you have been every day. You have been indeed sacrificing your existence. I'm not saying you have done anything wrong, but it's time for dad to adjust to a schedule that does not destroy you physically, emotionally, and financially.
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pegleg1 Feb 15, 2020
You have given some great advice. If a caregiver does not take care of herself, something is going to happen to her and then she will be no help to anyone. It appears as if she is doing all that can be humanly expected of someone. Now, she needs to look to her God for support and then not feel guilty. Further, she needs to make sure to take care of her relationship with her husband so she does not loose him, too. Grief will last for at least a year and I am certain it is effecting her father's perceptions. If seems, to me, that her father is attempting to consider his daughter as his "wife".
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you can be there for him but not as much as he wants. Clearly,you have found other resources to help him. But he only wants you. So you are either going to either have to tell him what you can do or sacrifice your life to doing what he wants. People with dementia, who might in earlier years have understood you have a life and never would have expected you to be at their constant beck and call, lose that ability to be reasonable. I know you want your father to be how he used to be but we know on the forum that is often not the case. I hope it happens but I doubt that it will. I think they often don’t bounce back completely from any illness or trauma. I am of the opinion that no one should be driving at age 90. I know I don’t plan to be. If you truly don’t want to give yourself up completely, then you are going to have to tell him no. And I would not move him into your house, no matter how much you love him. He already wants you 24/7. You will never get ant separation if he is living with you.
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Boundaries hollandgirl. Boundaries. Read the book by Townsend titled exactly that. It’s saved my sanity truly.
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KatD81 Feb 15, 2020
Yes! Boundaries (and limits)!!
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A parent with dementia or chronic health conditions will never be "normal" again. Every week, there may a "new normal." It's important to accept that.

In the meantime, as others have said, you must set firm boundaries to preserve your sanity. Also, I recommend that you inform dad that you need some days off to unpack your house and to job-hunt - even those are several half days in a row. Your marriage needs to come first!

As you stated, "I cannot be his whole world."
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Dad seems to be at his new "best" and you probably won't be able to improve his health. It appears dad needs somebody there all the time since he is a high fall risk.

Try a family conference to get everybody's input - especially how each person would help. If there is more unmanned hours than manned... it is time to change dad's living situation: full time help (paid) at his place, move in with a family member (with or without paid help), or move to a facility.

Talk with your family about moving dad in versus moving dad into a facility. Is there enough finances to "pay you" to be his full time caregiver in your home? What would you do if you were sick or your family needed/wanted to get away for a bit? How many hours/days would you need a paid staff member with dad?

Check out your local home health care agencies that specialize in seniors. Usually, inhome care is less expensive than facility.
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KatD81 Feb 15, 2020
Proceed with extreme caution before moving dad in. I'm seeing several red flags re: lack of limits and boundaries here, and that's just pouring gas on a fire.
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Death of a spouse is a huge trauma and is often harder on a man than in a woman. A month into the grieving is still "brand new.". His grief has to compounding his problems and his amplifying his need to have you there. If his wife was your mother, you are also still grieving. Respect the depth of that emotion for both of you. Arrange for him to be part of a grief Support Group or th counseling if our father will accept either of those.
It's understandable to want someone to supervise a new home health aide or cleaning service, but once you feel secure about the hired person, assure your father that person is reliable and that you don't need to be there that day.
There are some wonderful suggestions here about setting up a schedule with your dad.
Re best to you. This is a tough time.
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Please contact a local home healthcare agency. I brought my dad home to stay with me after he had fallen and broken a hip (he had been living alone for 2 years after mom died). He was not capable of caring for himself and the rehab there was not doing a good job. After 6 months of trying to care for him and keep my 60 hr per week job. I realized I needed help. Contacted several local agencies, read their reviews online and hired one to come 3 days per week for 8 hrs per day. They were to be paid from his social security. This worked well until he began falling and getting UTI’s. Work was getting more impossible and I decided to retire on 10/1 to spend more time with him. Changed the caregivers to 2x per week. And kept the best of them. These women were very good with him, keeping him engaged in puzzles , keeping him clean and fed. We became good friends and the 2 days a week allowed me time for errands. The time I got to spend with him was very rewarding. I had gotten him a primary dr and had some rotten teeth removed when he suddenly died one morning. Peacefully in his room. I miss him and don’t regret retiring from work. They were way overworking me and not appreciating my experience and hard work of course it may not be that close for you as I was 63-had a pension that would not be increasing anymore and could also take divorced widow benefits from social sec. waiting to claim mine until 70. We just have to see what we can do. But get some help!
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Holland Girl, rereading your posts, I thought of a few other issues:

1.   Is your father still getting chemo?    If so, that's a MAJOR stressor on top of just having lost his wife.   I quit work and spent my sister's last months at her house, alternating with my father so she wouldn't be alone (at that point she could only crawl on the floor and was unable to walk).

I know how much someone battling cancer needs to have a lot of support.

My sister's oncologist once asked her if she needed help at home but she turned it down, even though she did need assistance  (my father and me).  

I was able to get PT for her at home, but she was too weak to participate.   That might be an option for your father, just in terms of strengthening his legs, but I think it would depend on his energy level, and chemo can be so draining

2.   Gilda's Club is a good source for emotional support and camaraderie.  I don't know what other options it offers; I haven't been there since my sister died, but they might also have some recommendations.

3.   VA assistance: has he been evaluated yet for what he might need, and for what he might qualify, such as Aid and Attendance?    I subscribe to the VA newsletters, which offer a wealth of information.   

We've gotten VA help both by enrolling directly and using the assistance of a local county VA office, which accelerated the process by using one of the service organizations.   I also spoke with a VFW rep at our local VA hospital and got the best information yet on the differences in Aid and Attendance options.

I'm also P'M'ing some more information on Veteran resources.
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I was encouraged when I saw your post & all the great responses. I'm going thru the same situation with my dad after I had to move him to Memory care. He is clingy & depressed & wants me there ALL the time! He says he knows I have my own life, but he's still needy. Grieving over the loss of my mom almost 2 years ago doesn't help him. Before MC he was in Independent Living & did well. I came over at least once a week to fill his pill box & run errands with him. So this leap to MC was unexpected. I've decided to try the strategy of scheduled visits at least twice a week & see how that goes. The staff (so far) has been wonderful to him & they are just as bewildered as I am about his abrupt cognitive change because they knew him before. I guess I'm just blathering now....
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You are amazing and have taken on some big responsibilities. But remember you have a family and life, too. You also have to take care of yourself and your family. Speak to a social worker and find out what services are available. Perhaps they can also advise your father on his options. He may accept it more coming from them. You say he is in ill health. Things may get worse as he ages. This means he will need aides to come to his home to help or he can go to an assisted living facility. It sounds like either one will be a hard sell. My mother is an a good assisted living facility, and although it took a long time for her to get adjusted, it was the right move. Now she needs far more care than I can provide her. Make sure all of the paperwork is in order with POA, medical directives, will, etc. Be sure you know his medical directives.
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