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I love my father dearly. He lives in a senior housing about 20 minutes from me. My problem is, he wants me to visit him every weekend. Come Thursday, he's asking me about coming over. The problem is, I have a full time job, and I'm only off on the weekends. I'm single and sometimes do activities on weekends. That leaves me with maybe one day off to do chores, etc for myself. I have no problem visiting him every few weeks (say every two to three weeks), but when I tell him I can't make it he seems really disappointed. I'm torn between trying to see him as often as I can - when I can't I feel incredibly guilty. It doesn't help that my two sisters (one who lives right around the corner) rarely see him. I love him but I'm trying to balance having a life and seeing him. Sometimes I feel like I don't go to activities or socialize so that I can spend time with him. Does anyone have any suggestions for trying to balance my life with seeing him. Sometimes, even when I'm out, I feel bad that I'm not with him. Its incredibly stressful.

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If you didn't have enough guilt already, I'm sure we fixed that.
It's really none of our places to sit in judgment and tell you how much time is enough or too little. We aren't walking in your shoes and living your life.

Like many of us, there are so many competing demands for us and our time. There simply isn't enough to go around.
When my mother was in some senior apartments 2 miles from us, I realized that it had been over a year since I'd seen the dentist, had a physical, gotten my shots, seen the gym, or anything else that was "for me". I spent every single moment I was not at work doing things for her. She invented reasons and had me running to the grocery store constantly for things she wasn't even using. It was not warm & fuzzy "oh but she wants to see you".

Mom had it in her mind that it had to be me to entertain her. She refused to go to activities, field trips, or the dining room. When I was there, she carped, complained, and criticized until I had to leave. It was not positive or sweet or lovely. It was a good day if I could get her to sit in her wheelchair and let me push her around the facility for a few minutes. She wouldn't do that long though. No sitting out in the open lobby with the sunshine or birds. Gah!

You do not come last. You are an adult who gets to decide what happens today.
At some point the laundry has to be done, the groceries bought, the trash taken out. Meals have to be cooked, dishes washed, and the floor cleaned. Bills have to be paid and bank accounts balanced. This is not selfish "me time" as some would like to think.

I know a lady who sends her aged mother a greeting card every day. EVERY DAY! And I say good for her. I can't do that. I'm not going to compare myself to what other people can or can't do.

You have to get ahold of those naggy little voices in your head that say "not good enough!" If you visited him for 2 hours every day or every weekend, that voice would still be there. We just can't be the everything to everybody.

It's perfectly OK to take a weekend and have a little "mini staycation" to recharge yourself. I give you permission.

If Dad is safe, looked after, fed, gets his meds on time, and has clean clothes with a clean place to sleep, he will be just fine. He is not in peril because you are not there. I promise.

You have to do what you have to do to find the right balance in life or you will pay the consequences with your health and well being. If you don't have that, you got nothing.
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stressed - I will come down on your side and not chastise you for not wanting to go to see him every weekend. You are obviously a responsible daughter you call him regularly and you visit him regularly though not as often as he wants. I suspect, considering your 1-2 hr. visits that stretch to out to 3-4 hours if you made your visits short he might be unhappy about you not staying longer but it is worth trying People have different needs for personal time. I am an introvert and have need for much personal time. I recognise your need for weekend time to yourself.

Some times seniors get focussed on one person as their entertainment/company. Have you talked to you siblings about visiting your dad once a month or so on a weekend? That would take the pressure off you. I understand that you have a home to keep and chores to do and also want a day for recreation. This is healthy for you.

I think you have some good suggestions - try to get him involved in some activities, see if your sibs will spend more time with him, maybe try a short evening visit during the week when you are not going on the week end - a dinner date as Linda suggested. If he is the type, maybe talk to the manager of the complex and see if there is anything he could do to help out around there. Volunteering is always good.

I suspect part of your tension comes from the fact that your sibs are not holding up their end of the stick. Sometimes that can be worked out and sometimes it can't and all caregiving is left to one sibling. Are you concerned about the future and what your responsibilities may be as your dad ages?

A note in general - stressed has come here looking for suggestions as to how to balance her time, between her needs and her dads needs, not to be told she is not doing a good enough job and "should" be doing this or that. She is feeling guilty enough as it is and is trying to work out a reasonable solution. Each situation and person is individual. I only see my mother a few times a year for various reasons. No one has walked in my shoes or stressed's.

Good luck to you and blessings to figure out something that works. My mother would like more visits but I simply can't do it.

Sandwich I see you posted before me. Amen to what you wrote.
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I am going to address your 'guilt' , not your schedule.... there is healthy guilt , saying we are being selfish and just don't want to make time, and then there is toxic guilt that says you SHOULD do this or that.....guilt is a feeling... take some time to get to the bottom of that feeling, and it's easier said than done, and then you will give him what time you have, without the guilt... Guilt is a monkey on all caregivers back.... and you have been given some strong 'shame on you' messages here....ignore them... and see what drives you to be so torn... that job is yours and yours alone, and you will come up with your own answer...I understand how you feel... I've had to make some tough choices myself... can't make everyone happy and there is only so much of me to go around....and am starting to pick ME more often..... call it what you will, I can live with my choices.. guilt free.
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judda - " I am going to die soon and you better be there when the moment comes so forget your own life and live on standby and feel all my pain or suffer with endless guilt" - my mother has been pulling that for years. Finally I am old enough - 78 - that I have my own health issues which limit my ability to see her and do things for her. She is well cared for in an ALF. If I had paid more attention to my own life and reducing stress from her expectations of me when I was younger, I would be in better health now, I am convinced of that.

Hence, I now emphasize - take care of you and do not sacrifice your health for anyone. Love and help others, yes, but also love and help yourself. 40% of caregivers die before the person they care give. That does not address the health issues that develop in caregivers as a result of putting their needs last all the time. The damage from that over the years accumulates - poor diet, rushing around to get things done, disturbed and inadequate sleep and rest, missed doctors appointments and check ups for yourself because you don't take the time, lack of exercise, strained joints from lifting, raised blood pressure and blood sugar, depression, and more. You can read about it on this site. I applaud the OP for taking care of herself.

sandwich - agreed about people who heap guilt on others. They say shame on the OP. I say shame on you for judging her.
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Glad others spoke up. I think it is very sad that you are 20 minutes away and can't see him once a week.
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Sometimes, you have to think in terms of better than. While a long visit is optimal, a short weekday visit is" better than " no visit that week. I do "fly thrus" - take my mom a goodie or a small present, visit for a half hour and go home to fix dinner. If I'm in the area during workday, I will drop by with an ice cream sundae. Or time the visit to where I am there to have dinner with her. One thing she likes is when I take my iPad and show her pics of family and friends (via email or Facebook). Yes, it does make the week day longer for you, but it can work out.
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Linda 22, and others: Many times I'd love to spend more time with my mother but she is not the kind of company I enjoy being around anymore. She gets abusive in various forms. She can be so unnerving to me that I feel my heart pound with anger and my blood rush to my head. She's often very toxic. I have come to limit my time with her to a full day, once a week. She's about 20 minutes away. I call her once a day and have given her the resources to have company and to take care of herself as much as possible. For the BPD person who has to be in control every second that's the best thing.

My father lives an hour and half away but he has plenty of people who like him and see him. I visit him once a month. This is the best I choose to do. After all, these parents weren't always here for me and I think this is life. No one should expect anyone to stand ready and be at their beck and call. People have to deal with life and get strong through their times alone and in touch with their own soul: at least some of time! Why do women always feel they have to rescue others? I often wonder where this comes from? I think when you truly choose to love and give the other person feels that: well maybe most.

The guilt trip the parents put on us is this: I am going to die soon and you better be there when the moment comes so forget your own life and live on standby and feel all my pain or suffer with endless guilt.

I don't buy this thinking anymore.
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It is very stressful, and I sympathise. I'm drawing a parallel with my daughter's situation: she has a highly demanding job, professional exams to study for, a large family and an extensive network of friends she values; and managing her time is difficult. Wherever she is, during her rare leisure periods, she seems to be apologising for not being somewhere else.

But there are only twenty four hours in the day and there is only one of you. You cannot be everywhere. Moreover, you cannot please everyone - and so you must please yourself.

Maybe mind-mapping would help you decide where on your list of priorities your father falls. Because that is what it comes down to: is Activity X more important to you than spending time with your father? I know this sounds rather a clinical way to do it, but when you're dealing with finite quantities of things like time you have, in the end, to be practical about it. There is only so much of it to go round.

On those weekends when you have something else you want to do (these are choices, by the way - train yourself to think "I want to" rather than "I ought to"), instead of feeling bad about not going to visit your father tell him cheerfully that you will see him on the following Saturday or whatever.

And try not to dwell too much on what your siblings are up to, beyond giving them the occasional nudge when it seems fair and appropriate. Your father's relationships with them are for them to deal with. Don't make them your problem.
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And of course I'm going to ask, has he been evaluated for depression and anxiety?
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All we can do is to give our parents our love and care to the best of our ability. I have learned to give myself permission to have a life AND care for my mother. Arrangements have been made to make sure she has the care she needs everyday and I am there to see her and manage her affairs on an ongoing basis. There will be times you will have to put your personal life on the back burner when your loved one needs you. It will be clear to you when these times occur. As a parent myself, of course I want my child to assist me appropriately as I age. However, I don't want him to sacrifice his entire life to care for me. Most parents wouldn't. I have seen adult children who have literally sacrificed their entire lives for their parents even before the parent was in poor health (i.e. No spouse,no kids,no social life,no meaningful career). It's not pretty and actually very sad for the adult child. No parent should want that for their child. Do your best, make sure your parent is ok, visit on a regular basis, and live your own life.
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