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My 76-yr-old father makes messes in the house we share, and I always clean up after him. Today he blew up something in the microwave and his version of "cleaning it up" was to take a paper towel and sop up some of it but left most of the mess smeared and plastered on the sides of the microwave, on the platter, on the floor, on the kitchen table...

I see the mess and I address it with him, asking him why he didn't clean it up? He gives me his usual response: he "thought" he did clean it up. I think he's lying to me, like a child would do, just because he doesn't want to clean the mess properly, but I'm not entirely sure... it is possible that he also doesn't realize how much of a mess he made...? But when I ask him about it, he doesn't blink or move at all to then go clean it up. He KNOWS I will do it for him. But he is perfectly able-bodied to clean it up... I get the feeling he just doesn't care enough about it, or about my not appreciating having to clean his small and constant little messes like this, and the biggest problem isn't the mess at all -- it's that I end up feeling so angry because he treats me like his maid. Unless I somehow "make him" clean it (and I don't have a clue how to accomplish that without a big fight between us), then I clean up all the messes and feel so resentful that this able-bodied person, of seemingly mostly sound mind (has not been judged incompetent on any level, and I've tried to get this issue of competency looked into), is treating me like a maid when he clearly KNOWS he did make a mess.

I'm ranting... this just happened and I don't feel I should clean it up. I think he should. I would help him and talk to him about how to avoid making the mess in the future, but he doesn't want to get out of bed - where he's been all day, and is every single day... he's SO LAZY and I feel like I'm ENABLING this behavior in him. His non caring and self-serving attitude just wears me down sometimes. :-(

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ABB, I know your frustration. I am my mother's maid. I feel like the little guy that follows the parade, scooping up the horse poop. If your dad is anything like my mother, there are three things in play. First, she doesn't see well. Second, cleaning things up or even going to the garbage can takes more energy than she wants to spend. And third, she doesn't care about these things anymore. I as the pooper scooper daughter can see, have a bit more energy, and do care, so I clean up. It would drive me crazy not to. She wouldn't care if I didn't clean it up. So I clean behind her to keep my sanity, growl about it to myself, and let it go. It doesn't do any good to mention it to her.
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Is there any way you can move out and reclaim your life?
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AlisonBoBalison, you can contact the site administrator to ask to have your own question deleted. But as bookluvr says, it is a good question.

To me, the deciding factor is (as you suggested) your father's competency in these areas. If he has cognitive decline -- the beginnings of dementia -- and he really cannot tell that the microwave and counters etc are a mess, or he really can't figure out how to clean it up, or he has virtually no motivation to get out of bed -- let alone clean up his messes, then I personally think you have to accept this as one of his many limitations. You can't expect a person with dementia to handle his own medications. Perhaps you can't realistically expect him to handle routine cleanup of messes he makes. The same may be true for a person with depression, but unlike dementia depression can be treated.

Perhaps he isn't declining cognitively and is mentally and physically capable of doing the tasks you want him to do. But that has never been part of his lifestyle. Many men of that generation expected their mothers or wives or sisters, etc. to do the "domestic" chores. If he has gotten by on this premise for more than seven decades, expecting him to suddenly change on his own may not be realistic. If it has been natural in his world to treat females as maids (without necessarily intending to demean them) then you have some choices. You can take the path of least resistance and simply provide maid service. Accept it and don't be angry. OR you can start the process of retraining him. "The maid won't be in today, Dad. You'll have to put all the food you took out away now that you are done." Don't expect this to go smoothly. Expect anger. Expect confrontations. Stay calm and be firm. Don't clean it up yourself. I was never a maid to my husband before he got dementia. If I had had to live with my dad I probably would have just provided maid service as less work for me than trying to retrain him out of lifetime habits. Accept it or retrain him -- your choice.

The other possibility is that he is perfectly competent and he has been doing these tasks for many years in the past but he thinks he can use you are free maid service. If that is the case, then I would disabuse him of that notion and stop enabling such selfish behavior. This will involve confrontations and conflicts. Are you up to that?

I think the hardest part is deciding which category your dad fits in to.
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That dog learned these tricks a long time ago, from another handler. LOL
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ABB, you can't delete your question. Anyway, it is a good question. My dad hasn't reached that stage yet. Mom's situation was so long ago, I don't remember much of it. So, maybe someone who has gone through this or is currently going through it - can give you some pointers. To me, once my dad gave up on therapy because it was too painful, it gave me an idea of how he will be doing this with other things, too. Hard to convince when they no longer want to do their own care and expect us kids to do it for them. Sis spoils dad, I don't. He knows he can get away with lots of stuff with sis. Not with me. But, my dad hasn't reached the stage as yours. So.. let's see if anyone is able to give you some tips. {{Hugs}}
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My next question on here would be: how do I delete my question? :-)

Don't get me wrong, I'd love suggestions to how to get my father to do the things he *should* be doing on his own, but doesn't do. The list is looooooong. But I also realize that this issue just falls under "stuff that makes hands-on caregivers crazy." And there are a lot of those things because we cannot parent our parents... and if I try telling my father what to do when he doesn't want to do something, then there is major anger and argument backlash from my dad which I'd just rather not deal with.

I'm trying to find a balance in caregiving to him in areas where he needs it - like doctor's appts, reminding him to take meds, flushing his tubes - and still hoping he will do the minor things - bathing/hygiene, getting his ready-to-heat meals - on his own. He doesn't seem to want to do much of ANYTHING and the result is I have to push him every day about minor stuff... sometimes I feel like I'm making a mistake and enabling him to continue behavior that won't suit him if he is to return to totally independent life (which he claims he wants).
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