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Hello all. My dad is 82 years old, in failing health and completely broke. He worked his whole life as a dentist, had his own practice in Manhattan, but was a horrible businessman, did not charge many patients and eventually ran his practice to the ground. Regardless of that, he was an excellent father to me, he helped me through my worst times, and celebrated with me at my best. Watching his health fail and seeing him decline in the past few years has been heartbreaking for me, it is a constant source of worry for me and I often cry myself to sleep at night thinking of where he is at at this time of his life. He lives in an assisted living facility near me, he is on Medicaid, and has literally no money at all. The facility is depressing for him and I wish I could help him. Unfortunately, I am a teacher and struggling as a single mother to raise my daughter and somehow take care of myself, which usually comes as a last priority. I am disappointed in the lack of care he gets at the facility, they do not care about the people, my dad is getting more and more depressed. I feel responsible for helping him improve his quality of life, since they are not doing anything there. But I do not have time or energy because my life is exhausting as it is. I am angry at the place he is in, I want them to bring people in to do programs with the people like yoga, games, cards, music, I want them to give him things to do rather than sit there and stare at the walls. I have reached out and made suggestions to the staff, but they say that the owners will not pay for services for the people. The staff is constantly changing, people are fired all the time, which also makes my dad feel insecure and sad. I want to help him but I don't know how and I am constantly beating myself up. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. He is a very bright man and we'll spoken, loves crossword puzzles, music, movies, ect..

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Tamara, what a great daughter you are, and yes he deserves more. So, you're tapped out - as others say, you must do some things for yourself, now, mingled with some steps for him. How old is your daughter, how can she help - think creatively, kids are so generous-spirited, love to help, and are cleverer than us sometimes! To others' great comments I would also add, which friends would be willing to make some of the calls to churches and whatnot for you. Enlist help!! You sound like a superwoman, and that can be a tiring role... try sharing the burden this time and see how that goes. Especially since your dad's sort of in a hole because of altruism... it would be very fitting for others and not just you to help. Read and re-read the other responses before mine. HUGE hug, take care of you.
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The best advice i can give is for you to take your dad outside to get some sunlight. It will also benefit you too as his caregiver. Getting sun exposure will help boost your mood and help heal alot of health issues. The sun is medicine, it is free for everyone, and the medical community should encourage more people to get out into the sunlight more. My grandpa resides in a nursing home and whenever i visit him i take him outdoors so he can get some sunlight and fresh air and it benefits me too as one of his caregivers. Ive noticed that i sleep better, have less caffeine intake, and have more energy, theres even more color in my face, i look healthier. People should not be afraid of the sun. Get 15-20 minutes daily without sunscreen and you should start noticing a difference.
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Aww. Good luck to you! These are such nice suggestions, I truly hope they work out. It's SO much harder when they still have their mental faculties and are in a nursing home!
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I haven't read the comments. How about calling a local church and seeing if there might be someine who would go there as a volunteer and visit with your dad once a week. Another option might be to see if there is a local library that will bring books for him to read. He can call and make his selection over the pbone. Perhaps there are some students at a local community college who need someone to proof read their papers and your dad could volunteer to help them. He might be able to put an ad in the college paper and have a stream of regulars. Perhaps he could read books for the books on tape program at either a college or whatever agency helps folks who can't see. Sometimes finding ways to be useful can alleviate depression, and get people out of the rut that they are the "patient" and really quite a nice person with a lot to offer. I dont know, but these are my thoughts.
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Another idea -- do you have any extended family anywhere? Even so, make a GoFundMe page (it's free) asking for donations for him. I wouldn't stress he was a terrible businessman, just that he was a generous person in his life, and he is in need now. And a photo of him as a dentist, and now. It might get you some money you can buy him "extras" with.

One drawer of that rolling cabinet needs to be snacks for him. Depression and cognitive decline can be directly linked to just not eating enough. We thought my uncle had lost his mind forever, but he bounced back to normal after drinking Boost. Little packs of nuts. Granola bars. Sunflower seeds are very nutritious. Cheddar fish crackers. Pudding. A case of Boost. Get him a little refrigerator if you can.
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In my state, it's the state's Department of Health division of Nursing Homes, which has the oversight. Find out what your state expects the nursing home to be providing in terms of enrichment, therapy, activities, exercise and cognitive maintenance, and then report them if they are not measuring up.

Everybody's given great suggestions. Here are some tips for implementing them in the nursing home. Places like he is in, things tend to disappear. I wouldn't think that laptop would last long. Sorry to be so cynical.

Get a CD player at a thrift store. Even a cassette player and cassettes from Goodwill.

Get a plastic rolling set of drawers for the art supplies and games you will keep in his room, with each drawer labelled.

A big bulletin board for his room, colorful, for the photos of yourself and him as a younger man, and photos of your child. And a large area on the bulletin board for your messages to staff. There will be caring people there who will be glad that you posted "His snack is Yogurt and it is in the frig with his name on it." and "THANK YOU for giving him his playing cards after dinner" / "He likes a light on at night"/ "Thank YOU for your kind care of my father." "Here's my phone number, call any time"/ because, if there's lots of staff turnover, they need a quick way to get up-to-speed on him.

Give a thank-you card to a different staff person by name, each week, or each time you visit. They know you're noticing.

ALSO -- how about a Vitamin D3 deficiency? He may be low on his D3 and B vitamins.

And finally, I would go to local churches and ask or post a request for them to visit him. Maybe someone would adopt him as their compassionate service. You could make a nice flyer with his photo, and ask for someone to help by visiting him, in between your visits. Stress that he doesn't need "saved." You just want someone to visit him and be pleasant, and communicate with you about it.

You need help, and can't do this all yourself. You sound very tired and sad. I will pray that you find a good reliable volunteer who has a heart to help.

Alternately, you could see if any church would come and have singing programs there on a regular basis. I realize this is time and energy you don't have. But it is an investment n time, to save you energy and anguish going forward.

Bless you. This is a hard road. I was a single mom too. Set one priority at a time. Best Wishes.
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If your Dad is on Medicaid, he has a caseworker. That person is working for HIM....and YOU....not the government. Get in touch with them and express your concerns and displeasure at your Dad's situation. That caseworker can help you find another place to live, that offers more. He might have to be on a waiting list to get in another place...but start the process! Also, ask about Medicaid paying for in home help, if it might be possible to have him at home with you. There are day cares, where he could go while you worked, for stimulation and activities with other seniors. If these are in your area, there is even van transportation to and from. And, in my state, Medicaid will pay for in home care, at about 20 hours/week, which could be arranged in whatever timeframes helped you both, so that some aside from you can come in to help with showering and other physical care, or be with him, doing things, while you run errands or take care of yourself and daughter. Of course, only you can decide if having him in the home with you is workable. But, I say, start with the caseworker assigned to him. When my Dad was alive and on Medicaid, here in AZ, he was in a Memory Care facility.....and his case manager had to come visit him at the facility every 3 months to check on how he was being cared for. I used to travel 5 hrs to their town, just to be at this care planning meeting and meet her so that she would KNOW that I wanted to be involved in his care, and so that I could also meet with the administration at his facility to discuss what was happening good and bad. Find out from his case manager how the system works in your state. You could contact this person through the phone numbers on his Medicaid card, or ask his assisted living place to give you the information.
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Tamara, do you see for yourself that yhere are no activities, or is this what dad tells you? When you say " they told me.." who did you speak to? You need to be speaking to the Director, not aides. Do you go to dad's care conferences?

You sound so sad and defeated! As Jeanne says, try to put the guilt aside and get some help for what sounds like YOUR depression! Put on your own oxygen mask first!
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First, Tamara, it is Not Your Fault that your father was not a good manager of his money. (Which, by the way, isn't a moral failing or a character flaw.)

It is Not Your Fault that your father's health is such that he can't live independently.

It is Not Your Fault that the facility he is in is inadequate.

It is Not Your Fault that you have other responsibilities and limitations on your time and energy. It is Not You Fault you were in the wrong line when they were handing out super-human powers.

So if ANY of stresses include feelings of guilt, those are totally invalid and you need to get rid of them. Knowing how very hard that can be, I suggest getting some counseling. You deserve it. And Dad will be better off if you are at your best.

Others have given practical suggestions for improving Dad's life, from medically treating his depression, to computer use, to organizing some activities in the facility, to decorating his room. Do what you can. Don't let these suggestions burden you with more guilt, though, when they exceed your time, energy, interest level. Just because they are good suggestions doesn't mean you are bad if you don't/can't do them all!

I guess I'd start with taking care of your own health, mental health included. Crying yourself to sleep isn't helping you or Dad.

And asking for the ombudsman to investigate the lack of activities appeals to me, too.

Consider other nearby facilities. This might be a bigger undertaking than you are ready for right now. Get yourself some supporting counselling first.
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Without medicine to help his depression, he will not care if he owns a tablet.
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See if there is a better facility; it could make all the difference in the world. Does he really have no income, not even Social Security? Assisted Living is usually self-pay, maybe not always. Medicaid covers skilled care facilities, and frankly, if he can qualify for that, there are lots of them that outdo the usual ALF in terms of pleasant environment and activities. It is very possible for a lower cost facility to maybe not be real posh-looking but still have a very pleasant atmosphere with activities going on, if it is run by someone who gives a hoot about the residents. And any facility might allow for volunteers to come in.
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It sounds like he was a better father to you and a better friend to some of his patients whom he didn't charge for his services than a businessman. If he had drank it all away, I would have a different outlook about it but he had his reasons for not charging some of his patients even though it hurt his business. I really don't think ferris1 meant to sound so harsh and scold you for feeling the way you do. It is what it is and at this late date, there is nothing you can do about it anyway so why even mention it? So he didn't charge all who benefited from his services, maybe it made him feel better to give his patients the free dental service because he knew they couldn't afford it but needed it. Who knows? It doesn't help the situation scolding you about it though since you didn't make the decision on billing anyway so you make what you can of the situation. I didn't get the idea you felt responsible for his being there, but you were just mentioning it to let everyone know of his status. But don't let the negative thoughts or scolding deter you from having some enjoyment from your father now. Do what you can to make his days better and accept the fact that he doesn't have any money and you will be paying for some things. Make better choices than he did and see if you can make whatever time he has left as comfortable as you can.
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See #8 on page 63 of these regulations for Assisted Living in NY. The facility is required to have activities for the residents. And to have outdoor activities if at all possible. Someone has to be charge of enforcing these regulations. I'd find out and try to get it going. I know that may be something you don't have time to deal with, but isn't there an Ombudsman who help people like your dad when things are not right in a facility?

https://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/assisted_living/adopted_regulations/docs/assisted_living_residences_laws_and_regulations.pdf

There is another option. Assisted Living facilities in NC are pretty good. I know this due to the number of people who come down here from up north to get into Assisted Living, Memory Care and Nursing homes. Many are from NY, NJ, PA, etc.

They are also less expensive, though, that wouldn't matter since he is on Medicaid. You would have to apply in NC for Medicaid, but if you are considering a move, you might take a look at what states in the south have to offer. I doubt your dad would consider moving if you didn't move too.

The previous Assisted Living facility that my cousin resided sounds like something he would love.(I had to move her to Memory Care.) It had lots of activities, shopping, outings, movies, games, socials, Church service on the grounds every week, live singers every week, sometimes twice, RN on duty, a Social Director who was eager for ideas of interest to residents, 2 patios, Gazebo, activity room, living room, tv room, wonderful food and a 2 dining rooms.
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Once, I went to a therapist who suggested I 'TAP', meridians, and all of that, I tried it in the office, it must have worked so well that I never had to do it again, and I never went back.
To me, tap, tap tap was just silly.
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Not to the Tamara but to all the other people on here. In the UK if this was happening we have a inspection / reporting system which would either enforce change or close the facility down if they failed to make the changes. Don't you have some sort of inspection system in the USA that one can go to with issues?

For me this is an absolutely necessity. If you don't have one I just wonder how many of these bloody places we could close down if we managed the audit system. The owners who take money and don't provide proper care should be in prison - it so incenses me that people who served and probably fought for their country are left to live the end of their lives in abject misery. OK so he didn't make the most of his money but that is still no reason to leave people in this state.
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While many of these ideas are great, they do take time and effort to get started. How about purchasing a laptop for him if he doesn't already have one? Hopefully, he already knows how to use it and make sure Skype is on there and on yours (hopefully you have one too) too so you can talk to him in the evenings when you can't go see him. He'll look forward to hearing from you and his granddaughter without you having to go to the NH every day. He can also talk to other people who have the same setup. Also, download it with games like solitaire, Hearts, Spades, War games, and things like game shows where he can play. I have Jeopardy on mine and enjoy that game. That will keep him entertained for quite some time. Take a tote bag to him loaded with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, poker chips and playing cards, maybe a chess game, knitting needles and yarn, and crafts for him to make. Maybe he can find someone else there to team up with to play poker or chess. There should be a bulletin board somewhere for him to put up a sign for a player since they aren't going to offer anything. The best thing would be to move him to another location that has senior activities but in the meantime, bring this stuff to him so he won't be sitting there staring out the window. An energetic brain is a sad thing to waste so don't let him waste a day doing nothing. Contact the owners and complain about the fact that they don't offer activities for the patients and you may be forced to file a complaint. That should be one of those items that a NH should be required to furnish to all patients. Also, contact the local dance studio and tell them your problem. Sometimes, the owners or teachers will come out one night a week to hold a dance for all the patients. Remember, all seniors have done everything that we all like to do normally right now. Just because they have aged, doesn't mean they won't want to listen to music and/or try to dance a little. Not everyone is wheelchair bound and they may make the effort if it looks like fun. Contact the local church and see if they have a 12 passenger van and can pick up some of them up, take them to a park for a picnic and bring them back. Some of the church people can supervise in case there is a problem. Come back on this sight and let us know what you have decided to do. Take care.
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I truly understand your situation and I will keep you and your dad in prayer. Many of the suggestions on this post above are fabulous. Bringing in pictures from your kids and/or you to bring him joy and light. Looking for alternative places for him to go. All of these are wonderful suggestions. Also, go to YouTube and search for Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Learn to do this for both you and for him. This is a means of 'tapping' on certain meridian points that Acupuncturists use when they administer care to patients. We all have thousands of meridians throughout the body. Once you TAP on these points with your fingers, and energy field opens up. You can TAP for depression. You can TAP for more joy, love and light. You can TAP on being tired, asking for more endurance and energy. It truly works like a miracle to help many, many situations. Find the areas on YouTube for what you would like to TAP on and find a video that works for you and your dad. Follow along with the practitioner or instructor and say and do what they say and do. You will love it and it will help a LOT! If you have any questions or anything like that, you can email me personally. I'd be happy to help y ou with anything. Many blessings and much love, to you, Jan
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First of all, you are not responsible for having your father where he is at this time in his life. He created problems himself as a dentist by not managing his money well. Stop feeling you caused this and his situation! At best, try and find another facility. He still gets Medicare so he will have some money. Don't make yourself sick and take care of your daughter. Talk with the doctor about some anti-depressants, and perhaps write or talk with the owners to see how you can get some programs installed. There are plenty of people willing to volunteer at assisted living facilities, so contact as many organizations as you can to ask for help. If all else fails, have him live with you. You might need the extra income based on teacher's salaries (my mom was a third grade teacher for 37 yrs., so I know how she stretched a dollar). Good luck!
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Hey Tamara, do you live near the facility or is the school you teach at near the facility? As others suggested, get an group from the school to perform at the facility. The elementary school near my Mom's AL had their youngest classes do their Halloween parade at the AL each year. Another middle school 'practiced' parts of their recital at the AL. No cost for either of these.

What everyone is saying,, is that you may need to 'organize' a few of these things to get the place started. Houses of worship are gold mines of volunteers. Scout groups can come and do a crafts project. The choirs can come and do a few songs after services. These are all FREE. Yes there are plenty of charged entertainment, but there are many things for free.

Either move Dad or organize things to make the whole place better. And while you don't say much about your Dad's health, if he is mobile, an occasional outing to a little league game costs nothing. Neither does going to a play ground and watching the kids on the swings. Visit the thrift shops, they are a gold mine of puzzles. I used to buy them (large pieces for my Mom's memory care place) . I would wash every piece. Then donate it to the facility. My Mom wasn't much of a puzzle person but the others loved them. Small joys for 75 cents!
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I am so sorry to read this, I know how you must feel. I've never heard of a nursing home or assisted living place that doesn't offer SOME activities - trivia, bingo, music. That just doesn't sound right at all, and I can only suggest seeing if there is another better place he can be transferred to. If your father is getting Medicaid, he should be allowed a small sum in a savings account, something like $50 a month for haircuts, spending money, etc...It's really sad when they still have most of their faculties and need stimulation, instead of just being warehoused. (What a sad situation, it makes one wonder what will happen to US someday.)
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Tamara, what a dreadful situation! I feel for you and your dad. My dad passed away last year after spending almost 10 years in a nursing home. I hated to say good bye to him after visiting him. Despite the good quality care and recreational activities, he would stay in his room (once he was able to get a single room). When I or my siblings went to visit him we would play cards. I'm not sure that any amount of recreational programs would help your father if he is withdrawing. I also believe some of that depression is situational, which would not be helped by anti-depressants. The computer suggestion is a great one, because he can connect with people "virtually". Also having regular visits from you to look forward to. The nurses used to say dad really perked up when I called to say I would visit him. My time was constrained because my mother has Alzheimer's and I had to work part time. It is very difficult to see your parent suffering and not be able to do much about it.
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I'm sorry about your Dad. Is there anyone there who cares, who would help him? He needs to see a Dr and maybe take antidepressants. Maybe you could express your concerns to the head nurse. There has to be someone there who can help your father.
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Is your dad's depression being treated? Is yours?

Is his room decorated with pictures he likes? Art your daughter makes? Seasonal things like an inexpensive wreath, silk flowers?

When you go, take a deck of cards and try to start a three way game with another resident.Bring some simple art materials to do a project with dad and may some others. Is her good with his hands? Most of my dentists have been incredible artists.

Is there a recreation specialist? A social worker?
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Does he have a computer or tablet? I live alone and am not very mobile and having a computer has pulled me through many of my darkest times. It's criminal for them not to have any programs for the residents. Can you call some local schools and other places to see if they would be willing to come and perform at the facility? This makes me so sad. I wish I could offer more solutions but I'm not familiar with these facilities. I'll be in the same situation some day as I have Medicaid and no family. I understand why he would be depressed. I'm really sorry.
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Is there another nursing home nearby that takes medicaid which is better than the one he is in now?
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