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I am an only child and my mom has passed away. My dad is in a nursing home and is becoming more and more difficult every day. He won't eat the meals served, but wants me to deliver him meals daily. I do his laundry, and if his favourite pair of pants are in the laundry for more than a couple days and not delivered back to him, he is on the phone demanding I bring his laundry. When we go visit, all he does is complain that his bed isn't being made properly, he doesn't like the food, the staff won't do anything he asks, and it goes on and on. I can't remember the last time he asked how we were doing or what was new with us. It's a constant stream of complaints and never any appreciation for what we do for him. He is on a very limited income and gets very angry when I won't just give him large amounts of cash whenever he asks for it, because he spends it at the gift shop in his facility. We make sure his care is paid for, that he can go on outings a couple times a month, and gets the basic needs met as far as personal items, haircuts, etc. I am just so tired of being treated like a servant. I am depressed that I can't just be his daughter and enjoy his company without taking verbal stabs and abuse. I have tried to walk away and take a break, but the guilt is overwhelming. What do I do?

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Sandra, it is tough getting old. Just think, your Dad can't hop in the car to drive to the store or to visit friends.... speaking of friends, probably Dad's friends have either moved or passed on.... his joints ache.... he can't see as well, nor hear like he use to... the room is too cold... he has lost most of his taste buds so now nothing taste good except for desert.... most of his hair has fallen out.... and he can't walk a straight line, even with a walker. I would be grumpy, too.

Now, think about this. It is not unusual for an elder to complain big time about their new residence. Complain, complain, complain. Why do they do this? They think if they complain enough you will say "Dad, come home and live with me". Whatever you do, don't say that.

You wrote "we make sure his care is paid for", I am hoping that Dad is paying or he is on a government program, and not you.
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Tell us a bit more about your dad. Did your mom wait on him hand and foot? Maybe he's used to that treatment. If my mom had gone first, my dad would have expected that from me. He wouldn't have gotten it, but he would have expected it, LOL. How old is he? Is he used to viewing women in the light that we're here to take care of the men of the world?

I agree with some kind of therapeutic fib to not visit for a week or two. Let him miss what you do for him. Then work on separating yourself so that he understands that your help is to be valued and not denigrated. As others have said, you're going to have to make the change because your dad is happy (as he can be) the way things are.
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I have to remind myself of the truth of the saying "we teach people how to treat us" It's proven true many times in my relationship with my dad. I'm afraid you've, by trying to be a good and helpful daughter, taught your dad that he can be endlessly demanding and rude. The only one who can change here is you and it's never easy but you'll both be better off if you can summon the will to do it. Cut way down on the meal delivery, maybe once a week for something he really likes so he can look forward to it. Have the facility do the laundry. When the negativity gets overwhelming take a break, even in the middle of a visit, it's okay to go for a walk and regain some peace. Remember, you're no good to him when you're worn out and depressed.
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You might also tell him a therapeutic fib, that you've fallen and injured your leg and it's hard to walk, that you have the flu, something like that that gives you a week or so of respite.
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List all the complaints he makes, rank them by what he needs and what he just wants, then decide which ones you're going to back away from first.

I think I would start with the meals. If they're nutritious and good, you don't need to bring him meals. You might even joke that you could use his money to fund carry out deliveries for him, but let him know that you're not that carry-out or delivery service yourself.

Talk to the staff and advise them you'll no longer do his laundry; make sure he has enough extra clothes for several days, then advise him that you've developed back problems or something and that you can no longer do the laundry.

Prepare for anger, lots of it, but be firm. He's manipulating you now and making your life miserable. He's not going to change; you'll have to, and he'll resent it.

I would also have a frank discussion with the DON and other administrators to warn them that you're backing off, as he may take his anger out on them. I don't know what solutions they might have, but they should be aware that you're going to change the routine and his anger may be redirected to them.

Good luck; this isn't going to be easy, but it is necessary.
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Practice makes perfect! The more you reduce your exposure to his toxic rants and allow yourself to take time away the easier it will become, especially as you see that he can get along just fine without you.
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