My father is 94 years old, lives with me and my husband, and has congestive heart failure, among other issues. He's been in and out of the hospital so many times in the past 8 or so years, I feel that they should give him his own room there.

The issue is, I took him to his primary yesterday for his latest hospital follow-up. Basically what the doctor told me is that there is nothing more we can do for him and that at this point he is living on "bonus time" which I agree with. I asked if I should be pushing him to do more for himself. i.e. walk more, move more, etc. He is still very independent but getting lazy and loves my husband and me to do everything for him. Lately, he just sits on the couch and complains about everything. It hurts to move, it hurts to stand, etc., etc. I do know that is true, but I keep telling him that the doctors say if he doesn't try it will only get worse. He gets mad at me every time I try to tell him something because he thinks it's coming from me and I made it up and I am I have completely lost my patience. I tend to snap at him. Can't help it, I have a few issues of my own that are extremely worrisome, including my type 2 which is hard to control due to stress from my dad.

He doesn't like to eat and I'm tired of trying to get him to eat (a big fight every time), so (on doctor's advice) I leave him alone. But he has to give me a three-hour lecture on why he doesn't want to eat and I just don't want to hear it anymore. I tell him, "just say no and I don't want to hear why not" because I already know all the excuses.

I'm just so tired and angry at myself for my lack of patience. I never knew my grandparents or any other elder relatives as they are or were all in other countries so I really don't know how to deal with these issues. I have three siblings who really can't be bothered. My sister comes to visit and babies him to the point that he loves her attention. But that's only once every few weeks. Then he expects me to do the same. She doesn't deal with the day-to-day crap, doctor's appointments, insurance calls, etc. I can't spend every minute with him as I have things I need to do, including trying to solve my own health issues.

How do you get over all the guilt while still trying to do all you can? I feel like I'm losing my mind. My husband is a great help with him, but he is feeling the stress just as much when he is home and not at work.

I've tried to get help from Medicaid (he doesn't qualify. They said he has too many resources, which I don't understand as he has absolutely nothing. Never owned anything, home, credit cards or life insurance, etc.) and his insurance is no help either.

You are living with your 94 year old father who gives you ongoing lectures, sits on the couch chronically complaining, practically lives in the hospital for all his health issues and YOU are feeling guilty for snapping at him once in a while? Give yourself a break, you have a lot more patience and fortitude than the vast majority of us! Cut his lectures off at 2 minutes by leaving the room, if he wants to eat, he eats, if not, not, what's the difference? At 94, he gets to make those choices for himself. And you get to stop micromanaging his life and his health, which is failing no matter WHAT you do. That will relieve some stress you're feeling and help you relax a bit.

Give him some grace, give yourself some grace, and try to squeeze in some enjoyable moments together before your dad leaves for good, if possible. The chronic complaining and negativity is hard to deal with, I know. I have a 94 year old mother who's turned it into an art form. I limit my exposure to her, truthfully, and try to keep the chatter to neutral topics. When she gets too toxic, I either leave her presence or get off the phone before I start yelling myself.

Wishing you the best of luck with a difficult situation
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to lealonnie1

Guilt is the G word appropriate if you are a felon or an evil doer. I suspect you are neither of those. The word that is more appropriate when we are dealing with the sadness of an elder and with our limitations, which are human, is GRIEF. It's important to use the appropriate work. We are only human beings doing the best we can. If your Dad has too many assets ask them to explain this further for you. Sometimes a second home, etc needs to be eliminated, or the payments of a pension needs to go directly to the nursing home, as well as Social Security. If his assets go to his care, then medicaid will be able to step in for the rest of it. Homes are exempt but there will be clawback upon death and sale of home.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to AlvaDeer

Please know that you should feel ABSOLUTELY NO GUILT IN ARGUING WITH HIM - He is not going to do what he should, now or in the future. This is how some people are. They simply WILL NOT DO WHAT THEY SHOULD DO and there is nothing you can do about it. Yes, you care, but you can't make him do something he is not going to do. So, do NOT feel guilt. Do NOT argue with him - will accomplish nothing. Learn to accept this stubborn attitude and let the chips fall where they end up. You can't control him or what he does or says any more than you can control the weather. Don't argue, let him do or not do what he wants, and if he starts in on you, WALK AWAY OR TELL HIM OFF. Do not let him control you and how he affects you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Riley2166

Is your dad on oxygen? If his CHF is late stage what medical devices or meds does he take. He sounds like my moms best friend that had to have open heart surgery 18 months ago. I was totally shocked when I reviewed her discharge pprs that one of the top dxs was malnutrition. But she was very stubborn. She passed away 3 wks ago, was on hospice that came once a week to chk meds. Ive explained to my mom that she willed herself to die. She was only 78, but because of the way she was, most ppl in our IL thot she was in her 90s. She had given away all her clothing, got rid of everything else she could before her children got here from out of state. They as well as mom an me were absolutely shocked. Dressers, closet empty.
my dad, was 63 had CHF also and was on waiting list for heart transplant but died almost exactly the 3 yrs drs gave him. But he stayed active even walked 2 miles every day and the drs were amazed because he was only working on 20% of heart function. Told him he shld be dead.
i would just let your dad be, tell him dinners ready, if he chooses to eat , or not, thats on him. Back off and let him be. Sounds like its time for palliative or hospice care now, so he can remain his last days living as he wants. Much love and prayers for you and your husband. Liz
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to cherokeegrrl54

Have a frank discussion with his doctor about his prognosis. Your father may qualify for hospice which provides comfort care but doesn't seek to improve his health problems.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Taarna

If Dad has no assets, then his monthly income maybe more than the cap allowed. In my state the cap is $2300. There is a way to get around this if ur State allows a Miller Trust. But that needs to be done by a lawyer. The overage goes into the trust and reverts back to Medicaid upon Dad's passing. So what resources do they think are available to him to cover LTC?
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoAnn29

Given his age and condition(s), I would let him be. If he's on doctor admitted borrowed time, then there is basically no reason for you to push him to do more and eat as much as he should, etc. Maybe shift his care to hospice or palliative style where the goal is comfort vs cure.

Meal time? Just tell him "dinner's ready if you want to join us" and walk away. He can eat or not. No need to rehash it.

Does he have dementia? If so, you may have to let him repeat his excuses, but you can ignore them. And give him a vague response like "That's fine dad." And try to redirect him to something else. He will have to get used to you no longer pushing him.

My mom is only 78 and I am so tempted to give up and not help her improve her situation but I feel she's just much too young to give up. She lives with me so if she does less I have to do more and that's not workable for me. If/when we exhaust reasonable options, then I'll give in.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to againx100

I can only guess that if your father has congestive heart failure and is 94 years old, that what you consider being "lazy" is actually him just being tired from his heart not working at full capacity. And the fact that his Dr. now says that he's living on borrowed or bonus time, reaffirms that.
At this point it may just be easier on all of you if you just let him be. If he wants to eat great. If he doesn't, well that's great too. If he wants to sit on the couch all day, let him. If he wants to try and walk around, well try and help him.
I think if you were to try that, your stress levels would decrease significantly. You are trying too hard to make him fit into what you feel is best and right for him, instead of letting him tell you. And thus why you are feeling so burned out.
Your father is dying, so why not let him live out the rest of his life the way he wants to? It will make things much easier on all of you. I wish you the best.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to funkygrandma59
disgustedtoo Jun 9, 2021
I agree with funkygrandma59 - leave him be, He wants to sit all day, sit. If he starts his rants, walk away. You don't respond and you don't listen. Go do the things that need to be done and let him ramble on. Leave food for him where he can access it, but let him decide whether or not to eat it. Try to provide things you know he likes, even if it's not "good" for someone with CHF - something is better than nothing. If it sits there for a while uneaten, then it goes away. Wasteful, yes, but it's better to just put it out there and let him do what he wants than to try to cajole him to eat.

Try not to compare yourself with your sister. She breezes in occasionally and babies him. So, that's her. Not you. You do NOT have to live up to her "standards." If he thinks it's so great, tell him to go live with her. Bet she wouldn't keep babying him. Otherwise, mum's the word. Put food/drinks out, sometimes ask if he needs anything and the rest of the time, he can sit there and do whatever.

Arguing with him is clearly not working, so why bother? You can ask, while passing by, if he'd like a drink or something, otherwise, let him sit. Don't push the food or drinks on him. It's his choice whether to eat, dink or not. There really is nothing you can do, per the doctor.

"How do you get over all the guilt while still trying to do all you can?"

You shouldn't feel guilty for trying to help, but you also have to cut back on "trying to do all you can." At this point you know what he will do, so don't go there. He complains, tune it out.
You are fighting a losing battle. His heart will not get better. It is a failing pump and will get worse and as it gets worse it will affect his lungs, his peripheral vascular system, his kidneys, and his mentation. I truly believe that it may be time to know hospice should be called in at the least, and that likely you are looking at end of life, and the possibility that placement is needed. Medicaid will have to be applied for; he will have to meet the spenddown and that can be done likely by paying off his charges. Wishing you good luck. I think you are facing your own human limitations in these last days to supply the increasing needs of a dying man. I am so sorry, but I am happy you agree with the MD assessment and are not in denial. Consider palliative care and hospice.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to AlvaDeer
bluejasmine Jun 10, 2021
So true. I have a lifelong young at heart 70 yr old friend with CHF. He cannot do anything but relax. Very difficult to breath and to much else. My mom passed away from CHF. One day out of the blue she stood up all night and told me she wanted to go to the ER. I found out it had progressed and affected her lungs and it stopped her heart while she was in the ER. They brought her back but she developed a condition where everything she ate went straight into her lungs. So we sent her to hospice. I think just old age causes weakness and they just want to sit as well.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter