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My father used to beg me to visit him when he was lonely and I was always too busy to spend much time with him. When he got to a point that he really could not live alone, I quit my job and moved in with him. Now he has dementia and doesn't know who I am. I cry everyday because I know I wasted precious time with him and he thought I didn't care about him. But, I foolishly thought there would always be time. I am devoted to him now that it is too late for him to realize that I really do love him. I just want to ask, since this is a Depression Support Group, how do I get over hating myself so that I can enjoy the time he has left.

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We make choices based on information we have at the time. You didn't know your dad would be lost to dementia. You might have had a full-time job and/or a family to care for.

I'll tell you something about me and my dad. I've told this before so other posters are probably going to groan and scroll through this but I'll tell you. I cared for my dad in my home for years until it got to a point where I couldn't do it anymore and he went into a nursing home. At a point we enlisted hospice services and I spent day after day with my dad but I worked 3 12-hour shifts on the weekends and on Friday I had to go to work. On Saturday after a 12-hour shift I was driving home and I had to drive right past the exit that led to the nursing home. I went back in forth in my mind about whether to stop in and see my dad. I was tired and I had another 12-hour shift in the morning so I decided to go and see him the next night instead. I called the nursing home when I got home to see how he was and I was informed that he had just passed away. Had I stopped in l would have been there when he died. As it was he died alone.

I know myself and I knew that if I didn't resolve this in my mind I would torture myself with it everyday for the rest of my life. I didn't know he was going to die. Yes, he was on hospice but I work in hospice and there were no indications that he was going to die that day or even in the next several days. I was exhausted from my shifts and needed a decent night's sleep so I could be productive the next day. If I had known my dad was going to pass away of course I would have stopped but I didn't know. How could I have known? I made the best decision I could based on what I knew at the time. And most importantly, I knew that my dad would not want me to feel regret or any pain over this. He wouldn't want mem to do that to myself.

Your dad is still with you. Love and cherish him as much as you can. He is still able to respond to affection and comfort, love and respect. Give those things to him and don't let things you did or didn't do in the past influence what time you have left with your dad. And stop beating yourself up. You did the best you could with what information you had. Same as me.

There's a phrase in AA that says, "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." Regrets are dangerous and unhealthy. There's nothing you can do about it now. You don't want to look back on this time of your life and wish you hadn't spent so much time regretting the past. You have to forgive yourself.
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Your dad may not know that you are his daughter but he can still have affection for you. Though he may not know who you are he likely understands by your actions that you are someone that truly cares for him.
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Be in the moment....do things that bring him pleasure in that moment. A favorite food, music, hugs.

My dad had slipped into that place, no longer speaking or aware of who we were. I started talking to him, telling him jokes (his old corny jokes). He turned his head, looked at me and as I told more jokes, his eyes crinkled up and he smiled. For a brief moment in time, he was still in there and he knew I loved him. Your dad probably has a sense of your love, even if it doesn't seem like it.
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I can understand regret. I'll bet there is no functioning adult around who doesn't have regrets. If only I'd know then what I know now ... If only such-and-such hadn't distracted me ... I wish I'd seen the big picture sooner ... Etc. etc. That is all very normal, I think. And reflecting on how we wish we'd acted in the past helps us deal better with the future.

But hate yourself? You're allowed to do that for 72 hours. Is your time up? Then you need to forgive your former self and move on, wiser.
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This is not unusual - we don't have a crystal ball to help us on this journey, so the best thing you can do is recognize the past, learn from it, and move forward.

The point is that you've become aware of the situation and can adapt and adjust going forward. Treat it as an insightful "lessons learned" and compensate with the time he has left.

If you can consider it a learning experience, you can benefit from it in the days, weeks and months ahead. Be glad you recognized it now and not much later.

When you start mentally berating yourself for time lost in the past, force yourself to change your thought pattern and think of how you'll spend the days going forward. Granted, they'll be different, but cherish them and the realization to which you've come.

I know this isn't easy; it hasn't been for me, but I also know how difficult it is when thoughts of what could/should have been done continually to plague someone.
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You get over it by realizing that, thank God, your wonderful dad is still alive. My mom has dementia, too Alzheimer's. Although she can no longer speak coherently, and she has forgotten most of her past, we get together and have a blast. I've noticed with my mom, and you'll probably notice the same with you dad, that her personality is still there. she still finds the same things enjoyable, amusing, upsetting. Get together around the things your dad still enjoys. Losing your cognition is very different than losing your personality. I always told myself that if my mom ever got to the point that she didn't know me as her daughter anymore, I'd re-introduce myself to her as the best and most faithful friend she's ever had. Do that with your dad. Re-introduce yourself to him in whatever way he will except. Show him love, and care, talk to him about things you both enjoy, and yes, even tell him how you regret not spending time with him in the past. Re-assure him that you are there for him now, and enjoy this time together.

I'll tell you a story about myself and my mom. At the beginning of mom's dementia, she used to call me 10x a day. She was confused, afraid, and just wanted to be re-assured. I love my mom, but I was at work, and the call were inconvenient for me. I was also afraid of losing my job for being on the phone so much. But I never let the call go to voicemail and I never let my mom know I was annoyed. I was kind to her, and patient, though I would get so stressed, knowing the phone was going to keep ringing and ringing and ringing. Now my mom's dementia has progressed. She lives in a nursing home, and not only is she unable to speak coherently, but she has lost her ability to use the phone. How I wish for one of those phone calls now!

So I guess what I'm trying to say is...enjoy to the fullest the blessings you have now. Is your dad willing and able to speak to you, even if he's not sure who you are? Wonderful! find a simple topic and talk and laugh all day! Can dad get around either by walking or in a wheelchair? Excellent! Take him outside and enjoy this beautiful weather! Does he have use of his hands? Great. Hold his hands often as you tell him you love him. Get mildly scented lotion and rub it into his hands gently. Does he have a favorite scent? Smell it together and enjoy. You get over the past by creating and reveling in precious moments now. If he doesn't know you as his daughter, realize it's not because he doesn't want to, or doesn't love you. Realize that he is still a complete human being capable of joy and love and human connection. When you're dealing with dementia, it looks different, and your mind has to adjust, but relationships can be just as rich, just as fulfilling. Avail yourself to that.
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Skizzie - this wonderful forum is an equal opportunity support group - not just depression but certainly there is support for that as it relates to aging and caregiving. I know it's easier said than done - but you can't keep beating yourself up for things said and done in the past. No amount of regret will change what is now behind you - continuing to feel badly will only rob you of what good feelings and good memories you could be creating now - in fact it would be a disservice to them. I think it's only natural to think about the woulda, coulda, shoulda's - the key is to learn from them and move forward. Work on forgiving yourself and valuing what time you have left with your dad. While he may not remember, you will - make the most of it.
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You sound like my husband's daughters. They never came around and they still don't. Please go and visit him now. You have no idea how much pleasure a visit will give him, even if he doesn't know it is you. He will still love having a visitor. If you don't visit him now you will feel even worse when he is gone. Go and see him now! I went yesterday to visit my husband. I am not sure if he recognized me, but he was so happy to get a hug and a kiss and to have someone there for HIM. He loved the cards, even if he couldn't read them. I got him cards with pictures of dogs, and of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. He recognized the old cartoon characters and he loves the dog pictures. I also frequently take my dog to the home. He loves connecting with the dog. So do the other men. Sometimes the visits make me sad and i cry on the ride home because It is depressing. But so worth it to visit not only for him, but for you too. You will feel so much better for having made the effort to visit and do it often!
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Life is a journey and we all learn hard lessons along the way. Rest assured, that even children who spent time with their parents have regrets of some kind. They just differ from your regrets. What I've learned is to spend time with the living, regardless of what state they are in. You have been given a second chance, so spend time with your father now so that you can find comfort in being with him during life. During a near death experience I had, I had no knowledge that anyone was around me. I've never understood the obsession of being with someone at the exact moment of death. A body that is shutting down is brutally fighting for life or already experiencing glimpses of life on the other side. I think it's more important to spend time with the living, because I've read that some people die right after a loved one leaves the room--when the loved one has just spend 10 hours or more by their side. Ultimately, we all die alone even if people are around us. One of my brothers knew that my elderly father was very sick and he never called once and visited my father only once a year. Of course, he rushed to the hospital when he was told that my father was on life support and was there to see my HEAVILY SEDATED father take his last breath---probably to make him feel good and help ease his guilt and make him feel like a good son. I doubt if my father even realized he was there.
So, don't WAIT again. Hug your Dad while he is still alive. Years from now, you will recall every day of your father's final journey. It is your chance to be there for him when he needs you the most.
As that Broadway actor recently said: Love is love is love is love is love......
we all need it while we are alive.
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These are all wonderful thoughtful expressions of help for you. If you take what is being said here as truthful, you can see that letting these feelings of regret overtake your life are not going to get you anything. Please also consider seeking the help of a counseling professional who can help support you through this and give you tools to move past. You only have today...live it in the present with your dad...not in the past with regret.
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