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Dad is 78. He has been divorced from my mom for 45 years, never remarried, and basically has lived alone ever since. He’s a nice guy but has never been social. Back in the day, a beer or 2 would help dad be more social and sometimes the life of the party, but those days are gone (although there are times I think both he and I could use a cold one!) For most of my life, my relationship with dad has been somewhat distant. I saw him on weekends growing up and then as a married adult, he’d come to visit my husband and I on a Saturday or Sunday every weekend.


Since January, dad has been in a LTC facility. He has bladder cancer that was diagnosed in January, and according to the ct scan 2 weeks ago, may have spread. Since January, I’ve been with dad just about every day. Most of the time I stay 3-4 hrs but it’s not that I have to - its more that I do it to keep him somewhat social and talking to someone! ME!


Every morning for the past 9 months dad calls me (sometimes 2 or 3 times) until I get there to see him. He doesn’t demand that I come.... he just beats around the bush and tries like heck to think of any reason under the sun to get me there. People tell me I go too much, but I feel so guilty - plus if I don’t go to visit him, he gets very anxious which usually spirals into confusion and just mayhem. It’s so sad and I feel terrible for him. How do I help him to feel comfortable when I’m not there so I can take off? (I’ve tried to ask them to get him involved in things but he refuses.) He constantly asks if I have any vacations planned because he’s already stressing about me leaving (I moved my daughter into college and then went back for parents weekend and he was a basket case). I can’t believe he’s like this now. My parents divorced 45 years ago and I only ever saw him on weekends growing up. He’s never been a dependent sort of person but now he’s like a kid that is thinking of every excuse to get his parents to come get him from summer camp! Ahhhhh! Help!

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Long term care isn't family and your father may be feeling his mortality. You may not have a lot of time left with him and he may be scared. Is he a candidate for hospice? My father got a little anxious at the end stage of his dementia and asked me to sleep over which I couldn't do. Remember their timeline isn't the same as yours.
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Reply to Invisible
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So sorry about your dad's cancer. Perhaps you can cut back on visiting. Prayers to you. But remember - he is being taken care of in the facility.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Aanxiety drug. A small amount will take the edge off
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Reply to APSPubGuardian
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This is shades of when I went to college some forty years ago - I sure had that separation anxiety. Plus, the Penn State site I attended was not to my liking so I changed assignment to a different site, one a little closer to home. I still had the separation anxiety but it was not as bad. Eventually, I learned what living on my own was all about
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Reply to cak2135
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APSPubGuardian Nov 12, 2019
U d0nt understand his clinical problem
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This is so difficult for those of us who have parents that become dependent on us. You are doing a wonderful job trying to keep him stabilized. You might want to try sitting with him at some of the activities that his facility provides or at a meal. This may get him to meet other people there and you'll meet them too. I've seen residents of assisted living feel great sympathy and compassion for each other. Don't forget to take care of yourself, too!
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Reply to NancyIS
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jan135 had a great suggestion--I work with family caregivers and when they place a loved one, I encourage them to visit when an activity is going on, and then go to the activity with them. This way, you can maybe encourage him to meet other residents, and then you may be able to back away a bit. If you notice there's another resident, like another man, that he gels with, you might be able to set up a "play date" with that person, you and your dad, to play cards, have coffee, etc.
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Reply to richamj
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APSPubGuardian Nov 12, 2019
You begin with "where he is" not where you think. He will have the problem with him until you have some help with a drug that deals with his brain
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I went to the activities with my mom when she first went into ltc. I think my mom felt like a child on the first day of school not knowing anyone. I slowly backed of going as much. She’s now got a few friends she sits with.
The home has group activities and videos that men are more likely to enjoy. They love watching cat races and sports
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Reply to jan135
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I am sorry that you are going through this difficult time. I pray that the cancer has not spread.

One thing that always confuses me, feeling guilty about our aging parents situation. You haven't done anything wrong, you may feel bad that his choices have led to these unhappy consequences, but you shouldn't feel guilt. If he is making you feel guilty about getting a break, he is manipulating you and you are the only one that can stop that.

He is choosing not to even try, he has guilt tripped you into believing that his very existence revolves around you being there. That is not okay. Time to practice some tough love.

I would tell him that you can not be there everyday, period. You have other obligations and responsibilities that are being neglected and you can not continue to ignore everything to prop him up. Be loving and gentle, but firm.

Create a schedule of when you will be there and the activities that he can participate in. I would take him for a few times so he knows where and when they are. Then like sending a shy mommas baby off to school, yep tears, meltdowns and all. Sorry, but you need to go.

It is so difficult when we see how scared they are without us, but the fear is not based on something that you can help, cancer is a scary diagnosis, but he has a village and he needs a gentle push to accept that you can not be there all the time and he has to engage with the village or sit alone. It is a sucky set of choices but you can not be his security blanket, it is not healthy and it is unfair for him to put you in that position.

As others have said, get him some meds that will help calm the mayhem down.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Your father is acting the same as my mother except she was at home when it started. She lived alone in her own house when she started having medical problems that resulted in three trips to the ER and two admissions to the hospital for possible pneumonia and a UTI. She was She was having hallucinations and talking to people from her past nonstop day and night. We decided she would not be safe living by herself so she moved in with my husband and me. She wanted me in her room all the time. She wouldn’t come out of her room except to go outside and smoke. She would call me to her room every 5 minutes for silly reasons. I finally took the advice of friends, family and dr and placed her in AL. Needless to say, she is not happy. She was taking anti anxiety (Depakote) and anti depressant (Zoloft) but hallucinations continued. I think the Zoloft was causing them so we discontinued it. She is now telling stories that are based on partial facts. For example...Her dog got out of her room one day when I left him with her to go to a doctors appointment. When I returned, he was in the hall just outside her room but her version is she was up two days walking the halls and streets looking for him. He wasn’t outside her room more than a couple minutes. She now wants to come back to my house but I know I couldn't do that again. I visit her every day for an hour or two and she sleeps most of the time. She isn’t interested in any of the activities. At this point I just listen to her and tell her she isn’t well enough to leave AL. I have learned to take one day at a time. I wouldn’t recommend bringing your dad into your home. It will likely result in more demands on your time and limit you having any type of social life. It’s so hard when it’s our parent! Good luck! Hugs!
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Reply to DalesMom
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Work out a plan of visitation that works for you - as well as him. He has valid issues for anxiety: cancer, being away from his own home, being in a different place... Do they have a support group for cancer patients or are you comfortable "springing" him from LTC for an hour to take him to a group? If so, he could develop some relationships that might take the "social burden" a little off of you.
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Reply to Taarna
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Keep being a good kid. Air your feelings with us. Consider hiring an additional companion whom he likes for a few hours. Take care of yourself.
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Reply to cwinter
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A lot of what you're describing is normal. He might need a mild antidepressant - I had to put my DH on Zoloft when he became too depressed to lift his head. It was the best option to take - talk with Dad's physician.

Yes, even if not in a home, they do tend to find any reason to get you to visit - my favorite was "the remote control for the TV won't work."

If you're comfortable with your lengthy visits - keep doing them. When Dad is gone, it will be too late to visit. But try very hard not to feel guilty about the need to be away for a few days. Life will always continue to get in the way sometimes.

Hugger to you!
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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I agree that medication is indicated-
and will most likely be the only thing that will help his feelings of anxiety and withdrawal (both are symptoms of depression); his brain isn’t the same as when he was younger. When he begins to feel better after a month of being on it, he may gradually come to better terms with his life situation and allow himself to be drawn in to some of the activities and social opportunities around him now. To gradually visit him less without the medication to help his symptoms probably won’t work and will increase his stress and end up making it worse. Do you have permission to speak with his doctor directly about him? Your father needs to agree to try medication so you can claim your life back to some degree. You’re a good daughter, good luck!
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Reply to neenjeanne
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I agree with others, that you are visiting too often and for too long and that's made him totally dependent on you. I know you've done it for all the best reasons but it's not fair on you, either. You need to have a life and it can't all revolve around him. It'll make you resentful, apart from anything else. See if you can find out what activities are on offer (and perhaps, go along with him at first?) and encourage him to go along to them when you're not there. He might make a friend or two? And then try to cut your visits down to every other day, not every day. He will hate it at first but he'll get used to it. Is there no-one else who could visit him, to give you a break? Sorry that you are in this situation. It must be tough but you need to look after yourself too.
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Reply to hellymart
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Hello Annabox,

Not knowing your details, the first thing that came to my mind is that your dad might benefit from medication specific to anxiety and/or depression. My mother, who has mild dementia, exhibited similar symptoms. After a very specific conversation with her doctor, got some meds which help A LOT. She's not zoned out, she's calmer and the lessening of her depression has her thinking more clearly.

The second thing I'd like to suggest is that you speak to the Activities Director of the facility and brainstorm with them to involve your dad in some of the scheduled daily events. It's not only their job to engage the residents, and they want to do so.

Your situation is challenging, and you are so decent and caring to have done so much.

I wish you well.
R27
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Reply to Ricky27
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I agree, he is now dependent on you and you have allowed it out of guilt. Start cutting back the length of your visits and then the days you go. Discuss this with the facility so they can be aware that you need them to step up and try to get him involved. It is really nice that you are trying to help him but he has been this way all his life and it is his problem, not yours. His time could be limited but you don't know that and this amount of time taken away from your own daily life is really too much.
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Reply to dogparkmomma
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You may not have allowed him to get used to the routine. Mornings should be kind of hectic. Getting residents up and dressed for breakfast. He should be going in the Dining room to eat his meals. Then med passes. Before you know it, its lunch. Now some people nap sometime in the afternoon. Is this the time u visit, if so, this is usually the time other people congregate in the common area. He should be making friends.

Actually, I think, 4 hrs a day every day is too much. But, Dad is facing his immortality and thats probably scary. And ur it.

Both my parents had bladder cancer. Mom lost a kidney to it. My question here is, how far along was it when it was found. Both my parents were in the curable stage. It was a chemo put directly into the bladder. The chemo has Tuberculosis in it so the bathroom toilet has to be wiped down with bleach each time used. If ur Dads has spread I assume it has gotten thru the bladder lining. Depending on the severity, you may want to consider hospice at the AL at sometime. If this is something you will consider. Make sure you understand how it will work with him in an AL. The RN at the facility can help with this and should be present when Dad is evaluated. Hospice is not 24/7. In homecare the family still does the brunt of the work. In the AL their aides should pick up where the hospice aides drop off.

Since there are always going to be times you can't be there, maybe there is something the RN can give him to help with the anxiety. Once Mom was in the AL, the RN dealt with Moms PCP concerning meds. If that is how it is with Dads AL, ask her if she can have the doctor prescribe something thats given "as needed". Then, if you know you will be away, u contact the nurse and she can start the med. Or call the doctor yourself.

At this point, you do what is best for you and Dad. His time may be limited if the cancer is spreading. Don't think he is going to change at this point. I have a DH who has had hearing problems all his life so he tends to be shy and not real social. Worse now because he is almost deaf. I see it coming where I'll be "it" because he is comfortable with me. He doesn't have to try.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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He’s lonely because he is not involved in anything else except you. While you go so much, he has no incentive to make other contacts. Could you consider taking a hard line – 'I will come and see you so long as you take part in two activities a week. Call me when you’ve done them'. Best wishes in a difficult situation.
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