Elderly Dad hard to cope with. How to deal?

Follow
Share

I'm at my wits end with his behaviour now.


I could probably write a book with some of the things he's done last few years and how downright selfish he's been. Its got the point now where I dread speaking to him on the phone, dread visiting him because every encounter he manages to wind me up.


He's 84 now and lives alone. 30-40 mins drive from me. Health wise his legs are not great but for his age he's pretty good.


I visit him whenever I can and phone him often. Over the years, I've sorted walk in shower, stair lift, scooter for him. I work full time, my wife has health problems, we've got a teenager with aspergers (see my other posts!) and a 5 year old. Like a lot of people I've got a lot going on and a lot of worries!


BUT, as far as Dad is concerned he is number one priority for me. He's even said he expects this.


I've tried to explain to him the other issues I have to deal with. BUT, its as if he's saying "ah that's not good but what about me". He is manipulative and tries to blackmail me ALL the time.


He completely ignores his grandchildren. To him they are just something that is a distraction taking my attention away from him. (He even says I shouldn't have had last child at my age!).


My wife has now washed her hands of him. I can't blame her shes spot on - his behaviour has been terrible at times. When he's visited us at xmas he's been rude to her, rude to everyone else, and generally completely selfish.


One big bugbear is his attempts to manipulate. He'll phone me and ask me if I'm visiting at the weekend. Generally I will say probably. Then he'll say he's got no food in the house, so I'll have to come to do his shopping. Any doubt and I'll get well I need someone to help me and can't you spare any time for me?


I do on call at work and I've told him time and time again that if I get called then that might mean I have to change my plans. In one ear and out the other. His attitude is "well work will have to understand I needed you to help me out". Same with kids/wife- woe betide they've got something on that affects my ability to visit him. In the past when I said I cant visit x day because daugher has a party he'll say "well she'll have other parties to go to if she misses this one". (He ignores my kids- they just take away my focus from him so I think he doesnt like this)


He will manipulate the situation to get what he wants. It's like a game where Im forced to justify everything. He seems to have no qualms as long as he gets what he wants. Every single time I speak to him I end up annoyed that he's tried it on once again.


The food thing is a joke. Hes got a chest freezer that is 5% full. Goes mad if I buy more than about £15-£20 worth of food to put in there. I'm constantly telling him I'll get home delivery from tesco sorted so there are no emergencies when I'm not available but he refuses. Of course, having a freezer full of food or the ability for me to get it order takes away his biggest bargaining chip.


Like I said, I've tried to explain to him but he is just not interested.


Its really sad because he was such a great Dad. But honestly, it can't go on like this. Any suggestions?

20

Answers

Show:
My Dad wore out all of his 6 children. The 4 living in the area tried for years to help him live independently. But he would only allow the help he thought was necessary. Not the help he actually needed.
It was vascular dementia, but we did not recognize it as such. He passed all the mini mental and other quick evaluations.
When all of his kids decided to work together and set limits on the demands, that was when it all fell apart. He finally is in a nursing home, safe, clean, getting regular meals, and not sleeping in his own urine soaked clothing.
No way could any one person have met his demands. Even 6 people could not meet his demands.
You will not be able to meet his demands. He cannot manipulate you if you set your limits and stick to them. It is very very difficult, but you have to do it. For your family and your work and your sanity.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to PrairieLake
Report
paulfoel123 Oct 1, 2018
Yes I can see it getting this way in time. He seems to have no limits at the moment and won't listen to sensible suggestions of help.
(2)
Report
Boundaries, boundaries and more boundaries.

Your wife and children are first, no need to explain yourself. Yes, I'll be there or no, I'll not be there, period end of discussion.

Buy food to last and get that freezer stocked up. Let him gripe and groan. He is frightened that you will neglect him if he doesn't have a need. Address that, set a visiting schedule and stick to it.

Get others involved and visiting or calling to help with the neediness.

He is not entitled to your life because he was a good dad, will your children be able to say the same or will they say, he was not around much, you see he had this dad that....

Best of luck getting those boundaries in place and sticking to them, habits are time consuming to change.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report

I think you know the answer, but it’s a difficult battle. If you don’t set some rules and boundaries you will always be at his beck and call. Tell him once when you are visiting and don’t waver. If he continues to manipulate tell him, “Sorry have to go” each time and hang up. He will get the message quickly that you are not playing the “game” any longer. He also seems to need other distractions. Can he afford a home aide once or twice a week? And it could be worse...he could live with you. 🙄
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Tluther
Report

He may try to manipulate as much as he likes but as long as you to stick firmly to your boundaries it is all a bunch of (maddening) hot air. Stop justifying yourself, just reply with a stock answer: I'm sorry you think that - I'll try but there are no guarantees - Sorry, I can't do that but I'm available Tuesday evening. As soon as you take the bait and get into it with him or you drop everything and run to fulfil his imaginary needs he wins, so stop playing the game.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to cwillie
Report

Could I suggest that you get out of the habit of explaining/justifying to him? NO is a complete sentence.  Have you tried just saying it, as often as needed, and then leave the room, the phone, the conversation? You have tried to be reasonable but he refuses to meet you on reasonable grounds.  So at this point, I would just state my boundaries, like "yes", "no", next Tuesday..." whatever you have decided to do in the type of situation and not back down.  If I'm understanding the situation, he is not starving in some lonely place, where food is not available, no transportation, etc.  So he can help himself.  If it is a question of loneliness, then he needs to start thinking about a social life for himself; harassing you at work, home, etc., is not going to fix loneliness.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to rovana
Report
paulfoel123 Oct 1, 2018
Yes I know its the best way.

Hes just got so used to knowing or thinking hes got to know everything. He even asks how I can afford to take time off work to go away and expects an explanation!

No he is fine. Plenty of food, comfortable living arrangements, Pretty good social life to be honest. With him he can't cope too well with being ill where things like social life means a little more effort.
(1)
Report
That sounds really tough. You say that he was such a great dad growing up. If his behavior is really very different now than it used to be, I'd just confirm his situation. It might take a little time, but, it might help you in the long run. Would you have time to take a couple of days to go and stay in the house with your father. Just say you've visiting. While there, actually observe how he's doing in the home. Is he actually bathing, preparing meals, operating appliances, changing into clean clothes, getting his mail, etc. Who pays his bills? I'd try to determine if there is some reason that he's acting so demanding and unreasonable?

The comment you made about him not wanting much food in the freezer got my attention. It's because, with my LO, she was oblivious to food in her fridge, because, she would forget to open the fridge door. And food covered by a lid didn't exist. She wouldn't realize the need to lift the lid. AND she was super demanding. It was like she was the queen of the universe. Only her needs were important and they could change at any time. And then blame me, because, I did what she asked me to do! lol It was mental decline and I wish I had known that earlier. I wasted time trying to figure it out and feeling bad about the situation. Someone suggested that to me once and I said, NO WAY. She's fine mentally. But, I was wrong. That's what it was. Sometimes, it's not about memory, but, personality changes, demanding and unreasonable behavior and poor judgment. At his age, it is a possibility. But, regardless of what it is, you have the right to your own life and peace of mind. I'd focus on that and how to have dad's needs met without making you suffer.

Depending on what you find by staying with him, you can share it with his doctor. He may have something else like vitamin deficiency, UTI, depression or some other illness. Finding out the why would help, though, imo.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Sunnygirl1
Report

So sorry, these type of people just wear you down. Good for your wife, she has enough on her plate and you do too. I understand the on call thing. My daughter is an RN and at least once a month she is on call for the weekend. As is her husband. I am assuming your in England. Not sure what is available in senior facilities there but maybe its time for your Dad not to be living alone. Sit down and tell him with your job and family you cannot be at his beck and call. That maybe a nice Care home would be good. He would have 3 meals a day. Have some socialization and outings. That you r only able to give him one day a week if that. Sorry, but that is how it is. Your family and job come first. That he needs a plan and he needs it now. Because, if you have to make the decision it will be a care home eventually. (You do not want a person with this personality around ur children) Yes, he will get mad but he will eventually start it all over again. He is probably lonely. But you can't be his everything. Check out services in his area. Then give him the list.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report
paulfoel123 Oct 1, 2018
Wales (next door to England but very different in a lot of respects).

Yes I agree a care home would be the best place. He loves being fussed and mollycoddled. He loves being in hospital for that every reason.

BUT hes got a big thing that going into a home is the end of it.

In his head, he brought us up so now we owe him and have to do it regardless. We have to "make time" with our own families who need to be told they have to understand. Hes said this. He also said no way are we EVER putting him into a home.

On call for me is nothing as important as healthcare lol. I work in IT - probably more money involved if I dont fix things though! BUT regardless there are expectations involved. Part of the problem is he worked in a factory all his life. I work in an office so must either be a manager or an office clerk - I'm neither. No manual work so it cant be that hard or that important in his head.
(0)
Report
Will he accept outside help, someone other than you helping him? If so that’s a great option. If not, it’s time for you to start putting some boundaries in place. Don’t take every call from him. Do only every third or fourth thing he asks you to do. Ignore the rest with no response at all, never let him bait you into an argument. Your wife and children are your first priority, if your dad isn’t able to understand that it’s his issue not yours. Boundaries are healthy for all
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Daughterof1930
Report

Paul, it's actually a bit hard to believe that 'He was such a great Dad'. It almost sounds like he was the centre of the family, with a wife who propped him up and children who were taught that he was the most important person in the family. You might like to read some of the information on 'narcissism', and see if it rings any bells. If it does, it might make this a little easier to understand, and to justify the boundaries you need to set and he doesn't want.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MargaretMcKen
Report
paulfoel123 Oct 5, 2018
To be fair, he brought us up as a single parent. This was early 70s so pretty rare to be a single Dad. Parents got a divorce and mother was out of the picture. (We'd emigrated to Canada from UK, they got divorced, she stayed, we went back to UK).

Of course, not sure what the real story was here. But I haven't seen much of mother in all those 45+ years.

As I got older though I did realise that Dad, even though his heart was in the right place, made some really bad decisions when we were younger. i.e. Didn't find out the information, decided he couldn't do something, didn't bother to try anything better etc.

BUT, as hes got old, I have seen how awkward he can be and how small-minded and selfish he can also be. It does make me wonder exactly what happened in his marriage to be honest or we ended up in his custody. I guess I'll never know the full story. Part of me wonders if he got lumbered with us and didnt have much choice - which is how Dad is. Things "happen to him" and he sits back and doesnt try to change things for the better.

(He got married and divorced again 10 years later).

Of course, in his head now, we owe him big time....

His views on women/wives don't help much though. Especially his views on how they should behave etc. Hence why he doesn't get on with my wife! I often understand how hes been divorced twice....
(1)
Report
Paul, your reply was encouraging. It sounds like you bought your father’s own story, that he was a ‘great Dad’. My mother brought us up as a single mother in the 50s, which was at least as hard – your father probably got equal pay and wasn’t socially ostracised. My mother never behaved like this in later years. Her line was ‘I did the best I could’, certainly not ‘you owe me’. I still recommend reading about narcissism – it helped me to understand my own father. If yours doesn’t respect your wife, without real justification, he isn’t respecting you. It would help if you raised your expectations of what is appropriate behaviour from him. That would help you to be confident about setting boundaries against his own inappropriate expectations.

Rethinking the script of a lifetime is very hard, and you have my sympathy and best wishes. Yours, Margaret.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MargaretMcKen
Report
paulfoel123 Oct 8, 2018
Thanks Margaret. You're right of course. Annoys me about my wife because his attitude is "she needs to understand". Nothing to do with him how my wife and I interact and where I prioritise.

I will have to read more about narcissism because I think you might be right there.

He proved it this weekend again. It seems its all about a bit of power with him. He loves to get people running around for him and generally fussing over him. Which is why he LOVES being in hospital.

Brother is away this week, as is his cousin both of whom he gets to run around for him. He laid the guilt trip on me saying I needed to visit him just in case he wanted anything doing.

But of course he doesn't need anything at all - its just an attempt to get me to go there again.

He seems to get a great deal of comfort from the fact that he has the power to get someone to visit him on demand pretty much. Thats what he likes not that he actually needs anything.

In all honesty, its going to be a nightmare because I can see it being a slippery slope of ending up in a home. Harsh maybe but surely everyone is the same? We're all willing to help elderly parents but they need to help themselves where they can.
(4)
Report
See All Answers