He treats my husband as a counselor. It drives my husband crazy that he was once a child carer of two severely disabled parents in the 70's and now feels he 'has' to be there for his elderly dad again when his dad is using him for all his moans by telephone twice a week. He desperately doesn't want to abandon his dad but his dad really takes advantage of him and will play the guilt card at every turn. He has got himself into a position of isolation and terrible loneliness. All conversations about nursing homes seem futile and my husband gets visibly depressed after hearing his woes by phone. Equally he feels guilty if he doesn't listen to his dad because he has no-one else.. Any advice on boundaries in this complex case appreciated.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
If a senior craves company, they are usually a good candidate for assisted living. They enjoy being with peers more than being with children. Aches and pains can be checked by the on-site nurse. Dad is relieved of the aggravation of cooking and hauling trash to the curb. At least have him try it for a month.
Helpful Answer (3)

You said the magic word, Ruth: boundaries. It sounds like your FIL is holding your husband hostage emotionally and only your husband can change it. No one can do it for him.

Suggest to your husband that he try to redirect your FIL during the conversation. When FIL goes into his litany of complaints have your husband change the subject abruptly and talk about something else. Your husband might want to have a few subjects in mind before the phone call.

You didn't write anything in your profile so I don't know if your FIL has dementia or not but if he doesn't it's ok for your husband to tell him that these phone calls with all of the complaining are upsetting because he (your husband) has no idea how to help your FIL. Have your husband ask your FIL, "What can I do to help you?" And get the FIL talking about solutions rather than problems.

If your FIL has dementia that's a whole other answer.
Helpful Answer (1)

I'm still thinking about your father-in-law because I feel bad for him.

How about easing him INTO accepting help? A real serious sit-down (after you and hubby have done your homework) about getting Meals on Wheels? In Cook County, Illinois, seniors can get meals delivered 5 days a week around 1 or 2 PM for nothing. The "suggested donation" here is $5/meal. If people don't send the money? They still get their food. The people who deliver are either cheerful volunteers or paid staff who REALLY enjoy what they're doing. A friendly smile...a little short conversation about the weather...about the time off they're planning...

It's a wellness check, a tiny bit of socializing and a healthy meal all in one. Why not?

Personally, I think you should call your area's Council on Aging (or whatever it's called in your area) to determine what services dad might be eligible for at greatly reduced charges - or free. Mom had a cleaning lady provided (she has plenty of assets, but it was available to her) for 2 hours every two weeks for her little house. It cost her $14 a time - or $28 a month to have a clean(ish) house. The lady used to spend four or five hours there talking with her. Mom loved it!

Something to look forward to -- some socializing.

There's plenty more out there...very reasonable...that can help your FIL and give him some socializing opportunities. He doesn't have to be lonely if he's well enough to live alone. If he's not? Then steps have to be taken in THAT direction.

The ball starts rolling by a phone call. Then your husband can set up an appointment for his dad (and him) to visit with the coordinator who will come to the house to see what he might need and what they might be able to offer him.

I hate hearing "lonely" -- get him a kitten. Get him an older dog. Put on your thinking cap and help this lonely old guy have a little sparkle in his life.

Helpful Answer (1)

Twice a week for twenty minutes? Too much? You're asking your question on a board where people are caring 24/7 for their elderly parents. Keep it in perspective, Ruth.

If it's really time to move dad, then maybe your husband has to be the impetus:

"Dad, I am completely willing - an ANXIOUS - to talk to you about solutions to all of your problems. I'm not willing to talk to you about the PROBLEMS anymore. You belong in assisted living or a nursing home. Until you're ready to discuss THAT, I'm through discussing your complaints. They're allll solvable."

If your husband is an only child (or the only one who cares), it's probably time for a SERIOUS discussion about the benefits of moving into an assisted living facility (at the very least). Loneliness? Gone. Safety? Covered. Nutrition/proper medication supervision? Check.

I think men, especially, have a hard time pushing . . . it almost ALWAYS takes pushing . . . something about that father/son thingie. Believe me, nobody says, "Yay! It's time to move into supervised care!" Yet, that's what most of us have to deal with as our parents age.

Sounds like it's past time.

Oh, I don't blame him for feeling guilty if he doesn't listen to dad. Such a small thing to ask for, in my opinion. And, as you point out, he has no one else. Very sad to end up like that at the end of a long life...but reality nonetheless.
Helpful Answer (1)

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter