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I just found out my Dad, who is in the hospital with sepsis, has instructed my 82 year old Mother to set up this weekend at a three day show for my Dads business because he refuses to cancel his booth. Mom has a pace maker and although she does not have dementia she does get confused very easily. She has help to set up and transport the merchandise but she will be manning the booth by herself the whole three days and driving to and from (she is a terrible driver and always has been).

I think they are expecting us to drop everything and help but I absolutely cannot this weekend. I have my own commitments. My siblings are not available either.

This is purely elective on their part but you would think it to be life and death. My Dad has always put money before everything else and Mom just goes along. For example.... it is very possible that the infection he got originated in his gums. He refused to spend money on a dentist. His teeth are all broken and brown and his gums are a mess. He always has money to buy pricey merchandise for his business but he refuses to spend on his health. My folks have gone the last three years with a broken oven because Dad is not willing to buy one. I told them we would try to help out with the cost but he does not want to spend any money at all and we can't afford to buy one for them outright. This is nothing new. When I was a kid we went without hot water in the house for six months because he would not pay a plumber.

I knew this day was coming. My parents have refused to make any kind of plan for their elder years. At the age of 85 my Dad sill talks about his five year business plan. I have two siblings and none of us are in a position to drop our own lives to enable my parents to continue their business the way they want to. Right now they have some modest business assets that they could sell to supplement their SSI and stay in their home but they refuse to even discuss it. Meanwhile they are continuing to pay huge overhead costs while the business flounders and they are going deeper into debt. My siblings and I have tried to talk to my parents about downsizing the business to a more manageable level. I have offered many times to help with that but just bringing the subject up infuriates my Dad.

I am sick over the idea of my Mom doing this show alone. I worry about her driving to and from (but then I always worry about her driving) I worry that she will become confused, this happens when she is stressed. I worry that she will fall down because she gets dizzy off and on. I also know that if I come to their rescue this time they will expect it of me and that enabling this behavior is simply encouraging them to continue along the same lines. It would be putting off the inevitable. I am trying not to feel guilty but it's not easy. How do you cope when you know it's the right thing to say no, but that there might be consequences for your loved ones?

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It's important to recognize whether they are stubborn or slipping into dementia. Personally I would not let her go, sabotage the vehicle and have it towed away for "repairs". Recognize the danger they pose to others on the road. I told Mom " If you want to die at the wheel, that's fine with me, but I am not going to let you take out a school bus when you do it." If they want to work themselves to death, that is their choice. Endangering others is where you draw the line.
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One thing I learned in therapy about guilt. Guilt is an appropriate response when you have done something truly wrong. Like kill someone. Or cheat someone. Steal. Do something that will land you in a court room. So when you realize you are feeling guilty think about if you've done something truly, legally wrong. Ask yourself. I did this just the other day when feeling guilty over not calling my mother in her new IL apartment. Was I hurting someone physically? No. Was I doing something to put myself in jail or court? No. So the guilt feeling was not helping me right then.

When we have been raised by parents who make poor decisions, it is very hard when their decisions catch up with them. I was trained to rescue. Many of us on here were. We were trained to feel guilty if we did not rescue. We now have to retrain ourselves and really look at what we are feeling. Acknowledge that you feel this feeling. But you can let the feeling go, too, after you acknowledge it.

This is hard stuff we have to face. You are in a difficult situation and I wish you all the best.
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This one is really tough, but I can compare it to dealing with a loved one who's an addict or alcoholic. Tough love is the only road we can take sometimes. We fulfill our moral duties and draw the line at anything else. Your hardheaded dad has created a Great Depression mentality for life: squeeze that penny for dear life. Mom has bought into it, probably to keep the peace. If he is septic, he is really sick right now. His thinking can be altered by the infection. (Use that fact in making your case. Gives him an out.) So you could reassure him that you know if his thinking was straight he would never put Mom in a position where she would be unsafe (yeah, right) and that this can all be put on hold until he's back on his feet. Then tell your mother she isn't going anywhere.

That said, he is bull-headed enough to insist on doing this "his way" even though he is clearly over the hill. There really isn't much you and your sibs can do to force him to liquidate his assets. He hasn't bothered to plan for the past 60 years, so why should he start now? I think all you can do is step back and watch him crash. It's hard. But look at all the worrying and fretting and hand-wringing you're doing over just the weekend show--and there are still months and maybe years that they'll be around, getting weaker and more confused. Draw your lines firmly: I will be glad to take you to doctor appointments, to the grocery store, to pick up medicine (or whatever you're willing to do) but I will NOT be your on-call servant. You are showing love and support for what's best for them, not for what they want.

We went through much the same with our dad for years on end, and when the end came, it was pretty quick and easy. Then we were able to get all his messy affairs straight. Eventually. No matter how much you do, it will never be right, or enough, for your father. Stick to what will actually make a difference. That means that the house is safe, that there's heat and water, food in the fridge, meds refilled. It may take a really drastic event to change the course. Good luck. I'm sorry you're dealing with this.
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After talking with my brother he was able to convince Dad AND he was able to get the deposit back so at least this bullet has been dodged.

I like what you said about guilt cmwrinle1. I was raised believing that it was sinful and selfish to even talk about my own needs. However there was a huge double standard with that in my family. Maybe because I was the oldest or maybe it was just a personality thing but my Mother berated me 24/7 about my failures to look to the needs of others. When I asked her why she did not hold my adult siblings up to the same standards she told me I was the strong one and that they could not help themselves. I needed to be more understanding. Well I'm not so strong and trying to live up to that has taken it's toll both physically and mentally.

I am learning to set boundaries, not tolerate abusive behavior and to recognize my limits. I'm doing much better with that but I still feel guilty. Hopefully that will dissipate in time.
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Remember that controlling people use whatever means necessary to get their way. Manipulation, guilt, bullying, scorch the earth, throwing you under the bus. They get their way because we are trying to keep the peace or because they are pitching a fit. For years, my dad was afraid my mom would have a stroke as her mother did. So Mom's favorite tactic to stop a discussion she didn't like was to say she had a splitting headache. Dad would tell us we were going to give her a stroke and we'd once again bend to her will. Point is maybe it will set him back and maybe it won't, but you need to hold fast against unreasonable behavior.
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Since your dad isn't able to go and this may occur again, just tell him no one can run the shows like he does, that it will have to wait until he is well again.
I am so glad that my mother turned her Drivers License in for a State ID. Now I admit I did put off getting her new glasses until she went to the BMV first. That is when the teller asked her some questions on her health and suggested an ID instead of a drivers license or she could bring a paper from her doctor's and get new glasses before she comes back.
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This doesn't exactly pertain to your particular situation, Tryingmybest, but the subject of guilt, enabling, and coping...
lol, just when I think I've made real progress, I feel pulled back in (just like in Godfather III, haha!). I am so sleep deprived this morning. Been tossing and turning, up all night trying to figure out how to resolve a very straightforward issue (canceling a credit card that my mother no longer uses, but still keeps in her wallet). The song and dance I have to give the customer service person. Yes, I have POA and am listed on the account, but try explaining that to someone who's script says that they need to get verbal authorization from the primary card-holder! I guess the fact that the primary card holder doesn't understand at all doesn't matter. Sheesh!!!!! Anyway, I got that part taken care of.
NOW, I get to do a sneaky little tap dance around my mother's wallet when I visit in a few days. She must not see me take the card out of her wallet or she'll flip out.
I'm so sick of bowing down and cowering to her ego! Knowing that if my maneuvers don't go as planned, I'll be the enemy, trying to take advantage of HER. Excuse me, but I'm pretty sure it's the other way around!!!
Thanks for listening.
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Tryingmybest, oh my gosh, your Dad sounds so much like my Dad when it comes to having me help him and Mom do things around the house or drive them somewhere. After 5 years I am exhausted and finally had to put my foot down. It wasn't easy and at times I feel like a bad daughter :(

Some times people are more *visual* then *listeners*.... you can tell them over and over you cannot help out and it goes in one ear out the other. Outfit your Mom with a cane, use the dizziness as the reason why.... that is usually a game changer. Maybe then and only then will your Dad understand they both are getting older. It worked for me to convince my Dad, that at my age of 68, I can no longer help him lift heavy stuff and no longer drive them all over kingdom come.

That way there won't be stress on your Mom and she can continue to still keep driving locally to get groceries, shopping, errands, etc. Otherwise, someone else will have to drive her and you don't want to get into that loop. Let her drive for as long as she can drive safely since the stress will be off her.

Now, all I need to do is to get MY dad to pay more attention to his teeth and to spring for a new dishwasher for their kitchen.
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LivingSouth, same here regarding I worry too much about what the neighbors might think. I use to help out shoveling snow so that my parent's driveway would be clear in case there was an emergency and Dad needed to get the car out. Then I stopped helping a couple of years ago as I barely had energy to do my OWN driveway. I was sure the neighbors were chatting amongst themselves why wasn't I helping....

Then my therapist said it was my parent's decision to stay in their single family home, they never consulted me on what they should do, so it should be their responsibly to get their driveway shoveled. As for the *emergency* reason to keep the snow off the driveway, that is what 911 is there for, the EMT's will get to your door no matter how deep the snow gets.

And I found out my parent's neighbors were still waving *hi* so they weren't thinking terrible things about me :)
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After being treated - even as a kid - as the one responsible for keeping things together, I am finally learning to say ' THIS is YOUR responsibility, and YOUR decision - it is not mine.'
It doesn't make them happy, but I can't help it.
I agree with everything that is written here. People will try to use your emotions - especially if you are a thoughtful person - to get you to do things that they want.
My problem is that I worry too much about what other people think - like the neighbors who see me refuse to lift a heavy limb for my father because my back is already hurting, or someone who hears me tell my mother that I am not buying another facial product until she uses up the sixteen bottle that she already has!
Hang in there and do what YOU know you need to do.
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