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My dad is experiencing a lot of anguish and stress because he is seeing consequences of his actions (and lack thereof) around his affairs for years (especially financially). I can see the stress weighing on him and can tell that he is getting sicker all the time, and he isn't enjoying his life because of the grief he's experiencing, not only because of the mess he's in but also because he behaved like an ostrich about it for so many years. I am helping him sort things out as best I can, but they're enormous and far-reaching problems that may or may not be resolved before he dies.


I feel angry, frustrated, and sad both for him and for myself. His actions have had rippled effects on me and other family members that have been significant. AND, he's a good guy at heart who made some big mistakes.


My first tendency is to smooth things over and reassure him he doesn't need to be upset because we're dealing with it, but I sometimes don't think that's really the best approach. #1 because it's important to let him feel what he feels but it's also really affecting my wellbeing as his primary co-caregiver, and I don't think I should have to hide that.


Would love to know how others have dealt with your parents' harmful mistakes and/or actions as they near the end of their lives. How do I lovingly hold him to account and help him enjoy the rest of the time he has left, when the reality is he's caused a lot of hurt and strife?

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My situation sounds like it could be similar to your situation. If it is I'm sorry.

My dad is a nice enough guy. He worked hard. He received a few inheritances that should have set himself and his family up for a comfortable and happy retirement. But he liked to gamble in the stock market. Anytime he had any little money he'd "invest" until it was gone. He worked until he was unable to work anymore at 78 years old. He has no assets, no savings, no house. Absolutely his fault.

Although he regrets his choices he says random things that show he'd do it again. When he says these things I blow up inside. I'm furious and hurt all over again. When I go home to visit I'm angry all over again. I wish I knew how to get past it. Therapy helps a little but not much.

For some crazy reason I feel guilty for him being on Medicaid and in nursing home care. It feels like I should do more and be a 'good son.' But that's that's a mistake. I have to remind myself that his mistakes should only hurt him. If quit my job, moved across the country, cared for him at home then he'd be happy - I'd be a 'good son.' I'd also be screwing myself and others by perpetuating the cycle of burdening future generations for my choices.

So how do I deal with it?

I remind myself that his mistakes should not be passed on to future generations. I protect my family by taking care of myself. I do what I can reasonably do to support his needs; I remind myself that his wants are not my problem. I remind myself not to screw myself or anyone else to make him happy.

He never apologized. Now with his dementia he never will. I've lost my temper with him when he says I should do certain things for him. I'd like to punch him in the face but that's illegal.

If you figure out how to unfeel a guilt that you did nothing to cause then please let me know.
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Beatty Jan 20, 2022
Very well written.

My 2c take is this:

"I feel guilty for him being on Medicaid and in nursing home care".

My relative will be in a Gov funded NH sooner or later as cannot self-care. I went to tour some.. one was all furnished by charities & smelt like old dust 😞 The Manager said all the folk there were homeless/at high risk/been through hell. It was tired looking but you could tell the staff cared. The residents looked clean & happy. One guy told me he was so happy to be where people knew his name, have his own bed & warm food.

It changed my thinking from guilt to gratitude.

"It feels like I should do more for him and be a 'good son.'"

You found him a safe place to be himself & belong.

My Doctor had to place her Mother with Alz in MC. She had no guilt. Said Mother was better off being social, with activities she could do & 24/7 care than the alternative: at home, unsafe, losing community connections, lonely, purposeless. Or if moved into the Doctor's home, the same unmet needs, plus being a burden on her adult child.

Again, that changed my thinking from *I* had to provide the hands-on care to *arranging* the care.

That's how I unfelt guilt anyway 😊
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Kitchenwitch, my dad made really bad choices in his life. He was a successful business owner that chose a wife that bankrupted him. So he went from a millionaire to living solely on his SS, he had $50.00 a month to call his own.

When he was sick, near death, totally broke, his wife divorced him. He had let her alienate him from everyone that loved him, for years.

That's when I got a call for help. Did he tell me what was going on when he asked for help? Nope! Told me that he was building a barn, wanted to move to my city to start a new life, he was divorcing her and he was doing great.

OMG, we went to help him move and wondered if we would be transporting a corpse.

Of course I couldn't not help. He was obviously dragging bottom and needed someone to give a care.

So, we brought him home, I knew that a comfortable place to be, a nice bed, good nutrition and a safe place would be so beneficial for him.

He was telling me that he was going to save up for deposits and get new furniture and start over.

Then he ends up in the hospital, he wasn't going to get better without some serious medical intervention and the odds of him recovering at all were pretty low. This was day four at my house.

I took over all of his finances, I was believing he would get better, that's when I found out that he was paying for his ex-thang, had sold a trailer and she took the money, meaning he had committed a crime and the new owner wouldn't be getting a title until this was taken care of. His plan was to keep paying for his whore and bailing himself out of the fraud, all while lying to us and living under our roof. AAAAHHHH! Who does that?

Anyway, it was a great eye opener for me. I couldn't pay the price for his choices. I couldn't kiss it and make it all better, I couldn't own his actions. I forgave him for what had come before and I was gutted that he came into my home under such false pretence.

I decided that he would have to own his actions. I cut his ex-thang off, I closed accounts, I cancelled insurance, phones, auto pays, everything, I saw the divorce papers, he didn't owe her a penny.

Then I nursed him through the hospital stay, 60 days of rehab, I took him to see his family 1200 miles away and I put him in a board and care that he could afford. He was pizzed, he told everybody that would listen how awful we were. The sad part, he never said a word to me. He was getting hauled to his appointments, he was being taken out to lunch, dinner, long drives, lots of enrichment activities, so he couldn't tell me without risking me being so available to help him.

He was so mad that it actually motivated him to get it together. He had dementia but, wasn't unsafe or very advanced, proper care and nutrition allowed him to get well enough to go live by himself.

Him having to deal with ALL the feelings, emotions and consequences of his choices actually improved the quality of his life.

Was it tremendously hard for me? The hardest thing I have ever done. It was worth the tears, heart ache and internal battle to see him doing what he wanted and finding some happiness, without conning me or anyone else. It made a difference for him, I believe. I saw his relationship with The Lord Jesus grow and bring him the first peace he had known in my lifetime.

I think stepping out of the way and letting adults own, process and accept what their choices have done, to themselves and others is a very good thing. I think it is really important, especially at the end of life, to make right, apologize and take responsibility for what we have done.

That's my experience and thoughts about protecting a parent or anyone from the reality of their choices.

I hope you find your way through this with peace and certainty in your heart.

I never made the present about his past, it was what it needed to be and I dealt with him on a daily basis. If he was ugly yesterday, that was yesterday. I don't believe in reminding anyone of their transgressions. We all have stuff.
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Riverdale Jan 20, 2022
You exhibited great resilience along with strength and compassion. My head was spinning with all the details. Thank you for sharing all that. Not to make you feel.worse but I imagine there will be posters who may feel their stories pale in comparison which can perhaps provide hope when needed.
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Kitchenwitch, one more thing: All these people who can wipe their feelings away, who say to forgive and be happy, who say you should just enjoy your time with him... they're bats**t crazy.

When someone does wrong and it hurts you I say it's okay to be pissed. When those wrongs ricochet threw the years and hurt you over and over again it's fine to be pissed off again.

Today I learned of another stupid thing my dad did. He changed his Medicare/Medicaid during open season. Tenth time in four years. Now I'll have to untangle his mess again, maybe pay another doctor out of pocket again. Why? Because he's trying to get Medicare money back so he can buy stocks and get rich. He said, "I'm going to invest in COVID stocks. They're going to hit big." Christ almighty. He doesn't get money back when he's on Medicaid.

Feel free to feel pissed. It's either that or fratricide.
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jolobo Jan 23, 2022
Sounds similar to my dad. Does what he wants regardless of any consequences and with no regard for reality. He thinks he's always the boss and can have it his way because he said so. So maddening.
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You don't say how old your father is or whether he has dementia or not.

Personally, I totally understand the intense frustration and built-up anger due to the mess he has created (and ignored). He is a full-grown adult and had the same opportunities as the rest of us to ponder big questions in life and prepare for the inevitable. Some people are just immature deniers. My in-laws were like that.

IMO it is you who needs to work on having peace in your heart regarding all of this. Primarily because venting at him will shut him down and punish him for something he now cannot fix. And if he has cognitive problems, then he is probably even less able to deal with it internally and externally. To date, if he has apologized and is acting more responsible/cooperative -- then I think this is as much as can be hoped for.

Then, when he can't have things he needs/wants you will just have to look at him and say, "oh well" and let him live with the retirement for which he planned (or didn't).

I went through such a struggle with my stepFIL. He was a ne'er-do-well who barely worked a day in his life, borrowed money from everyone and never paid them back (nor acknowledged the debt), and in the end when he needed care as Parkinsons wrecked his body and his wife (my MIL) lost her memory -- he assumed we would be his caregivers at his beck-and-call. Him, with an upside down mortgage, back property taxes owed, no property or assets and not a penny of savings. Us, both working FT in our business with 3 young sons and my own mother and 2 elderly sisters to help, not including my MIL (husband's mom, stepFIL's wife).

When SFIL didn't want to go into a NH for care he wouldn't assign a PoA or the Medicaid form that I had helped him fill out. I told him the only other option was for him to stay in his home by himself without me coming over every day and allow county social services to help him. He didn't like that idea at all. And that's when I just looked him right in the eye, shrugged and said, "oh well!". There was nothing we could do to make things "better" even if we wanted to.

The only way to hold your LO to account is to shrug and say "oh well" when he doesn't like the options for his care that are available to him, thanks to his lack of planning. You don't have to punish him...his lack of options is what will punish him.
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Debbio Jan 23, 2022
"You don't have to punish him...his lack of options is what will punish him." That, right there, is SUCH a WISE statement. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." (Someone else came up with that gem.)
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Your dad has made his bed and now he's having to lie in it. That's the way life often goes, and quite honestly he will learn nothing from it if people like you keep bailing him out.
It's called enabling, and I can liken it to when my son was drinking quite heavily, and I was always there to bail him out, like paying his car insurance when he let it lapse, or pay other of his bills when he fell behind. I thought I was helping him, but with the help of Al-Anon, I was able to see that I was actually hurting him, by enabling him, and by not allowing him to have to deal with the consequences of his choices.
Once I stopped bailing my son out, and he knew that he could no longer depend on good old mom to bail him out anymore, guess what? He actually took responsibility and sought help for his drinking problem.
It's called tough love, and sometimes our loved ones need that more than they need someone to continue bailing them out. So while I don't know the specifics of what your dads issues are, just be careful that while your intentions may be good, that you're not enabling him, as if you do, he will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Best wishes.
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velbowpat Jan 24, 2022
Thank you, Funky!
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He recognizes he has made mistakes. He is correct; he made them and they have terrible consequences for him, AND for you. There is no reason to make pattycakes over that. Tell him he made the mistakes and there is a consequence to that, and that you recognize he is sad and sorry, but there is no way to go back and undo the past. But there IS a way to make things better NOW, and that's to accept the mistakes were made, and to move on with as much GRACE as he can muster, for his own sake and for yours. Reassure him that you will be there for him within your own limitations, and help him when you are able, but that in order to spend time with him that needs to be something that lifts him up, not pulls YOU down; that would be unfair. Try to find pastoral or other care for him so that he can unload some of what he feels and get help on a psychological basis. Know that there are consequences and that you cannot be all the answers for him. He is repeating this half hoping that someone can convince him it is OK. It isn't ok. But it is done and in the past, and it isn't ok to make this about his mistakes going forward. He may be suffering from depression. Discuss with him and with his doctor some low dose anti depressants to see if that might help. Get all your paperwork done first off, your POA to help him when he needs that, make certain his will is done, even if a simple online one.
I wish you good luck. Don't negate it. Don't do the "it's alright" thing. It is NOT all right and lying won't help anything. What is important now is the present and the future. The past is gone.
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Ask yourself this question: How would I like to be treated during my last days/months/years on Earth knowing I made a lot of mistakes & already suffering 'anguish & stress' because of them? Would I like to keep being reminded of the grief those mistakes have caused me and my family members? Or would I like to be treated with love and kindness in spite of my mistakes so I can live out my final time in peace?


Before my father died, I reminded him what a great man he was and how much he'd accomplished in his life, not of the mistakes he'd made, of which there were plenty. At that time in his life, the last thing he needed was 'tough love' from ME! He needed to be comforted and assured that we all loved him in spite of his shortcomings, that's all.

You're entitled to your own feelings, of course. Whether you should make HIM aware of them or not is the question. What purpose would it serve? What's dad going to learn NOW, that he's old and sick, approaching the end of his life? It's a day late & a dollar short to 'learn' much of anything, imo.

Whatever is going on here, I wish the both of you the best of luck coming to terms with it.
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kitchenwitch Jan 24, 2022
I think this is a really good point, thanks for sharing.
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From what I know the last " perfect" person was put on a cross.
We all make mistakes. Some small, some big, some HUGE.
While you should not "smooth" things over you can do your best to reassure him that you will help him as much as possible to take care of what you can.
While you can help him do not take over, let him do as much as possible that will help reinforce that there are consequences to choices that are made. With that hopefully he will not make more bad choices. HOWEVER if this is an ongoing problem and he continues to make bad choices you can not help him fix something that he continues to undermine.
That is all anyone can do.
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You said he’s good hearted but made some mistakes financially and that he’s emotionally suffering over it- I don’t understand why you ask if you should help him feel better, maybe I misunderstood (?) I would hope you would automatically want to help him feel better, he’s already suffering it’s not as if he committed a malicious crime against someone, if he was a predator or awful person that’s different, but you describe him as good hearted and made mistake so of course I don’t see why you ask if you should help him feel better
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kitchenwitch Jan 24, 2022
I guess you're a kinder person than me. I hope you never have to go through what my family and I are going through.
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This thread is a bit like the ‘forgiveness’ differences of opinion. Perhaps some people are better at it than others, or perhaps there’s less to forgive. Perhaps it might be possible to say ‘it’s all in the past’, but perhaps it’s not in the past - the person is clearly just as much at fault as before.

It’s not easy to reconcile “I feel angry, frustrated, and sad both for him and for myself” with “how do I lovingly hold him to account”. In some cases you can’t “hold him to account”. The damage is done, he won’t hold himself to account, and you and others are still picking up the pieces, fall-out from the damage may still be continuing. “Lovingly” is more like reassurance for yourself, where you are judging your own behavior instead of his.

With my dreadful father, I did more than my sisters – traveling 12,000 miles to see him before he died. He hadn’t changed. I doubt if he regretted anything he’d done. This was the best I could do in the circumstances, but it certainly wasn’t lovingly.

Look after yourself and the people who depend on you, and walk away. Leave the whole mess to God.
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