My father is 77 and I am 51. I’m an only child. My father lives alone in the same house he’s lived in for 50 years. It is NOT a safe environment for any senior - let alone someone like him who had back surgery 3 years ago, walks with a cane, and has a very unstable gate. For most of my life, my father was not a regular dad. My parents divorced when I was 5, and although I saw my dad every weekend until I went into high school, he was barely involved in my life. My father is also an alcoholic and has been for as long as I can remember. 3 years ago, he underwent back surgery because he went from walking normal to walking wobbly, to not walking at all in a 3 week timeframe. The surgery was successful (he’s not paralyzed) but it definately had a severely negative effect on his quality of life. He has lost confidence, rarely drives, is angry most of the time, and barely does anything. He refuses to accept his physical condition as his new normal but does not do anything to fix it. He won’t try P/T, won’t use a walker, WON’T stop drinking, and is basically a recluse. His memory is spotty which I know makes him nervous but he really doesn’t admit that’s a problem either. Doctors visits are because I force him to go (and take him) but I am usually so embarrassed at his outbursts and rudeness while we’re in the waiting room. He calls me every day several times a day asking if I want to go to lunch - then do I want to go to dinner....then to say basically nothing at all. It's literally become like a life sentence for me. He doesn’t demand that I come down to visit him but he’s soooooo lonely and I feel like I should because he asks every day. I don’t want to push him away but I don’t want to enable the situation either. I’m completely at a loss but this has become my new full time job. I think he looks at me as a friend or a client or something! I don’t even know for sure that he thinks of me as his daughter (who has kids of her own and a life.) I dont know what to do or where to turn.... I can’t imagine my life staying like this. I worry all the time. What should I do?

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Annabox....your father sounds exactly like mine,alcohol and every thing.
I am now 2 yrs in of caring for him. My home is in VA and he is in CT, in my childhood home. The first yr I went back and forth and spent the whole winter with him. By spring I thought I was going to lose my mind. He would fight and resist me on everything, insist he could take care of himself (he couldn't) refuse any help, and generally be a nasty curmudgeon constantly. It was so draining. So I began to spend more time at home than with him. Then last Sept he fell and ended up with a spinal compression fracture and a fractured pelvis. I took this opportunity to take away his truck keys, which meant no more alcohol, but increased anger and nastyness to me. I also moved in with him FT as I could see no other option. But, it's killing me. His house is a moldy old new England colonial and I am very allergic. The stress of the situation and dealing with his narcissistic, petulant, abusive personality is affecting me in many ways. It will take me a long time to recover.
Right now I am in the process of placing him in a care facility. He will not like it but too bad. I have lost everything trying to care for health, my wealth, my sanity, my relationship. Don't let this happen to you!!!! I wish I had found this forum earlier to help me understand that it was not my obligation to do this. He was a shitty, abusive father , and he still is.
In retrospect I realize that I should have just left him alone to live his life based on his choices. Yes, he may have hurt himself again. Yes, he may have fallen down and no one found him for days or weeks. He may have killed himself by not eating and drinking himself into oblivion. But I would still have my life.
This is your opportunity to learn and practice boundary setting and tough love. I bet, like me, this is an important lesson for you. And like me I also bet you have spent your life seeking the love your father never gave you. I can guarantee you that choosing to take care of him, allowing him to continue to engage in his lifelong behaviors with you, and not disentangling yourself from him will NOT have you find that love either. LOVE YOURSELF INSTEAD.
I wish you the best in moving forward in a positive life affirming way that protects your life, your kids, and your sanity. Don't let any sense of guilt or obligation put you into an untenable situation you will regret. Feel free to reach out personally if you would like.
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to gaiagirlm
Rose118 Sep 9, 2018
Your advice is just what I needed, so much so I made a screenshot to read regularly. Thank you!!
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I am so sorry you have to go through this. This is what my siblings and I learned after dealing with our Dad for 60+ years:
1. Alcohol abuse teaches a person to lie, manipulate, and know how to get what they want by any means necessary.
2. Alcohol abuse causes brain damage, or other medical problems that cause brain damage. After every surgical procedure, Dad got a little worse with memory, self-care and anger.
3. Assisted living will not work because they are not prisoners and can run amuck.
4. We could not make him do anything because even with a DPOA, a person has to be deemed incompetent before you can make them do anything.
5. You have to let him fail. All of us siblings agreed that we would put severe limits on our aid and assistance because he refused any outside services. He would not even let us clean, wash his clothes, or help him with medications.
All he wanted was to be able to call us anytime day or night and demand we take him to the store or bank, which was an opportunity for him to buy stuff to hoard and buy booze. He was shoplifting items in the store, and buying cases of pet food on sale. He does not have a pet.
So we said once every two weeks someone would take him to the bank or store. He refused to use the senior shuttle system, giving a variety of complaints.
So he did fail, after tons of drama, extra efforts at manipulation, and lots of verbal abuse. We knew he had brain damage, but there was really nothing we could do.
He got the evaluation during a hospital stay where all us siblings refused to take him home. I was able to get him transferred to a skilled nursing home. And apply for Medicaid, and my brother got guardianship of person. So Dad is now safe, clean, and we are able to breathe.
6. This is a long process, be strong. You owe yourself not him.
Everything about it is sad. Especially
since there is no hope that he will ever be anything other than what he is. He is not able to give you anything emotionally.
Save yourself. You can without giving up your heart and soul.
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to PrairieLake
bigsun Sep 9, 2018
Thanks. Perfect. Save your self. That's perfect
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"I think he looks at me as a friend or a client or something! I don’t even know for sure that he thinks of me as his daughter (who has kids of her own and a life.) I dont know what to do or where to turn.... I can’t imagine my life staying like this. I worry all the time. What should I do?"

Or maybe a servant/friend. I've seen very rich isolated housewives turn their
housekeepers and gardeners into confidantes (I know because it's happened to
me and others I know). They have total control over relationship and because
they also have control over the individual's pay, the hired help is forced to play the part of an obsequious friend. There is no reciprocation. Neglectful and/or narcissistic parents try and form the same type of bond. I think. And punish or guilt trip you when you wont submit to their terms.

You can't care give someone out of this mindset, but you can die trying. As he's unsafe where he is, you should explore different living options for him. Worse comes to worse, report his situation to social services. But try and get him onboard first to live in a healthier environment with assistance.

He needs help, and there are not enough of you to provide it. In a care facility
there will be a small army of people to assist him. Not just you. It is really better for both of you.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to bettina
gaiagirlm Sep 9, 2018
"You can't care give someone out of this mindset, but you can die trying"
So true!!!!
And btw, he's 77. I've known seniors to live with a great deal of disease and
dysfunction for decades. I've seen very frail seniors living well into their 90's at
home and way past 100 in a facility. You could be stuck doing this for 20 years. No joke. It's not in either of your interests to do so. Each time he falls,
or forgets to eat, or stays shut in all day, he loses a little more of himself and
needs to take more of your life force to keep going. That's the reason a number
of caregivers die before the person they are care giving. They are quite literally transferring their life force into the other person so that they can keep going.

There are better solutions out there. For both of you. Living a lonely shut in life
mired in alcohol, and dependent on one person, that isn't good for him either.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to bettina
bigsun Sep 7, 2018
You're right. This man is a psychic vampire. Karma is scary. Situation w my parents etc. has me back on medication again now. ..anti anxiety etc .How long do I have to take them? .. committment to drastically decrease ties is best.
I feel compelled to answer your question. You cannot fix him. You cannot change him. You can only set limits for what is reasonable for you. Figure that out and then cut it in half. Get therapy if you can't say no to him. It only gets harder. 18 years ago.....Yes father died leaving behind my mother at 75. Other than the alcohol, she was much like your father. It will only get harder as you develop habits. My mother is now 93. I have been through the wringer with her and every bit of my freedom has been hard won. I wish I knew then what I know now. Please don't destroy your own life trying to fix a person who won't help himself. Your compassion is commendable. Spare some compassion for yourself.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Rosyday
Annabox Sep 9, 2018
Thank you and Bless You!
You are doing a great job! Don't forget that.
I understand where you are coming from. Sometimes I feel like I am my parents only social outlet. Aside from work... They didn't cultivate many friendships and now... They are retired. In addition... Obnoxious. (obsessed with politics) Sorry. There, I said it.
So for friends...Welp, they have me. I am in the same town. (and I could care less about politics! Or watching the 24/7 news channels 24/7...)
I had to decide how much time I am willing to spend. And so do you. I have to say....your going three times a week and being a hour away is definitely plenty! I try to see my parents once a week. And try to call them a few times in between. Is it possible to not answer all his calls? Would you worry if you didn't? You can listen to his messages immediately and decide about when you will be calling back. You could have some stock things ready.... Sorry dad, I'm cooking dinner. If you are okay? I'll talk to you later. Or, I'm coming tomorrow, we can talk then.
Type or write out a few things you can say. Then practice. Sometimes we get into the habit of letting them keep yakking when we need to go!
I tell myself it isn't my fault that my parents don't have friends. I will say the same to you. It isn't your fault that he doesn't have friends.
And I will tell you again, you are doing a great job!
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to sparkles87

Hi Annabox, your situation is very unpleasant, at best. Have you tried to tell him that unless he starts trying to help himself (as in PT) you won't help either? What I'm trying to say is you'll put as much effort in him as he puts in. If PT will help him walk and he won't even try then you won't do his walking for him. If he wants something from the kitchen and won't use his walker or do PT to be able to walk, don't get him the cookie! If he wants that cookie he will try to get it. You cannot continue to enable him. If he continues not to do anything to help himself, then I would tell him that this is too much for you to handle and he should go to an assisted living facility. That might motivate him! Does he have dementia? Because if he does it will only get worse as he will lose the ability to do ADLs and become more and more dependent on you... As you go thru this site you will find that there are many people (caretakers) that are completely burnt out, including those whose LO's do try as much as they are able. So I'm going to suggest looking into AL for him as soon as possible. YOU are doing a great job under very trying circumstances my blessings to you, Lindaz.
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Reply to lindaz

Hi Annabox
Sounds like my Father apart from the alcohol and he is much older(92) and now in care facility.
Believe me I understand. Like you tried everything to help him but he refused to do anything to help himself. He thought he knew best. All carers,doctors,physios, mental health team,nurses,the list is endless were hopeless according to him. I now realise what he wanted was a personal slave to do exactly what he wanted without question. I had to wait or a crisis when he was in hospital to get him in care as he's a complete refuser. I have power of attorney which is a must or they can do what they like. Mental health doctor and hospital doctor deemed he had not capacity to make decisions about his wellbeing so I could decide. He was not eating, washing,going out. Sat all day with curtains shut but refused to believe anything wrong. He's still at it demanding to get home and says being kept in care against his will . It upset me at first but you have to make yourself toughen up. For your sake and well being. I can now just walk away when he starts. It's taken me years to get to this stage. I still love him and care about him but I am not allowing him to bring me down or take over my life. What a rant. Hope it helps
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Reply to Patience13

Bless you! Here you are with a dad who is an alcoholic and wasn’t even a real dad to you as you grew up and NOW he wants a daughter to fulfill all his wants and needs. Where was he when you had your needs. I’m afraid you are being manipulated and sucked in to make it seem like it’s your fault for his sorry existence. Alcoholics are notorious for making their plight other people,s fault. I agree with others that moving him is best for helping with proper nutrition because as you know an alcoholic doesn’t eat well, as well as finding friends or people to do social activities with. You can’t be or do it all. You basically need to set limits and know why you are. It is fine to have boundaries. You did not create the mess his life has become. I dare to say he has beginnings of dementia from alcoholism. Do you attend Al Anon meetings? If not that would be very helpful in coping and having the support.
I agree you do not need to answer your phone every time he calls. That’s why we have voicemail. So what if he doesn’t like it. You decide when to pick up the phone. I and many others here have had to do that with our parents. Even the sound of my dad's personal ring tone would give me anxiety so if it was evening I would block his number. He was in AL so I knew he had help if needed.
You must do what you can to protect yourself and not enable. You can learn these skills through Al Anon. Report back. We care!!
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Harpcat

Alcoholism is cruel master...Yet there is a solution.  I went to AA in June 1986 because I could not continue drinking and also function even "somewhat" normally...It changed my life.  

The solution is that he can choose to go to AA and join the thousands who have, with God's and one anothers' help and encouragement, faced their reality and "hit bottom" and stopped drinking one day at a time...

There is also an organization called Al-Anon which is for loved ones of Alcoholics.  There are no dues or fees....Loved ones often suffer as much or more than the alcoholic.. I urge you to consider going...You will be made welcome immediately.   You will find them in most every town of any size...My own town of 75,000 has seven or eight meetings at various places each week...  You will be amazed at how these folks have learned to cope with their loved ones alcohol problems.

Meanwhile, I also urge you to find the courage to tell him you are only going to visit him (choose your number) times a week unless he stops drinking.  Offer to take him to an AA meeting.  If he says he is not an alcoholic, or that he can quit anytime he wants to,  but does not want to, or that he likes to drink, or that if anyone was in his situation they would drink too, or tat he "isn't as bad" as many others, or will switch to just beer, tell him to have it his way, and just do not see him so often....Do not attempt to say  "You are an alcolholic" or argue with him about it...      No one but the problem drinker can stop the drinking.....It cannot be done.  You must stop letting him lean on you so long as he is boozing.  I wish you well....

Grace + peace,
Bob, a recovered alcoholic                                                                                       

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Reply to OldBob1936
Annabox Sep 9, 2018
Thank you so much for your advice. I know the alcohol is the main culprit but there are so many other things too. It's hard to know whats doing what! I encouraged him to go to a senior community center to try and meet other seniors. It was a nice place, the people were friendly, but he wasn't interested at all. Towards the end of the afternoon (we got there at 11:30 and left at 2), he seemed to be sort of enjoying it (well, he was enjoying the music). When we got back to his house (approximately 1 1/2 hrs after lunch) he wanted to "go for a bite to eat". The regular place, he said - which has beer. Ugh - I didn't go but it was hard because there it was - smack in my face. Thank you for your well wish and advice. I wish you well also Bob. You are strong person and God Bless you,

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