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I've been lurking here awhile, finding great solace in the things I read all of you inspirational people say. But I've cried twice today so maybe it'll help to stop lurking and start talking? I feel like I should apologize before I start...


I live with my parents. My father is 71. This doesn't seem old to me at all. But my father has an extensive medical history (heart attack, bladder cancer, left side weakness, mobility issues). He was forced to retire, for medical reasons, in 2018. He fell down the stairs in early March of this year and the ER sent him home after diagnosing a C7 vertebral fracture that they said would heal on it's own. Then he had serious mobility issues later in March and was admitted first to the hospital for four days of observation and then into the skilled nursing rehab associated with the hospital. He was there for just over three weeks.


The diagnosis ended up being a sacral fracture and fused vertebrae in his neck, from a previous broken neck. There were no signs of stroke or Parkinson's or anything... the neurologist said physical therapy was what would help more than anything at all.


He did so well in rehab. They called him the star pupil and said he'd be in PT all day if they let him.


My mother and I were so hopeful.


Then he came home.


They sent a PT and and OT, for about two weeks, and gave him pages of exercises to do. The OT told him about how if he takes a day off, he loses three days of strength... and it takes 30 days to get it back. She told him that the choice to exercise and to do the work was his, and his alone. She told us about how her father let her sister and brother-in-law do more and more for him until he couldn't do anything for himself and he started falling and his organs started failing.


Maybe she pegged him as someone who would choose not to do the work.


And she was right. I knew that before he went in, after he blew off PT after hand surgery and basically lost use of his hand, even if I didn't want to admit it to myself.


But I hoped it would be different because he worked so hard in rehab.


And then he mostly stopped doing the exercises and stopped working for anything, just like he did between when he retired and was hospitalized. He changed the exercises to be easier, but did them less often. He picked about five that were easiest and calls that done. We sat with him and did the exercises with him, and he claimed we wanted him to exercise 24/7 and be in 'perpetual motion'.


But he constantly lists the things my mother and I don't do for him, even though he doesn't do anything for himself and he will choose sitting and staring at the television every time rather than working to be better. He won't talk to us. He won't be a part of things. But he complains that we leave him out of things, that he's not a part of things. And I've heard my mother beg him to talk to her, about her or about him or about me or about my sister... and he won't.


I ask him why he isn't working harder, why he hasn't found something worth fighting for (even my sister's kids, his grandkids). He tells me I ask loaded questions, don't give him credit for trying, make unfair demands...


And I just want my father to not give up, to not color his choices by claiming he had no choice because my mother and I wouldn't let him exercise, to not turn away when I beg him to work to be a part of my life for as long as possible.


Am I wrong? Did I do something wrong? Because he makes me feel like I did, and I end up thinking awful things about him sometimes - and sometimes I say them, and sometimes he says awful things to me.


He apologizes for that a lot, and so do I, and then he promises to be better, to talk to me more. And then he doesn't.


I couldn't even tell a doctor what's going on, because he doesn't talk. That's what my mother and I told the ER and rehab staffs. We don't know, he doesn't say.


Thanks for listening to me. And thanks for all the words you've already said.

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I am really sorry that you and your mother are going through this trying time with your father. Welcome to the forum and I hope you find encouragement here. Come here anytime to vent.
Read the book “Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande.
Study the ADLs and the IADLs. You can find them easily online. Track what he’s able to do and not do on a regular basis. This might help at the doctor appointments.
Recognize that your dad could live many years as an invalid. I hope he decides he’s not ready for that yet.
I encourage you to live your own life instead of focusing on your dad’s decline. Your mother seems to have the right idea about not enabling him. Catch him doing something right and ignore the negatives.
Don’t feed into his wanting to blame you and your mother. That’s not good for any of you.
You need to think about how much of your own health and life you are going to sacrifice because he doesn’t want to take care of himself.
The Zoloft may not be the AD for him. There are many more to try. I take that as a good sign that he asked for it.
Give your mom a hug. She must also be discouraged.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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feelinglost8 Sep 11, 2019
Thanks so much for the book recommendation, I'm going to look for it. And thanks for phrasing it the way you did about catching him doing something right and ignore the negative. As many times as she's said it, it never worked out that way in my mind - maybe because we're too close and too invested. But with that in mind, I'm going to pay more attention to that, so thanks. And I will give her a hug.
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You know people with heart problems never feel 100%. Heat gets to them bad. But you all have to let him do what he can. If ur going into the kitchen for a soda, then ask him if he wants one. If he asks for one and can get it for himself, then he needs to.

A lot of people do well in rehab, they want out. When they get home, PT goes out the door.

You cannot make Dad do. And keeping at him hurts u more than him. You need to tell him u love him and want him around for years. But as long as he keeps playing the invalid that is not going to happen. You are done pushing him. Its his life, so u will back off. But, you refuse to wait on him.
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feelinglost8 Sep 11, 2019
I desperately want him to do what he can. And it's strange, or maybe common... I don't know, but he claims he can't do this or do that but, then, if my mother or I turns our backs, he almost always can. And does. If we go outside to do yard work, he gets up to get candy despite just having been so exhausted he could barely lift his feet. Is that common?

I did always wonder if he was bothered that his Medicare supplemental plan was willing to pay for such a long time in rehab. So maybe he did work to get out. And they had told him if he didn't do the work there, do the work to be able to go home safely, he'd have to go do more work at a nursing home. So maybe he was working to avoid that.

Now if he'd just work to live a good life. But I am going to try and stop pushing so much. I try and remind myself that it's his choice. But his choices affect me so it's hard. Is that selfish?
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When things are this difficult medically at the end of life it honestly goes beyond depression, because almost no amount of work is going to make the path forward a good path. Some choose to give up. He clearly is severely depressed. Sometimes depression at this age, with this many diabilities, cannot be "fixed". And family is always desperate to fix everything. I think that his doctor needs to order some mental health evaluations. Sometimes medicine does help with a clinical depression. Sometimes it does not.
So sorry to hear he is going through all this pain and despair. When you speak to him encourage him to express what he FEELS instead of pushing and pushing because if you push at this point he is going to turn his face to the wall. Ask him "What is the worst of this for you Dad, " and then listen to him. You will learn so much. Good luck
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It sounds as though he has had a lot of life changes forced upon him in a short period of time. Aside from the health problems retirement can be a very disorienting time, for many people it takes a long time to come to terms with no longer having their daily rituals and social connections.

As for the PT - I bet the percentage of people who continue to "do the work" for an extended period of time is not very high, to back up my belief all you need to do is look at the number of people whose new year's resolution to get fit is abandoned by the end of February. If it is worth it to you to try I suggest looking for activities that will get him active and motivated that are not "pages of exercises" - hiking, biking, golf, bowling, dancing, rec league old timer's baseball... I'm just throwing out random stuff here. Another advantage to that is it can help him fill his days and to feel less adrift.
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Feelinglost8, I'm so sorry that this is going on with your poor dad. No one wants to be part of this "sorority" at the agingcare.com forum, because we all know what it means. True, your dad is relatively young but he's been through more than the average senior. When people (especially men) lose their sense of purpose, independence and hope, feel physically crappy and feel like they are a burden it's no wonder they slide into a depressed state. So about a year has gone by since he was forced to retire? I think he needs time to adjust to a change that he didn't plan for or choose. It can be very stressful to wait for him to "turn his ship around". I realize he has a lot of physical ground to lose in the meantime. Has he ever been checked for a UTI? These are very common and can change a senior's personality but can be remedied with antibiotics. Also he may get benefit from anti-depressants, although he doesn't seem to be the type to agree to this. I understand your post was meant to vent, but sometimes practical suggestions can give one a sense of moving forward. I wish you peace in your heart and a positive change in your dad!
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feelinglost8 Sep 10, 2019
Thank you for responding so kindly and so quickly! My post was meant to vent, but practical suggestions are always welcome. I'd never thought of them as giving me a sense of moving forward either... so thank you for that. He is on Zoloft now, which he did talk to the doctor about on his own. I feel like that's just made him more content to sit, though, not get moving. And part of the explanation for why he was admitted for the lengthy stay was a UTI, actually. And he has a urologist we trust who has told us what to watch for and when to call.

And you're right... it has been incredibly stressful this past year to wait for him to 'turn his ship around'... and I'm scared that he won't.
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