Follow
Share

My father lives in a personal care home. My Dad's mental health deteriorated after my mother passed away in October 2012. He was admitted to the hospital under "failure to thrive" by his PCP. He never went home after that. In the beginning, I visited my Dad every other day religiously. It was too much for me. I dropped back to twice a week for a period of time. The past couple years the visits were even less frequent. Of course, there's a lot of stuff going on in my life but it doesn't stop me from feeling guilty, guilty, guilty. Then, when I do visit like I'll be doing in about 30 minutes, Dad inevitably asks me, "So, when was the last time you were here? I don't remember" and/or "I didn't think you were coming back to visit" or something to that effect. As I write this narrative, I realize how I revert back to when I was a kid and got into trouble. The emotions overwhelm me. I know for a lot of people it may not seem like a big deal and in the big scheme of things, it isn't a big deal but I am now dreading goint to visit thinking about it. After every visit, I vow to myself I'll visit more often and I absolutely DO want to visit more. I think twice a week would work for both of us. I just can't seem to get it together. I wonder if anyone can relate to this issue.

Find Care & Housing
Thank you, wally003 for your insights on my situation. I don't know if he defended me or not. I'm assuming he went along with the jab to not rock the boat. Your advice about letting my sister know what I was doing for my mom while there was good, that is - if I even was on speaking terms with my sister, which I am not. I did send out a group text to all my sibs and nieces/nephews as I boarded the plane to return home, letting them all know how things went during the week, what time I had left my mom and that she was in good spirits eating her dinner. I got no response from her at all, but my brother and niece each sent me a private text in response. They are afraid of my sister knowing they speak to me. She was out of town for the week I was there and my niece had me over for brunch with the family, but they have to pretend to ignore me like my sister does. If they get on her bad side it will be unpleasant for them. It's a crazy situation, but she is the one in power and controlling my mother's purse strings. So I really have no way of fighting back - it is what it is. Just makes me hate my sister all the more.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to 2ndBest
Report

i think its real easy to criticize a person for "whatever" reason. I have found in my life when I have judged someone over "something" , it wasn't long before I caught myself doing the same thing.
I remember visiting someone and their house wasn't real clean. and judging them. NOW I have found im not the best housekeeper. OR I judge people for driving "wrong". and then on a day when I have a HIGH STRESS, or I got NO SLEEP. I may have done a dumb thing driving, and got "honked at"

so now instead of just assuming what im thinking about someone may be true, I try to understand why they do what they do.

i hope the reliable family member stuck up for you and explained you do care.
i would have texted my sister at the time you cared for your mom at the rehab facility.

i would have said. hey i just took mom for daily walks and i did this and that. just wanted you to know. etc

i don't think you are overly sensitive. it hurts to be judged and to have someone have low perception of you.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to wally003
Report

I can relate to this problem of being guilt-tripped and/or feeling guilty about not visiting "often enough". I live 600+ miles away for one thing, and my husband and I own and manage a company, and have moved both our company and our home in the past 18 months. I have a busy life but I do call my mother every week or so, even though she often doesn't answer her cell. So I hear back from a reliable family source that my sister's boyfriend, whom I have met once, is making comments like "What is she waiting for your mother to die before she comes to visit her??" I totally resent a virtual stranger making remarks like this about me. He knows nothing about my life. Then when I told my mother I heard what he was saying, she replied "Well I suppose people do wonder". So it makes it hard to spend the $1k on airfare, car rental and hotel to go visit and be made to feel guilty about not visiting often enough. Last time I was there when she was at a rehab care facility, I waited on her hand and foot, took her for walks in her wheelchair, spent all day every day visiting with her and doing everything she wanted, only to hear her on the phone telling my sister that SHE had gone for a walk, went to visit a friend, etc. all without ever mentioning that I had taken her to do those things (I was in the room when they were talking on the phone). Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but it was a big slap in the face to me after giving her my best care and attention. I felt like I was in a competition I was never going to win. I am not the favorite, and that will never change. But I am expected to bend over backwards in an effort to compete with the favorite. Sorry, just not interested in playing that game.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to 2ndBest
Report

How's the rest of the visit, once you're past the intro?

I know my brother had similar feelings about my mother, and this is why. When he did ring, which was not often but let's not get into that, the very first words out of her mouth were invariably an excited: "when are we going to see you?!"

Well. I could have told her that this phrase could have been designed as a nuclear guilt button. But for one thing I would have been wasting my breath; and for another making him feel guilty was her last intention. She wanted to make him feel *wanted.*

And for another thing it's not impossible that at the time I felt it served him right if he felt guilty. So he should. A**hole. But as I say that's somebody else's story...

The stock phrases your father trots out when you arrive are just that - stock phrases. Like 'how are you?" or "long time no see" or "hey good-lookin'." What he doesn't mean is that he has been sitting and pining since you were last there, and he doesn't either mean to make you feel bad about it.

What I'd recommend is that you devise your own stock response to his stock greeting. Such as, "busy busy busy" or "well never fear for I am here" or whatever trips easily off your tongue. It's just a verbal handshake, to be got out of the way.

And as for the you really do want to visit more but...

Mmmmm. "I do but" I'm always a bit sceptical about. But that isn't important. What is important is that you visit as often as YOU think good, whether that's once a decade or twice a day, and don't worry about it. You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

They behave like this because they can get away with it. You give him exactly what he wants, apologies and offers to visit more. When my father or late grandmother would say things like this I will tell them if they make the visit unpleasant ...I will visit less. No matter how much you visit it will not be enough. My father would complain to my daughter that I hadn't visited. She told him I was there all the time and he agreed but said I was always 'doing stuff" (chores he assigned to me) so I guess that did not count as a 'visit'. Last month my daughter appeased him and took him to old home town. That was an entire day trip. When I saw him last he complained that she had taken him there but was not back to do it again. She had taken him in between graduating college and starting a summer job. I told him she was working full time now so she couldn't do that trip again. You are old good when you are doing what he wants.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to lkdrymom
Report

Thank you Barb, Wally, and Ahmijoy ;-) Your answers have been very helpful. I haven't been on this site since my mother passed away. Now I remember why I liked coming here so much. It's because y'all are in the trenches with me and each person has a unique perspective on the situation.

Turns out my visit with Dad earlier this evening was surprisingly pleasant. An old friend from nearly 55 years ago was sitting across from Dad. They were in a heavy discussion about a time when they both taught at the same private school. My Dad's friend was very animated and did most of the talking. Dad had a faint smile on his face.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Carol72156
Report

When my mom (with dementia) was in the nursing home, even when I visited every other day, she’d claim it had been “weeks” since I was there. On occasion, she would sarcastically introduce herself to me because, in her mind, I had “abandoned” her and hadn’t been to see her in a long time. 

Your father is being sarcastic. He’s trying to make you feel guilty and you’re obliging him. When he says that, heave a deep sigh and say, “Oh, yes...it’s just been ages and ages, hasn’t it???” Then give him a knowing smile and proceed with your visit.

If you feel he truly doesn’t remember your last visit, don’t argue. That will get you nowhere. People with dementia always believe what they say is true. Just calmly say, “Well, Dad, I’m here NOW.”
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ahmijoy
Report

you have a 'past' with him and you feel like a little kid.
I feel like that ALOT !

I hate that feeling, like I'm going to see the principle at school! I haven't been in trouble like my whole life. but I always feel afraid im going to get caught/in trouble!

or having that 'very annoying/mean person' you have to work next to.

people you have to be around, and just DONT enjoy.

maybe you wont change him - he's going to be grumpy and accusing.
you cant change those annoying co-workers either.

Can you banter back by saying 'oh dad, you know that's not true" or "I can't wait to see you on Wednesday!" "I'll always come back, nothing could stop me!"
it may not feel comfortable at first to say that. but maybe its better to counter his negative with a positive. :/
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to wally003
Report

So, does Dad have vascular dementia? That's pretty common after a stroke.

Can you sit down and talk yourself through how often it's possible for you to visit your dad? What's good for him and what works for you? Can you talk to the SW at the facility and find out what activities Dad participates in? How much he appears to be not engaged?
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report