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I feel horrible even asking this question because there's a part of me that thinks, "Well, what if they ARE that helpless, and its just your burnout mindset thinking they aren't?" That would make me cruel. In my case, my dad has been acting helpless for decades, the majority of my life really. He thinks he has gotten "so much worse" but from my perspective, he has stayed the same because he always acted that way.


If you read my previous post, I spoke about how my dad threatens to go into a nursing home whenever I establish boundaries. He threatened it again yesterday, and I took ya'lls advice and said "Ok, if you believe in your heart of hearts that you want to go into a nursing home, then go. I refuse to feel guilty for that."


It's so frustrating because I feel like I have taken on the parental role for my dad for years. He acts like a child now, because he has gotten used to me doing everything. I remember my mother raging before she left us because she was burnt out too, and I feel like I have taken her place. Most daughters in their 20s would have left by now, they would be too busy with their own lives to even worry about their elderly parent. They would maybe show up once a month to check on them or call them. I feel like that's the healthy thing to do.


Instead, I do everything for him, from cooking to cleaning to finances. I have zero support myself. I keep thinking, wow must be nice being able to call on someone whenever you want them to do something for you because I've never had anyone like that in my life. I do believe he acts more helpless than he really is. If I didn't exist or if I wasn't here, he would have to act like a fully functioning adult in order to survive. As long as I'm here, he doesn't have to.


How do you navigate this situation?

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I totally understand exactly what your situation is because my mother is just the same as your father. She had been actively dying for about the last 40 years since I was a little kid too. People like your father and my mother are are narcissistic manipulators who use F.O.G. (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) as weapons to control the people in their life.
You are right in thinking that you replaced your mother and took her place when she got fed up and left. Same here. My father couldn't take my mother's endless negativity, the constant dying, and often terrifying performances and he left. When he did I took his seat on the crazy train. I became the family scapegoat and mom's whipping post. I became her emotional dumping ground and caregiver too. Seems like a lot to put on a six year old, but it is what it is.
You did the right thing telling your father if he truly thinks he belongs in a NH then he can go to one. Don't let him ruin any more of your life. He will double down and try harder to knock down your boundaries. You must stay strong for your own sake.
You've got youth on your side being in your 20's. I do not. I'm almost 50 and let my mother ruin the best years of my life being a nanny-slave to her. Those days are done. Keep those boundaries clear and stick to them. If your father doesn't agree then stop helping him altogether. Get away from your situation before it's too late. Believe me your 20's and 30's go by very fast. If you let a needy, narcissistic, mentally ill parent run your life now you will have nothing when you're my age. You need to grey rock your father big time and now. Forget about the house. You're more important and please go to a therapist. It will help.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
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Summer, I think that given the fact of having been raised by two mentally ill people (mom with BPD and dad possibly Dependent Personality Disorder), you might be well served by seeing a therapist to try to undo the damage this has left you with.

So, has dad made plans for a NH? I would call the local Area Agrncy on Aging and get him a needs assessment to find out whether he needs NH level care or merely a nice Assisted Living place.
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ckrestaurant1 Sep 25, 2021
Im confused here is there a comingling of finances?.............if you are a woman or man living in the house you are on call!...Establishing boundaries is futile in that this person, infant wants to be fed,changed,entertained,have groceries bought for etc. basically you are an unhappy couple living in the same house.
Prepare yourself for the move to a NH..or assisted living for him if you can afford the financial layout....as I did after I simply was afraid that Dad would get up walk out,fall in the bathroom hit his head,and i could not diaper him...if need be or did not get a catheter...so is the house in your name?..what is going on are you taking his social sec. this is very impt. as you decide if you can afford the 3-4thousand a month...or are you considering Medicaid which means you need to prepare for the future in that Dad can only have 2000 dollars in his account to qualify or do you have assetts.....looks like you do otherwise Dad would not be hasseling you..unless its his nature...maybe he does have sizable assetts and is unhappy with your taking care of him....you need to prepare for the inevitable diminishment of his health.....this is what happens as people age any web sight will tell you about the needy,guiltripping...after that its simply you or him...who is gonna be saved.
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So you bought a house with dad, and (I assume) are co-dependent on him to assist in the mortgage?
While it's water under the bridge, you probably shouldn't have co-mingled your money with his, insofar as mortgage payments go; especially, as you say, you are afraid he will spend his money (which I assume you need for your home) on scams or shopping...
You also say you are self-employed.

So, in the long term, I agree with Barb when she says you need counseling to learn how to break this cycle. You have been "groomed" to be little more than an unpaid servant to your father's whims. Unless you have iron willpower, you will likely need professional guidance on how to remove yourself from this role.

In the short term - if you are self employed, do you work from home? If so, maybe think seriously about finding office space somewhere - anywhere that removes you from the home and forces dad to start to do for himself. Restrict his access to the internet - change the wifi password, put blockers on his computer, if all the computers are laptops, take them with you when you go, don't give him access to a phone or a tablet with internet capabilities when you're gone, etc. If he's going to behave like a child. then restrict him as such.

Inform him, should he think about attempting to do something to "sabotage" your home, that the next place you will live will be yours alone, and he will have to find his own way, be it AL, nursing home or couch surfing with a friend.

You are right when you say "As long as I'm here, he doesn't have to" do for himself; maybe it's time to limit his access to you.

Good luck!
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Hopeforhelp22 Sep 25, 2021
notgoodenough - Wow - your message was great - very proactive and strong!
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You have created a situation where you meet all your dad's needs without any time off and any help. Start by adding people to create a supportive care team, those who are willing and able to help take some of those tasks off your "overflowing plate". Ask for help from: family, friends, members of faith community, and/or paid help. You need enough helpers so your needs are met: sleep7-9 hours every day, 3 healthy meals at a reasonable pace, "time off" for your health and hygiene needs, and "time off" daily and weekly for social and relaxation needs.

If you can't find enough people so you can meet your own needs - then it is time to resettle your dad into assisted living facility or memory care facility.
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I was in your shoes. My Dad also always acted helpless around me and I witnessed him being different around someone else. It's beyond frustrating because in your heart you want to help, you don't want him to feel "abandoned" and what if.....? For those who say "you are enabling him" I respectfully disagree and say that until you get into that situation, you simply do not fully understand. It's like an abusive relationship, they don't start out beating you half to death, it all starts slowly and builds. This is the same type of slow burn. And since we all become more dependent as we age, it's truly difficult to know when it's a true need or their anxiety/fear/ control in play. I wish I had advice on how to extract yourself from this, in my situation there simply was no one else who would help. I actually had my brother laugh as he said a nurse told him I had caregiver burnout. There is nothing funny about it. I was losing my own will to live. My Dad ended up suffering a mild stroke and then he began falling more and more so I couldn't do it any more, especially since I work full-time as well and am single. Not only was I physically and mentally unable to continue, this was not a safe situation for him, what if he fell and hurt himself while I was at work? Yet, I felt horrible, like a failure, like a terrible daughter.....all the guilt. I had him placed in a nursing home and the very next day was lockdown from covid. I quickly discovered that place was hell on earth but had no way to move him at that time because no facilities were taking new residents. My guilt was almost unbearable. Once things started opening up, and after months of trying, I finally had him moved into a better facility. He is calmer, I have so much less stress, and now I visit once a week and we both enjoy each other's company. Dad just turned 87 this week, and I feel so blessed to still have him with us, to have this opportunity to just be his daughter again. My only suggestion can be to realize it's ok to think of yourself and your health - body and mind, to not place so much guilt on yourself, and do what is best for both of you. If you get to that dark place I was heading into, you won't be able to help him at all. I wish you peace and joy, and to realize you are not alone. You are supported here whatever you choose to do. I wish you both the best.
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SummerRaya Oct 1, 2021
Thank you for understanding. I agree, its not easy to just walk away from an elderly parent. I cant just sell my house and move into a smaller apartment and ship him off to a nursing home. I just moved into this house and dont have the finances to make major changes again so rapidly. I also dont want to lose my house, this was an investment. I am on here to vent my frustrations, mostly. I know this will probably go on for another few years, and then I can more seriously consider putting him in a nursing home. For now, he is still mentally aware of everything and functions without hands-on help. For example, he still showers and gets up off the couch and is able to get his own medications. I do the housework, cooking, finances, etc. but those are things I'd be doing anyway if I lived alone. I'm just burnt out because I've been in this role since I was 15 and it slowly gets worse. I'm just waiting for another inevitable medical emergency, and then I will have to make decisions accordingly. I dont want kids (sadly, been too burnt out for awhile now, I dont want the rest of my life to be taking care of people, even if that sounds untraditional or selfish. I'm tired). So I figure this is my last rodeo in taking care of someone and I'm sure it wont last forever.
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I suspect personality is key here. Learned helplessness behaviour used as a coping mechanism.

There was a poster a while back with a similar sort of Father. A long thread (miss your tales Paul...) That Dad seemed to need constant attention, stuff done for him (he could often do himself) + created little dramas too. Eg always suddenly "very ill" if the chosen 'helper' was about to take a holiday. So fear of abandonment was a big thing for him too.

The pressure was ongoing & no matter how much was done for him, he would need more. Because it wasn't really about someone dropping off the shopping or making a meal it was about getting & keeping attention. (Wife had left him & kids too). Not evil. Just his coping with life style.

So. SummerRaya, back to YOUR situation & your Dad.

For whatever reason, your Dad needs a lot of help. Whether he could physically do for himself or not, mentally it seems he cannot. His attitude, outlook, manner & ability is quite dependant. Is that right?

Is he an anxious sort of person too? Untrusting of 'strangers' & so prefers to rely on only you?

Now if he was able to accept & understand his strengths & weaknesses... great! He would accept he needs 'assisted living'. Then he could take steps from the current position of you providing all the assistance for his living to other options (hired aides, or move into AL).

I have a relative that is cognitively unable to understand the level of her dependence on others - so pointing it out is non-productive (even cruel). So it is up to her supports to set their own boundaries & suggest/arrange alternatives.

This may be where you are?

Like pushing a baby bird from the nest in order to teach it to fly - helping him settle into an AL may give him a chance to fly solo - to make friends his own age, to join activities, to have a daughter who visits.

You could both being be in each others' lives but both enjoy separate lives too. How does that sound?

(Legal help may be needed re the house title & funding issues).
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You are enabling his behavior. Sounds like your father is demanding and controlling. Your mom created a “monster” by availing herself to his beck and call. Now, you feel responsible for caring for a older, spoiled “man/child.” His selfish behavior will continue…your Dad is more than happy to reap the benefits of your martyrdom. You are so young. Get out of this toxic set-up. Even if your new abode is not as large or fancy as your current residence, you can have a social life, some sanity, and some peace. No loving parent expects or wants to become a burden to their children. Obvious your father is very narcissist. He puts his needs above yours. Get out, get our, get out before it is too late, before you completely buckle under because of his toxic, behavior. The Bible states we”should honor your mother and your father.” It does not state that we are to relinquish or enslave ourselves to our parents. Talking to a therapist may give you some insight into why you feel compelled to comply with your father’s emotional manipulation. Good luck.
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shuffle Sep 25, 2021
you hit the nail on the head here with everything you have said, it sounds like you are talking about my situation. I had both parents living with me. I cared for them for a year. They have moved out 2 days ago and are now living closer to other family members, who will be tending to their unreasonable demands.
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hugs!!

you wrote:
“I do believe he acts more helpless than he really is. If I didn't exist or if I wasn't here, he would have to act like a fully functioning adult in order to survive. As long as I'm here, he doesn't have to.”

i think if you feel like this, you’re probably right. in addition, it’s not a recent thing. it’s been like this for years.

i talked to someone (man) recently who said, he feels like he’s being a wife to his dad, by taking care of him. he repeatedly tells his dad, “i’m not your wife. i’m not going to do all these things for you. you must do them.”

i think it is a matter of doing less:
then the elderly parent is forced to find solutions.

we have 1 life.
a loving father wants you to live your life to the fullest.

i myself, need to follow my own advice.

courage! and i wish us all luck, here on this forum.
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SummerRaya Sep 23, 2021
I agree. Yes, I have decided to do less, but at the same time I don't fully trust his mental capacity/awareness to do things the right way. For example, he doesn't know how to use the internet/google but still goes on there and I'm worried he's going to buy something expensive (he used to have a huge shopping addiction) or fall for scammers (instead of hanging up, he'll have full on conversations with them until I walk into the room and ask who he's talking to, tell him its a scammer, and finally he hangs up). I feel like a helicopter daughter because he doesn't understand certain things like that. Like I have to constantly steer him away from the cliff.
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You should get home health care in there. You should not be doing everything. They can help with housekeeping meals and keeping him company. You do not owe him your life.
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bundleofjoy Sep 25, 2021
“You do not owe him your life.”

exactly :).
loving parents want you to thrive, want you to have your own life, just like they did.
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I loved my Dad, but he was 101% old school, pampered by my Mom, and could not even boil water. Once when my Mom was in the hospital, I "taught" him how to run the vacuum. He did it once and I thought he would have a heart attack. So what I'm saying is your Dad doesn't have the know how or the stamina it takes to run a household or take good care of himself. He was enabled by your Mom, and you took over the job. Left to his own devices I wouldn't be surprised if he sat and watched tv all day, ate from whatever box he could open, and would not clean a thing. If he's fairly young and able, teach him how to do a few things, little by little and explain to him that you just can't do it all anymore. However, if he's in his 80's or 90's or physically disabled, he's not going to change and he's just going to get worse. A woman as young as you should be enjoying life and planning a future. What can you do? GET HELP. If you have siblings, ask for help. If you don't have family support, hire someone to give you a well-deserved break a few times a week who can clean, cook and/or shop. Let your Dad pay. Period.
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Beatty Sep 25, 2021
That is my relative. Has hobbies, watches tv, boxed food. Poor mobility/disabilities adds many real difficulties but it's the invisible mental health issues that bring more. Can get a box from a cupboard or a handful of tissues, but cannot discard used ones into a bin. Hiring daily help was the answer.
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