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Long story short, my 71 year old father ended up needing a colostomy. He is now living with me and my family. I have four children ages 14,12,7,and 2. He had surgery 3 weeks ago and has been home for 2 weeks. I am already losing my patience. He won't do much for himself at all. He won't eat or drink unless I bring it to him. He only showers twice a week. He refuses to learn his colostomy care and we can't find anything that works. They are supposed to last close to a week and I am changing it up to three times a day. The mess is unreal as he has constant diarrhea and it leaks so much. My 2 year old is obviously very demanding and my older children are involved in sports. I have a wonderful husband but he works 70 hours a week to support us. I am so tired already. What do you do to help cope and stay patient and kind?

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Thank you all for your support and answers. He is getting specialized ostomy nurses. They are equally frustrated. His stoma ( which is the part of the intestines that stick out to eliminate waste) is not healthy. The appliances just don't fit properly. I really do understand that this is new for him and recovery is difficult. I have been more than willing to help him. It just seems that he won't do anything to help himself heal. For example he, won't do the exercises suggested by his physical therapist and always asks me to cancel the appoiments which I refuse to do. This behavior is not new. Even before the surgery, he wouldn't shower regularly, eat or drink healthy, or help out in anyway. It's just worse now. He is an alcoholic but he is not allowed to drink in my home. He lays in bed about 18 hours a day. All the nurses and therapist say he is more than ready to provide for his basic needs including the colostomy care. He will never heal if he won't move. I just need to find a way to help motivate him. I've explained many times he needs to eat more and drink more. I've told him if he stops moving he sooner rather than later will not be able to. When I was growing up, he always helped my mom cook and clean and raise us. He's too young to act this way. 😢 I will give him more time like what has been suggested but I've got to get him to try to make some effort.
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At the very tippy top of this page is a search bar. Search for Ostomy to find many threads on this subject. God bless you. I hope you can expect to see him recover and become a little more independent. Three weeks has been h3ll forever for you, but it isn't all that long to recover from and adjust to his situation.
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April4, try not to enable him.... example, he needs to come to the dinner table when the rest of the family comes and eat what is being served.... don't be a short order cook.

But please note 3 weeks he is still recovering from surgery, he's probably still in a bit of a fog... for every hour someone is under, it will take a month to recover, thus if his surgery was 2 hours, it will take two months. I am around your Dad's age, and the last time I had surgery, I couldn't drive for a month :( Once that fog lifts, hopefully he will feel more like himself.

Next time your Dad is visiting his doctor, please ask the doctor about the constant diarrhea. I don't know if this is normal with such a surgery. If not, ask the doctor what can your Dad to help clear this up. I wouldn't be surprised if your Dad is also dehydrated, which would make him feel light headed and not want to do much around the house.
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April, there is a specialty within the nursing profession -- ostomy nurses. They are specially trained to teach the person so that he/she is independent. Contact your hospital of the ostomy proorganization to locate one in your area. ( wocndotorg). The nurses I know that are part of this organization are so WONDERFUL. I hope there is a member near you.
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Thank you for you support. He is on antidepressants. Today he sat at the table. I knew he was waiting for me to ask him what he wanted to eat. I went about doing my chores without offering. He sat there for 15 minutes until I finally asked. He did make some progress today and went out to get his own newspaper. I'd been asking him to do that himself just to get him moving. The problem with putting him in a facility is he would refuse and go get his own apartment where he would drink himself to death and lay in his own waste. He has a long term girlfriend whom he used to live with. He has been going back and forth for two years. She is willing to take him back of he can take care of himself. I have gently told him her expectations. He kind of agrees but then shrugs it off. My dad mentally is a 40 year old but physically an 85 year old so we can't just make him do anything. I feel like his girlfriend is just going to be s short term solution because no one wants to put up with his laziness. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when he wants to come back for the winter, if he even goes to her at all. She is flying out in 6 weeks to assess the situation. I have told him many a times he is more than welcome to raid the fridge. The nurses haven't made him do anything himself with the colostomy. I think it's because we can't find anything that works so they keep trying different things. He says he been feeling great so I'm going to take it upon myself to teach him.
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Is your dad's depression being treated? Depression and body image issues are very common after a colostomy.

Have you requested that the home health nurse work with him while teaching him how to care for the pouch and stoma? You're absolutely right, he should have been taught and then monitored until he was adept at it.

You have way too much on your plate. Have you tried a little tough love? Encourage your dad to get up and make himself a sandwich if he's hungry as opposed to waiting on him hand and foot. Do one grocery shopping a week and have him tell you what he'd like instead of shopping several times a week based on what he feels like eating on a particular day.

You said if he goes to the hospital for stoma repair you'll tell them that he can't come back but if that doesn't happen you don't know what you'll do. You can place him in a facility yourself. You don't need to go through the hospital to do it.

You've been a devoted and dutiful daughter in bringing your dad home with you but you have your own family to care for.
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I asked for a rehab facility but insurance wouldn't pay because he should be well enough to care for himself. I also begged the nurses to not just show him his bag care but make him practice but that never happened. The home health nurses come but he still hasn't been made to do it. I'd be ok with changing the bag if it lasted longer or if he would get his own food and help clean up after himself. He is ok to drive but won't so I'm going to the store for him several times a week. I kind of hoping he needs to go in the hospital for stoma repair and if that happens I can say he can't come back so they'll have to put him somewhere. But if that doesn't happen I don't know what to do. There is no physical reason he can't help himself. He's so depressed with his new situation he seems to have lost his motivation for living. I'm trying to be patient until he has enough time to recover but I'm just so tired.
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April, he needs to go for rehab or convalescent care to learn how to look after himself, and if he can not/will not learn, he needs to find a place where there are caregivers to look after him. It was nice to offer him a place to stay while he got back on his feet after surgery, but your life is too full with a young family to be his full time nurse.
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