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Let me preface this by saying I'm not a full-time caregiver yet. We are on a "trial run" with my elderly father to see if both parties can handle each other. So far, not so good!

Long story short, all I hear from my father is constant complaining. Never necessarily about anything I or husband did, but specifically about things that happened 40+ years ago. His ex wife did such and such to him...his other kids don't call him enough...they don't appreciate him..the list goes on. I do not have a relationship with these half siblings, nor do they care to be part of the care giving process. So it has fallen to me.

I recognize we all get reflective as we get older, and it clearly pains him that these children of his don't want much to do with him. But I can't take more of the constant assault of negativity from him. I say things like "sorry I'm the best kid you've got, dad!" In a lighthearted tone, and I've even gotten to the point where I've told him I don't want to hear how bad his other kids are.

How can I cope??

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Medication for depression might help him. You also redirect his line of thought by telling jokes or remind him of funny events in the past. Keep him away from blood and guts TV and tune in the comedies. Play his favorite upbeat music. Dementia is easily redirected.
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I, too, get the constant stream of negativity, but I am not the caregiver, so I try to just let it run off me. But it is very hard to take, and it will tend to drive away others who otherwise might want to visit or participate in caregiving. My only advice would be to make sure you take a break from it yourself, and don't take it personally.
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I'm with Pam on this. Either have him seen by a geriatric psychiatrist or talk to his dementia doc about meds. It's called rumination and it's not good for the brain.

What does he do all day? Is there adult day care he could go to? An elder group that goes to breakfast a few times a week?
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I agree, I have written before about sending my mom to a Senior Behavioral Clinic. In ten days they "fine tuned" her and the difference was amazing. She still has a tad of anxiety but it is all much better. She still gets critical and self-pitying--after all, she was ALWAYS like that so why should that change completely? But it is much, much better. Now I can just ignore or re-direct the remarks. It is not a complete onslaught, which you are describing,and which I have experienced.

Try to get the family doctor on board with the geriatric referral, and your dad will probably accept it better.
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Dementia is easily redirected... I do not agree... I only wish it was. Every individual is unique. When you see one you see one.

It is difficult for everyone to accept a mind is damaged by Alzheimer's Disease. Not only is memory damaged their ability to process
thoughts and conversations is impaired.

Confabulations and repeating are a major annoyance.
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I haven't tried meds yet. But i find it helpful if I listen to a few complaints and gradually redirect attention to something calming to them. Sometimes it seems their outlet of frustration if they are unable to do a simple task. Helping or guiding with the task in progress always helps for me.
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What about the emotional neediness under the mental thoughts and behaviors? My mother's non-stop talking arises out of anxiety and fear of abandonment. What helps is someone (usually a stranger) who heaps compliments or some little act of kindness which she acts like a person in a dessert being given a glass of water. The drama is enacted over and over again. I think yes, rumination, would describe the thought and the need to fix it.

The doctor ignores all my suggestions and my mother does whatever she wants to . If someone tires of her antics she disses them and finds a new victim.
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You need a new doctor. My mother's wonderful internist was only wonderful as far as her physical being was involved. Once anxiety and depression (caused by cognitive decline) set in, he was useless. We needed a geriatrician and a geriatric psychiatrist to show us the whole picture, prescribe meds, further evaluations and a change in lifestyle.
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I am so glad this was posted, because I feel guilty about posting a similar question. @bunnyslippers - does he have dementia? I don't recall reading that, but others seem to be alluding to that. My MIL is living with us temporarily, and although the complaints themselves are somewhat different, the general behavior is the same. I realize that she is grieving over the loss of my FIL, and it has been less than a month, so I've tried to take this with a grain. Unfortunately, she was like this prior to now. I am almost to my breaking point. My husband and daughter are as well, but we are just stuck until she gets moved into her rental home (next door). My husband thinks she just doesn't realize she is behaving this way, while I think it is straight up intentional and evil. For that thought alone, I feel so guilty. Maybe I need the medication!!
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By he way, I just got the bill form the Senior Behavioral Clinic: $$30,134.15 total to my family after insurance: $1216.

It is worth it. JuddhaBuddha, my mom was doing the same thing. Acting like she was deserted by the family and desperate for attention. She was making a nuisance out of herself, bothering everyone, including the secretaries, with her endless needy talk and accusations. Now she pretty much minds her Ps andQs.
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That should read BUT after insurance only $1216.
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I think the transition to a new environment is hard for everyone. I am not in agreement with medicating someone because their behavior annoys me. Perhaps he is just lonely and needs someone to talk to, something to do, somewhere to go, watch a movie, read a book, do a puzzle, etc. Then he would have some new memories, good ones, to talk about. He sounds lonely to me and since I don't know if he has been diagnosed with dementia I would hesitate to suggest medicating him so he doesn't annoy me.
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I applaud you for what you are doing, helping your elderly father when no-one else will. Concentrate on caring for him and seeing to his needs, and teach yourself to ignore his complaining. Some people just complain becuase it is the way they are, there will always be something to complain about. A large percentage of elderly people are grateful for someone who cares about them, most aren't. Also, if you are going to do caregiving, grow a thick skin, don't take the complaints on board, it is called 'water off a ducks back'. All the best. Arlene
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But how would I get there to one? Her doctor refuses to test her, refer her and my mother sees nothing wrong with her behavior and no one can tell her otherwise. What did you do: gag her and drag her to this place?
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Judda, it helped when all four of us took turns taking mom to the doc, and all four of us told him mom was obsessing, whining and criticizing. That's when his Rx pad finally came out. Attack en masse.
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Thanks Pam but there is no one who cares about her but me. I find myself thinking more and more that she will just have to go her own way and take whatever happens to her. All I can do is drive her when she needs it, check in on her, and the rest she does herself. We did have a nice Christmas morning, thanks to her neighbors.
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How long is the trial?

What are the alternatives to his living with you?

There are people who are "happy being miserable." And there are people who can smilingly ignore them, and stay cheerful in spite of them; and then there are people who can't, and who get beaten down by it, and end up worn out, resentful and hurt. If your personality happens to put you in the latter category, then I think you have very sound reasons for looking again at the plan.

If you've given it your best, and you've made allowances for teething troubles, and all the obvious things; and seeing as this is, as you said, a trial run; I'd be drafting my little speech about how his living in your home didn't seem to be suiting either him or both of you, you are concerned about the practicalities of long-term care, and you (and husband) have come to the conclusion that he would be more secure and more settled living independently in his own place as part of a retirement community.

Then he can go there and cheerfully complain about you too! - but at least you won't have to listen to it all day.
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Juddha buddha,

yes, in a manner of speaking I did gag and drag my mom to , first, AL. Area Agency on Aging helped and the staff of the AL was awesome. Without them, and it was really tough love, I could not have done it. About five months later I needed to move her to a new (and better) facility, and THEY insisted after a few weeks that she go to a geriatric doctor or a senior behavioral clinic. They said the clinic would be easier and faster in the end. So, that is what we did. If you would like, you can post a message to my wall here and I can give you more details.
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I think my mother still has good things going on for her in her personality and now in her new Indep facility. I'll just watch how this plays out for a while. She is VERY charming and wonderful to others in the early stage of her relationships so it would not work for me to declare otherwise. I think I'll turn my attention to my father in a different state who is kind and suffering from grief.
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Sounds good. Good luck!
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Salisbury, How did you get them to agree to go to the clinic?
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Hi cantellu,

1. I had help from the Area Agency on aging and my mom's doctor to get her into AL.

2. then, the AL insisted that she go to either a geriatric doctor or the clinic. They said the clinic would be easier and faster.

3. I made it clear that I would not be able to transport my mom to the clinic. She was exercising all of her paranoia and anxiety on me--so I just would not have been able to do it.

4. They said that was no problem; they would make all of the arrangements; and they did! I laughed when I got the bill from the transportation company--it was about $64 for over and back! Well,worth it.

The first stop needs to be a geriatric doctor of psychiatrist. This is complicated for us but routine for them! Good luck!
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Thanks for the information Salisbury. I think my Dad would go willingly, but my Mom would not. I'll be contacting the local Agency on Aging for some other things, so I'll add this to the list.
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Great, good luck!
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Bunnyslippers, has your father been diagnosed with dementia or is he for the most part mentally sound (i mean he is 98 right?). If he is, for the most part mentally sound, have you asked him point blank why he is complaining so much? Or has he always been this way. The reason I ask is because you said that you (and your family) and he agreed to a trial run to see if it would work with him living with you. You might want to tell him that it will not work if he continues to complain all the time. See what his reaction is to that, is he aware that is his main mode of conversing with you and your family. If he is made aware of it and knows that if this continues you cannot and will not be able to keep him with you, he may try to change. I say try because he is 98. I would straight up talk to him about how it hurts the whole family and you cannot allow that to happen. Now if he does have dementia the whole picture changes as this will only get worse and you cannot reason with a person who has dementia, they just don't have the ability to understand anymore and I would then look into an AL facility or perhaps a progressive care facility, and not feel guilty about that. So first things first, make sure he is seen by a good doctor, either one specializing in the elderly or a good neurologist and find out where he is at. Once you know that, all other decisions flow from there. Don't keep him in your home if your family and you are just going to be suffering it is just NOT worth it. Linda
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Diversion, diversion, diversion! The proper meds help but if he is obsessing change the subject. His interests and anything that has made him happy/held his interest in the past. "Yes dad, that really sucks but what about those......(insert sports, nature, cars, water, fishing, art, etc.) Try to avoid subjects that are agitating like politics, war, natural disasters etc.
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