My dad (82) has lived alone for the last 19 years since my mum passed away. I did live over 250 miles away but moved closer since my mum died in order to help out where I can, but it's still a 70 mile round trip to visit him. I have 2 brothers, one who lives only a few miles away from our dad and another who lives about 120 mile round trip from him. My dad lives independently and his health is generally good but he has hearing loss and some mobility issues. I work full time in healthcare and also work 24/7 on-call for a week each month and have a teenage son. I try and get to my dad's most weekends to take him out and get his shopping in but on the occasions when I can't get there (if I'm on-call or I have something else I'm supposed to do) he emotionally blackmails me, he says no one ever goes to see him, he may as well be dead etc. etc. He mentions other people's children who visit their parents more often than I do, however the children he mentions don't have full time jobs or the same level of responsibility I have at work. I call him every lunchtime and every evening to make sure he is OK. If I can't get there to do his shopping I arrange for it to be delivered (and I pay for it myself). He has a drink problem which he blames on his children not visiting him every day, he says he has to go to the pub for company. He has ended up having falls when drunk and recently he passed out in a pub car park and the police had to bring him home. He won't accept any help or support from social services and he does't look after his home. After a really busy week at work I am too exhausted to do his housework as well as my own, he tells me I should just let my housework go a bit. I've tried to explain to him that he is putting me under a lot of stress and his stock reply is not to worry as he'll be dead soon. He spends every Christmas with us which means we can never spend time with my husband's family. My older brother who is retired goes to see him a couple of times a week, my younger brother visits once a month. I am so sick of all the emotional blackmail. I'm the main salary in our family so can't afford to do less hours. Any advice on how to handle this situation really appreciated. I hate to think of him being unhappy but there must be something that can be done to help.

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Well - stop paying for his shopping, for a start.

Do you mind my asking roughly where you are? - just to see if I'm familiar with the area and what services might be available. If you'd rather keep that private, you can click on my screen name and send a private message if you'd like to.

Any health issues to be aware of? The passing out in the pub car park could have been overdoing it, but I have also known of previously unsuspected TIAs making respectable gentlemen look falling-down drunk.

How long would you say since he stopped being a fully independent widower and began to lean on you enough that you began to notice? I know it tends to snowball and it can be hard to pinpoint even a year, but there must have been a time or perhaps a phase when he went from being mainly fine to being definitely not fine.

You say he won't accept any help or support from social services. Is that just in principle, or have there been occasions when they have attempted to engage with him and been shown the door?

Hmm. How about he spends *this* Christmas with your retired older brother? It's over six weeks away, ample time for your brother to plan and book a venue if he doesn't like catering at home.
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You "hate to think of him being unhappy"....but the truth of that is that all of us are responsible for our own happiness.  You cannot wave a magic wand and he will be happy (not beyond a few immediate minutes when he gets his way).   You are doing a very great deal to help your dad .. but what is he doing to help you and the rest of his family? Think about that.  In fact it is on him to take responsibility for himself and he would be a happier person if he not only took care of his life, but got in the habit of thinking how he could make life nicer for those around him.  It is paradoxical, but people are happier when they think of others instead of wallowing in their own problems.  Could I suggest you set some firm boundaries and when the blackmail starts, walk away? It would actually be a good thing for him to become more self reliant and aware of others' needs.
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So stop, get off the merry go round.

You must know you are not responsible for his drinking. It does not matter how he justifies it, you are not responsible, nor are your brothers.

You do not need to call him twice a day, nor give up your weekend to do his shopping and housework. He should be paying for his own groceries, no matter how they get to his home.

If he chooses not to accept help from Social Services, that is his choice, he does not get to tell you how to spend your time.

Tell him now that you are going to spend Christmas with your husband's family this year. He can make his own plans. Me, I never let anyone dictate where I spend my holidays or with whom I spend them.

He gets his way because you capitulate. Stop responding to his demands.
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anonymous912123 Oct 2019
Spot on post!
First off, enjoy your well deserved vaca! As for your issue, NO is a complete sentence, time to start practicing saying this little word.

If he can go to the Pub he can do his own shopping, and if he doesn't want to, his son can go with him.

You are living in the past with his mindset, when the man said "Jump" the woman hollered "How High, How High", time for you to stop this nonsense.

No need to call him twice a day, he is manipulating you, and you lack boundaries with him.

Have you read "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie? I would suggest that you do, you are doing for him what he can do for himself, a classic enabling situation.

Put yourself and your family first, take control of your life.
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Your the daughter thats one problem. Dad is from a generation when the woman was the Caregiver and stayed home. Well, he needs to get into the 21st Century. A lot of Women are now the Breadwinners. Our economy needs 2 people in a marriage to work just for necessities. My daughter is an RN. We used to have her son every other weekend. And when she was on call, so were we. So been there.

No longer do children live near parents. They go where their jobs take them. He should feel lucky that his one son is there 2x a week and the other once a month. He gets more than some parents.

Boundries, set them now. Tell him you will explain one more time that your job does not give you the time to visit more than "maybe" once a week. That we no longer live in the 40/50s. Families are scattered. Two people need to work to make ends meet. You can only spread ur self so thin. For now, your job is a priority. That he needs to do more for himself. And stop feeling sorry for himself.

If he can get to the Pub, he can go shopping for food. There must be some kind of Senior bussing. I do not like being at someones beck and call when they are capable in doing for themselves. With my Mom, I put a white board on the Frig and had her write down what she needed when she thought about it. We set one day up for shopping and running errands. I was not far from her pharmacy, so could pick up scripts when I was out and about and drop them off. But if I couldn't do that because I lived in a different town, I would have had her set up delivery.

We can't be everything to a person. When we try to be, we enable them. They should do for themselves as long as they can.
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Addicts will use any trick in the book to keep you 'doing' for them, no matter if you're burned out, exhausted, overworked, etc. It's all about THEM. MACinCT is spot on. Stop enabling your alcoholic father and attend an Al Anon meeting right away. Allow them to help you learn how to deal with addicts. I definitely think you should call Emergency Services (911 here in the USA) the next time your father threatens suicide. That ought to nip the problem in the bud, pronto, after he's taken in for psychiatric evaluation. He needs to be held accountable for himself at SOME point, right? Enough is enough.

Best of luck & enjoy your trip to Portugal!
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First and foremost, stop explaining yourself to your father. You are an adult and so is he. Just because he is your father does not mean he is entitled to an explanation of what you do with your time or the choices you make. The more you explain yourself to him the more he will expect explanations. You must put some emotional distance between you and your dad for his emotional blackmail to stop working.

It's only October and now would be a good time to inform your father that you will not be hosting this coming Christmas and he will have to make other arrangements. You must make time for your husband's family. They are just as important as your dad and deserve to enjoy Christmas with you for a change. And going forward, consider spending every other Christmas with your husband's family because it's only fair.
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Maybe the brothers have better boundaries?

In some families, there can be rational discussions about divvying up tasks, no guilt or shame over saying "no I can't do that, that doesnt work for me, that's a task we have to hire out." The siblings work as a team, the elder is cooperative.

And then there is everyone else.

You can't expect siblings to do eldercare. We ALL get to choose what level of involvement we have. If your siblings think dad needs a higher level of care and that he needs to spend his money on getting that, or if they have washed their hands of him because he's been abusive, neglectful or absent, you really can't do anything about it.

You can only control your own actions and behavior.
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"I have 2 brothers, one who lives only a few miles away from our dad and another who lives about 120 mile round trip from him."


"My older brother who is retired goes to see him a couple of times a week, my younger brother visits once a month." 

Why can't your older brother do his shopping once a week on his way to see him?

And why can't your younger brother get over there sometimes to do some cleaning?

This would be a more equal sharing of responsibilities, and that is only if the three of you agree that your father gets caregiving from his children. Who takes care of his house -- maintenance, lawnwork, etc.?

What is his financial situation? And why are YOU paying for his groceries?
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Glad you're going to get some time away! Have a lovely time in Portugal. Let us know how things are going.

I totally get "mission" creep. I got to the point you are with my mom before I said "Mom, I can't do this anymore". She didnt buy it at first but eventually she understood that I could no longer fly out of work 3 times a week and travel 50 miles to her home because there were ants, or a burned out light bulb.
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Why on earth are you doing this to yourself?

You can never be responsible for the happiness of another person. You dad's alcoholism is his to own. Not yours.

Ccalling twice a day? Paying for groceries.? Cleaning his home that he doesnt look after? Why?

I'd sit down with dad and say "Dad, I can't give you the level of support you need. My child, my marriage and my home need to come first. You have other resources that you can tap. I need to step back. Let me know if you'd like me to help you arrange other care".

I take it that you are in the UK?

If he threatens suicide, call the emergency folks right away and have him taken in for evaluation.

There is a terrific book by Townsend and Cloud called Boundaries. It is written from a Christian perspective. Please read it and start to set some healthy boundaries with your dad.

And spend this Christmas with your husband's folks.
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Sunflower27 Oct 2019
Yes we do live in UK. Thank you for the recommendation for the book, I'll check that out. I think the situation has developed gradually but it's now at a point where I can't cope with it. I've explained this to him and have contacted my brothers to ask them to help too. I've explained that he needs to take some responsibility for himself and find interests that don't revolve around pubs. I called him this morning and he seemed OK and didn't try any blackmail tactics. I'm taking my teenage son and myself off for a week in Southern Portugal as we need some r&r. Thank you for your reply.
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