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I am new here and am so grateful for a place where I can see that others are feeling and going through some of the same as me, for I feel so alone on this side of the computer.
My father and I enjoyed a wonderful, loving, fun, and close relationship over the years. He is now 82. Over the years he has changed and I've expected some of those changes. What I didn't expect was the selfishness, the anger, the lack of compassion that has engulfed the body of the man who was my Dad. He is rude, says hurtful things, and the hardest part is that he really has no idea that he is this way. Our life has turned into him complaining or yelling at me about all the things that afflict him. Then, as if to turn into another personality, he laughs and brags about how wonderful his life is, and then the conversation ends. There is nothing left that seems to care about anyone else but himself.
I wish I could explain better: I miss the man who would acknowledge ME, my life, my person, the things I do or have done. I miss the man who I could count on for reciprical conversation, the man who would say, "I am so proud of you" and "you are a good person" or "you've done a lot to help our family and you are getting the short end of the stick, you don't deserve it". Everytime we talk, I'm left feeling empty and hurt and is if I've just spent that time talking to someone who doesn't know me and doesn't care to try and remember. He is so dismissive about anything and everything unless it is him. For ex. recentely I was injured and have become permanently partially disabled. The only acknowledgement of the hardship this has been for me, are his complaints about the aches and pains the same area of his body cause him. My family's world has been turned upside down by this disability and his "aches and pains" are the only thing he acknowledges.
I don't know, maybe this doesn't make sense as I put pen to paper and try to explain it. I just know the man that I knew as my father is not the man I deal with in any way and the one that I am dealing with doesn't care about anyone but himself. Each time we interact, I am in tears afterward. I have talked to him about this and he honestly doesn't understand what the problem is - he thinks everything is fine. He's surprised I think there is anything wrong with our interactions.
His health is average. He is active and sees doctors regularly. He has been treated for things like depression but he stops taking anything that he feels makes him more tired (which is just about everything).

Any advice on how to let go of the man that was and accept the man that is - when the man that is, is breaking my heart??

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I thought of my father as a big strong animal with his leg caught in a trap. It made it easier to view his nasty comments with compassion, not hurt. Do you know in your heart that he did love you when he was younger and more himself? If so, hold onto that. This new situation will end someday with his death. You will deal with that by "celebrating his life," remembering him when he was a good, caring person.

It is very hard. God bless you.
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Wow! I can't tell you how relieved I am to talk to people to who understand (albeit very sorry that anyone has to endure this too). It feels so selfish when trying to explain it in words and I know many don't understand because they aren't the one on the receiving end. I will read the book by Pauline Boss and do more research into dimentia; but I will also be here, hoping to offer a shoulder to someone else and learn through all of you. Thank you to each of you who took the time to write and share with me.
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Shndar, it is sad to watch our parents' world get smaller as they age. Often their focus on the world becomes smaller and smaller until it includes only themselves. I have been going through this for years with my mother. It is so frustrating and I have to deal with much anger because of it. I have never found any effective way of changing things, other than dealing with the way I am feeling.

I always had this vision that people gain wisdom and become more expansive as they age. Was I ever wrong! It seems more like they go into survival mode, concentrating on the things that keep them going day to day. I wish it were different. The only way I've found to deal with the growing narcissism is to walk away when I can't stand anymore. I take a lot of walks. I rake a lot of leaves. It gets all that nasty energy of anger out of me, so I won't inflict it on innocent (or guilty) people.

I feel your pain, Shndar.
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Sunflo -- I love your analogy about the brain going into "safe mode"! Unfortunately with the brain, it isn't something the Geek Squad can fix. :(

Shndar85, your real dad is still in there! The person he seems to have become is not by his choice. I know this is hard on you. It is devastating to loved ones, and it is the worst thing about dementia. (I don't know if your dad has dementia, but he obviously has some organic problems that are causing this.)

My husband's progressive dementia involved many, many losses over the 10 years he lived with it. And those were losses for me, too. He absolutely hated not being able to drive. That loss meant extra work for me. He became self-absorbed, and not able to be supportive of others. Huge loss for me. He could no longer deal with hearing about problems of others. Again, a loss for him that was a painful loss for me. I had to get those needs met from other family members and friends.

One of the most helpful books I've read on the subject, "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" by Pauline Boss, suggests noting each loss as it occurs, and commemorating it in some way. Recognize that you are experiencing mourning, acknowledge it, don't feel guilty about your feelings, and move on. She also talks about accepting the one-sidedness of the relationship. This is nobody's fault; it is painful; accepting it is healthier than trying to make it what it cannot be.

I am so sorry for your losses, Shndar85.
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Both above are so true especially with dementia and when world starts revolving around the person with caregiving.

I'm seeing this with both my mother and FIL, both who have dementia and impaired cognitive function. I've been going thru this for 3 years and it was distressing and disturbing and still hard to accept the person who is now before you vs the one you spent your whole life with.

This website has been my sanity and total emotional support and I hope you find the same. I've come to grips with the changes and try to not equate all the bad or hurtful behavior internally and keep reminding myself it is the disease and aging process. I also have done a lot of research to educate myself to come to terms.

I, like you aren't full time caregiver.

Acceptance is the name of the game. Accept them for who they are and everyday start over.

My mom has dementia, it is worsening and although I'm literally the only person in the world left who has any interaction with her treats me crappy or lays the guilt trip. Some days are very pleasant and the old mom or mom I wish she was all the time. Pleasant, coherent, engaged. Other days, paranoid, hallucinatory, accusing. She swears I lie about where I live (I live 20 yrs in another state; she swears and wishes I live up the street); she thinks I steal her things, money, will, POA, address book (not true, I haven't even been there in 5 mo), lies about my brother that he is convicted felon and can't return to the state (that's how she reconciles that he doesn't want to visit her anymore), says friends committed terrorist act on her property (reported to police). She never asks about me or my family anymore, she has no interest in any outside activities, tv, books, friends, church...very sad for a women has her health other than dementia. She won't come for a visit or venture far from her house when I visit because she is afraid I will take her to care facility.

FIL - functional, but not engaged and although recognizes us, doesn't really care whether we are there or not. Has lost most social cues and manners.

I liken both to having brains like a hard drive that has crashed or about to crash -- brain has gone into "safe mode". In other words, it can only do absolute essential functions like those for survival. Keeping the body functioning. All battery power is focused on keeping body parts functional and basic skills like eating, toileting, remembering a couple people, their house, how the stove or tv works, getting dressed and that's about it...in time one by one some of these basic functions will be lost.

You have to find peace with this. I try to lower my expectations. I go to where they are physically and mentally. If they go off on a memory for the 100th time, I just listen, nod and acknowledge. I indulge them in treats they like, I keep visits, conversations light and short and slow so they can process. I try to do one small activity like a drive or walk around the block, sitting out on the porch, afternoon tea/drink with a little snack, whatever. If they're not up to a visit or activity, I drop it and follow their lead. No sense forcing something that makes them anxious or pushes them beyond their limits for that moment. Not worth it.

Good luck.
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I'm so sorry to hear about the deterioration of the relationship with your dad. assandache7 had a good idea about getting your dad evaluated for dementia.

I too cared for my dad in my home for 5 years. He went into a rehab facility after a fall and never came back out. He passed away 6 months later, last May. I miss him terribly.

I didn't have the same situation with my dad however, as a nurse, I can tell you that when someone has someone caring for them on a full-time basis, taking care of their every need, their every want, that person can become very self-centered because everything IS centered around them and they just get used to it. I work in home healthcare now and I have yet to have a patient that hasn't been affected by this. Their health, their vital signs, their medicine, their aches and pains, their Dr.'s appointments, their symptoms, etc. Everything becomes about them and they become used to having all of that attention everyday and it becomes the norm for them. Also, the person may feel a loss of control over their life which can trigger behavior that they feel gives them a sense of having more control over their life. This affects their personality, the way they treat people.

You wondered if what you wrote made sense. It makes perfect sense. I'm sure it's very hurtful to lose that reciprocal relationship you once had with your dad but I think many of us come to a point when we realize that it's gone. I know I did. My dad was never hurtful or mean or anything like that but once I became his caregiver our relationship changed and the sicker he became the more things changed. After my dad was in the nursing home I got a job and my dad was not supportive of this even though I had to work. He didn't want my job to interfere with my time with him and this was very unlike him. I was astonished at his attitude. I can look back now and see that this was his illness talking (he had hepatic encephalopathy which affected his mind) but at the time it just added more stress. Once we knew he wasn't coming out of the nursing home I sold the house we shared (so I could care for him) and moved farther out of town (about 30 minutes) and he didn't like this one little bit because I wasn't just 15 minutes away anymore. In a lot of way my dad became very childlike and at the end he was exactly like a child and I was the mom.

Try to find a way to accept your dad as he his now. Comparing him to how he was before will just be more painful. I wish my memories of my dad were of the way he used to be but I have to concentrate very hard to remember the way he was and to not remember who he became right before he died. I remember the week before he died, he was half in and half out of consciousness and I was holding his hand and apologizing for not getting there sooner that day (I had to work). I told him how sorry I was that I wasn't able to spend every day with him and he growled at me, "No you're not!". I was so shocked and hurt. Is that how he really felt but kept it hidden or was that statement a symptom of the disease? I don't know. But it was painful and I know he never would have said anything like that to me if he were in his right mind.

I don't know how you go about accepting who your dad is now, just that you need to. Finding this website is a great first step though. This site was so wonderful for me when my dad was alive, the people so supportive. I'm glad you found it. Keep coming back and sharing your experiences, vent as much as you need to. I'm glad you're here.
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You didn't say but it sounds like he has dementia..I would bring this up with his Dr.

I know it's difficult, you need to educate yourself about Alz/dementia disease.. It's the illness talking! You have to remind yourself daily that he's not acting this way intentionally..

Please continue searching this site for information many of us are dealing with the same issues. We are in this together!! 😀😀
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