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My daughter and I are about a month + into newly taking care of my father. She is the primary caregiver and I visit daily or every other day to assist. He had a surgery several months back and has since recovered, but is still struggling with his balance at times. We are both, as well as her husband and children, trying to adjust to this transition to a new home with an elderly man who rarely has anything nice to say and is constantly complaining and barking orders. Any advice?

All sorts of red flags are going up for me, NugeJN. Your grandfather has dementia and no amount of reasoning will work to change his behavior toward you or anybody else including his ex-wife in whom he confides.

Do you have durable power of attorney for him both medical and financial?

You must protect your children and your marriage. In my opinion, it is a bad idea to thrust any child - and 15/16 are still children especially nowadays when maturity is delayed - into the role of caregiving for him. Children should be socializing with their friends. You have asked them to "tone it down" in their own home. You have moved your children how far from their old friends? And what are two teens going to do when he picks on their younger siblings? Teenagers are not prepared to deal with all that comes with dementia.

Your grandfather's dementia is only going to get worse. I don't know the ins and outs of Medicaid, the implications of having purchased a home with him, and your options if/when his disease becomes unmanageable. At the very least, it sounds to me as though he needs his own space that is divided from the rest of the home so that you can better manage him and the rest of your family can have the privacy and freedom they deserve. Can you create a "granny suite" for him?
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NugeJN Aug 23, 2019
NYDaughterInLaw - I agree. My 2 oldest sit with him very rarely and never for longer than an hour if they do. It isn't ideal, but they get paid for their time and they always watch him together. They always have the option to say no. Hes fairly self-sufficient at the moment, so they are mainly helping him cook if hes hungry and there in case of a fall.
When I say we have asked them to tone it down, I mean the noise level at night and the rough housing in doors. I would be asking them this normally, but admittedly not as much as I do now. As for the actions of what the older ones do when he picks, they've all been asked to remove them selves from any situation that they feel uncomfortable in and come get us immediately. We have also given them the permission to let him know if he has done or said anything that hurt their feelings. Again, not a perfect situation and we are all still learning.
We have the option to and are planning to turn the larger extra bedroom into a separate living room. When you say Granny Suite, is this like an apartment off the house? With its own LR, BR, kitchen and bathroom? We could possibly add an addition off of the bedroom, but he has his bedroom, bathroom and soon to be separate living room all together on one side of the house. The kitchen isn't too far away. Hopefully this will help him with a private space for himself.
My mother has Primary POA and I have secondary for both medical and financial.
We were not certain that his finances could support him in a home for the rest of his time. He also, at the time, seemed as if he would recover better being at home. The mental status was explained as being hospital dementia and that once he was home and settled, would go away. Its been 2 months and it doesn't seem to have changed.
The idea behind our decision was to help with him while we were able to in an attempt for him to save money so that when the time comes that we are not able to care for him anymore, we have financial ability to place him somewhere for care.
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Your father has been through quite a lot recently according to your profile. He is newly divorced and has health issues, Has he left his home (of many years?) to move in with a family which he may not quite feel a part of yet? The children are young? If they are normal, active children, they may be annoying to him by just being active and normal. Most people of his age just want peace and quiet and to be in their own homes. This apparently is not possible for your father.

Did your daughter and her family relocate to live with him? Or is he living with them? Or was this a home purchased for them all to live together? Whose decision was this arrangement? Was your father totally on board with the decision? My mother thought she was going to live with me, too. #1 My husband said no way and I didn’t disagree. #2 We had 2 dogs and 3 cats at the time and she was not a big fan. Complaints about the animals would have been continuous. #3. I babysat frequently for my two preschool and toddler age grandsons. They were, and still are, my heart and soul. But again, Mom would have been very vocal about my time spent with them and not her. Mom was stubborn and could be nasty and snarky. That would not have changed. I realized this and when I was told she could no longer live alone, she went to a facility. Of course I felt guilty, but as her dementia progressed, I knew I made the right decision.

If your father is of sound mind, it’s perfectly ok to remind him that nastiness and making continual demands to be “served” are not acceptable. Just like any other member of the household, he is to remember his manners, be kind and be patient. He is not an easily broken china doll and when he is being nasty, he has no concern for other’s feelings. When you remind him to be patient and “use your manners, Dad.” you do not need to fearfully tiptoe.
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NugeJN Aug 23, 2019
Ahmijoy - Thank you for the time you took to respond. I am the Granddaughter who is the primary caretaker. To answer your questions in order...Due to the recent divorce, he had to sell the home he built 30+ years ago and retired in. After his surgery, he was in rehab care until the end of June. We purchased a house for us all to move into and I packed my family up and moved out of our house to stay with and care for him. He was very much a part of the decision and conversation as well as the house hunting process. I wouldn't say he was 100% jazzed with the thought of moving and living with us, but he also didn't want to be in a nursing home as he was very concerned about the attentiveness of the staff. He was very concerned about wetting the bed and his sheets not being changed promptly, falling and nobody coming to help him, how he was going to get to the dining hall every day, the cost, etc.
I have 4 children aged 10, 13, 15 & 16. My 2 oldest help sit with him when we have quick errands to run. The children are not very active in the home as we have asked them to try to tone it down since moving. His biggest gripe that he has verbally expressed is that he doesn't agree with how they're being raised, because its not how he was raised. I have explained to him many times that how I raise my kids is my business and that as long as they are respectful and follow the rules its fine. For example, he doesn't agree with the drinks they're allowed to have with dinner, the portion sizes they have with meals, the fact that if they step away from something they leave it for a minute, they don't clean properly and they leave drinks on the counter because they're not allowed to have them outside of the kitchen. Just to name a few. I try explaining that this is a new experience for everyone and they are doing their best to do a good job at everything. He also seems to have a love hate relationship with my 2 youngest as I've caught him picking on them a few times.
My Granddad is capable of making decisions for the most part. His mental status is very confusing for my mother and I. One minute hes sharp as a tack and the next hes rambling about complete nonsense. He can remember the past like it was yesterday, yet hardly recalls what he ate 3 hours ago.
We have sat down several times to try to address the tension in the house due to his tone and demanding behavior. He one said "I will appoint someone to do it then", and this triggered something within me. He used to be a big wig in the Marriott Food Industry as a high level manager. Its almost as if his micro-managing (with the kids cleaning), demanding and negative tones are reflective of his previous work position.
Hes been a fairly negative person his whole life, seeming worse now though. However, he seemed to enjoy our family get together's, taking us on fishing trips, boating and jet ski adventures, crabbing off the dock and dinners out and he also seemed to enjoy time with my 3 children when they visited, doing a lot of the same things. Now its like nobody or anything is good enough or worth his time.
That brings me to the ex-wife. The one person who trashed his name, left him at such a vulnerable time in his life and took him for every penny she could, is the one he confides in, talks to, puts his trust in and defends. My mother and I remain civil with her and about her for my Grandfathers sake though. We believe its in his best interest since he feels so strongly about her. She isn't the best for him in our opinion though, and we don't feel that their continued relationship is in his best interest, but we cant express that to him or our reasoning for it because he absolutely flies off the deep end.
I hope this helps to paint a better picture and apologize if it went off topic or rambled off in a few areas. I appreciate your time and suggestions. Thank you.
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I am 61 And angry at the world
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Several points...
First, your children right now are trying to adjust. It's been only 1 month. It's too soon to know whether or not it is affecting them in any serious way. In 1 *year* from now, things may not look so rosy to them. Kids pick up on things and can sense when something is wrong. And if he starts picking on their mother, your children may change their tune toward him. Caregiving changes people and again, you're only 1 month into it.

Second, "The house was purchased by him, his name is on the deed and he paid cash for it outright, so no mortgage..." Are your and your husband's names on the deed? As for the Granny Suite, usually it does not need a full kitchen - a kitchenette or Pullman kitchen is sufficient - but if your names aren't on the deed then grandpa shouldn't be the one living in a Granny Suite. Which brings me to...

Third, sit down with your husband and children and ask them what they want, where they want to live, how they see things unfolding over the next year with grandpa, and make a family plan. Life cannot revolve around one person; caregiving must work for everyone involved. And it sounds like your arrangement is not working for everyone. Selling the house and using the proceeds to pay for his longterm care is a good suggestion made by Harpcat. If he doesn't want to sell, put your family first and consider moving out and resettling your family. You can still help him by helping your mother.

In my opinion, it is a bad idea to accept the responsibilities of caregiving without having the authority. Your mother has POA. And his ex-wife still influences him. You are in a power struggle.
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katiekat2009 Aug 26, 2019
Agree. It was irresponsible, in his condition, to sink so much money into another home. Also sounds like Mom is dumping her responsibility on you. Take your family and move. They should be your first priority.
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Wow, 4 generations separate GF and his great grandchildren. I can't even imagine what he thinks of these little people that are so very different than he was and his own children. One generation to the next is enough to confuse the hippest parent. He must think he landed on Mars.

I am wondering how your children are being dealt with to cope with the constant belittling. I think that they are the most important ones in this household and they are being scarred by this man. I think that kids don't even realize that words impact them and affect their lives in ways that they don't understand until they are older. Do you see any changes that are being attributed to age, change of location? You will need to keep a close eye, because they will not tell you what they don't understand and it's not always so straightforward. It's the drop after drop of water affect.

Perhaps you need to tell GF that you're not able to continue as things are and present his options. First one stop saying anything nasty to my children, that is a deal breaker. Then let him know he will end up in a facility if he doesn't put some effort into being a better housemate. You know the things that need to change and you need to sit down and explain to him how his actions are affecting everyone and that you can't risk your children and their futures by allowing them to live with all the toxicity and he has the choice to make, either get along or we are gone.

Best of luck, please protect your children from living in a prison home.
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NugeJN Aug 27, 2019
Isthisrealyreal- The belittling isnt constant. He has good days and bad. I have raised my children through some difficult times and they are not your average bunch of kids. We very openly communicate with each other about anything and everything, so they will for sure come to me to let me know if theyre feeling any type of way. The children have been told what is ok and what is not. They are made aware of what is acceptable behavior and what is not when it comes to him. We make sure to point out cues to them so they can avoid negative situations with him. For instance: When theyre doing chores. If he comes in and starts watching them, thats fine. If he starts saying anything about how theyre doing it they can either ask him to show them or they can walk away and get us if his tone seems harsh.
We are starting to put our foot down with him more and more now and letting him know whats ok and whats not. He is always presented with the options he has when he exhibits excessive negative behavior.
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Dear people out there who are caretakers for spouses and aging parents, when will you see the light that is out there if you will just open your eyes? Please know that people get together and form relationships and then have families and raise their children to be adults and eventually the children move on and repeat the cycle. This is the way of life. The children must be loved, taught, and aided in their venture to maturity. That is a must if you have children. However, now you are suddenly faced with elderly or sick or mentally ill people who become ugly personalities and are abusive. They have no conception of what they are doing but that does not make it o.k. and should not be overlooked. I truly believe in my heart and soul that every human being who has become an adult must, from early on, think and plan for their own future to the best of their ability. If they don't do this, and are selfish or greedy and just expect someone will be there for them, no matter what they do, they are complete stupid idiots. Then the day comes where loving families out of guilt, or culture, or for whatever reasons take these people into their own homes to be cared for. What they don't realize is the impact that the bad behavior and associated problems will cause for the families. No one, not God, not the devil, and anyone in between, has the right to behave in such a way as to cause harm and destruction to the rest of the family. Families should try every possible idea to help them to the fullest extent possible but when that does not work, and laying the law down to these people that they cannot continue like this, fails, then there is but ONE SINGLE SOLUTION. These people MUST BE REMOVED FROM THE HOME. They cannot be allowed to destroy others. This is just simple common sense - fact of life. Why would anyone remain in a position of danger, discontent or otherwise very bad surroundings? Are they fools? It would appear so. I know money can be a problem but there are attorneys, professionals in aging, and many sources of information and help. One must just make the effort and take the time to find the solutions - they are there. Safety is important for the patient but peace is also important for the family. Sometimes the two just simply are not compatible and with time, it will get much worse. People who are nasty and cause harm cannot be around good, decent people or they will end up destroying them - unacceptable. The above situation is such a case. You cannot reason with them - and they won't listen or change - they either can't or don't want to. Make the break before it is too late. I was a caretaker four times - to my parents, to my husband, and a dear friend for 28 years. I worked full time and it was not easy. I did it out of love and BECAUSE THEY DID NOT EXHIBIT BAD BEHAVIOR. Had they become nasty and abusive, they would have been completely removed from my care and sight - bu not everyone was as lucky as I was to have them keep their good personalities. Wake up people - end it before it is too late.
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disgustedtoo Aug 26, 2019
Sometimes there is no choice. People can fall into the gap where they make too much for Medicaid, but don't have enough to pay for a facility. It isn't always as simple as some people think (both trying to get aid and taking someone in!)

Also, the OP's profile says this man has dementia. More than likely he was NOT like this before. If he was not, there ARE other solutions that could be tried before washing one's hands of the person. Could he have a UTI? Sure. Mom was fairly 'agreeable' when moved to MC, but became a raving lunatic when she got a UTI. Have any medications been tried to calm him? During the whole UTI episode, we had to resort to Lorazepam to keep the peace. He recently had surgery - sometimes it can take MONTHS for the residual effects of anesthesia to abate, but sometimes it never fully goes away.

I would suggest a full checkup, and perhaps an assessment or trial period of medication to calm him down before booting him out (if that is even possible!)

Having a calm, easy to care for elder seems to be the norm for those who don't have dementia. My grandmother on mom's side was easy to care for - mom and sisters took turns having her live in their homes. More often than not, those with dementia can be very difficult to deal with. It can be all the time or some of the time. It may not be the person's demeanor before dementia. Dementia changes everything.

I chose not to consider taking mom in for many reasons, including the fact that she could be very difficult to be with well before dementia (other factors include my age/bad back, an unsafe/difficult for her to get into my place, no easy access bathing and that she outweighs me by a lot, so if she fell there is no way I could support her/get her up.)

Life isn't always black and white.
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So he objects to the way the children are being raised, which to me harks back to his role as an executive level manager, accustomed to giving orders, making high level decisions, and having a staff to support him but not control or manage him.    W/o realizing it, he may view the children as employees, subject to his decision making.

He's had a lot of challenges lately.   His independence and health have been compromised, he's had to move from his home of decades, and instead of also being the dominant control in his abode, he's now more or less a live-in guest, unaccustomed to being guided, controlled or managed (which is probably how he sees it.)

His relationship with your family is equally important.    I'm wondering if the children can bring down the level of interaction to one of just discussing common issues, or even playing games that aren't contentious or hostile (like the violent games).    I'm trying to think of a way they can interact as people and not as relatives, just by doing something that doesn't invoke criticism or judgment. 

Even walking would be helpful for all, even if he uses a rollator, although I'm not sure that introducing assistive devices at this stage of the game would contribute to making him feel better about himself.   

Are there any subjects on which your older children could ask advice?  And appeal to his experience and knowledge base?    Maybe even just an explanation of the overall food purchasing and delivery system for  a large hospitality company?   

If they're taking math, I would think that ordering and quantity prediction for unknown numbers of people would fall into his experience somewhere.   And perhaps the children could adapt that to whatever math class they're taking.  It is in fact basically a predictive math (and distribution) issue.

On the STEM curriculum, technology could be another subject to discuss.   Your children are probably tech savvy, so they might ask him about how Marriott adapted to the tech revolution, how it uses tech to predict, order, and manage the food supply.    And how it uses tech devices to ensure prompt and accurate delivery,on a daily basis.   How did technology change, for better, his role at Marriott?

Help him bring out his knowledge and share it.   Find the common grounds and cultivate them.

But generally, I can understand his resistance and hostility.    Perhaps you and your husband and the older children can have meetings outside and away from him and list the issues as well as how each is manifested, then work on solutions, subtly so that he's not aware he's the subject of discussion,.

For the control and management issue, the first thing I would do is see if there's a SCORE group in the area.  https://www.score.org/find-location can help you with this.   It's an organization of retired executives, with I believe one goal being to help guide young potential businesspeople and offer advice.    I'm sure he could offer a great deal of advice from experience in the hospitality industry, or even perhaps to a school system or Senior Center managing food service.  (Perhaps he could volunteer to help fledgling SCs set up MOW programs.)

He needs something to rebuild and compliment his ego.   (I think we all do, at some time or another!)    He might be less critical if he feels better about himself.  He can also volunteer to be a mentor to others.  

I'm reserving judgment on his confusion, as to whether or not dementia is involved.  I know from personal experience that when I'm stressed and in a situation out of my control, I tend to get confused as well.   I have to step back, cancel all the plans, get a good book and read, or just go out and work in the garden.   I've found that cutting down trees is a good way to redirect stress and diminish mental confusion.

I'd like to think more about this; I think I'm missing a few things, but hopefully what I've suggested so far could be helpful.
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NugeJN Aug 25, 2019
GardenArtist- I took some of your suggestions about subjects for the kids to ask him. He unfortunately didnt seem very interested in discussing it. He stated that it was a long time ago and he just really didnt remember much about it. He seems to enjoy talking to my husband and son about sports though. He said, in front of all the kids, that my son was his favorite. He seems to get along best with the 2 men in the house. The girls on the other hand are a different story. Hes fine with my oldest daughter and has had nothing bad to say about her. My second youngest he thinks is odd and strange. My youngest he believes to be goofy.
We always step away to have any conversations involving him. We are always very careful in what we say around him. My mother also takes him at least once a week so we can do "family" time. Id like to say the kids dont seem to be bothered by it, but maybe thats my wishful thinking. I make sure to check in with them still though.
As for his confusion, I am still in the air. It will be nice to know what were dealing with and where to look for advice. Ive tried many strategies and none seem to work. I think its just how he is. We have an appointment, but not until Oct. Going to see if we can get it sooner.
As for tree cutting....we actually tried this and he came out and sawed one limb, said his neck was starting to hurt, went to go sit down and then ended up directing my husband and I on what to do and how to do it.... We try to find him hobbies, but he seems uninterested in anything weve tried. YMCA-no, gardening-no, shopping-no, painting/coloring-no, games-no.....
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Your GF definitely exhibits signs of dementia in my opinion. A doctor should do a mental assessment when he is next seen. You mentioned he might be depressed and yes he probably is with all this life changes, surgery etc.
However, what is complicating this is that he bought the home you moved into. So you are benefiting financially from the arrangement by not having a mortgage and therefore you don’t have any cards to hold. You can’t kick him out and if you leave, then what? Until I read that I had some suggestions but that changes things. You don’t hold the power, he does. That doesn’t give him a right to treat you or family this way, but he is not going to get nicer...their bad traits only get amplified with age and dementia. Right now you’re in the stage to try and make this work, but sadly as he continues to deteriorate, you will find your life with him getting harder and less tolerable. An antidepressant might work...it really helped my dad's negativity and was a condition I set before he could move to be near me. You too could try having conditions. You could say GF I can’t do this anymore unless you try an antidepressant and being kinder. Then you would have to stick to that and move out and buy your own home.
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NugeJN Aug 25, 2019
Harpcat- Benefiting financially might be a stretch as we pay all the bills in the home and for most repairs. We also take care of all the maintenance as well as his personal care. No there isnt a mortgage, but this was all discussed before moving into or even looking for a home.
As for kicking him out, thats never going to happen. It is his home after all. If it got too bad for our family, yes we could leave, but he would then have to hire in-home care. We have discussed us buying the home from him, but it hasnt gone further than a discussion.
For holding the power, I am not trying to be in control of him, or "make" him do anything... I want him to realize were trying to help him and make him as comfortable as possible. Was this his first choice...no! It wasnt mine either. He was scared of assisted living and we didnt think he could sustain the cost long enough. The decision was to move in together to give him the care he needed for as long as his health allowed us to. He would then go to assisted living when his health care grew beyond our scope and abilities.
He is on a medication, Imipramine, that is supposed to be an antidepressant. We have also tried him on several different behavior/sleep aids to help with irritability and sleep. Seroquel, Xanax and Trazadone. None of which have helped at all! We think his lack of sleep makes him moody, but according to him, he has never slept well.
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Two things:

Any pain issues? What was the surgery?

Then, going through the additional history, I screeched to a halt when I realised it was *Grandpa* who went through the divorce, and then I have to ask - why? Why did his wife, of whom he remains fond and trusting, leave? What I'm wondering is if there are underlying issues that didn't get taken into account during the enthusiastic planning stages; perhaps because they didn't seem relevant to the different family structure, or because the family was rallying to him at that time and therefore might have overlooked problems which seemed too much like harsh criticisms. How long were he and the ex-wife married?
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GardenArtist Aug 23, 2019
Good questions and points, CM.
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It sounds like your GF has *something* neurological going on. It sounds like more than depression, though that could be in the mix. I'm betting you'll find out it's a mixture of things. I would be concerned enough about these transient episodes of confusion that I'd do what I could to move up the appointment. See if you can get imaging ordered even before the appointment.

He may even be aware that something is going wrong but unwilling to admit it (to himself or anyone else); the stress of that could be making his already crusty personality even more crusty.

You sound like a very thoughtful, kind person - to have turned your whole life and your family's life upside down to take care of him. It's a massive adjustment for all of you. Best of luck - and I hope you can get a neuro appt sooner than later. Tell the doc or front desk that you're "very concerned about transient lapses in his cognition" - that might get results. (Best case, you've ruled out something dangerous and he can get on the right path for treament.)
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NugeJN Aug 26, 2019
Kittybee- I agree something other than just depression is going on. He has both admitted to being depressed as well as admit he is aware of memory issues. Although he goes back and forth and usually chalks it up to old age. We have appointments with a Neurologist as well as a therapist, but both arent until Oct. I am on a call list if something opens sooner. I will be calling back to express my concerns again.
Just recently found out he had a UTI and that it could be what was causing the confusion, but its been going on for months and getting worse as time goes on. I hope the UTI was the cause, but im skeptical at this point.
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