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My 88-yr-old Dad moved into assisted living 4 weeks ago. I wasn't able to find a "perfect" place, but this was the best option available--a 10 bed board and care facility about 90 minutes from where I live.

Since moving, Dad has been spending almost all his time in bed. He's depressed and angry and doesn't want to do anything. It's easy to see the large amount of muscle mass he's lost in 3 weeks. When I beg him to exercise, he says what's the point--he'll be dead soon anyway. He says if he was among people who knew and loved him, he would exercise. But where he is, all he wants to do is kill time. He won't socialize with the other residents. He won't pet the resident cat, or practice the piano, or sit on the sun deck.

I'm drowning in guilt. I was a full-time caregiver for 3 yrs, and I'm exhausted. But I'm terrified that my choice to move him is going to lead to his death. Have I taken away his will to live? What can I do? How do I judge whether this was a mistake?

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I feel you did the right thing for everyone. Make visits often and unscheduled. Let him know you have not disappeared. and keep current on all that is going on there, and give your self a hug for knowing when and how to do the right thing.
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Four weeks is NOT enough time to make a proper adjustment!!!!
He needs to be encouraged, but it is his decision whether or not to make the best of the situation. His decision!!!!!
You cannot be guilty about your own survival! He needs to understand that!
Be totally honest with him & let him know that this is not the end but another begining. Unless he is selfish & callous he will understnd and respond properly.
Ask the staff to help in the transition. They have been through it before and know how to handle the adaptation of an elder. You can arrange a meeting to plan a course of action with them. That is what they are there for.
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Fate intervened recently and my Mom ended up in a great rehab facility to get back some of her strength and balance. At first, I got those "I want to go home" calls in the middle of the night. Gradually, Mom came to see that she was healing with all the wonderful PT she was getting. She realized that people brought you good food on trays and helped you do the things that are becoming more difficult to do on your own.
It is a blessing, because she sees that not all facilities are horrible places. She was once a very social person...and now this has returned. Everytime I go to visit her, some one is telling me what a "hoot" my Mom is. She looks healthier because she is not constantly stressed and this gives me peace of mind too.
When she is discharged she will return to her home with lots of help from us and some from caregivers. I am committed to helping her stay in her home...but, if the day comes that she needs more, I will find the best surroundings for her that I can.
I realized a long time ago that I cannot do it all. I do not have a medical background and no skills in that area. But I can do everything else for her. I just want her to be as happy and as healthy as she can be. I agree with all above, you have to be responsible for your own health and destiny. This does not end when you have to move to a facility. Those people who flourish are those who can adapt and roll with the punches. However, you can only be responsible for yourself.
My only advice is to check on the facility regularly...do not just go on what your father says. Offer him ample opportunities to get involved, try out a hobby, whatever, then step back and let him take a few steps on his own. If I had taken my Mom out of rehab when she wanted to go home, she would not have had this chance to heal and get to know some wonderful people.
Good luck....guilt has a way of creeping into my life too.
Lilli
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I placed my Dad in a nursing home and have regretted it ever since, he was neglected there and that eventually led to his demise. Just because the people who you have placed in your stead to care for him are nice to you, they may not be giving your Dad what he needs emotionally. I have said it before and I stick by my guns, NOBODY is going to take care of your loved one like YOU can. Exhaustion comes from the constant care of an elder loved one, and what I have learned by it is that I set MY standards too high to care for them. We have to let them be sometimes, unless they are an alzhiemers patient, we sometimes just need to step back and allow them to just BE. Who they are, how they want to be, if they don't want to eat this meal, then don't get upset about it. They will ask when they are hungry. If they don't feel like bathing today, so what. They know when the smell gets too bad that they need a shower.
If you are blessed to have the opportunity to take care of your elder loved one, embrace it. While my Dad was in the nursing home, I got to know quite a few other residents there and saw how their demeanor changed in time. They lost their zest for life. I have a feeling that your Dad is not going to change until you change his circumstances.
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My dad lived in a senior independent living / Al apt. for several years. It was costly & fancy, but with over 200 residents living there he made lots of friends.

There were always card games, an excerise room, personal garden plots, movie nights & a piano in the lobby which residents were encouraged to play. I realize it's soon to consider a move but you might check into a larger more social environment for him.

Don't give up.
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I'm with Naheaton on this one. Shoot maybe you can get involved yourself and ask the staff about starting an activity that your dad likes and coordinate it yourself.

I'm just sayin'
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Elizabeth, While it is true that he makes the decisions as to whether he will sit and vegetate or get involved with other people at the ALF, I would suggest when you come and visit, you make it a point to MAKE him come with you to some activity. Help him break the ice with the other residents by joining in a bingo game or what ever. Also I would talk to the activities director if they have one, and clue them in on your dads mental health and need to socialize. He's the only one that can stop the pity party, but you can help him get his 'feet wet'. Good luck.
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Elizabeth - I'm sorry to hear that he's pulling such a huge guilt trip on you. If his health is generally good he might recover the muscle loss. If he's capable of such drama then he's likely to understand if you attempt to talk with him. Here's what I suggest - go into his room and close the door. Tell him that you MUST get this off your chest - here's the jist of what you need to say:
"I HATE to move you and I HATE to see you like this but, I MUST work - I can't afford to stay home anymore. And, you can't be home alone during the day. I am not a young woman anymore. Your physical needs are more than I meet - I fear for your safety at home. If I continue to lift you, I'll hurt myself and could drop you - which mean you could suffer a broken hip or worse. If THAT happened, you'd end up in a nursing home. At the rate you're going, you'll end up in a nursing home MUCH sooner than you would normally. "

Tears doesn't hurt - he'll know you mean it. You might also ask him what his solution would be - if he says he could be home alone, then run down the list of "why nots" - prescriptions, bathrooms that are too small, can't get in tub/shower, can't make food - etc, etc..... I would also suggest that you visit a little less often which might force him to get up. The care givers might also take food into his room and set it up at a chair and table across the room. I'd hope they have "snack" time in the morning and afternoon - cookies, pie or cake and coffee in the dining room or kitchen - they need to go tell him it's there to tempt him from his room.

Medical examinations are a good idea, perhaps a low dose anxiety drug or anti-depressant might help too. All said, at some point we have to accept that our parents are in charge of their destiny. It's not easy and it sucks. My own mom refused to do physical therapy and exercise which meant she could not walk. We nagged her for 4 years but she wouldnt help herself. Now she uses a wheelchair and can't maneuver around her house so she's in a nursing home. She's 90 so is weak due to the natural decline with age but she hastened it due to her inaction. She'd rather sit and watch TV or do her crossword puzzle than exercise. I have to accept this decision because she's still with it enough to make her own decisions. She's easy though and doesn't apply the guilt - my father, brothers and uncles on the other hand - HUGE drama queens!! HUGE!! It was hard not to laugh at them but I still felt guilty when they could not be at home. I hope you find some solution for YOUR sake - his tool
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I think you made the best decision. My grandfather is here and sulks and skunks and doesn't exercise. You can't make anyone do anything. If he chooses to waste away that is his choice, visit tell him you care and help him adjust best you can but after that, there is nothing you can do.
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I am reading these responses with interest as I am about to do the same thing. Guilt has kept me from doing it so far. My dad is 97 and I am 75 and have had him in our home for 2 years. He still walks with a walker most of the time. Always in a good mood. Makes it hard for me to tell him how hard it is to bathe, lift, and dress him. My husband has helped to make this all possible. I need a knee replacement and am tired and discouraged a lot of the time. I will be watching your answers with interest.
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LIZ:

If you are in assisted living, you might need assistance with some things but you should generally be self-reliant. It's understandable he feels "dumped," but he chooses to sulk instead of adjusting to the new surroundings and making the best of what he has. If I were you, I would ask the staff for tips and other Residents to reach out to him and get him out of bed. Also, go over the reasons why he was placed; but be honestly assertive. Otherwise he'll keep trying to flip the script on you and making you feel guiltier. Despite his age, he's always been a strong man. Believe me, he can take it. ... Do you need me to come with you?

-- ED
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Gosh, you sound exactly like how I feel! My mother suffers from severe depression and is in AL for self neglect. Your dad may be suffering form depression, it is common in senior folks, accepting getting old and mortality. I would get him a physical and a mental health evaluation. You can get the doctor to order home health to come in for physical therapy and psych nurses. These are only temporary through insurance. Paying for an additional caregiver to come in for companionship is something I am considering. Good luck and god bless.
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No, not a mistake. It is not a good idea for you to get burnt out. Keep encouraging him. Visit him and ask him to play the piano for you. Hugs!!
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