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My dad has major depressive episodes. He is 64 years old and these started about 6 years ago when him and my mom divorced. I am 29 years old and the oldest of 4 kids ages: 29,27,25, and 21. My dad lived with me, my husband and our 2 daughters who are preschoolers for the last 5 years.
A month ago he moved into an independent retirement apartment.
He is retired and spent about 95% of his day laying in bed each day when he lived with us. He refused to shower and did not socialize with anyone except for me and my family, and a very occasional visit form one of my siblings. We thought having space to himself, but also having a maid, meals being cooked for him, and social activities would help him so we suggested the apartment to him. He was hesitant but agreed that it would be okay.
Over the past month I have called him once a week and visited him once a week on a different day. My siblings have not reached out to him at all. When I called yesterday he stated that since I saw him the previous Wednesday he hadn't eaten, had anything to drink, and had not slept, he also threatened self harm so I had to take him to the hospital to be Baker Acted. They did not find anything physically wrong that would cause the lack or eating or drinking. I am unsure what my role should be going forward. I love my dad and want to see him get better but I am struggling with feeling overwhelmed.
I am unsure what we should do when he is released? I do not feel like I am capable of continuing to help him when he refuses to help himself but I also don't think that not seeing him is a good option.
Does anyone have any suggestions on what my next steps should be?

It sounds like you have your hands full with your own family, two young children and a husband. You are not obligated to be the full time caregiver for your father when he has the option to have assisted living in his retirement apartment. Thats more than most people have the luxury of affording. I wish I could offer that to my dad. So don't feel bad, you don't need to. Unfortunately no one has the ability to pull him out of these depressive episodes other than himself, if he is not willing to accept help. That doesn't mean you have to stop talking to him, of course. Be there for him, but make sure you establish boundaries and don't put your own life on hold because you have other responsibilities to attend to.
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Reply to SummerRaya
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My sister had clinical depression and her last episode entailed psychosis. She took her life. I have walked in your shoes, and it is horrendously difficult to find care and support. When your father is released, find out what medications they have given him. Make sure you have an actual doctor (a good psychiatrist) evaluate his file. Try to get him on disability if he is not already, and then watch him closely. It’s a huge responsibility. Depression is an insidious disease and those who suffer with it and their family members have a life sentence. It’s exhausting and financially draining. It’s impossible to work when a person with depression cannot get out of bed. Call NAMI and ask for resources. Severe depression can be a fatal disease much like cancer. The best thing you can do is tell the hospital that you need help. YOU REALLY need help. Going it alone is not an option. It’s too difficult. Financially, I am hoping your father has some money for a caretaker. He should have one, just like an elderly person has a caretaker for dementia. Is he a veteran? If so call the VA for help or call Medicare to find out what he qualifies for. I’m so sorry you have this burden.
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Reply to OOMEZOOME
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Do not sign anything! Do not pick him up from the hospital. The hospital wants to discharge him and pass the responsibility to someone else. Don't make it easy for them.

Talk to his social worker at the hospital. You can also call Adult Protective Services. Be honest about not being able to help him as much as he needs. They can give you ideas and access to resources.

He needs more care than you can provide so don't feel guilty about not taking him home. You know that you can't give him what he needs and it would be irresponsible to let anyone think you can do it. You need to take care of yourself and keep healthy boundaries or you won't be able to help anyone.

Depression is not the same as mentally incapable. I can tell you care about him and want to help him. It is terrifying when a loved one refuses to help themselves. Unless he has some kind of dementia, his medical care and daily self care, is his own responsibility. You have have no legal right or obligation to make his decisions unless you are his legal guardian (not the same as POA).

I'm in a similar situation with my mother. She promises to cooperate and as soon as she gets back home, it's the same behavior as before. She doesn't want to be in the hospital and also refuses to take care of herself, which sends her back to the hospital. Her medical care staff have told me repeatedly that it is her choice and we need to respect it even though we know she is hurting herself.
I have to remind her (and myself) that she is responsible for her choices and the consequences.
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Reply to Firstof5
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KaleyBug Oct 10, 2021
Many hospitals now will just put the patients in a cab and send them on their way. It is risky to just say I am not picking them up.
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JMooney421: Imho, he may require medication to manage his major depression so that he will be able to function, somewhat.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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There is definitely something wrong and someone needs to figure out what it is and what to do about it - even if it means a new doctor (interview several before making a choice). Then consider placing him where he would get care. DO not bring him home as it will cause major problems for you and impact your life. Make sure he has some place to go when he is realeased - not home with you.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Hopefully the psychiatric unit refers him (and you, as he will need help calling around for appts and going the first couple times) to an outpatient mental health clinician (ideally someone who is comfortable with older clients) for ongoing support....

I hope you dont need to move him again so soon - since these episodes started about 6 years ago, there is likely a lot of unresolved grief and every loss stirs them all up.
Agreed that moving him back in with your family is not a good plan for you and your family...and you are responsible to and for them, first.
Would a fish tank, OR a cat be of interest? Something else alive in his room.
I struggle with similar issues with my mom, who is very happy to let me and my sister 'remind her" of everything. Keeps us running in and out 3-4 times/day, and cooking her dinner every night. She has a hired 'friend' who comes 2x/week for a shower, light housekeeping, laundry, and an outing or two.
Hoping you find a plan that supports him that involves more help than you and your family.
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Reply to Clairesmum
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it seems your father can not handle independent living since it requires self-medication. Many people with depression find the medications' side effects difficult to manage. They tend to stop taking medications rather than tell their doctors that they are having side effects. He might do better in an assisted living facility or halfway house that accommodates people with mental health issues. Make sure that they provide structure and feedback to keep their clients interacting with others and caring for themselves. Social services where your father is currently in the hospital should be able to help you with placement.
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Reply to Taarna
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Excellent advice already given. Please do not agree to accept him back into your house -- not appropriate for your family. And do NOT pay for him to live elsewhere.

Do not agree to take him back in when a facility social worker promises it's just for a little while, until they can line up help, or whatever. Once he's in your home again, they will not help you at all. They just say that to get him off their caseload.
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Reply to CTTN55
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Thank God he’s getting evaluated by a psychiatrist before making decisions that could spiral out of control.

My psychiatrist dad kept patients OUT of institutional care. A patient showed up for her appointment in a prom dress. I, with the wisdom of a 15 yo, snickered. He chastised me, saying that she may not be my definition of normal but she was a schizophrenic who stayed out of the mental hospital for the past 7 years and that was no small accomplishment.

IF your dad is depressed and IF that depression can be managed, your 64 year young dad can live independently (or with your family if you like each other).

Assisted living for 20-30 years vs potentially short term psychiatric help? When dad didn’t have a history of depression? I see red flags.
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Reply to Erikka
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You are just starting your life . He isn’t your responsibility and needs to set goals . If he is mentally unstable he probably needs assisted living or a Visiting nurse
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Reply to KNance72
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He might need more assistance than an independent retirement facility can provide. Speak with the doctors, case manager and social worker in his hospital about this. He might need to be in assisted living or even a nursing home, where they will come and get him for meals, make sure he takes his meds, etc. as needed. Keep visiting your father. You have to be there for him and help make sure that he is in a safe place where he will be well cared for. But taking him back to your home may be too much for you to handle, with your responsibilities for your children. Have a talk with your other siblings to see how much they will step up to help. Do you think psychological therapy would help with his mental state? Also discuss this with the doctors at the hospital.
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Reply to NancyIS
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Ask the social worker assigned at the hospital what his/her plans are for your Dad. You are not able to manage him. He clearly gets suicidally depressed. They will try to get you to take him home; placing him may be difficult. They are in a better position to plan the care and know more resources. DO NOT LET THEM PASS THE BUCK TO YOU; YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO HANDLE THIS. STICK TO YOUR GUNS FOR YOU DAD'S SAKE AND YOUR FAMILY'S. IT WILL NEED TO HAPPEN SOON NO MATTER WHAT.
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Reply to Moxies
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Sounds like he was doing better living with you.

He sounds very depressed and living alone just makes it worse.

Med's can make depression worse and can make the person suicidal.

If Dad has to stay at his own apartment, he should be visited Every Day!

You should talk to the other Siblings and everyone pick out a day every week to visit him and on day's no one is assigned to, everyone should get a time slot to call him that day.

You could also have a Caregiver go by a day that no one can visit.

See if he can go to Adult Day Care a few days a week to meet and be around other Seniors and hopefully make a friend.

If he has a friend, invite them over for dinner or just to visit Dad and order Pizza and not cook that night.

Does your Dad play Cards? If do, invite 2 or 3 friends and arrange a Poker Day.

See if Dad can get interested in doing something like a large print Paint by number.

Rather he feels like it or not, take him to the park for a pic nic, go to the Zoo, go for a ride to the beach, ect.
A nice Nature walk getting a little Fresh Air and Sunshine does remarkable for a depressed person.

Music Therapy is good for the Soul and helps with depression.

Go to Church and see if they have a Senior Get Together.

Dad needs a friend.

Take him to get a haircut....remember if you look good it really does help you to feel better.

Both of you go together for a massage once a month.

Call his Insurance Co and see what they can offer.

He can probably have an Aide come 3 times a week to help him clean up.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Glad he is being evaluated by a psychiatrist; let's hear what is their dx and recommendations for meds and living environments.

I would say that in no circumstance should you allow your Dad to move back in with you as he is not trying to improve his condition or really interact with your family and others socially. Your children and husband are now your priority. I realize it pains you that your siblings are not actively participating in the effort to find a dx and solution for your Dad but that is their right. Please immediately inform the social worker at the psych facility that your Dad cannot be dc'd to your care/home!

Not sure if finances are an issue for you/Dad but be aware that depending on your Dad's state of residency, many assisted livings (ALs) do not accept Medicaid. Depending on his dx, some LTC facilities may not be able to meet his needs so you really will need suggestions from the current facility as to his future living arrangements.

Wishing you peace and luck on this difficult journey. Please keep us updated.


As as been posted under no
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Reply to geddyupgo
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I think you need to wait and find out what the doctors say. Then you need to tell them, very firmly, that you cannot care for him. And explain how he was at your home and then his apartment. You cannot have him living with you because you have two small children to care for. That siblings aren't involved. That there is no way you can make sure he takes his pills on time or correctly. That he needs to be somewhere that he is cared for 24/7. If it means allowing the State to take over his care then so be it. 64 is young. He could be like this another 20 yrs or more.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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You won't really be able to control what's going on in his life until he is diagnosed as being cognitively incapacitated. Then, assuming you are his PoA, you could force him into some sort of locked care facility if you could get him there in the first place and he wasn't cooperative. But it's already been proven that he is not participating in his own improvement so everything will be a fight to get him to do anything for himself. He has to want it. Guardianship by you/your siblings will be very expensive to pursue through the courts. Then once you have it, fighting to get him to do what is best for him.

If I were in your position I would seriously consider reporting him to social services (assuming no one is his PoA) and allow the county to get guardianship of him. They will care for and protect him and you can go on living your life with your husband and kids WHO ARE THE PRIORITY, not your dad.

He can check himself out of AL if no one is his legal PoA or guardian. He will need to pay someone to make sure he takes his meds while in AL (and he can't be forced to do so). In a facility he can't be forced to eat or drink. You must think deeply and carefully about whether you want this to drag on in your life since he's young (only 64) and this could go on for many years.

Finally, please please do not plan on paying for his care IF he even agrees to a facility. Help him apply for Medicaid. The cost of care is eye-watering and unsustainable unless you are fabulously wealthy. This robs from your own family. Please don't consider this an option, no matter what. Your siblings are under no obligation to participate in his care, as much as that thought pains you. But they have perhaps found healthy boundaries that you are just now discovering. Wishing you all the best as you move through this and make decisions.
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Reply to Geaton777
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JoAnn29 Sep 16, 2021
My Mom's AL was in charge of his meds and the Medtechs dispensed them. It was part of her care plan. Mom nor any of the other residents were allowed medications of any kind in their rooms.
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That’s great! Do you have POA? If he’s not willing, The assisted living will not accept him without consent (his or yours if you have POA). Good luck!
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Reply to csansonetti
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First, I'm so sorry for what you're going through. It's clear you are trying to do the best for your Dad. Has a psychiatrist evaluated him in the hospital? If not, you may want to push for that. It's possible these depressive episodes could be indicative of a cognitive disorder and the psychiatrist could deem him incapable of making decisions and/or requiring additional care. If that happens, you can put him in assisted living who will assist him in ensuring he eats 3 meals a day, showers, etc.
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Reply to csansonetti
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JMooney421 Sep 15, 2021
He transferred to the psychiatric unit about an hour ago and was about to start the evaluation last time I spoke with the nurse. I will try to look at some assisted living facilities near us to get an idea of what that would look like and cost. Thank you for your response.
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