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It has been 6 months since I posted about my Dad. He lives alone in a small, rural town in Montana. It's a 70 mile drive from my house to his. He steadfastly refuses to move closer to me or to consider living in some sort of senior living facility. He is pretty healthy for 95, but I can see his mind is not as sharp as it used to be, but he is still legally competent. There is a small medical clinic in his town, but he dislikes and distrusts the doctors there and refuses to see them. There is no dentist in his town so any doctor/dentist visit requires driving him to some other town. That means I have to drive 70 miles to pick him up, drive him to his appointment in a larger town which is usually a drive of 100 miles plus. Then put it all in reverse to get him and then me home. It's not uncommon for me to rack up 350 miles in a day doing this. All this for something as simple as a check for a UTI!!


Needless to say, this gets old, really old, especially in the winter when rural Montana roads are treacherous. There are miles of empty highway on my drive where there is no cell service. I just make sure my husband knows when I'm leaving or going so he can sort of keep track of me.


So, I've come to the realization that nothing is going to change until my dad has some sort of health or life crisis that will force him to move. I'm limiting some of what I used to do for him so I'm not enabling him to live alone. I no longer make the drive in the middle of the night. If Dad calls and 'needs me right away' I give him the option of dealing with it himself or I will call 911 for him. I visit him usually once a week. He can still drive around his little town so he can go out to a restaurant to eat a meal. He doesn't like to cook or to clean so his house is a disaster area. When I visit he only wants to talk and gets irritated if I start cleaning.


I feel like I'm neglecting him for allowing him to live in chaos. It doesn't bother him but it bothers me. It bugs me that I can't do more for him, but there is only so much I can do for him.


What can I do to not feel guilty????

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I have a friend who’s a social worker in palliative care. She often tells me “events will happen that will make decisions for you” That’s not easy with our parents, but when they refuse to change their circumstances for their own good, we have to wait out the events to make the changes
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Ghostrider Aug 28, 2018
Wise advice. I will remember that.
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He has some mental intelligence since he does not care for the doctors and dentists where he lives.
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I know you say that he is competent, but, if so, why do you think that he is using such poor judgment? Poor judgment, lack of insight and being extremely unreasonable are signs that something isn't right. I'd keep that in mind.

If I were going to feel guilty, it wouldn't be because someone is making unsafe and unreasonable demands on me. I'd consider what is really fair and do that, without any guilt at all.

Have you told him point blank that his demands and expectations are not feasible and that other arrangements will have to be made? I get that he may want to continue to live in his same place, but, at some point, it's just not possible, in all circumstances. Maybe, he's close to that point.
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Ghostrider Aug 24, 2018
My father is extremely self-centered, approaching narcissistic, and always has been that way. He never thinks about what his actions and wants do to the people around him. I think he was a spoiled child and never outgrew that. This is nothing new so I don't believe it's a sign of dementia or something like that.

We've had discussions on his situation but he doesn't listen all that well. He has hearing problems but that isn't the issue. He has a listening problem and can go full passive resistance when I am saying something he doesn't want to hear.

Things are going to have to change soon, because I'm working on my real estate license and plan on going to work in the next month or two. It's going to be even more difficult to provide long distance care for him. He knows this, but I don't think he has internalized the change.

So it's a waiting game. Nothing will change until some crisis requires a change.

All the responses I've had have done a lot to free me from the guilt feelings. I really appreciate it.
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You have no reason to feel guilty!  These are HIS bad decisions, not yours. And they are selfish decisions for sure. Winter, night, rural Montana?  No, No, just NO! He is making his decisions, but you do not have to enable them, nor are you failing in your responsibility as a daughter.  I'm sure you have heard "Honor thy parents". Yes? Well read the whole chapter, especially about not provoking your children.  The love never just goes one way. It is about reason, balance.  He has the responsibility to NOT ASK nor EXPECT you to do dangerous, unreasonable things.  In other words, he has the responsibility to recognize that his life in rural Montana is not really sustainable anymore and it is time to make other plans. If he wants to make bad decisions, then he should expect to reap the consequences.
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Ghostrider Aug 21, 2018
Thank you for addressing the "honor thy parents" commandment. I think of that a lot in my dealings with my dad. I am a devote Christian and he is a hard core atheist. He makes it difficult to carry out honoring him, LOL. You are right about his responsibilities to me. Thank you for pointing that out.
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"Guilt is for folks who have done something wrong." I'm embroidering that on a pillow!
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He is competent. He has a right to make his own bad decisions. You do not have to enable him. I would cut down on the visits and tend to your own life and responsibilities. I cannot imagine that he would want you on the treacherous roads of rural Montana. It sounds like guilt is causing you to make these dangerous trips. Stop it. If something happened to you, then what would happen to dad? How would he feel then?
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Ghostrider Aug 19, 2018
Thank you for voicing the thoughts I have deep in my soul.

I just haven't been able to steel my soul into doing it though.

My daughter is an EMT and she was the one who insisted that I stop making the night trips to help my dad. She is always telling me that you don't solve a problem by becoming part of the problem.

I will try to cut down on the visits and see what happens.

My thanks to you and all the others who responded.
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hi, I just wanted to tell you, that it sounds like you are doing the best that you can. you sound caring and concerned - the distance would be a big problem for most people, let alone an elder who wont listen (a lot don't want to listen). I really don't have any solution for you, sorry. but I think you are right, that nothing is going to change until there is some sort of bigger issue. You might keep telling him, for :now: he gets his way...but as soon as xxx happens, then time to move closer.... so keep doing the best you can, and don't blame yourself if something does happen. Its not your fault. This is his decision. I understand wanting to clean. I would go ahead and help him out with cleaning even if he gets upset. at least if you leave him with a clean area to live, then when you leave you feel you left him a little bit better off.
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Have you read a book called On Being Mortal by Atul Gawande? It's about the choices we make about how we live our lives in old age.

Your dad has made choices about not moving closer to you, not moving to a facility. If he is legally competent, he can make those choices. He CAN'T demand that you enable them.

If you've had that discussion
("Dad, I can't endanger my life and livelihood responding to your increasing emergencies. If you want there to be someone to respond you either move closer to me, or move where there is someone on call 24/7") then there really isn't much else you can do, is there?

Guilt is for folks who do something wrong. What you're feeling is regret that your dad isn't willing to give up his freedom to give you some peace of mind and himself some company.

If there is an AL you have in mind, take him for a tour and a free lunch sometime. He might change his mind. Don't ask, just take him.
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jerrywayne Aug 19, 2018
Barb; Just read your reply and it fits my situation as well.

I appreciate the guilt response, its regret my wife and I are dealing with, and that hurts just as bad, but out of our control. We have done all that we can do and still no reciprocal energy. Rocks and hard places, no comfort, but no matter where you have been, here you are.
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