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Hi all, new to forum- I have a unique situation in that my father is elderly, but my mother is not, and dad is alone. Many of my friends don't understand because their parents aren't elderly, so I am seeking advice here.


My father married late in life to my mother, who is nearly 25 years younger. I am their only child, and they split when I was a teen. The divorce left me traumatized and depressed. Against my mother's wishes, I chose to live with my dad. Soon after my mom moved out, I began to understand why she had a hard time getting along with my dad. He can be very controlling and occasionally meets the criteria of emotional abuse. He has anxiety, especially when things don't go the way he pictured.


I'm similar to him in that I'm prone to anxiety and depression, with perfectionist tendencies. Our similar personalities can cause problems, especially when we have differing opinions. Overall, he loves me unconditionally and has devoted the last 30 years since I was born to making sure that I am set up well for the future. He took on the role of mother and father when I pushed my mom away. As a teen, I struggled with him greatly due to our differing opinions, but I have grown to understand him and truly believe that he means well and just lets his emotions get the best of him at times. He has always been there for me. I love him deeply.


I got married 6 years ago and moved out of state. My dad and I have maintained our close relationship over the phone every day. We do occasionally argue, but that is generally when one of us is under stress. I feel like our relationship has strengthened since I moved, partially because I have matured into an adult, but it could also be because we aren't living under the same roof.


Now that my husband and I have a baby, we feel inclined to move back to our hometown. All of our family and many friends still live there. We have no help with the baby here, and my husband works a lot. I'm currently unemployed, and since our baby isn't yet in school, the timing feels right for a move. My dad has offered for us to move into my childhood home. It is twice as big as our current home, and the mortgage is paid off. Financially, this seems like a great idea; the catch is that my dad would be living downstairs. I assume that the changes would be difficult for him but easier than moving him to another home or city. I like the idea that I could be there to help him (and he could help me while he's still in good health). I fear that he can't care for his large house much longer, and (selfishly) I know that I will be left to deal with the house when he's gone. His vision is poor, so it comforts me to know that I could be there for him. My husband is excited to be closer to his family again too, and giving our baby the opportunity to grow up near family is priceless. I'd like to think this could be a win-win for all; however, I have concerns about privacy/independence and my dad's controlling tendencies. I do think he would respect our privacy for the most part, but I don't want to isolate him in the basement. It is a finished basement with a full bathroom and mini kitchen, so he could stay there if we have guests and he doesn't wish to join the group, but I wouldn't expect him to stay down there 24/7. I want nothing more than to raise my child in a loving and happy home, and I know that we will have to move if things don't go well. I am scared to give up my husband's job and everything we have built for ourselves here, but I fear what will happen if we don't go back. My dad is 85, and I am his only surviving immediate family member. He has nobody except a couple of neighbors to check on him, and it isn't fair to expect them to do so. He doesn't want us to make our decision based on him and has been adamant that he wants us to do what will make us happy. I am very grateful for that. The rest of our family feels the same. I am torn and unsure what to do. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate any advice.

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I am an only child, a daughter, and had a great relationship with my parents. My mother passed away from Alzheimer’s and I moved my 93 year old Dad in with us. He has his own en-suite room with a huge tv and a sitting area. I was worried about him living on his own far away and getting lonely. He has lived with us for 2 years now and the stress has been tremendous - our once serene, private lives no longer exist. I love my father, but now wish that I had considered other arrangements where we could have more privacy.
It’s the little things that will drive you crazy - and you can’t escape them - things you might encounter:
He has hearing aids, yet the TV is constantly on at a high volume. He must have the speaker feature on to talk on the phone and he screams into it b/c he cannot hear himself.
He is constantly cold and the temperature is uncomfortable for us (not to mention the gas/electric bill is so much higher).
We have had to curtail our socialization in our home because he is always there and we have no privacy with our friends.
We cannot plan any trips without first arranging someone to stay with him and pre-prepping meals for him.
We are his only socialization - all of his friends are dead - this is a big burden to bear.
When our grandchildren come over, he gets anxiety about their play habits and constantly worries that they will “hurt themselves”.
When I suggest that he might want to go into his room - he states that he likes to be with other people. (The fact that he “lives” downstairs might not give you the privacy you’re expecting.
He doesn’t like to try new foods and complains about the food I make.
His personal habits have become such that he hates to shave, showers are rare, and he eats with his mouth full and smacks his lips.
I have become a full time caretaker doing his laundry, changing bed sheets, cleaning his room, preparing his meals, driving him to doctors, etc.
You mentioned that you have a new baby and your first priority will want to be for the baby - that is not always the case when you have an elderly person living with you. Your father may be somewhat healthy now, but things can go downhill quickly when you least expect it. I’m sure the financial aspects are appealing, but (trust me) no amount of money is worth losing your independence and privacy. Good luck.
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HVsdaughter Nov 19, 2018
This! Yes! Well said! Take heed! My newly married niece and her husband lived with my elderly dad for 4yrs, during which they gave birth to their first 3 children before moving to their own home. She can so relate to this!
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This answer is going to sound cold and mercenary and is therefore extremely embarrassing to me personally, as well as to you I don't doubt. But I am going to plough on with it, having thought about it pretending that I am your father (as I imagine him, based on your description).

I would sell my house, get myself established in a retirement community with continuing care services, and use the capital I had liquidated to support my daughter and her husband in relocating their home and career back to the town, probably through some sort of trust or loan, outright gifts being both financially problematic and morally questionable. I would seek the advice of a reputable lawyer with appropriate experience of elder care and estate planning on the best way to do this.

I can appreciate the difficulty of putting this proposal to your father. In fact, I can't think how you would. But on the other hand, if you research the sort of communities that might suit him, and if you further research the sort of legal services he will need, and if you suggest he talk it over with practical, professional people, I would expect them to guide him towards reaching this conclusion himself.

He is, isn't he, above all tidy in his thoughts and preferences. A plan that is predictable yet adaptable to contingencies should appeal to him - especially if it offers the right kind of practical support to the daughter he loves and will help bring her and her young family home.
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WFW10312 Nov 19, 2018
Thank you for your input. He has mentioned that he would support our relocation; however, he doesn't seem interested in selling his house any time soon. It sounds like he wants to live there until he's no longer able to care for the house and/or himself. The house will eventually be mine, and I think he's afraid to let go of it because his dream is that I will move back into it one day. I will try to keep the lines of communication open to see if he is willing to consider other options. I do want him to be happy, safe, comfortable, and well taken care of, and I don't want to encourage him down a path that he doesn't want to go down. I like what you said about helping him reach his own conclusion. That way, whatever decision he makes will be what he feels comfortable with and not what he feels pressured to do.
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Okay, I kinda read between the lines that you are pretty set on doing this. That's okay but I have one thing to add.

My husband is the head of our home, he has worked to provide my every need, when I worked all my money was mine. This entitles him to being the head of the house. Enter dad, who is controlling, emotionally abusive and self-centered.

No way was my husband willing to submit to my dad, who figured he was the oldest man, thereby he was the head of the house. His needs, wants and desires trumped my husband, in his head mind you.

My husband could not stand by and watch my dad treat me as his woman, doing his bidding and putting my husband 2nd.

Emotional and psychological abuse is nothing to justify away, when people have those tendencies when they don't get their way you are asking for problems, none of us always get our own way.

We talked about all of this openly and it was a deal breaker. I wasn't going to emasculate my husband for my dad. Period. When I married, my husband became my priority over every one.

Just something to consider, since you say he is controlling, I can't see him stepping aside and letting your husband be head of house, especially since its dads house. Please talk to your husband about these potential issues before you move, he doesn't have a life time history and unconditional love to help him get through your dads personality.

Your child needs both parents, together and stable to grow healthy and secure, this means making your marriage a priority.
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WFW10312 Nov 19, 2018
Thank you for sharing your experience. I guess that's something I hadn't really thought about. I had thought about my father and husband disagreeing, and I was concerned about how that would play out since my husband is pretty non-confrontational and tends to keep things to himself. I hadn't fully thought through the battle over who is the head of the home. That's very important to consider, and I absolutely want to put my husband first. You are spot on about the concern that my husband hasn't ever lived there and experienced my dad's personality day in and day out (we've stayed with him for a week or two at a time, but my dad can hold it together pretty well while my husband is around--I'm not sure what would happen if he got too comfortable with my husband being there), nor does he share my dad's blood and unconditional love. Thank you for reminding me of that. And no, my mind isn't made up...that's why I'm posting here for advice. I'm really torn. To be honest, my husband seems more set on it than me, and I felt like I was getting more and more okay with the idea until I had a meltdown last week when the anxiety of going home soon to get started cleaning out the house hit me.
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I implore you to please not do this. I know you love your dad, but you said he has a controlling personality... believe me it will get worse as he ages and when you, tour husband and child are under the same roof. It will be great to be back st home and be near both sides of the family, but please get your own place. I know rent free and no mortgage sounds great, but at what price. Eventually your husband will get aggravated and want you to choose. Plus you and your husband raise your child not him. I know this sounds harsh but it will happen. Please make sure while dad is of sound mind he has everything in order. He should have a will and you should have POA for financial and medical. Consult with an elder care attorney. Best of luck.
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It seems to me that you have your mind pretty much made up about moving in with your dad. Sure you have some concerns, but it sounds like this is the way your going to go.

If you do decide that your going to move in with your dad than I would have some action plans in place if it should not work out.

As BarbBrooklyn stated talk to an Elder Lawyer, money doesn't seem to be an issue, but care for a LO can be expensive. Beside it would make sense to just make sure that all the paperwork is in order and what assets should be save, for example, the house you plan to share with dad.

Another plan I would have is if dad becomes incompetent how are you going to handle that? Dad gets dementia become mean abusive, when what? And if you think, "oh my dad wouldn't be that way". Let me tell you with dementia anything is possible. My mother who I lived with and who never said a bad word as I was growing up and not aware of, there are days she sounds like a truck driver (as the saying goes). She would never talk bad about people, and she in most parts was nice. Now she wants to fight over the dumbest things!
What if things don't work out living with dad, when what are you going to do?

You really should put action plan together for such cases.

We all want to think our parents love us and they won't do anything to hurt us. But the reality is people change especially if they get dementia. I am in no way implying that your dad doesn't love you, but again things happen.

You said something about helping dad with the house. What if you & you family moves in and you and your hubby wants to change somethings in the house and your dad says, "no"! I'm talking about like furniture. Or you want to fix something and dad says, "no"! When what?

This all may sound so small and impossible to you but I ensure you it does happen.

My BF & I moved in with my mother, and like you I thought hey the house is to big for her to take care of, it needed a little maintenance nothing to big, and because my parents lived in it for 50+ yrs it needed to be cleaned out. And like you thougt hey, the house is paid off which is a bonus.

My mother was all for this. I have moved in & out of this house more times than I can remember and never had any problems. Until this last time of moving in with her. My dad passed away 4 yrs ago so, it was just her. I have to say, "I have never seen this side of her that I have been seeing. All of a sudden she didn't want me to change anything or fix anything. My mother didn't always showed me love but we talked a lot on the phone before I moved in, now we barily say 2 words in a day. All the time that I had to move in she welcome me with open arms, but not this time. She wanted help to pay some bills but she didn't want nothing to be removed out of the house didn't matter if she didn't see it for 4 decades didn't matter if it was broken. What I didn't realize that she had dementia she was in early stages so she was able to hid it for a good year or so. Had I found this forum before hand I would have made a different decision.

I just want you to be aware of the possibility that it just might not workout as you planned and have another plan in place. Protect yourself and your family.

I wish you the best of luck!
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Isthisrealyreal Nov 16, 2018
Good advise Shell, my grandmother that was prim and proper and as lovely as could be, beat up 6 nurses and talked like a sailor at sea (before woman pushed their way on board).

The changes that can happen are truly mind boggling and all the worst case scenarios should be considered and prepared for with an exit plan.

I think knowing what your deal breakers are up front is vitally important.
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As I sit here writing this...I’m listening to my 103 year old aunt hallucinating in her bedroom...that used to be my husbands office. Tho she has only lived with us 4 months. It seems like a lifetime. We have NO life of our own or any privacy. We have caregivers, nurses, aids and guests wanting to see my aunt in and out almost every day. What times I don’t have caregivers and we have some privacy...I spend constantly on edge that I’m doing everything I can to make her comfortable. I love her dearly and will continue to take care of her till the end...which could be a while because all vitals are strong in spite of the fact that she is in taking very little sustenance. My “golden child” brother is currently with my 90 year old mom, but is already making noises that he can’t handle it much longer since he has wiped her out financially. I will tell you that I realize I won’t be able to have my mom in my home. I’m 60 and my husband is 65. I was single for 29 years before we got married 4 years ago because I gave up my life to care for and make these 2 ladies lives as comfortable...only to hear my mom disparage me for hours on end to my aunt and brother on a security camera they ALL knew was there. I would highly recommend getting your own home if u care to continue to have a life with your family. Caregiving is tough to say the least..
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JoAnn29 Nov 19, 2018
Sorry, but I think at this point I would put Aunt in a NH. Sounds like she is at the stage she is in her own little world. I found a really nice place for my Mom. The staff loved her.
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WFW- Here are my opinion and advice. You most likely won't like either, but I will put them out there anyway. Your dad will likely do the same, give his unwanted advice and opinion, once you all move in with him.

In my opinion, your dad's house, money, assets, etc. are all HIS, and are to be used for him and his care for life. IF there's any left over after his death, then you may inherit it IF he wants you to have it. It's within his right to give it to a charity, or anyone else besides you. You should not expect to inherit anything from anyone. You and your husband, as independent adults should build your own wealth, buy your own place, and support yourselves.

Remember the adage: There's no such thing as a free lunch. When you move into HIS house living rent free, you will pay some other ways and trust me you will. You will no longer be independent. You will no longer have your privacy, your living space is not yours because it's not. It is unreasonable to expect your dad to keep to the basement 24/7. The whole house is HIS. He will have his say about anything and everything that is his. What are his expectations in lieu of you living rent free? Keep him company, take him places, cook and clean for him, do things for him, and do things his way, pay utilities, pay for food, pay for upkeep of the house, etc.? And those are reasonable expectations.

At the first argument you or your husband will have with your dad, he can easily tell you: "If you don't like it here, you can always move." Then what? Your most basic security, the roof over your head, your husband's and your child's, is shaken and at risk. Your relationship with your dad will be strained to say the least whether you stay or move.

As for his health, he is still able and independent but he will get older and weaker, and will need more care. Please DO read the many questions posted by others in the AgingCare forum and you will get a feel for what age related issues others face with their elderly: immobility, incontinence, dependency, loss of socialization, forgetfulness, falls, driving dangerously, etc.

Not now, but two, or three or five years down the road, will you be able to cope with the above issues? Can you be with him 24/7 to make sure he's not alone and won't fall, and help him to the bathroom, clean him up, change him? If he gets dementia, can you put up with him telling you the same thing 20 times a day? Or him being violent? Or him having night terrors and calling the cops a few times a week? These are all issues others have posted here.

Right now, you mostly think: free rent, big house that will be mine, being close to relatives, being near dad to help him. If your dad didn't have a big house, would you move back?

Your dad most likely thinks: they can come and live here and keep me company in MY house so I am not lonely, they can help me as I age, they can help with the upkeep of MY house, and when I'm gone, they can have it (but not before.)

My advice: if you want to move back, move to your own place. You can come and help dad when you can. Your dad should seek advice of an elder attorney to guide him on how/what he should do for his care in the near future. Maybe he should sell the house, put money in a trust for his care. It will cost $10K-$15K a month at an assisted living facility or a nursing home. His money and assets are his to be used for his care.
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Mary9999 Nov 19, 2018
I agree with polarbear 100%. Please think very very carefully about this. The price you pay for getting "free" accommodation will be the effect on your husband, your child, and your marriage. As polarbear wisely stated, "There's no such thing as a free lunch."
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No No No don't do this, to yourself and your family.

Your Father's basic character will become dominant in your home-life, in HIS house. He will not allow you to forget that, ever.
Controlling people will act within character, even living in other people's homes, let alone their own. I know this from experience and I am broken because of it.

It will always be HIS house and living there will fracture your own family structure, independence, marriage. You risk bringing your child into an invisibly controlled atmosphere that turns family life on it's head.

Think:. Lose Lose. NOT Win Win

Please, don't do it.
Polar Bear is so right.
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WFW10312 Nov 20, 2018
Lisa22, thank you for your reply. I too have been broken by the control, and I refuse to let my child experience the same upbringing that I did. I'm starting to think my intuition was right. I initially thought this was a bad idea, but my husband thought it was a great idea, and he's actually the one who talked me into considering it. I'll share these posts with him. I'm actually afraid that moving in with my dad could be worse for him than he realizes, too. He won't be able to have things perfectly his way with a baby. As we all know, babies have minds of their own!
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So, when your dad starts to treat your child in an emotionally abusive manner, what will you do?

When your dad ( with controlling tendencies) tells you that you're spoiling your child, "this is how it's done, let me show you, I'll spank him for you", what will you do?

When dad develops dementia and becomes convinced you're freeloading no-goodniks and calls the cops to arrest you because you've broken into his house, what will you do?

These are all scenarios that have appeared on this forum.

If you'd always gotten along famously with your father, you wouldn't be seeking our advice.. I see red flags.

Moving in with your dad does not follow logically from " he's getting older, it's not fair to rely on neighbors".

If you are starting to think dad needs help, start by getting a professional " needs assessment" Find out what assistance is available in his community. Visit Independent Living facilities, Continuing Care Campuses, explore with him what choices are available near you and near him. Approach this in a planful, thoughtful way.

It will also give you the opportunity to see his ability to roll with the punches of the aging process. If his reaction to your suggestion that it might be a consideration for him to move to be near you is one of rage and vituperation, you'll have a pretty clear answer.
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WFW10312 Nov 19, 2018
Thank you also for your advice regarding an eldercare attorney as well as nursing home expenses. That got my thoughts stirring, and I am taking notes.
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We lived with my mother for almost a year. I thought that it would work out perfectly for all of us, since our relationship was similar to yours. BIGGEST mistake ever! We ended up never having a moment of peace, or any privacy. She interfered with our parenting, was demanding, and treated us very disrespectfully. We also ended up financially responsible for everything, even a phone line that we never used. Financially, it became a loss for us. To add insult to injury, she ended up telling family members that we had never paid for anything...thank goodness that I kept receipts!

I would strongly advise you to move into your own place. Once we moved out from my mother's home, our relationship went back to normal. What I thought would be a win-win situation, turned out to be a nightmare! I wish you the very best, and please keep us posted!
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WFW10312 Nov 19, 2018
Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm glad you were able to recover your relationship. Marriage is very important to me, as I don't want to end up divorced like my parents (and my husband's parents).
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