Nursing home has worsened Dad's depression. Does anyone have any similar situations or tips to offer?

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My father is 81 and has lived with me and my family for about a year now. He had a hiatal hernia for many years and it finally got the best of him, and he had major surgery early in October to correct it. The good news is he did much better than expected and is out of the hospital in a rehab facility. We expect him to be able to come home within a month or so.


For most of his adult life, he has been a widower and lived on his own. His social skills are not the best. He expects everyone to wait on him hand and foot. He is very controlling and expects everything to be done his way. He thrives on pity. Since he has been in the nursing facility, it has gotten 100 times worse.


He is still on a small feeding tube which he complains about incessantly, but the doctor says it can't come out until he starts eating half his meals. He doesn't like any of the food he is brought (even though he has picked it from the menu) and hardly eats. The TV in the room is too small. The nurses are mean (they aren't) and "no one come to see me or calls me" (at least two relatives visit per day, and he gets 2-3 phone calls per day but won't answer his phone). He can get up and down and walk around but he refuses to do so unless required to. You get the picture. He has been on an anti-depressant for about the last year. I haven't seen much improvement. I bring him newspapers, magazines, and have lent him an iPad (full of his favorite movies and TV shows) but it doesn't seem to help much.


My relatives are getting weary of making great efforts to see him every day. I am his only child and am getting tired of putting my own family on the back burner every day, but I am doing my best to balance my time. Does anyone have any similar situations or tips to offer?

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Dad is temperamentally not suitable to share a home with you. Or anyone. He is relying on old patterns (manipulation, disrespect and selective helplessness) to get what he wants from you.

As for the passive-aggressive pee-in-the-vase routine: Is that something you would tolerate from your husband or children?

Why does enabling Dad’s vile disposition take priority over you/hubby/kids having peace and harmony (and privacy) in your own home?

Since Dad is “doing so great” in rehab — foul attitude notwithstanding — I recommend that you spend the next 2-3 weeks scrambling to find him a low-cost senior citizen’s apartment. If you are lucky enough to nab one for him, move his furniture & belongings there....and he can discharge from rehab directly to his own place. If he’s on a waiting list, he can discharge to your home — then immediately move him when an apartment opens up for him.

Dad can drive and manage his own finances. And he has an occasional age-appropriate health glitch. There is no reason he cannot live on his own. Perhaps with some outside support.

Or if AL is more suitable, go that route.

OR if Dad keeps playing games with food to keep himself dependent on the feeding tube that he claims to hate so much, maybe he needs to go from rehab to a temporary stint in skilled care. Before he goes to live.....wherever you don’t live.  

The bottom line is: Dad can be miserable anywhere. So let him be miserable someplace where he is not polluting (literally and figuratively) your family life.

Personality-disordered parents sure know how to groom us, don’t they???

This goes way beyond “oh Dad’s always been difficult and quirky.” Save yourself. And save your marriage and your children’s respect.

Good luck. It’s hard to stand up to a bully. But it’s worth it.
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When my grandfather got out of Rehab, years ago, he stayed in the nursing home. His wife was not able to care for him any longer, as he was bedbound. The family members visited him, but, not every day. I think the adult children went about once a week. The others less often. Is there some reason they feel obligated to visit every day?

Sometimes meds for depression need to be changed or adjusted. I'd discuss it with his doctor.

Why are you planning to bring him to your home, when you know what is going to happen? I might have him assessed to see what level of care he will need when he leaves rehab. It seems there are more options than moving in with you. Unless, that's what you want. It's admirable.
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Inreverse, just remember that meds won't help an entitled, narcissistic attitude. Boundaries are the only thing that will help. No is a complete sentence. If your own family's needs are suffering because all your time is dedicated to your father, including time at a care facility with folks available to help? It sounds like it's not dementia - so you need to consider setting boundaries. When parents live with their adult children, a lot of roles get blurred. Elders feel like it's THEIR home, and they are in charge. This is why my husband's parents, both narcissists with very demanding attitudes, will never live with us.
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Yes, start setting boundaries with Dad and step back in increments.  This guy is not going to be happy anywhere. You’re not going to change this no matter how much you do for him. So my advice, move Dad to assisted living and at least you can be happy.
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It will probably not get easier on anyone if you bring him home. Like jjmummert above, I have decided mom will stay in the nursing home and that I will continue to visit her and feed her dinner daily, be sure she's being taken care of, take her clothing home to wash it. She talks about "home" but I found out that word means better times when dad was alive years ago, definitely not with me in my home, as she never wanted that to begin with but to this day thinks she can function on her own though wheelchair bound and incontinent. Now I can get a good night's sleep and deal with her more easily, since no type or amount of medication makes things much better. She smiles and eats well one day, and the next, I find out she's tried to slap the beautician, is mad as hell at the world and won't eat. It was just she and I in my home. It was the falling that did me in, as when I would try to pick her up, she would fight me and always was a handful when it came to any kind of hygiene or changing clothes. No help from family members; they all work, and I was never keen on hiring help to come into my home. She has adjusted to the NH as well as can be expected, and they know how to deal with her. She has plenty of company in the same state she's in. It will never be perfect, and I'll never feel completely good with it. But back "home" with me again? No way.
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Oh, I see. If your dad is competent, then, I'd consider if things are working out. When, I was young, we had 4 generations living under one roof! It was great. Of courses, I was a kid, but, I knew that my elders were polite, nice, and considerate. Nothing is perfect, but, it worked great for us. HOWEVER, it's not for everyone. It's a shame to not be able to enjoy your own home and family.

He may demand to be waited on, but, you can kindly explain that it will no longer work that way.

Also, it's challenging to live with someone who has mental health issues. I've done that too. It's frustrating. If you feel that he needs to return to the home, I'd consult with a counselor to learn some tools on how to negotiate some things and set proper boundaries on others. I suppose that I'm too blunt, because, I just say what I think up front. I'd likely say, dad, you'll be doing the things that you can do for yourself from now on. It's for your own good. You need to do it, to stay on top of things.
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It's admirable that you are trying to do what's best for him. You've received good suggestions here: an updated assessment of what he can and cannot do...setting limits...potential change in meds. But plan ahead with your loved ones...what if things get worse? What will be defining behaviors that tell you your dad can no longer live with you in your home? Sharing living space with elders can be taxing. Mom and I used to laugh about how we could not live together because we would drive each other nuts. We made it through a difficult transition to a memory care facility because of her diagnosed vascular dementia. I visit almost each morning for coffee and chat time with her and her neighbors. Mom is fiercely independent and I am the same. The current arrangement is the best fit for us. I hope you find the best fit for you and yours.
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I absolutely loved the answer by Blackhole! Spot on! You have been given the perfect opportunity to get him out of your home so you, as an only child with a family, can get your lives back. There is no reason for him to be living with you. And peeing in a vase....I question if he doesn't have a bit of dementia beginning. That is not just passive aggressive...it's abnormal. Your question to us could have been written by me as that is exactly how my dad is in rehab/skilled. Verbatim! Some people can not and never will be happy campers in a rehab setting. My dad is a terrible patient. I only visit once to twice a week as I can't take it. All he does is complain (same ones as your dad). I set my boundaries and I'm seeing a therapy so I can get all this off my chest. Truly....listen to others, and move him out. By the way...you don't give choices to people with dementia or who are narcissistic . You tell them ...this is what we are doing....period! I highly suggest some counseling to help you through this.
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Sunny, thanks. Dad already lives with me and my family. He has his own bedroom/bathroom on the main floor. It has been a struggle at times because of his behavior. We already tried the retirement home route before he lived with us, and he didn't like that either. So we gave him his chose and he chose to live with us. He still drives, does his own finances, some light yard work, etc.

I have discussed with the OT/Rehab planners about his needs when he gets home. It will be at least 2-3 more weeks, but we will do a reassessment next week.

I'm going to talk to the doctor today and will see if they can't adjust his meds somehow.
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Do not run your life for your father. You will lose so many months of your life to no purpose. If he is narcissistic and difficult, but not really dependent on you, try planning a staged pull-out. Your weary family will appreciate this, and have more gratitude than your father if you do admit him back in your home. Rehab is a great halfway stage towards different accommodation. Make sure you talk to a social assistant or health adviser soon to see what all the options are. You owe that to yourself (and the weary family!!!)
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