I'm trying to figure out how to handle my situation and surviving live-in caregiving. I am 58, on disability for spinal deterioration from years of landscaping although I am quite mobile and I live with my father. I came here 5 years ago to help my now 87 year old Dad with Mom, who has since died (3 years ago). I stayed on to keep Dad company, because it's affordable (I trade care for room and board) and I'm able to help Dad seeing I don't work. Very long story shorter, Dad has been deteriorating. Although still able to get around pretty well he's been diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia. Dad and I have always been close, but since Mom died he's becoming more and more clingy. He has a close friend who lost her husband the same year Mom died and they do spend a lot of time together. But I'm the one he depends on. I do have a sister in CA that helps as best as she can, fielding a lot of calls, supporting me and coming out when she can. My dad is narcissistic, dependent on others for his happiness and suffers from life long insecurity and self hatred which he has hidden behind a front of bravado. He also, for most of his adult life, had channeled that insecurity into being a caring minister and has helped both the community and people. About 20 years ago, just after he retired, he was charged with sexual harassment stemming from his strong personality (not sex) and deposed. He has never recovered from that and as time goes on his grief, guilt and shame increases. He will not forgive himself. He has always been one to verbally self abuse himself (that's where my negative tapes come from) and has suffered from deep depression and lack of self worth that only his job and family relieved. Now his wife of 62 years is dead and he's been deposed. Plus he's aware of his increasing dementia, which terrifies him.
Just before Christmas he fell and broke his pelvis, not his hip. My sister immediately flew out and after 2 weeks in the hospital after an operation to repair his pelvis he's been moved to a local rehab. It's been a very painful and slow recovery while we wait for this big bone to heal. All during this time he's been miserable, scared, verbally self-abusive, and his dementia is worse. The staff and his personal doc of 30 years are taking good care of him. But he clings to me. Even though his friend spends hours a day with him, he wants me. I've gone back to school part time in hopes to supplement my income plus I take care of the house, our 1 yr old Lab and my cat. I'm a recovering alcoholic with a great support system. I also go to other 12 step programs to help with my enmeshment with my dad. I'm also in therapy and we're actually at the stage of looking deeply into my enmeshment with Dad and my own self hatred.
I'm suffering from burn-out. Even when I get respite (I go away several times during the summer for 4 days to camp alone and visit my dear friend in the Berkshires for a few days many times a year) I feel this connection and tug so I don't feel recharged. My dad is a master manipulator, trying to get my constant attention, and even though I've learned how to not give in, it's exhausting to have to constantly have this battle going on between us.
Dad calls me around 6-10 times a day, starting as early as 6 am. I've learned to not always answer the phone and I don't answer it before 9am. Most of his calls are to beg for me to bring him home, to ask what he can do to hurry things up or to ask me to do things the nurses do (so I redirect him to them). My sister and I are preparing the house for when he comes home and she'll return in mid-March to finalize the set-up of caregivers for Dad so I won't have to do it all. But it's his clinging need of me that's wearing me down. Because of his dementia, it's hard to reason with him or give advice. He's constantly hanging up mid conversation because he doesn't want to hear what I'm saying. I'm trying to be supportive, compassionate, and empathetic for I know he's scared but his behavior makes it hard to do. I've started to limit my visits to take care of myself (still going every day but for shorter times) but this makes him weepy and more clingy. He can't understand that there's not much to do other than his PT and wait for the bone to heal. He doesn't understand, even when it's explained, why he can't come home to heal. He fluctuates between wanting what he wants NOW and being a stubborn, arrogant man and realizing that his demands are hard on me, so he then beats himself up. He's a drama queen and extremely self-centered. He now thinks the nurses don't like him because he doesn't get their constant attention. It's a vicious circle dealing with his mood swings, most of which are negative. He does try every now and then to be cheerful and to accept his situation but that never lasts long.
How do I handle this? How do I remain his caregiver yet break the enmeshment? I's appreciate any advice y'all can give!