Before I begin, please know that I have been living a nightmare with dad for most of my life. My parents divorced when I was 5. I’m 51 now. After the divorce I saw dad on the weekends. He has always been odd (I can say that now that I’m 51 and have raised 3 wonderful kids). Dad never remarried - rather, he lived a reckless bachelors life - doing what he wanted when he wanted right in front of me whether it was a good choice or not. During my weekends with dad there were parties, roommates, a girlfriend (who committed suicide from OD) and all the while, a lot of drinking. I never told my mom. In a way, I guess I didn't know any better back then. My mother’s new husband brought his own set of problems to my life with mom so I guess a weekend away with dad was refreshing (most of the time). With dad, there was trips, dinners at fancy restaurants, college which he fully paid for. He was always the fun dad, although most of the time he was drunk.
Fast forward 40 years. I stayed in touch with dad, but only talked to him once a week - inviting him over to my home on a Saturday or Sunday. He never called me either so I assumed he was fine with that relationship. 5 years ago I noticed that his walking and balance was severely impaired. As a result, he needed emergency cervical stenosis surgery. He spent several weeks in rehab and then came to stay with me for 2 months. He couldn't wait to leave and finally did, with a cane and a very unstable gait. It was then when I started visiting dad more often (3 times a week) to check up on him.
6 months ago, after ignoring the upsetting and obvious signs of his dysfunctional life for too long, (poor hygiene, bad eating habits, and a LOT of drinking) I convinced him to go to the ER because I just couldn't turn a blind eye anymore. As of late December, we found out dad has bladder cancer (high grade and it has been there for a long time - unbeknownst to him and to me). According to doctors, he also has dementia. He knows only of the cancer and that diagnosis has thrown him for a loop - although the tumor is gone and he’s almost finished his therapy. He is aware of his forgetfulness - and with that comes tremendous denial and lies. He also refuses to believe he’s in a rehab facility. He hates hospitals and NHs. He is now in his 2nd LTC facility (temporarily). He refuses to make friends (says they’re all old) and sometimes insists he works there (he used to counsel people back in the day...).
Since his cancer diagnosis in December, he has become impossible. Dad insists he doesn’t belong there and tells me often. He wants to drive, wants to work, and wants to drink (as depressing as that is). I visit him almost every day. We just sit and talk. If I don’t go, he calls me all day long (no matter how many times I talk to him). Dad owns his own home (an hour from rehab and where I live.). I’ve offered for him to live with my husband and I but my last child leaves for college in August so I suggested we wait until then to move him in. Sometimes dad is on board with the idea of living with me, but most of the time he wants to stay in control and says he wants to go home (even though he can’t even with help!). I’m getting more and tired (emotionally and physically). I feel completely helpless from this nightmare. Mentally dad has worn me down. Again, dad has always been a little “off” but now his dysfunctional life has effected MY normal life - daily. He doesn’t care if I’m not home for my husband or my daughter. He doesn’t want to come to my house to visit but he wants me to sit and hang with him. Sometimes I’m there 4-5 hours but when I say I’m going to go home, he grabs his coat and asks me to drive him home. I don’t know what more to do. Dad is forgetful but he’s also just uninterested in everything - always has been. Dementia is an easy diagnosis but truth be told - dad has always been like this - just now it’s worse. Could he possibility have something else wrong?