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?

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As I was reading your post about your experiences, I knew that at some point you would say that either Dad had moved in or you were inviting him to move in. Why? Why would you give up your life for this man who has brought you such turmoil and distress? Do you feel obligated? Again, why?

Accept the the fact that you’ve never had the picture perfect father-daughter relationship. Nothing you can do, including and especially taking Dad into your home will change this, because now it sounds like he’s suffering with dementia. . You need to disengage. Step back. Let the facility care for him. They are professionals trained to care for people with Dad’s issues. You are very close to developing a co-dependent relationship with him and that’s not healthy for either one of you. Tell him you will visit a few times a week. No more than twice. If you’re there every day, he won’t get accustomed to being there and learning their routines and they won’t get to know him. One or two calls a day. That’s it.

This is not easy. I know you feel obligation because he is your father. But at some point, his lifestyle caught up with him, and this is not your fault.
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Your father was a drunk and that much alcohol affected his body and brain and contributed to the significant cognitive decline you describe. There is alcohol-induced dementia.

I would urge you to not move your father in with you. His needs will only increase. No one "likes" a nursing home but sometimes there is no other choice.
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I agree with the others, my advice would be to talk this over seriously with your husband because your choice to move a dying alcoholic into your home will destroy the peace of your home, marriage etc. You must make the final choice but from my outsider perspective it seems like the best place for your dad to be is likely in the care home. That's probably going to be the best for both you and your father. Not to mention your husband. You do not have to answer every time he calls, you do not have to be at his beck and call. You can "honor your father" by supervising his care and setting the healthy boundaries he never learned to set for himself. I realize it's a tough place to be in, hang in there.
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You asked what if’s it’s not dementia... a friend of mine was constantly in and out of hospitals and then rehab due to hallucinations and falls. She would improve under that supervision, but would go home, start drinking again, (picture Manhattans in bed at 9 am) and back to the ER. The doctors finally acknowledged this & treated her for alcoholic dementia. It may be something to research. My friend’s caregiver was her 90 year old husband who couldn’t control her anger and rage at him until he finally would give in and give her a drink. He recently passed away. She’s now in assisted living and doing fine without access to alcohol. I think your Dad May need more help than you can possibly give.
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I am 52. My parents were wonderful growing up but sometime after I moved out and on my own, both began drinking heavily and mixing alcohol with Benzos (like Xanax). Once they got in their 70s, things started to get really wiggy and weird. Dad developed dementia-like symptoms and both parents have several balance and walking issues.

For several years I begged my dad to quit drinking and I attributed his problems to his alcohol & Benzo use (they can cause dementia). In 2017 I had to put him into memory care because he had become paranoid & started wandering and mom became verbally abusive toward him and started to threaten suicide.

Dad's condition has declined pretty rapidly in memory care. I don't know if the substance abuse cause it, or more likely just made it come on at an earlier onset than would have otherwise happened. There is dementia on his side of the family but for most, it's been about 10 years later than it hit him.

You would be wise to NOT move your father in. Right now he is "in the system" and will end up at an appropriate place. If you move him in he could easily live another decade with dementia and you will be tied down 24/7. There are residents at my dad's memory care facility that have been there more than 10 years!! And they still wander around the facility with their walkers.
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Yes it could be lots of something elses. He could have brain metastases. He could be experiencing side effects from treatment. He could be smuggling in booze from somewhere, heaven knows how, but then we do know that addicts find a way. And although you've been told dementia... which one? There are dozens. And that's not counting all the other factors, such as underlying personality and the wear-and-tear of life in general.

But how much does a pinpoint diagnosis really help with what happens next?

I don't know how to put this better: are you sure you and your father can afford the time it would take to move him to your house? - even if it weren't a heck of a risk to take in any case. You would do better to build a really good working relationship with this ltc, if you have confidence in it; or to look around for a better permanent one if you're not satisfied.

Meanwhile. Please read around this forum and others to understand dementia (in all its forms) better, so that you stop feeling so responsible for your father's state of mind.

For example: he wants you to stay for hours, then he wants to leave with you. But whether you stay or go, visit every day or once a week or even not at all, his state of mind will be the same. You have to organise your time with him according to what is sensible for you, which is about reality, and not according to what he "wants," which is the product of a broken mind.

You are married, to a nice husband judging by his support for you at this time, and your youngest child is soon off to college. After reading your brief history, I am SO happy and impressed that this is what your life is like. You will get through caregiving for your father, I feel sure.
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I have to agree. If you're burned out while your dad is tucked securely away in a facility how will it affect you if he moves in? You've done so much for your dad while being able to keep him at a healthy arms-length. It's a lot of work to have a parent in a nursing home but you give up your life when that parent moves in. When my dad moved in with us he was a thoughtful, loving, and considerate man and he remained that way until his death. And it was still exhausting and draining having him live with us.
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Have you had or considered therapy? Reading your story made me sad for the little girl who was at the mercy of at least three dysfunctional adults (more if we count dad's "girlfriends"). I don't really feel terribly sorry for your father. He is reaping what he's been sowing, and it's tragic, but he caused a lot of harm to you.

I find the concept of ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences interesting. This is a theory that particular traumas in childhood as measured on a brief 10-question quiz can contribute to issues in adults in measurable ways. You seem to have had several ACEs. Kudos to you for surviving them and having a happy family of your own now, but I think you owe it to yourself to see if there is more healing that could be done for YOU, not HIM.

Here's a version of the ACE quiz:
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