My parents divorced when I was in the second grade. Dad was always self-centered and didn't have much involvement with us after that. He didn't abandon us, he was responsible with child support and remembered our birthdays and Christmas, but he lived in another state and rarely visited. He was too busy with his bachelor lifestyle. After I grew and married and had kids, he still had no involvement in our lives despite years of invitations. He only met my oldest daughter once when she was little and never met my youngest until she was 18. He's not a horrible person, he's not mean or abusive, but he's completely self-absorbed and a total hypochondriac. He's now in his 80s and completely alone, except for me. My two brothers have washed their hands of him and their kids hardly know him. We live in different states, but I visit him a few times a year. He frequently sends me looong emails about all his struggles and problems, repeating the same things over and over in great detail. He almost never asks about my life or my family. His physical and mental health is quite good, but his emotional health is terrible and he struggles with chronic anxiety and depression. I know I'm facing a future of having to care for him, because there's nobody else to do it. But I really don't want to! He was never there for me or my family and I resent having to be there for him. But what else can I do?

Find Care & Housing
The best thing you can do is manage your father's care, be his advocate, from afar. Help him get set up in Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing, depending on the finances, and then check in with him once a week (or whatever) by phone. Visit him once a month, send cards & snacks, and that's it. Feeling an obligation to do hands on care for the man makes no sense at all in this situation.

If he's doing fine living alone, then leave him be. My mother is 94 years old and her emotional health has been HIDEOUS her entire life. I am the one she dumps on continuously, and to hear her tell it, she's in horrible health and dying. Which couldn't be further from the truth. She's been 'dying' since I was a kid, but she's still alive and kicking & probably still will be for quite some time to come. Hypochondriacs and drama queen/king types live to be 100.

You're not 'facing a future of having to care for him' if you make up your mind NOW that you're not going to do ANY hands-on caregiving. I made that decision long long ago and my mother lives in Assisted Living since 2014 and now Memory Care. I love her, but I manage her care from afar b/c she's way way WAY too much to deal with. If she was a normal person, MAYBE she'd be living with me, but probably not b/ I'm not the caregiving type. And that's okay. We have to know ourselves, our limitations, and our wants & needs enough that we don't get into a situation that ruins our lives. As we see here on this forum ALL THE TIME.

Make a decision NOW that will carve out the future YOU want. A future that is best for YOU and your family. You don't have to 'abandon' your father at all, you just don't have to do hands on caregiving for the man.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to lealonnie1

You are NOT facing a future of having to care for him!! Just because no one else will, doesn't mean that you have to. Trust me, he will not be surprised when you don't step up to help him. He knows what he's done to his children, and knows too that he will now reap what he has sown.
Please don't get sucked into him guilting you to care for him. There are plenty of places he can go into if and when he needs the care. It can be a tough pill for some to swallow when they have to lie in the bed that they themselves have made.
I'm sorry that you didn't have the father that you deserved. You owe him nothing!!!
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to funkygrandma59

Leave it to someone better qualified, that's what you can do.

Look. The reason your father now has soooo much time to share his thoughts and feelings and life with you is that he wants attention and you are (currently, I hope) a rich source of it. But it won't matter who he gets the attention from. A therapist, a social worker, a team of caregivers, a resident chaplain - anyone will do. Doesn't have to be you. Doesn't have to be your brothers, either, the only difference being that they're already perfectly comfortable with recognising the fact.

Be as detached as your father was. Wish him well, wish him a comfortable life, with support to meet his needs, and a soft landing when he does begin to reach the end of life. Send him cards and visit him from time to time and give him what help fits proportionately into the time you have available. But the second you find yourself resenting him, you're overstepping your boundary.

So don't fool yourself into this. You are not the only one who can provide your father with adequate - or better than adequate, let's not be so pessimistic - care.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Countrymouse

You do not have to care for him. Because of your relationship with him, you should not care for him because...there is some resentment there. And if he was self-centered before than he will be even worse now. You definitely do not (and I dislike this word) owe him anything. If his emails start to get weird, then call his County Adult Protection Services and ask for a "well check". Make it clear that you live in another State and have no POA. That you are not in the position to care of him. That if its found he needs help, that the State will need to take over. Your estranged for a reason, he has never been a father. Do not let them talk you into caring for him. He is where he is because he made choices. The State will be able to get him resources much quicker than you.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to JoAnn29

I am curious why you think you have an obligation to care for someone who was, in essence, a sperm donor.

Contact the local Area Agency on Aging in his community and give him the information he needs to be in contact with them. He needs case management services and a "needs assessment".
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

You seem to be trying to convince yourself he's not super terrible.

"He's not a horrible person, he's not mean or abusive."


On all counts.

Only a horrible, mean, abusive man would abandon his family and not give two turds about his children and grandchildren. And then expect to be cared for by the children he tossed aside like they were nothing?! He does not love you. No man who loves you would abandon you.

What else can you do? Focus on your own family. Being the only daughter does not mean you are automatically the one to stop everything and be his caretaker.

If you're thinking this could be a chance to mend fences and get answers as to why he is how he is... it won't. He hasn't changed and he never will. Every little girl needs her daddy, and it leaves an open wound when he just up and leaves. Harshest rejection ever.

You deserved better. You deserve better now too.

Why give him another chance to hurt you again? And hurt your kids by default, when they see you coming back for more pain? Hasn't he done enough damage? You can (from afar) make sure he's not on the streets if that helps you feel better. That's all.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to LoopyLoo

I fail to see why you believe you have to be his caregiver. It’s a hard job, only needs to be done by someone who truly wants to do it and has the strength to back up the desire. There are countless people who don’t have family, or don’t want family care, and they all have options for their needs. Please don’t feel you should take this on, you already know it’s a bad idea
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Daughterof1930

Let the state take care of him. Your brothers are right, don't get suckered into providing hands on care for someone who didn't do it for you just because you're female. Lots of women ruin their lives for that very reason.

From what you're describing providing hands on care for someone with his personality would be a disaster.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to ZippyZee

My advice would be NOT to take on this care. Many people do not have children. They are then in the care of the state if there are not funds, and in Assisted Living or Board and Care if they DO have funds. I would make that clear right away. He is in his 80s. With your good care he could likely go to the century that is not unusual in our times.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to AlvaDeer

Make your boundaries of what you are willing to do.

That could be nothing. Or maybe a card for major holidays & a card & phone call for his birthday.

He has lived his life his way. I see no harm in him moving to AL, NH or whatever he needs without your input, if that is what you want.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Beatty

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter