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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?

Don’t do it. You will destroy your life and for what? Someone who never cared about you? Or your kids? Read all the posts on this forum of folks who started caregiving out of the goodness of their heart and see what they have to say....it’s a tough road, and if you already resent this,., let him go,
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Reply to ML4444
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No one knows what is in your dad’s heart but him.

No one knows what his frame of reference was regarding his own parents.

This isn’t a therapy session. It’s a support group.

Sometimes I have been so broken that I wasn’t able to hear anything that was painful.

I suppose that at that point in time, I simply wasn’t strong enough to handle the entire picture.

I was extremely fragile. I could only deal with those who met me right where I was and with compassion.

If this is where you are, I get it because I have been there.

I just want you to know that in these circumstances a person is incredibly vulnerable and sometimes for your own protection people must be blunt and pray to almighty God that their message is heard.

No one is being judgmental of you or telling you that you can’t feel what you feel.

You are entitled to your personal thoughts. We all are.

We don’t even have to agree with each other to care about each other.

It’s a blessing that others can see what we can’t if we are blinded by our emotions.

People who really care for you will risk hurt ing your feelings in order to save you a lifetime of regrets.

Just keep in mind that you may be thanking them later for speaking the truth.

Trust me, this is a lovely group of people that won’t get their jollies from saying ‘I told you so’ if you don’t listen.

You may hear frustration but that is because there are many intelligent warm hearted people on this forum that have your best interest at heart.

I wish that I could say that giving this a trial run won’t matter too much in order to figure this out. I absolutely cannot say that it’s okay to take a stab at it because that is how people get stuck in very tough situations.

So, I won’t tell you to follow your gut because your gut is confused at the moment.

Some people are fortunate to have a really clear vision when it comes to knowing that they would never be a caregiver to a parent or anyone else.

Others are very torn. The most important thing for you to know is just because others do it, doesn’t mean that you are ‘less than’ if you don’t want to be a caregiver.

So, I beg you that if others are yakking in your face about how they did it and don’t regret it, simply say that you are happy that they made the right choice for them but that you know it isn’t the right choice for you.

Best wishes to you no matter what path you take.

Please know that you are not responsible for his well being.

May I say that you are a caring person to even consider doing this. Many in your situation wouldn’t.

I am thinking all of the credit goes to the parent that was there every step of the way, your mom! She obviously instilled love in your heart in spite of being left alone. Give her a giant hug for that.

Take care.
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cweissp Apr 24, 2021
Amen to that.
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He DID abandon you. Doing his duty of acknowledging your birthday and Christmas wasn’t because he loved you. It was to bolster his ego. It was enough to make him feel like he was a good father. You didn’t matter enough to him to stick around.

Granted, I don’t know you and can only go with what you posted. The tone of your post indicates you’re grasping at straws to justify taking care of him. That maybe now he’s not such a bad guy.

You know deep down that is BS. It’s hard to admit that the one who was supposed to love you and take care of you... didn’t care about you enough to do it.

Inside you is a little girl who’s daddy walked out on her, and she keeps looking out the window to see if he’s coming back. He broke your heart.

Taking care of him now is just giving him license to break your heart again and again. You won’t get the closure or healing you want and need.

The “but it’s my dad!” stance is meaningless when he wasn’t your dad at all.
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So you didn't have a close relationship, but you have stayed in contact and visit a few times a year. Ask him if he's interested in moving closer to you just to be in the same town. It doesn't have to change the relationship you already have, but would make it easier for you down the road. Based on current relationship, if he got really sick, you'd probably go to visit him. Why travel to another state and make it harder on yourself? Check out to see if there are some adult communities or assisted living apartments in your town and tell him about those. If he's agreeable, help him move if you like or hire a moving company to do it all. When he does finally need more care, he can move on to higher level of care facility and perhaps you might want to visit a little more often. If he wants to stay where he is and visits for you remain as they are, a few times a year, so be it. It's the relationship you have.
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Reply to my2cents
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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."

YES.
HE.
IS.

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.
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Reply to LoopyLoo
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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.
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Reply to ZippyZee
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I should think a resentful caregiver wouldn’t be the best for anyone. Living in different states makes it orders of magnitude more difficult even in better circumstances. It is good of you to even consider being his caregiver, but it seems like it wouldn’t really be a good choice for either of you.
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Beatty Apr 24, 2021
Agree. Maybe the OP could acknowledge his long emails with an empathetic reply, sorry life is tough for you right now. Then ask if he is wanting your advice? If so suggest he obtain a Geriatric Case Manager in his own state. Done.
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I suggest you do as much hands on caregiving as he did for you....none. Did the life of me I can’t figure off why you think you are obligated to care for him.
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Reply to lkdrymom
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No, you don't have to be a caregiver. You don't have to give up your life for him when he never gave up his life for you when you were growing up and when his grandchildren were growing up.

You could google resources in his area and email them to him and provide as much emotional support from AFAR as much or little as you feel comfortable giving. He is an adult and responsible for himself and should plan accordingly. Both my parents who were married for more than 65 years when dad died made plans for their future. I am Mom's POA and was for Dad also but they planed so neither my brother nor I would have day to day care of them. They entered and independent living facility in a CCC campus; then progressed to AL and dad went to SNF shortly before his death. There is no reason your father can't do the same. If he has not planned for the future and doesn't have the finances he can enroll in Medicaid.

Don't feel obligated to take care of him.

PS, I'm sorry, this sounds harsher than I mean it to. But the sentiment is what I meant.
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Reply to cweissp
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You do not have to become his caregiver. If you *want* to, and if he has assets to pay for his longterm care, you can become his durable POA (both medical and financial) and handle his affairs from afar. But that's only if you want to and if there's actual money/assets to manage. The first step would be to tell him that without durable POA you cannot help him. He may refuse to give it to you in which case he's made the decision for you.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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Please don’t do this if your heart isn’t in it.

Even if a person desires to be a caregiver, it is still extremely difficult to do.

You are not obligated to do the hands on care. Look into placement for him.

You can oversee his care. Be his advocate if you like while he is in a suitable facility.

I would not recommend being a primary caregiver. I was my mom’s full time caregiver for many years and it was difficult for me.

It changed our relationship and both mom and I regretted that I was her full time caregiver.

My brother and sister in law also cared for her and it was equally as hard for them.

My mom regretted her decision to live with us. She absolutely hated feeling like a burden.

I love my mom but caring for someone nonstop does become a burden.

My brother placed her in a hospice house.

Her nurses and caregivers said that she made an easy transition to her hospice house. She is being very well cared for.

My mom is dying and it’s truly hard to see but I take enormous comfort that she is being cared for with such compassion.

I cannot put into words how grateful I am to the staff in her hospice house. They are angels.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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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.
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Reply to Beatty
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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!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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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.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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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!!!
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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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.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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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".
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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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
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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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.
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