Caring for dad, but he won’t accept other support

Hi all. I’m new to the forum, but really feeling the need to connect in as caring for dad gets harder. In short, I moved him nearer to me about 4 years ago so I could help him better - he’s now 80, with various physical conditions and whilst he won’t admit it, significant depression. Until about 4 years ago I mainly looked after his bills, doctors appointments etc, but more recently he’s needed far more support in (eg) understanding things. He refuses to go to the doctor for anything other than annual diabetes checks, refuses a hearing aid and so has no means of contacting anyone, refuses to use a mobile phone to text (you get the idea). He’s fallen out with everyone and will only speak to me (he’s cut out the rest of the family) and gone to the extent of refusing anyone else access to the house. His house is filthy and full of hoarding, but he won’t let me clean it. About 3 years ago I almost had a breakdown because of all this (I work full time, with many hours commuting, have 2 kids, chronic pain and, well you get the picture). He won’t let anyone come in to help as he’s convinced they’ll rob from him or make him go into a home. When I push, he asserts he must be a burden and will just leave to get out of my way, and I have no doubt he’d just drive off somewhere. I know the above picture makes him sound awful, he’s not, just deeply unhappy and unwell.

Sorry if that sounds like a whinge, I’m just almost lost on how else to help. He can’t live with me - he would NEVER entertain it anyway, but frankly my kids would be too badly affected anyway (the toll on them is what almost made me break).

So, I suppose what I’m asking is - does anyone have any ideas for how I can support him better given the boundaries in place? I’m starting to break again and that won’t help any of us.

Dear Julie I am no ‘expert’ on this and I would readily say that everyone’s experience of the caring role is different, so to for the person needing care. Both your father and yourself find yourself in a difficult situation. It sounds like your father is so frustrated and depressed over his change in health and capacity etc., and for some people they do not seem able to adjust and prefer denial I suppose. He is very fortunate to have such a caring daughter and because you care it is very hard for you and brings its own frustrations, unfortunately you do not have a magic wand and although you are a superwoman (mother and working) there are human limits.

What is the answer? May be going with the flow a bit? Perhaps, don’t worry about the clutter etc for now, perhaps backing off a bit. You can’t force someone, just makes them more agitated. It could be he is frightened of losing control over his own life. May be there are little things he will allow you to help with ( taking him a meal?) and maybe just having a chat is more important than anything. Just trying to force things is making you more and more frustrated and perhaps ill. In a sense there needs to be an understanding of equaltiy-.i.e. you also have the right to to the life you want and TLC etc.

I don’t think there is any easy answer, hopefully somenoe on the Forum will have had similiar experience and be able to advise. Luckily my father was very adaptive. You really have to be very careful of you own well being as even though my father was great, I still have post-caring health issues and your children are important of course and you can only devote so much time in helping, otherwise you will burn out and be unable to help anyone. Perhaps better do a little than full steam ahead when it is not wanted?? I don’t know. All that I have been rambling on about are just ideas, only you know what is right and best for you. Best of luck. I am sorry if do not answere any posts readily as I have to come to library for internet and am not always 100%. My thoughts are with you and your father-you both deserve the best in life.

Take photos, and ask the GP of District Nurse on the pretext of “we like to visit our most senior patients”. Sadly, he is showing all the signs of mental health issues, possibly dementia, and he needs help. Social Services have a duty to protect “vulnerable adutls”. Would this be a fair description of dad?

I’m afraid I, too, was thinking ‘dementia’. It can take years to ‘show’ and it is often accompanied by depression - as in, the person become fearful they are developing it, and therefore are (understandably) depressed about it.

If he is, then, at some point (however long it takes, alas), he will lose legal capacity to make ANY decisions for himself, and in the end will very probably have to go into a care home, whether he likes it or not. He won’t have a choice any more, as it will become and issue of safeguarding, and without legal capacity to make his own decisions, he can be ‘taken in to care’.

In the meantime, as BB says, keep notes and take photos and alert ‘everyone’ especially his GP.

As for supporting him, you know, even if dementia IS approaching (and it may not be, he may simply be suffering from mental ill health, and general unhappiness at being old and infirm), it IS ‘his choice’ to live the way he does. If he’s fallen out with everyone else, well, again, that was his choice.

It’s hard to let someone ‘go downhill’ ,but if he refuses help, he refuses help. Try not to ‘engage’ with him (ie, argue or seek to persuade)- do what he lets you do (but be careful, as you do seem to be, thankfully, of being ‘sucked in’ to do more and more). But don’t hit your head on a brick wall. We cannot - and, indeed, really, ‘shouldn’t’ force ‘help’ on those who don’t want it.

I know it hurts to see someone we love living miserably when they could be living cheerfully, but he is BEYOND your power to make him happy and contented, or even clean and comfortable.

Set those boundaries, and accept that he will live his life out as he chooses, and all that can change that is if either HE changes his mind (and accepts help, such as having his house cleaned), or, as I say, develops dementia and has to be ‘taken into care’ whether he wants it or not.

It’s sad, but there it is. Your family is your priority, and it’s good you see that. Sad though it is to watch your father’s decline.