I’ve just joined here. I’m not a live in carer so feel like I’m not sure I’m in the right place. I support my father who lives about half an hour drive away. I do shopping and other needs; run his house, pay bills, repair etc. I also work full time. I feel most of what I do could be managed but for the huge emotional toll of dealing with my dads ever increasing difficult behaviour. He is very negative towards everything I do, shopping is never right etc. Every interaction can take up to two or three days of difficult, appeasements and annoyed phone calls until he eventually accepts whatever it is and can then occasionally be grateful. He rings with issues or requests about every other day, some are reasonable and some not. I’m finding it difficult to cut off from the worry and constant negativity and my life and relationships away from him are affected by my feelings of being trapped and upset. I know many of you will be in much more difficult situations as mine is not a live in situation but I suppose I’m just asking if anyone feels the same.
This forum is for carers whether they live with the caree or do so at a distance.
As you have unfortunately found even at a distance it takes over. And a carees difficult behaviour makes it all the more draining.
I can definitely relate to the feeling of being trapped, as am sure this a common and understandable feeling amongst carers.
Is it possible that you could organise support so that someone else does your fathers shopping for him?
Have you contacted social services…depending on his savings he may qualify for this help.
It sounds like you need to get back the control in your life as much as possible.
My own parents and my in laws lived about 6 miles from us. It’s not easy! They all kept telling they were fine, “my son/daughter helps so we don’t need ant help” without asking us! We were running a business and had a brain damaged son too, only our business wasn’t seen as a proper job!!!
I feel for you, having been in a similar situation with my father. You sound like a very kind and empathic person.
What would happen if you stopped appeasing?
Sometimes we feel we’re being rude when we put boundaries in place, especially with a parent. But it wouldn’t be unreasonable of you to be reassuring and firm, but not appeasing. I realised that the only way I could change how my father was relating to me was to change the way I was relating to him.
He no longer had the insight to think about how his behaviours were affecting others and the more I appeased the more demanding his expectations became. Managing other people’s expectations, helping them adjust their expectations of us isn’t a skill most of us learn when we’re young. I know no-one taught me and at first it made me feel uncomfortable. Then it got easier.
Not plain sailing, but I felt more in control.
How are things today?
Thanks for the replies. Some of it really makes sense to me. Being firm can be hard but is necessary. Things have been fine all week then today my dad rang me feeling very worried about not taking his medication properly. This is a feature; he will tell me something like this but then refuse to be helped; for example when I suggested a doctor visit to review medication, and then will say in an annoyed voice that he’ll sort it out himself and doesn’t want help. He will then say “ don’t you worry about it” but not in a nice way. It’s so frustrating, tonight I just said if he was going to tell me things then he has to accept solutions and help. It goes round in circles. Thanks though for the replies. It helped to hear from Alison that being firm and setting boundaries does feel difficult. I have to shout because my dad refuses hearing aids and it feels very difficult to be shouting and settling boundaries!
I replied to this but at the bottom of the post by mistake.Thanks for your reply, I think you are absolutely right. Changing behaviour to affect change is the way to go. I think I need other help too because at the moment other help is limited. My sister does a shop every other week and that’s it. I think when you are the main contact all the frustration etc is aimed at you. It sounds like you coped well in your own situation with your dad.
I am going to seek other help, thank you for the advice.
Kim, how old is your dad? He sounds like he is becoming an “elderly toddler”. Would this be a fair description?
Is it ever possible to please him, or does he find fault whatever you do? We had someone like that in our family. After I spent a lot of time trying to find the Christmas present he wanted, spending hours and hours with no luck, I apologised on Christmas Day that I just couldn’t find it anywhere. I told him the shops I been to. He replied that he’d tried all those shops already, it just didn’t exist, but he “thought I would give you something to do”!! When my son was severely brain damaged!!!
I realised at that point that there was no point in trying to please him. I would never succeed. Maybe you should give up too?