I've made many mistakes but this has to be the biggest

Firstly I must apologise in advance for the length of this post. I have been reading the forums for a while now and have never felt able to engage, until now. I feel that I must tell the whole story so you can see the big picture of what’s going on.

I am 50 and lost my mother in 1991 when I was 21 years old. She was only 48 and had a brain haemorrhage so it was all very sudden. Mum was my best friend. I always remember the first day after she died, cooking sausages for my Dad as the dutiful daughter stepping into Mums place. She did everything for him. From that day forward I became my Dads right hand woman, it sort of seemed expected but I also felt so sad for my Dad at losing his wife, he was 61, just about to retire and had had some health scares the year before so I think I always thought he was vulnerable. He was also quite a depressive and has been on anti depressants for as long as I can remember (he offered me Valium on the day of Mums funeral which I was horrified at – I didn’t even drink alcohol then). At that time I lived at home with Dad and literally took over the role that Mum had been.

My Dad over time did learn to do most things for himself and was very self sufficient BUT I was literally on the other end of the phone at any time for whatever he needed and I always felt this was expected as at times when I didn’t give my full attention he had a way of freezing me out and making me feel selfish. I moved out after a couple of years and had my own flat for over 20 years, worked hard and struggled financially but was determined to try and be as self sufficient as I could as his disapproval of me for anything that wasn’t “perfect” was too much for me to bare. He was a very successful businessman and very financially secure, very typically old school.

Over the last 30 years I have always been available to Dad, I always perceived him as “old”. I had several failed relationships ( I always picked men totally opposite to my Dad) and I think that was due to my misguided perception that only someone like my Dad would do… they all said to me at some point did I realise that I would never get his approval no matter what I did? They were all absolutely right.

I chose not to have children, I don’t think I ever felt I had enough in me to cope as I felt I already had a very large baby on my hands constantly plus I also feared my children losing me at a young age as I did my own Mum, I couldn’t bare the thought of that, knowing how much it had affected me. I opted for a furry family, a beautiful brown Lab and two gorgeous cats and lived very happily with them for 10 years alone (I haven’t dated for that long either, although that’s the least of my worries!)

I also lost an eye when I was 9 years old and have had a lot of counselling about that and the loss of my Mum without which I think I would have really struggled.

I cooked a Roast dinner at Dads house every Sunday for years to get “the family” together which consists of a brother (3 years older than me and in Dads words “has his own life”) his partner and their son and Dads lady friend. I have been the one that they all turn to for help and I’ve been as accommodating as I could with as much humour and good nature too. Often being the brunt of jokes, criticism or ridicule. I’ve always tried to take the higher ground and be as dignified as possible as I know they must need to be that that way to feel better :wink:

So, about 5 years ago I had a dreadful neighbour move in who made my life absolute hell. I was so unhappy and very stressed for a long while with no ability financially to move. I asked Dad could I move in with my animals temporarily whilst I sorted things out (he has a large detached Bungalow) he said no he didn’t think he wanted that and proceeded to get very annoyed with me in front of others anytime I mentioned how unhappy I was and how stuck I was. At one point he said if I could help you out I would but I don’t have the money available. (Having had to take control of his finances over the last 2 years I now know this to be very untrue, which was shocking and very hurtful to me).

A year later (2017) he had a huge health scare, he has had vascular issues for years and all of a sudden his breathing was dreadful and he had clots on his lungs and subsequently was diagnosed with Heart Failure. He had a vascular scan where were told that it didn’t look great and that there was nothing to be done. After a week in hospital he returned home and I then became very much on hand, visiting 3 times a day to help him, doing his meds etc. In my mind I really thought he didn’t have many years left, he was then 86. I said to him about me moving in again (I was still dealing with the awful neighbour) and he said he thought that would be a very good idea and that it was the right time now.

I moved in with my animals at the end of 2017. I found it so very hard losing my independence but truly believed it was the right thing to do, Dad may not have long left and I never wanted him to go into a home. He was fairly independent (I did take on all shopping, cooking, washing, cleaning etc) and he was still driving… then on January 3rd 2020 (last year) Dad fell and broke his arm whilst out playing snooker and life absolutely changed.

A month in hospital, daily visits, the merry go round with so many different departments, phone calls and madness suddenly became my life. Dad had become very much a falls risk, was unable to complete his normal day to day tasks and I was then in charge of things going forward. He went into a place locally for respite care for 3 weeks after hospital as I was simply worn out at that stage and needed time to organise care at home to help me. Great place but every day Dad would say when am I coming home. I knew I had to bring him home without doubt, after all it is his home and he had the money to pay for care and I worried about him constantly.

Then Covid struck. In the last 12 months I have had to organise his care to help me, that is stressful in itself, new people, getting used to them, then they leave and it starts again and all the while I am here 24/7, waiting for him to want to go to bed every night as I do not have night care for him (he has a bell to ring) and if I try to get him to go earlier it’s like sending a child to bed. I’m never sure what is mild dementia and what is bloody mindedness He needs someone in attendance at all times as he is a huge falls risk and was diagnosed with borderline dementia so he is likely to decide he is getting up when he shouldn’t be. He also has accidents now and again and his care is ramping up a bit.

Despite struggling emotionally with the situation, I have been very proud of myself over the last 12 months as I have had very little release from it all. Different carers, carers letting me down, his lady friend (two absent sons) being in our “bubble ” and facilitating their friendship (she is 89, very able but an absolute pain in the backside, I’m fond of her because I’ve had to be but she has let me down on many occasions and is so damn Victorian its ridiculous). Cooking meal after meal, keeping good humour, being patient, trying to be understanding of their age, accepting that my brother will only ever be remote support (I think it’s better that way though to be honest), three failing animals who are my absolute world and making me very sad (Brown Lab is 13 and has fits, two cats 15 & 16) and to top it all the Menopause – what a joy.

In the last two weeks I have had what I can only imagine has been a mini meltdown and with the help of a few glasses of wine have thought it a good idea to tell every person that has ever hurt and upset me some home truths. Mostly to my Dad (who is TOTALLY unfazed by anything – I still feel terrible guilt to have said these things to a 90 year old man even though they were things that he did) and my brother and also included Dads lady friend.

I have felt intense guilt that after so many years of saying very little and knowing it was the best way, suddenly there it is, all spilled out. Everything I said was true, many, hurtful things that Dad did or said to me, the same with my brother. As i said Dad was unfazed and brother was argumentative but quite understanding afterwards (thankfully)

My two closest friends are thrilled that I have spoken out, but I have been hating myself for the lack of dignity doing it after alcohol. Although I have such control day to day, I would never have said anything. The thing that has really got me is that I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t plan it and it just seemed to blurt out.

The only plus is that it has actually stopped my constantly swirling head about so many hurtful things from the past. But the feelings I have now are that I simply know that I cannot live in this situation indefinitely as I don’t want to be that person getting out of control. Dad could be here for another 5 or 10 years, it’s his home not mine. He has the money to live here and have full time care live in but I would have to move out (only two bedrooms) which wouldn’t be easy or fair to my old animals plus I have little financial ability as I paid to have a small extension on the bungalow just so I could have a room to myself as it was very open plan.

I feel like an absolute fool, I have actually never felt so stuck and unhappy in my life. I just want to look after my old, beautiful furry family in solitude but I am stuck here with a very difficult choice. My conscience will kill me if I was to leave the situation (and I’d still have to manage everything) but my relationship with Dad could very well suffer if I continue too. At the end of the day I love him very much and have felt like his guardian angel for years.

To quote him “I feel like you were born to be there for me, we were thrown together after your Mother died and I have always thought that you were happiest being by my side”

Give me strength.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You clearly have a kind heart, and did what seemed to be the right thing at the time.
I’m on the forum for the carer, not the caree. It’s going to take a while to “unpick” your situation.
First, a few questions, to help us sort out the best way.
You say dad owns the house, and can afford live in care. So does he give you anything for everything you do for him?
How disabled is he now, what can he do for himself, if anything? Mentally OK, or showing signs of dementia?
Do you have power of attorney?
Is he claiming Attendance Allowance?
How old are you now?
Do you have brothers and or sisters?
Is there anything in writing about you paying for your bedroom? This is desperately important. It may mean that should dad end up needing residential care, the value of the house can be discounted.
Does the “lady friend” do anything to help??

I don’t think dad is ever going to appreciate what you do, but at his age, that’s not going to change.
Are you currently working? Claiming Carers Allowance?

Thank you bowlingbun. If only I’d been as kind to myself eh. I am 50 with one brother. I get an allowance yes as I had to give up working as a Reflexologist when things got too much to deal with before he had his fall. I also get Carers allowance and Dad gets attendance allowance. I have joint Power of Attorney with my brother.

He needs help with most things, he gets very breathless and cannot stand for long and spends most of his time asleep in the chair during the day. He used to be fiercely independent and does try his best to help himself though which is sad. He was diagnosed with borderline dementia and as I said it’s very hard to know what is selective memory or real memory loss or dementia. He still has very sharp mind where crosswords are concerned.

Not sure about your question about my room. Dad will never be entitled to any financial help as he has savings and enough to keep him going for a long time…

Lady friend has recently proved that she is also struggling but will never accept help. I have tried to support her during Covid too but she can be very argumentative and finds it very hard accepting Dad has care and always wants it just to be me as well. I have had to distance myself last couple of weeks as I’ve been so exhausted… and that comes with guilt and she’s not even my family!

Do try to find some evidence that you paid for your bedroom to be built.
I’ m not suggesting a major immediate sort out, but if you have anything left at all, keep it in a safe place. You will need it when it comes to sorting out dad’s estate after he dies.
(I’m currently sorting out my own affairs so that when I die my son who lives with me will be left in the best situation).

I see what you mean now. Dad has provided very well in the event of his death, very complicated and been very hard to extract from to fund his care but its there. However it doesn’t help me now and I have no wish for him to die for any gain whatsoever, it’s my freedom and life in this situation that is the hardest to work out going forward, the emotional toll of it all.

I’ve even seriously thought about buying a Campervan just for the freedom and letting a live in carer move in but it wouldn’t be very easy with my ageing animals and I absolutely wouldn’t leave them behind. I’m a victim of my own madness I think.

I am always concerned about housing, after several members of the forum in the past have been made homeless!
Are you aware of NHS Continuing Healthcare. Read up about it, unfortunately it’s a bit of a postcode lottery, but it’s entirely FREE as it comes under the NHS. Any care he needs would be provided if he qualifies. Start by looking at the CHC Framework “checklist assessment”.
Wo does the cooking and the cleaning? If he is comfortably off, he should be funding domestic help.
Does he have an adjustable bed, an accessible bathroom, to make things as easy as possible for you? A dishwasher, a tumble dryer? Every second a machine is doing something is extra time for you.
Could you have some regular “me” time. Every afternoon between 2 and 4pm? If a domestic help was coming in, you should go out.
When did you last have a proper holiday? Could you put your pets in kennels?

Hi Sallwilldoit, I have sent you a PM

I can relate to a lot of your post especially trying to ascertain if your father is suffering from dementia or just bloody minded. I think you have done a HUGE amount for your father over the years and he should be grateful…

I cannot really add to what BB has suggested but you do need to put your needs first and get some ‘me’ time. I do know how you feel about your pets as I have a feline family who keep me sane. I am the carer of my husband who is nearly 82. He has had various conditions and nearly died several times but he keeps going on and on.

Your post has triggered in me just how much we can give up for the person in our care, I too had a meltdown after many months of looking after my husband who fell and broke his right ip and arm just before the hospitals went into lockdown He had ha a stroke 2 yrs before, and started to show signs of early dementia. He was moved to a community hospital for re-hab and when we had him home (he was ringing us and our daughter day and night rambling and complaining the staff were unkind to him} We, my son and I had to use a mo lift to raise him and transfer to a commode or shower chair, no-one could visit. then 3 days after coming home we had a call to say he tested positive for covid We really thought he would die, he had lost so much weight and was so weak and frail we cosseted him and took it in turns to sleep. he was doubly incontinent. exhaustion was there all the time, but he rallied round and improved enough to use a zimmer frame, doc prescribed tranquilisers for him. The podiatrist came back to dress his toes,(diabetes) the physio came and helped get him moving. He agreed to make a power of Attorney and that was all done and recently completed, also we remade our wills, so that if either of us went into care home, the other had half the property so it can never be sold over our heads. the day I had the meltdown I just sat on the edge of the bed and sobbed and sobbed I couldn’t stop I couldn’t explain what was the matter, it went on for nearly an hour. My husband is very argumentative and demanding ,wants things done WHEN HE wants it and gets very cross when he can’t have it, I feel desperate sometimes. I normally draw and paint and also sew for gt grandchildren I simply cannot do any painting because he will be calling out for me and my paints dry up. Our son does all the heavy work and shopping he takes his dog for a long walk to keep his sanity. Husband sits watching TV all day and wants to go to bed at 8pm.he is calling now for his lunch.!! its 5 to 12. I do hope that your Meltdown has made them think again how you are treated, But if your father is anything like my husband I suspect things will drift back again, We, son and I,give him a strong taking to every now and then and he does try at first…You may think it doesn’t matter about the money right now, but it should matter the day will come when you wish it was sorted officially, I do feel for you,

(Such good advice covering all the points. Dilly )

Margaret, you can’t carry on like this.
Did you get the 6 weeks free Reablement care you were entitled to?
Has your husband had a Needs Assessment from Social Services?
Been assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare?

I just quickly want to say a huge THANK YOU for your replies, I have not had the best of days and will reply to all when I get some space. Your words mean a lot and have made me feel less alone . Thank you so much :slight_smile:

(((HUGS))) Sorry you are having a bad day.
Be kind to yourself, and try to squeeze in a bit of “me time” even if it’s just having a shower so you can blank out calls to do something for a few minutes.
For me, exhaustion = depression.
Do you wear ear protectors when sleeping?
My late husband was an engineer and always had stacks of yellow tubular foam that you rolled between thumb and forefinger. I always wore them when driving our 10 ton steam roller on the road (no kidding). They don’t block everything out, but roughly 50% at a guess. You can buy them in Boots I think.