What have I done?

Hello everyone,

I was really hesitant to post this, as so many of the posts on the forum are about situations SO MUCH WORSE than mine, but I really need some support and you all seem so helpful I thought Id give it a go.

I am in my 50s, live in a decent sized house with my lovely husband and also now, my dad, who is 82.

Mum and Dad moved in with us in 2017, when mum was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I nursed and cared for mum until she died last October. I always reassured dad that he didn’t need to worry, and that he could stay with us “forever”. To be honest, I never really thought this through because my mind was so totally focused on mum.

And now here I am… and I can’t bear it. I just want my life back :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: Dad is reasonably independent with his physical needs, but his emotional needs are just so intense. I feel like I am now his wife. He had no friends, no social life, won’t go out (even though he could, and we got him a mobility scooter). He’s waiting at the door when I get home from work, and sulks when I go to work. He really sulks when we go away on holiday, and makes me feel guilty constantly.

I feel like the worst person in the world, because I know he’s lonely, and grieving, but I am beginning to dread going home. Even now I’m sitting at work doing this, and I know he’s expecting me home. And I know when I get home he will want to chat and I will be horrible because I am so full of rage.

My husband is very supportive, but I think he now is beginning to regret our decision because I am so miserable.

Please don’t tell me I am a terrible daughter, I already know that!

You are an amazing daughter. You have done so much - it’s not surprising that you have reached your limit. Many people can’t even start to do what you do and others would have been broken before you.

There will be others here to talk to you about the longer term, but right now I’m just going to throw out some thoughts for the short term. Ignore them if they are just making you feel worse!

Your Dad will be missing your Mum desperately, but you can’t be the sole and permanent answer. (I’m not trying to be horrid: I saw how my own Mum acted after my Dad died and I was widowed myself two years ago.)

I think you have to look after yourself before you can do any more for your Dad (that’s the aeroplane oxygen mask principle). Can you access any counselling or if not a carers’ group near you? In the meantime, can you find some nice things to do for just you and for you and your husband together - then (broken record technique) tell your Dad you are going out now and you will be back in x hours and then you will cook his dinner/watch television with him/take him to for an hour/whatever? My Mum complained bitterly when anyone did anything without her but we needed it for our sanity and telling her when we would see her next gave her some certainty. How much private space do you have in your house? Does Dad follow you into the kitchen? If so, can you listen to him while you prep a meal and then retreat into the bath? As I say, you need longer term answers but you have to survive the next days and weeks first!

Come back and howl every time you need to.

Hi and welcome Victoria
You are not a terrible daughter! How can you be, when you nursed your mother and look after your dad. However this situation can’t go on. For your own and your husband’s sake. Not easy, but you will have to ignore the sulks! Could you find a place, for him to socialise, like a church hall where they do coffee and cake mornings, and they do day trips etc. I know this isn’t easy. Maybe telling him you miss your mum too, ( I expect you have?),but you have to get on with life, and he must try.
I lost my lovely husband last May, and miss him. However I know my daughter’s and grandchildren do too, so if I am all woe is me, it wouldn’t be fair on them.
This may not be much help to you, but I am listening. Others will be along with advice.

Can I ask where they were living before they moved in with you?
Does dad have over £23,000 in savings?

A friend of mine cared for his mum until she died at 104!! If you don’t want this to be you, then you MUST do something to change things.
Does dad live in a “Granny Annexe” or in the house itself?

I think you are a kind and loving person. You are drained and exhausted. Guilt is part and parcel of being a carer it seems to me. I can relate to your feeling that you want to scream and that you feel resentful and at breaking point. Can you get any respite? Your dad must meet you half way and agree to go to a club/meet up group to give you an hour or so off. Good luck, the pressure on you is huge. Can any other family members help?

Thank you all for your lovely messages. I don’t feel quite so alone now. As I said, my situation is far from dreadful - I get lots of respite, I work, my sisters help a lot.

I think the biggest problem is my sense of dread… I know it can only get worse as he gets older. And my own personal feeling that if this goes on for more than another few months we will have no relationship left.

To answer this, they lived in a little bungalow which they sold when they came to me. He has well over £23000 in savings, and has a very good pension.

And yes, he lives in the house, albeit he has his own little lounge.

Thanks again for all the messages.

Hi Victoria. I guess that the problem here is your dad’s ATTITUDE towards you. I have a similar problem with my mum.There are no easy answers to this problem. My dad died just over a year ago, my mum then wanted me to take over his role and household duties (which I’m not prepared to do).
It sounds like your dad is terribly lonely and that is why he pounces on you when you come home each day.
When you next have some time off work could you go with your dad to a local daycare centre for the elderly? I know it means giving up some spare time but hopefully your dad will make some friends and enjoy it and then go on his own. Someone may even offer him a lift for the next time. The daycare centre may even provide a transport service to collect him and bring him home. The key is to - get him started. He won’t go on his own because he’s lost his confidence, since his wife died, but hopefully he will go with you. As well as daycare centres there are clubs for retired people at your local community centre or library. It’s worth finding out about activities run by ageuk in your area as well. They even provide a Befriending Service where one of their volunteers will visit your dad or phone him sometimes.
Find out your dad’s interests and see if there is anything relevant nearby for him such as book clubs, board games, arts and crafts, singing and so on. Once he starts meeting people he will be much happier and will be more independent.
He could also join ‘dial a ride’ who will give him a transport service to anywhere locally. Have a look online for details.
As I mentioned earlier - you will need to go with him to begin with but hopefully once he feels more confident he will find others to help him.
I really hope this helps.