How Much of this Selfishness is Dad's Dementia....How Much is DAD?
My mother and father were very good to us when we were young, and as "young marrieds". I have had a particularly close relationship with my Mother (my sister's relationship with both parents wasn't troubled, just not as close as mine)and got on with Dad okay, Mum was sharp as a tack. Dad was showing signs of problems with his memory as far back as ten years. Mum pandered to him all their married life, breakfast, lunch and dinner - clothes laundered, every need or "want" met without question. This continued into their (very long) retirement. My sister moved 400 kilometres away to start her own early retirement with her partner; I resented this a little as I had always been the "good" daughter, requiring little assistance from the folks, which was just as well as my sister needed "looking after" emotionally and financially many years into my parents retirement.
Just when it looked like it was time for the payback, she buggers off, it fell to me. I took on the role of taxi driver, taking them both to the increasing number of doctor/hospital/clinic appointments, dealing with the day to day struggles that old age brings.
Mum was brilliant, always grateful and only asking for help when absolutely necessary, so still okay, I live around the corner and work from home so I can juggle it. And I love my Mum's company, she is my best friend.
Still it's tiring. I tell my sister that Mum's life is getting difficult, my Dad has "bad" days with his memory and childlike behaviour. He is pedantic and belligerent quite often. Oh it's Mum says sis, she won't just let him relax, mmmm, you're not here how do you know that??
My sister came up from the country in July, my husband and I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a few days break at "our" cabin 300 km from home.
My sister was going back home on Friday, we would be back up Sunday lunch time... what were the chances of something going wrong in one day.
It turns out the chances were astronomical. My Mum, in an effort to remain independent had bullied or cajoled the family doctor into passing my Dad to drive (he was still not bad, but needed direction and instruction, driving in familiar places seemed okay.)
My sister left their place at lunchtime, Mum and Dad were going to the bank after cleaning up... Dad started the car, as usual, Mum went to get into it and somehow it moved, the door knocked her backwards, she fell without defending herself hitting her head on the driveway.
Mum managed to call my sister, she turned back, long story short I got the worst phone call of my life while 300 kilometres from home.
We immediately came home, the longest 3-hour drive of my life. half way back we were told there was no hope. My beloved Mum died of her injuries the next morning at 9.45, it was my privilege to be with her as she drew her last breath.
We don't blame Dad, it was an accident.
He has all sorts of causes from suicide to murder... I think the Police and Coroner being involved from the first day and using the term "killed in an apparent accident" may have planted the seed for his confusion on this... or maybe it's just denial.
I wanted to grieve for her, I loved her so, but it was apparent from that moment there was no time for that... the shock had sent Dad into a downward spiral that was literally horrific to watch. By day three he was shuffling, couldn't remember my sister or myself.
On the morning of day 5 post accident he was very unwell. He was admitted to hospital with severe sepsis here he remained for ten days being let out only for Mum's funeral. The shock and the infection have left him categorised as "High Care Dementia, Level 3/4" the highest in our system, eligible for admission to both Respite and Permanent Residential care.
How do we get him
to go? We are looking at getting a Guardianship in place, but I really didn't want to resort to enforcing it... I want him to accept it is the best solution in a poor situation - at least best for most of the people involved.
He has been negative and spiteful virtually full time since we've been caring for him. My sister has stayed in town, her partner has stayed at their home 400 km away to tend their animals. Sis has moved into his home but I (still trying to run the family business, while dealing with Mum's Estate and setting up new "systems' for Dad's household) have to go every day to help or at least put out "spot fires".
Sis tried taking him down to her home with her (so she could spend some time with her partner and to give him a change of scenery, he sits and sobs all day at home, looking at Mum's photo on the wall). He liked the first trip, loathed the second... all the filters are off so he didn't mind and doesn't mind telling her how badly she does things, says she lives like a pig (my Mum was a fanatic in the house) can't come up with a nice thing to say about her.
I'd feel sorry for her, except I'm getting much the same; We have had him every weekend, last "weekend" was five days long to give Sis a break, he likes it at our place (I do things more like Mum did) but I can't get any of my work done when he's here, he is very demanding, needy... it is NOT tenable long term.
I am Dad's EPA so I am constantly being told I'm trying to steal everything he "worked all his life for - he's been retired for 32 years, so not ALL his life for a start.
Whenever we try and get him to put money in envelopes to cover groceries, household expenses (just putting a lump sum in the safe didn't' work, he created holy hell until he was carrying nearly two thousand dollars around in his wallet all day... then misplacing it or hiding it then accusing us of stealing it.
He owns a house that will more than cover the bond for a very good aged care facility, close to where I live so I can honour my commitment to go and see him most days, have him come stay for the odd weekend, come to family occasions; all he hits me with every time is "You're sending me to prison, I've been in institutions through my life (he was evacuated during WW2, and was in the army for two years).
He goes on constantly about how everybody has had it in for him all his life, though this is not new behaviour - he's had a chip on his shoulder all his life. He threatens suicide all the time, but we know it's empty threats, he wants to die, I don't blame him... his new world without his bride of 66 years is a lonely one.
The research and form filling I've done towards Respite and eventually Permanent Care, while working full time and sharing his day to day care is causing some real health issues for me;
I expected to feel stressed but my blood pressure (never been a problem) is dangerously high and even my blood sugar (normally "normal") is extremely high.
I'm not coping even though it looks like it from the outside.
The main thing I want to know, though I'm not sure anyone can answer it is how do I get my Father to at least have a conversation about the benefits to all of us of him being in Professional care.... and the one I really ask myself, how much of this awful petulant behaviour is down to his dementia and how much is just "Dad".
I fear I know the answer and it makes me so sad to think that my Mum, the sweetest of people, was putting up with this rude, arrogant, demanding prick of a man for years.