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Father in nursing home. Feeling alone and hopeless.


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It's been a while since I posted here but I remember this place being such a sense of comfort for me when I was down and out many years ago. I need to speak on it because I have been experiencing crippling depression like I haven't felt in many years because of this. So here goes. 

Over the past few months I've experienced many traumatic events surrounding my father. He's always been an alcoholic but has slowly been declining for the past few years. He basically quit his job out of nowhere in 2018 and essentially turned into an alcoholic hermit, although he did live with his brother in their childhood home. They had been planning to sell it for a while and the sale will close in February. My sister and I lost contact with him from about 2019 to last year. When his brother died last August, we received word from a family member that he was in really bad shape. I won't even go into the guilt attached with losing contact and letting him get to that point to begin with. 

The environment we found him in was truly horrific. My grandma's house was a shell of the happy place it once was. He was filthy and had a long beard and hair. We could barely understand what he said and we thought it was because of the alcohol. He frequently repeated questions and got confused easily. My sister said she found several soiled articles of clothing stashed away in places and he had an issue with accidents. All he ate was McDonalds. Every day he would go to McDonald's and get the same thing and then drink beer for the rest of the day. One time we took him out to get a sandwich and he choked and vomited everywhere. Then, on another outing with family, he choked on a roll and collapsed in the middle of a busy restaurant. It was all a traumatic blur but the ambulance came to take him to the hospital and he was there for almost 2 months. 

While he was in the hospital, he got a full work up which was a blessing in disguise. We were at a loss as to how to proceed with him so it seemed fortunate that the hospital might be able to figure out what path to take. Since we are in America, it was a horrible experience and continues to be. He had a different doctor each day so there was no consistency or communication and we essentially had to start over with a new person every day. They took him down for countless x rays, cat scans, MRIs, and could not come up with anything conclusive other than "he has brain atrophy" and then at another point "he has a Parkinson's mimic". They started giving him medication for that which seemed to help but I don't think it's continued into the nursing home. He was also placed on a feeding tube because he was aspirating any food he tried to eat. This was why he was choking every time we went to eat. He is still on the feeding tube.

He was just released from the hospital last week and has been placed in a disgusting nursing home. They told us he would be more stimulated there but it is just that same thing. He just sits and watches tv all day. He's essentially a vegetable who is able to somewhat comprehend what's going on. It is just breaking my heart. I've been so depressed and crushed by immense guilt not only for letting him get to this point but also for not volunteering to care for him. I've worked for many years to build the life I have now, away from my hometown in a city I love, I like where I work, and being with friends and my boyfriend. I don't want to leave back to the place where I became suicidal several times to take care of my dad who I am not qualified to care for. But still, something inside of me is just beating myself up for that selfish choice. I don't know what to do and insurance has denied covering his speech therapy because the hospital said he wasn't making any progress. So it seems like a recovery is not likely and he could be forced to live like this for many years to come. 

Essentially we are being forced to spend all of his money on horrible care and miserable conditions for him to live in so that he can qualify for Medicaid because he is only 61. He doesn't deserve this and I feel so helpless and alone throughout this situation. I don't know anyone who can relate and no one seems to care about him or what happens to him including his own family. This is just so tragic and I wish there was something we could do to help him. We don't know how to navigate any of this and all we want is a clean, nice place we can be sure he is being taken care of properly. 

I wish I could pull myself out of this depression long enough to make any kind of progress to fight for him but it's weighing me down so bad. I haven't felt this kind of depression in a very long time. I honestly can barely take care of myself. It's all I think about and I can't seem to get a grip.

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Hello, I'm sorry you are going through all this.  I am dealing with the same situation & don't know what I can do to remedy the situation.  Just know you're not alone & I hope that the answers will come.

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Hello,

I would take some time to self care for yourself. When you feel up to it you could look into more insurance things and possibly getting him situated in a better nursing home

Based on your post it seems like he should be in a nursing home but a more rehabilitative one.

Also I would just visit everyonce in a while and try to treat him like a normal human. It seems like his spirit is broken.

Regular cooked meals and activities at a nursing home can be good but you really have to make sure the nursing home is a good one.

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What a heartbreaking situation.  Wish I knew excatly what to say that would help. 

I think you are being way too hard on yourself.  Medical conditions are the result of genetics, environment and the choices the person who is ill has made or not made.  The idea that the situation that your father is experiencing has you as its cause is a terrible oversimplification of what are in fact many and complex factors. 

Some of your fathers ills are sadly caused by genetics.  Others are caused by actions your father has made in his life.  I'm not blaming him, you understand.  Most people sort of stumble through life on autopilot. 

We often are profoundly influenced by external factors in the decisions we make.   Perhaps we don't do the best we can if that is looked at in a vacuum.  But we usually do the best we can given everything influencing us moment to moment. 

For you to blame yourself for what happened and is happening to your father is not fair to you or to fairness itself. 

Since you are afflicted with depression, depression has a lot to do with what you do.  It is a powerful illness with a powerful hold over those afflicted with it. 

Those not afflicted with the brutality of depressive illness cannot judge those who are with the same standards and expectations they would judge those who are not afflicted.  

No one would expect a person with total body paralysis to climb Mount Everest.  But people often expect those afflicted with depression to do things that are really impossible or bad for them. 

You didn't invent illness.  You didn't invent the genetic burden your father is weighed down with or the one you are burdened with.  Illness stalks all of us.  There is no fairness to it.   Ask the little five year old with terminal cancer about fairness. 

So I think you should try to be kind to your brain.  It is doing the best it can under horrendous circumstances. 

We each get a little 3 pound brain.  It is not an Infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-perfect being.   It works 24/7 to keep us alive and healthy.  It works for us even while we sleep.  It makes mistakes.  But its not like the brain wakes up in the morning and says:  "Ok, today I am going to make five serious mistakes."  It makes mistakes because it is not infallible. 

So why beat up your brain?  That is just going to make it weaker and more ill. 

The brain is kind of like a small child in our care.  We treat it with respect and understanding, encouragement and consolation.  We don't beat it up.  Your brain is doing the best it can given everything influencing it.   And its going to continue doing the best it can given everything influencing it. 

I hope you will find a way to have some compassion for your brain.  Depression can make that difficult but even a tiny effort at being compassionate towards your brain is a great virtue.

Apologies if anything I have said has not being helpful or if anything I have said has made you feel worse.  It is so hard to know what to say to someone who is suffering. 

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On 1/17/2022 at 8:00 PM, nojoy said:

Hello, I'm sorry you are going through all this.  I am dealing with the same situation & don't know what I can do to remedy the situation.  Just know you're not alone & I hope that the answers will come.

Thank you so much. It's the hardest thing I've ever been through. It's not something I expected to be dealing with at age 33, but that's life. The hardest part is just seeing how the system is set up to profit off of people's pain rather than to help them.

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11 hours ago, Epictetus said:

What a heartbreaking situation.  Wish I knew excatly what to say that would help. 

I think you are being way too hard on yourself.  Medical conditions are the result of genetics, environment and the choices the person who is ill has made or not made.  The idea that the situation that your father is experiencing has you as its cause is a terrible oversimplification of what are in fact many and complex factors. 

Some of your fathers ills are sadly caused by genetics.  Others are caused by actions your father has made in his life.  I'm not blaming him, you understand.  Most people sort of stumble through life on autopilot. 

We often are profoundly influenced by external factors in the decisions we make.   Perhaps we don't do the best we can if that is looked at in a vacuum.  But we usually do the best we can given everything influencing us moment to moment. 

For you to blame yourself for what happened and is happening to your father is not fair to you or to fairness itself. 

Since you are afflicted with depression, depression has a lot to do with what you do.  It is a powerful illness with a powerful hold over those afflicted with it. 

Those not afflicted with the brutality of depressive illness cannot judge those who are with the same standards and expectations they would judge those who are not afflicted.  

No one would expect a person with total body paralysis to climb Mount Everest.  But people often expect those afflicted with depression to do things that are really impossible or bad for them. 

You didn't invent illness.  You didn't invent the genetic burden your father is weighed down with or the one you are burdened with.  Illness stalks all of us.  There is no fairness to it.   Ask the little five year old with terminal cancer about fairness. 

So I think you should try to be kind to your brain.  It is doing the best it can under horrendous circumstances. 

We each get a little 3 pound brain.  It is not an Infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-perfect being.   It works 24/7 to keep us alive and healthy.  It works for us even while we sleep.  It makes mistakes.  But its not like the brain wakes up in the morning and says:  "Ok, today I am going to make five serious mistakes."  It makes mistakes because it is not infallible. 

So why beat up your brain?  That is just going to make it weaker and more ill. 

The brain is kind of like a small child in our care.  We treat it with respect and understanding, encouragement and consolation.  We don't beat it up.  Your brain is doing the best it can given everything influencing it.   And its going to continue doing the best it can given everything influencing it. 

I hope you will find a way to have some compassion for your brain.  Depression can make that difficult but even a tiny effort at being compassionate towards your brain is a great virtue.

Apologies if anything I have said has not being helpful or if anything I have said has made you feel worse.  It is so hard to know what to say to someone who is suffering. 

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. Everything you said was something I needed to hear. Similar to lot of things my therapist and others have told me but for some reason they just don't stick and I go back down this rabbit hole. 

I guess I'm grieving the loss of who my Dad used to be. I miss that person.  

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On 1/18/2022 at 12:56 AM, Evergreenforst4 said:

Hello,

I would take some time to self care for yourself. When you feel up to it you could look into more insurance things and possibly getting him situated in a better nursing home

Based on your post it seems like he should be in a nursing home but a more rehabilitative one.

Also I would just visit everyonce in a while and try to treat him like a normal human. It seems like his spirit is broken.

Regular cooked meals and activities at a nursing home can be good but you really have to make sure the nursing home is a good one.

Thank you. His spirit is broken and I'm not sure if he will ever get it back. He's just not himself anymore. Alcohol ruined his life and his brain. 

You are right I need to take care of myself but the depression has been weighing so heavy. We are trying to find a new place for him but not having much luck. 

Anyway thanks for responding I do appreciate it.

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We cannot help those that chose not to help themselves.  Maybe your uncle was part of it..but too late to overthink that.

End of life can be heartbreaking for the survivors.  And sometimes, we lose our loved ones slowly as they fade away only to lose them later again.

And it is even worse knowing that the end times can eat up all the money saved in life.  It's not why they saved while they lived. But it does happen.

We don't have to like anything about such situations.  But, we do have to survive.  If you take care of yourself, you can be strong enough for them and family.  But not all of us can do everything everytime.  There are human limits involved.  If we did not feel such things, we would not be human ourselves.

Recently, my Father passed from the long fade of dementia.  I did what I could when I could.  Sure, I should have done more.  We call can say that.  But what does beating myself up further accomplish?  I will do what I can now for those of us that survived. 

 

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I was 32 years old when I got a call from the manager at my parents' apartment complex saying that my Dad was in the hospital and they needed help. I had been estranged for about 3 years because of my mother's toxic personality and behavior. In my Dad's case, it wasn't alcohol, but Parkinson's Disease. Similar situation with finding a nursing home; none of them are nice places. I will say that Mom turned into the nicest person in the world when I came back! I did feel some guilt about leaving her alone to deal with my Dad and his failing health, not to mention her own substance abuse and mental problems, but in retrospect, it was the best thing for me and for them. I got on with my life and my mother found the humility she was in desperate need of.

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