Win a copy of Permaculture Design Companion this week in the Permaculture Design forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

The frustration of being held to “agreements” you never agreed to

 
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a caretaker for my dad. He is partially paralyzed and is now in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. He was a great dad to me; I love him very much.

However, he has gotten very childish and demanding with his illness, and to be honest, he was always a bit...spoiled? That’s not quite the word, but he has this kind of “do unto others before they can do unto you” philosophy that leads him to try to come out ahead in every interaction, and get as much as possible out of people.

Now, there are many things he can still do, although it takes a lot of effort, that he wants me to do for him instead, because it is trivial for me. Unfortunately, I am doing EVERYTHING ELSE, and so minor requests are not so minor to me. Also, many of the things he wants me to do are pointless and unnecessary, and he makes decisions that create more unnecessary labor for me because he knows he has me here to rely on, and he never puts in any forethought or consideration to make things easier. Sometimes he literally seems to just want to make me do things just for the sake of making me jump through hoops.

Every time I refuse to do one of these things, he bitches/sulks/screams and throws his drink across the room/etc. The latter is his illness. The sulking and badgering are not totally new, but much increased since he has been sick.

I have tried warning him ahead of time that I am not going to do the thing, and then periodically saying, “You know, you are acting like I am going to do the thing, but I’m not,” and then the time comes and I do not do the thing, and he acts all surprised and bitches/sulks. If I have done 20 (reasonable) things for him in a day, and refuse to do one minor unreasonable thing, I get screamed at for the one thing, and never thanked for the other 20.

I do not give in, partially to train him, and partially because I just hate being bitched/sulked at and refuse to give in.

Unfortunately, despite not giving in, ~5 years of this have NOT trained him, and being screamed/sulked at all the time means that even if I “win” the fight, he succeeds in at least partly ruining my day, almost every day.

Also, sometimes he puts me in positions where I look really awful to other people when I refuse to comply with his demands, or where the results of noncompliance are genuinely bad (for instance, I told him several months ago that I was not going to be available every single day to continue supplemental feeding of his incredibly overstocked cattle herd this winter/spring; he refused to sell cattle when he should; now I am in the position of having to comply or let the cows starve, since we cannot get the trailer in to work them in the wet weather).

I really do love him, and I enjoy his company when he is not trying to be my boss, but now he is trying to do that 24/7 and engaging in what I will melodramatically call emotional terrorism to try to get his way 100% of the time, and he escalates dramatically if I leave for even a day or two, which means that any “break” I get is more stresful than no break. I do not negotiate with terrorists, but as I said, the bitter satisfaction of winning our fights does not really compensate for the relentless misery.

I have been doing this since I was 25. I am now 30. He is only 74. I am reaching the end of my rope.

Any advice would be appreciated.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1067
Location: Victoria BC
122
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow. So sorry you're having to deal with this.

I do not think that is a melodramatic way to describe his behavior.

That is a seriously dick move with the cattle.

I take it there is nobody else to share the load?


The only 'solutions' that immediately come to mind may be neither practical or palatable.

If there are funds, a helper can be hired. Even with funds this is easier said than done.

I do not know if you can, legally speaking, do things like sell his cattle. Even if you can't from a legal perspective, perhaps you could get away with it. It's not like he can do without you, from the sound of things.


You *can* just leave. Sounds to me that he has written off this possibility and thinks you will put up with anything.

It is easy for me to callously say, from my comfy chair far away... but I would hope that I would be thinking about boundaries and what it might take for them to be respected. If a couple days makes things worse, what about a week? If that doesn't work, what about two?

The thread about the garage and the dumping stuff out to use the boxes made my blood boil. Extending that same disregard for your time to the broader scheme of things does not paint a pretty picture.


Somewhat separate is hanging on to your sanity through all this. I took up Aikido at a low point, it was a great help. Something to get out of your head; meditation, dance, whatever... ok, not whatever; booze, drugs and self-harm are pretty suboptimal...

None of that strikes me as very helpful at all, but it's the best I've got at the moment.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2409
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
151
forest garden solar
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a hard one.

6month old to 3yr old kids are bossy, they sulk, scream, throw stuff, empty out a box of things/toys just to get one thing and then just leave it.
They demand that they have their food prepared a certain way or else they will not eat it. In fact they will even drop objects repeatedly to hear how long it takes to hit the ground and then laugh everytime you pick it up and hand it back to them. As infants they will wake up multiple times in the night demanding food, social contact and 'bathroom use'.

So solutions to my above 'problem' was preschool, tag team/timeshare with other care givers. paying a 'stranger' to be a caregiver. Knowing that just because I say no to donuts and screaming ensue doesn't mean that I have to be stressed out about it or think of myself as a bad person. Some people have worked and extra 20hrs per week to pay someone else/stranger to come in and do 10hrs of work. Because they would rather put in the extra physical labor to not have to deal with overwhelming emotional/mental labor.

I also never expect kids to say thank you for water/shelter/clean clothes/etc. So it is very likely that you will not get much appreciation.


All that said, my recommendation would be to look into non-violent communication.
1)State objective observation
2)state how that make you feel,
3)state which unmet needs is making you feel 'negative',
4)make a request of the other person to hell you fix your unmet need.

The key is make sure the other person can repeat your unmet need, and you being able to do likewise.
To me non-violent communication is a very very important part of permaculture people care. I am just getting into the grove of it myself too.
 
pollinator
Posts: 226
Location: East tn
56
hugelkultur foraging homestead
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is heavy load and it doesnt sound like it is likely to get easier / better anytime soon.

When I was about your age, I was in a caretaker role for my wife who was battling terminal cancer. As her world got smaller, she increased her focus on really small things. This was unpleasant for me to say the least. What I learned through the process was that a long grinding struggle has a cumulative effect, whereas by comparison, a short intense struggle can pass and allow recovery.

You say you are near the end of your rope.

I do not take that statement lightly. You have loved your dad well and served him well. But yes, your rope does have an end. And his trajectory has a predictable path as well.

Each month you spend in emotional turmoil due to his emotional outbursts may represent x months of recovery for you.

After my wife passed, I had years of recovery to contend with before I was able to achieve physical, emotional, mental reversion to normal.

So do what is right for you in a loving way. Your future self and other loved ones will thank you, even when your dad can't.
 
Posts: 7051
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1070
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
first of all, if you are in this for the long haul, you will need some help.

We moved my mom (who had alzheimer's) in with us when the boys were in high school and it took both my husband and I and an occasional home health aide to keep our sanity....and she was super nice almost all of the time.  She lived (and died) with us for ten years.  

Early on what was most noticeable was her childishness, just as you are describing your dad.  She was easy though and there was no temper involved, just such unpredictable behavior...I called 'poison control' so many times and we had several trips to the emergency room.
She was otherwise healthy so we could take walks with her to work off some of her excess energy.  I often thought that any other health variables would tip the scale in favor of a long term care facility.

Because I moved her across state lines, with family's blessings, I had to become her legal guardian and then file accounting every year.
That might be something you could check into...at least get power of attorney.

I know a lot about Alzheimer's but only in relation to my mom.  I think every situation is different and should always give the caregiver high priority.

You've mentioned that he is partially paralyzed? Are you having to lift him?

Is he drinking alcohol? I would try to limit it or substitute or something.  That alone can make him more difficult, especially with AZ when there is less judgement on his part.

To your original question about agreements.  If he really has dementia there is little effective arguing.  I found that alzheimer's (maybe any sort of dementia) accentuates the person's personality and for a period of time 'sets them free' from social niceties.  For me, it was a period of seeing my mom as a liberated woman...quite nice from the straight laced woman I grew up with.  That was brief though and she pretty much kept us on our toes...we would adjust to one stage and it would be on to the next.

I wish you so much love and good health.  





 
Posts: 280
Location: Philippines
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When our parents became old weak and dependent we made it clear to them "When we (me and my siblings) were young weak and dependent upon you we obey you. Now its your turn to be taken care which means that you should obey. But of course its just show of. They still get what they wanted although not as worst not even close to what you are going through. Its not difficult to try all you need is courage mostly to go against the norm and be accused of being a baddy. If I were in your shoes I will leave him for a while and see what happens. You'll never know it until you try it. I determine my own responsibilities, no one else. In return I dont held anyone responsible for me as long as I am not harm directly and intentional. Its not my children's responsibility to take care of me when I grew old, I made it clear to them. But its just me.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11353
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
738
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's a tough situation for sure.  My dad has Alzheimer's and I'm his primary caregiver.  Fortunately he has a kind and cheerful personality.

One important thing I have learned is that one can't expect a person with Alzheimer's to learn anything.  No matter how trivial it is, they just are not able to learn to change their behavior at this point in their lives.  It's easiest to think of them as a very young child/baby or even as a little pet animal (I think of my dad as a Pug because he makes sniffing and snorting noises constantly).  It's generally pointless to scold babies or animals, and so with folks who have Alzheimer's.  It's up to us, the competent ones, to go to the extra trouble because they can't.  Can't or won't, makes no difference.  They are untrainable.

Doesn't mean we aren't allowed to complain about it to sympathetic ears!  I complain about my dad a lot to my husband, and when it's his turn to care (one weekend a month) he can complain to me.

 
pollinator
Posts: 670
Location: Ontario, Canada
144
homestead
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Jennifer, I am sorry to hear what you're going through; I know how tough it can be.

The first thing I'll say is that I think you're probably past the end of your rope, which is completely understandable.  My dad has dementia and it has progressed very rapidly during that past year.  My dad is a great guy and, while I have had issues with him, he is a great father for my siblings.  They aren't around, though, so I've been the main caregiver along with my mom.  We ended up having to find a nursing home for him after 2 months in the hospital.  One of the biggest changes I've noticed, besides the actual dementia, is his personality change.  He never complained before, but now every visit consists mainly of complaints and obsession over small details.  J Davis said it better than I could; "As her world got smaller, she increased her focus on really small things."  I think that you're only going to see that behaviour get worse over time.  

I've got a daughter and I've made it very clear that, if I should end up needing care, I want her to dump me in a home.  We both know I'll hate it, but I would much rather do that than have her give up a good portion of her life to take care of me.  I never want my daughter to be in the situation that I'm in right now, or that you're in.  Having read what you're dealing with, and for 5 years, I have to say that it's well past time that you focussed on your own life and happiness.  It will take time to transition away, so now would be a good time to start.

I've spent most of my adult life in a shitty situation in order to try to give my daughter what she needed to grow up happy and healthy and to get an education that will let her do what she loves.  I love everything about her, and every minute we spend together and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but it's left me a shell of the man I used to be.  I'm not talking about raising her, just the 20 years of crap we had to deal with with her mother.  It was soul destroying but, as a father, I wasn't going to leave my kid.  

My experience with getting used/abused for that long and what it did to me is something that I think no person should deal with.  If your father is a good father, he won't want you to spend the rest of your life as his servant.  I'm sure if you asked him 10 years ago if he'd want you doing what you're doing, he'd say no.  With Alzheimer's and his current needs, he may not feel the same.  I don't know if you've been able to tell him how badly it's affecting your life and happiness, but it's a good conversation to have if you can.  

If it were me, I would contact a social worker to see if there's outside help available.  If you could get a counsellor or social worker to help you explain how you're feeling to your dad, that might help.  I feel you need to transition away from his daily care if you want to have a life of your own.  I think that you should also consider counselling.  I've found it can be really helpful if you find the right match.  If you don't hit it off with a counsellor, just try a new one until you are comfortable.  The see that all the time and it's no big deal to them.

As far as his behaviour goes, I think it's time to draw a hard line.  Do what you feel you are capable of doing and make him do what he's capable of doing.  I know it will be very hard, but you would have to be deaf to his tantrums.  Personally, I'd make up a list of what I'd be willing (it's really what you're still ABLE to do at this point) and tell him that he either has to deal with the rest or find someone who will.  As far as the cattle go, I'd tell him to sell them, make you power of attorney so you can do it, or tell him you'll call the local animal welfare people to come take them away.  This is only my uneducated guess, but I think it's possible that he's acting like your boss because it's the only way he can still feel in control.

I think that family is very hard to get away from, but your first responsibility is to yourself.  If you aren't taking care of yourself, you aren't going to be able to take care of anyone else.  From my viewpoint, you've put in 5 years, from 25-30.  If it was working for you, you could maybe put in another 5, but it isn't.  You haven't mentioned how this affects your day to day life, social life, or much about time off, but I expect it impacts all of that greatly.  Do you want to take care of your dad until you're 35 or 40 as he gets worse physically, mentally, and emotionally?  I think that's the question you should be asking yourself.  You're in your prime and, if you go on for another 5-10 years like this, you'll likely end up resenting your dad so much that it overcomes all the other feelings you have for him.

I know that it's hard to move on; I'm still struggling with it now.  One thing I have learned is not to give a shit about what other people think.  They don't know even 10% of what you go through.  When my dad was in the hospital they kept trying to discharge him home before they had even figured out what his issue was.  I ended up dealing with several different medical and administrative teams and I had to keep telling them that Dad couldn't come home.  At that point he needed 24 hour care and I just couldn't do it anymore.  I kept telling them that he was on an upswing (he still needed 24 hour care when he was doing well) and that the next downswing would be life-threatening.  There were at least 20 professionals at the hospital who thought I was a complete shit because I wouldn't agree to let Dad come home, even with extra help.  I forced the issue of a nursing home and then didn't let them discharge him until he was stable.  4 days later he was back in the hospital for another extended stay.  If he'd been at home, I wouldn't have been able to determine that he had to go back into the hospital and I probably would've hesitated and he wouldn't have made it.  His second go-round with the hospital changed the minds of the staff there about my refusal to bring him home.  During all of this, I can't tell you how guilty I felt, and still do, even though I know I can't take care of him and he's settled in to a great home.  

So, I think you'll always feel guilty, I know I will, but making a break will allow you to get your life back on track to being happy and that should be your first concern.  It should be your dad's too, but he may not be able to see that now.

 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
Posts: 670
Location: Ontario, Canada
144
homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tyler Ludens wrote:It's a tough situation for sure.  My dad has Alzheimer's and I'm his primary caregiver.  Fortunately he has a kind and cheerful personality.

One important thing I have learned is that one can't expect a person with Alzheimer's to learn anything.  No matter how trivial it is, they just are not able to learn to change their behavior at this point in their lives.



The bane of my father's existence right now is his walker.  He's had it for over a year now but he didn't use it when he was more with it.  Now, it's like a piece of alien technology.  He knows he should use it, all the staff and the residents remind him to, but he can't figure the damned thing out.  He can turn around and sit on it, but when he gets up he'll try to drag it behind him.  If it's in front of him he can't figure out where to put his hands, so you have to place them for him.   Once he's going with it, he's good.  As soon as he enters his room, though, it literally ceases to exist for him.  He takes his hands off and tries to walk through it.  Every. Single. Time.  
 
master pollinator
Posts: 8704
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
712
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your dad obviously has assets, because he has those cattle. Nonessentials need to be sold off, so that you can hire help if none is available through your government. I have known a situation where one sibling was doing all of the caregiving but none of the others wanted to sell any assets, because they wanted to maximize their inheritance, and they were willing to do it on the back of the one sibling who was looking after the aging parent. Eventually, the lady being cared for died and everyone got their money. But the one who had taken years off work to look after him, had suffered in her career and will never recover financially.

My former girlfriend was always taking days off work to take her mother to medical appointments, and when she went into a nursing home she visited her for a few hours every day. Her brother lives a long way away and couldn't do those things. When her mother died, the will was set up to split everything 50/50 between the two siblings. Her brother was the executor. He split it differently, giving his sister a substantial amount more. She didn't want to accept the change, because she thought that it would cause problems in the family, but her brother and his wife came over and they talked about the hundreds of trips she had taken with her mother and just about six months of work missed over the last few years of her mothers life. It was clear to me and to them that this was the right thing to do. This family showed how it should work, when everybody does the right thing.
 
gardener
Posts: 6251
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1011
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Others have put this issue in the proper light so much so that all I can add is this; sometimes the caregiver needs to find a mental health professional to use.
It can be so much help to do this, it can save your self and prevent feelings that we caregivers should not have to deal with.

It also helps if you can take the time to have deep meditation periods, just to decompress and refresh our minds and bodies.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you all so very, very much. I have been taking the time to digest these replies and do some thinking, and am able to see some options that have been obscured for me.

I have been stuck in an all-or-nothing approach, trying to keep everything going like it was before he became ill, but with dad’s assets and remaining capabilities, I should be able to renounce responsibility for the cattle operation at least without leaving him in the lurch, which is a major point of contention (and exhaustion and resentment for me, TBH—the ranch is 550 acres and I am the only “employee,” and I don’t get paid, other than room and some board, even though I have kept the ranch profitable, which means I have to go work minimum wage crap jobs to get a little money to live on) and allow him to either hire help or sell out as he sees fit. He is still of sound enough mind to be able to handle that, although for how much longer I don’t know. He won’t like it, but tough.

That alone may be enough, but depending on how it works out, I may look into hiring additional caregivers and/or alternative living arrangements for myself. It would require using his money, and I haven’t got power of attorney (he is still responsible for his own affairs) and don’t really want the nuclear fallout that will come from trying to get it, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Thank you all again. Between your help and the stress relieving powers of pounding 14 heads of cabbage for sauerkraut, I feel like I can breathe again.
 
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: PNW
97
trees tiny house books food preservation cooking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So many tough, parallel journeys we all end up traveling.  It hurts to read about the damage done to caretakers and how difficult it can be to create boundaries, for so many reasons.  

I feel for you, Jennifer, and appreciate all the support and wisdom shared here for you.  I am glad you are able to hear it and make some plans to change things.  

I just wanted to add that IMO if he's "with it" enough to handle his own affairs and have it be a fight for you to get POA, you REALLY shouldn't feel guilty about taking time for yourself.  I also agree that if a few days cause him to be worse and punish you, then take more time.  Don't visit or answer the phone until he either A) shows gratitude or B) is actually incapable of handling his affairs and you can use his money to hire additional help without such a fight.

Also agree on prioritizing finding a good therapist since it sounds like you don't have a good emotional support system.  In my experience, and based on what you described, he will keep ignoring your boundaries and he WILL break you if you don't have something/one to shore you up.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sonja,

Thank you! I was surprised by how many people here had similar struggles to share. Maybe we need an Elder Care forum as well as a Parenting forum? I think a sustainable permaculture approach to elder care is a really interesting and important topic, actually.

The situation with my dad has been a bit of a roller coaster. After he was paralyzed (quadriplegic) ~5 years ago, he underwent surgery and during the recovery (~2 years long, slowly regaining functional) he was unable to perform activities of daily living and was totally dependent on me, but his mind was fine; now that he can bathe/dress/feed himself again and shuffle around with his cane, and I was starting to try to encourage him to be more independent again, his mind is starting to go, although it is not always very apparent unless you are around him a lot (same conversation 5 or 6 times per day, 5 or 6 days in a row, but he sounds lucid if you only hear it once or don’t know what actually happened). Of course that means we get to have the same arguments now 5 times a day instead of one! *laugh/cry* But as far as day to day functioning, making purchases, driving, etc. he is okay if he can be convinced to do them. His older brother is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, and both his parents died with it, so we pretty well knew it was coming. I didn’t really except to get hit with this in my twenties, though. I suspect I would be better at it if I’d had children first! But that’s the way the cookie crumbles I suppose.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
Posts: 8704
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
712
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not sure if this has been answered. Are you his only offspring? Just asking so I know if there is someone else who might reasonably be expected to help carry the load.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am the only child. He and my mom are divorced. She actually does fill in for me sometimes when I am losing it because she feels sorry for me, but that doesn’t work for long at a time. Plus, she is a much kinder and more sensitive person than I am, so when he is mean to her it really hurts her feelings, and then I get pissed.

I have made arrangements to have the cows sold this Thursday. He may veto them; if he does, he can deal with hiring people to feed them, maintain fences/pasture/work them again etc. or deal with animal welfare when he lets it all go to hell. I love him, but I have decided that I only help those who help themselves.

I am at his fishing camp on the coast now. It is a liability as it is—taxes, insurance, upkeep. It will make money as a weekend rental, or he could sell it. I am cleaning it up and clearing it out so he can do either, if he will. He probably won’t. Whatever. He has income from social security as well as a gravel lease and savings. If he cannot manage on his own, his assets should allow him to hire caretakers for a good while. I will visit and continue to check in as he deteriorates, but for now I am not willing to continue living with him. If he comes to the end of his resources, I will reconsider, but I am too bitter to keep killing myself with no help while he holds on to all his land, money, and a vacation home that he cannot even use anymore.

Hopefully he can come to understand this, as our relationship has always been very close and important to me, and I don’t want us to be estranged, but I just don’t want to be miserable all the time for no good reason, and I don’t think that’s what he would want either, if he were thinking straight.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
Posts: 8704
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
712
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think you're right about that. Most parents don't want to make their children miserable. It might help if you frame it as seeking new opportunities for yourself. Because obviously you haven't been doing that lately. Parents like to see their kids move ahead in various ways.

I don't think there's any lesson to be taught by allowing him to fail miserably at something that ends up being very expensive. Hiring someone to run a business that no longer has a head, seems like a way to dump money down the drain. Probably better to sell his cattle and everything, possibly to someone who wants to continue feeding and breeding or whatever is happening right there at his farm. You could sell the herd and then lease out everything except the house. So he wouldn't be selling it, but it would no longer be his problem or your problem. You could do that with cows that are ready to ship today or they could be finished until next fall. It would be completely up to the new owner. In this way all of your dad's assets would be in use and maintained. So you'd go from having to manage the place, to being a landlord.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale,

I think you are right, that he would like me to seek opportunities for myself and move forward. I think the problem is that the way I like to live, the things I like to do, and the opportunities that I am interested in are not things he can understand. If tomorrow I were to tell him that I had landed a 9-5 making $100k in the city and was buying a house and getting married, he would probably shove me out the door, despite the fact that after 30 years of knowing me, he has to know I’d rather slit my wrists. I much prefer living by my wits, cobbling together odd jobs, and having the freedom to seize on whatever idiosyncratic projects I am interested in (my current dream is to go from living in my truck to living aboard a cheap sailboat that I intend to purchase and rehab). The things I like to do never seem important or worthwhile to him, and they never make enough money to suit him (whereas I think since I support myself and still manage to save for financial independence, I make enough).

I definitely don’t want to set him up for failure, especially expensive failure. But I have begged him for years to sell the cows and lease the place out, or to at least let me hire help while I am staying on to manage it, and he will not. I have presented him with multiple buyers who would take the whole herd at fair to generous prices and lease the place to boot. He strung me along for a while saying that he would hire someone, or he was going to downsize the herd, etc. But at the last minute he always changes his mind, and makes decisions that keep me chained to the place if I don’t want to see it go under. I don’t know what to do except wash my hands of it. To get the control I would need to make these things happen, I would have to try to get him declared incompetent, and it would be scorched earth. And I think I could win, that other family members and his doctor would support me, but I don’t think it would be right. His memory is shot, but he still knows what he wants and can make decisions, even if I don’t agree with them and think he’s being an asshole. I value our relationship more than I value the potential inheritance, so I would rather let him make an expensive mistake than try to wrest control of his assets away from him. If he becomes a danger to himself like my grandparents did, I will do it if I have to, but I haven’t hit the tipping point on that yet.
 
pollinator
Posts: 291
Location: Southern Finland zone 5
90
goat fungi tiny house books homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have all my sympathies. What a difficult situation this is, so many things to consider from your own welfare to animal welfare. I think you're doing very well and deserve a big Thank You for all that you have done! However, it also sounds like you have too much here for anyone to handle without damaging themself.

Jennifer Richardson wrote:
I think you are right, that he would like me to seek opportunities for myself and move forward. I think the problem is that the way I like to live, the things I like to do, and the opportunities that I am interested in are not things he can understand. If tomorrow I were to tell him that I had landed a 9-5 making $100k in the city and was buying a house and getting married, he would probably shove me out the door, despite the fact that after 30 years of knowing me, he has to know I’d rather slit my wrists. I much prefer living by my wits, cobbling together odd jobs, and having the freedom to seize on whatever idiosyncratic projects I am interested in (my current dream is to go from living in my truck to living aboard a cheap sailboat that I intend to purchase and rehab). The things I like to do never seem important or worthwhile to him, and they never make enough money to suit him (whereas I think since I support myself and still manage to save for financial independence, I make enough).



I think there's a grave danger that I'm projecting my own issues/ situation into my advice and that wouldn't be helpful at all. If my advice doesn't seem to fit your situation, please just ignore it.

I think (and I could be wrong/ projecting here) what you would really like to get from your father is acceptance. Acceptance to me means thinking the other person is fine just the way they are, with their dreams and goals, that are different from one's own, because we are all different. It sounds like that's not happening here and may never happen. In my case, when I finally truly accepted that what I want is never going to come, it set me free from the heartache.

Jennifer Richardson wrote: I definitely don’t want to set him up for failure, especially expensive failure. But I have begged him for years to sell the cows and lease the place out, or to at least let me hire help while I am staying on to manage it, and he will not. I have presented him with multiple buyers who would take the whole herd at fair to generous prices and lease the place to boot. He strung me along for a while saying that he would hire someone, or he was going to downsize the herd, etc. But at the last minute he always changes his mind, and makes decisions that keep me chained to the place if I don’t want to see it go under. I don’t know what to do except wash my hands of it. To get the control I would need to make these things happen, I would have to try to get him declared incompetent, and it would be scorched earth. And I think I could win, that other family members and his doctor would support me, but I don’t think it would be right. His memory is shot, but he still knows what he wants and can make decisions, even if I don’t agree with them and think he’s being an asshole. I value our relationship more than I value the potential inheritance, so I would rather let him make an expensive mistake than try to wrest control of his assets away from him. If he becomes a danger to himself like my grandparents did, I will do it if I have to, but I haven’t hit the tipping point on that yet.



It sounds to me like your father knows what he is doing and is doing it on purpose. Maybe not on conscious purpose, but unconscious. It sounds to me (and again, I could be wrong/ projecting) like he knows how to hook you. It's understandable, he is old and is probably afraid of losing you. He knows somewhere deep inside he hasn't treated you with the love and respect you deserve. It's not because you don't deserve it (you do!) it's because he cannot give it. His own psychological issues make him unable to. We can feel sorry for him, but feeling sorry doesn't really help, it's just another hook and I'm afraid he will take advantage of that too. Not because he is evil, but because that's all he knows how to do.

As he currently is not declared incompetent, then legally it means he is competent. You are not required to take care of his farm. He is required to take care of his farm and the animals, or to hire help, if he cannot do it himself. He cannot have it both ways. If he really is in such a bad shape that he needs you to take care of his farm, then he needs to give the reins to you. I would make this very clear to him. I would refuse to do anything on the farm without his written consent that you are in charge now.

I hope this was of at least some help!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1163
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
69
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My heart is with you.

And yes, an elder care forum!! really really great idea.  Elder care, self-care, and ______...
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nina,

Your comment was very insightful and helped me a lot, thank you. I am feeling much freer and more at peace about this whole situation as I work through things here.

And thank you, too, Joshua! I am truly grateful for the understanding and support.
 
master steward
Posts: 10021
Location: Pacific Northwest
3923
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To make a new forum, we'd need something like 50 threads to be in it. I don't we yet have that many threads. But, there's a lot of threads--like this one--that don't seem to have a good forum to be in, such as hard life circumstances, deaths, etc. We've got a bit over 50 of those (yes I went searching and counted!)

We're thinking of making a forum called something like "Life Happenings." How does that sound?  If we end up with a lot more Elder Care threads--or you can find me a bunch of them--I can make an Elder Care forum.
 
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
32
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jennifer Richardson wrote:I have been doing this since I was 25. I am now 30. He is only 74. I am reaching the end of my rope.

Any advice would be appreciated.



You will likely reach a point where he will need professionally managed care. My Mom is now 97 and has advanced dementia. She lived with us for 8 years until we were unable to provide the nursing care she needed. For years I have been spending almost every afternoon after work at her convalescent hospital as a volunteer worker, and I have observed a very odd unforeseen consequence of her declining mental condition. The worse she gets... the better she gets. Her negative traits have been steadily dropping away even as her mental condition deteriorates. However, she has always been a basically happy person and that is the one trait which she has not lost. She is actually becoming a better person without her mind. She is genuinely kind and loving to the other residents and is well liked by everyone including the healthcare workers. This is truly a strange turn of events no one would ever know about in a million years if they did not witness it with their own eyes. Over the years I've been close with a lot of people as they move into the twilight between life and death, and clearly there is something else going on which lies outside the narrow boundaries of "rational" intellectual secularism. I have seen even the hardest of hearts soften...

So Jennifer, I know it will be bizarre to read these words, but things may actually get better as he gets worse. If you can get your relationship with your Father sorted out inside of yourself first while he is still here, you may just discover the beginning of a new and even closer relationship with him. I am telling you this because this is what I am personally experiencing right now.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

A life happenings forum does seem like it might be useful. I do see a fair number of these types of posts pop up from time to time, especially since I think folks on here kind of get to know each other over time.

I am also interested in discussing (aside rom my own personal issues) a permaculture perspective on elder care—it seems like in modern first world countries (possibly with the exception of surviving indigenous cultures?) the “solutions” are either warehousing elders in expensive, dislocated institutions or turning the primary caregiver’s life into a smoking ruin while breeding resentment and family dissension, neither of which seems ideal. But I agree that elder care is not big enough to be its own forum. Perhaps such a discussion would fit somewhere under the “community” umbrella?

Greg, that is interesting and heartening to hear. I wish you all the luck in the world with your mom.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 10021
Location: Pacific Northwest
3923
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Our current thought is to put "Life Happenings" inside the Community category, and I was thinking of moving this thread, and those that I find like it, to the "Life Happenings" forum as their primary forum.

It's hard, because topics like elder care can often go...cider pressy, and so when we looked at making a new forum, we really struggled with trying to find a good term that would encourage helpful posts, rather than people arguing about how to take care of elders.

Like, we've got a cider press forum called "Parenting" and a non-cider press one called "kids." Because, when people talk about parenting, it often ends up with them telling each other that they're doing in wrong. I fear that might happen with "elder care," too, and I'd hate to end up having to put the forum in the cider press.

To further complicate things, people have also asked for a senior forum (see: https://permies.com/t/95339/seniors-section-Permies), but there's no good name for it. Naming seems to be 2/3rds of the battle for these forums, and the other 1/3rd is just having enough threads!
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

Hrrm, that does sound complicated! I’m trying to think of something, like “multigenerational community” “elders in permaculture” or something which might encompass some of the elder care aspects and/or senior permies but not encourage cider-pressiness (which I can *definitely* see happening) but I am not coming up with anything stunning.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 10021
Location: Pacific Northwest
3923
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jennifer Richardson wrote: but I am not coming up with anything stunning.



None of us are! The struggle is real! One potential title for nuerodiversity/disability/aging/etc is "Being Human" but we're afraid it'll turn into people sharing about what is inhumane, rather than sharing human differences and challenges. UHG!
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7051
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1070
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

One potential title for nuerodiversity/disability/aging/etc is "Being Human" but we're afraid it'll turn into people sharing about what is inhumane, rather than sharing human differences and challenges.



Maybe 'People Care' ? if that's not too broad? or is that too obviously lifting from Permaculture Principles....

People Care begins with ourselves and expands to include our families, neighbors and wider communities. The challenge is to grow through self-reliance and personal responsibility. Self-reliance becomes more feasible when we focus on non-material well-being, taking care of ourselves and others without producing or consuming unnecessary material resources.


https://permacultureprinciples.com/ethics/people-care/

Being in that age group, I have the same aversion to 'elder' as 'senior' and all of those other labels humans are boxed in with.
 
Posts: 4
Location: The Heart of Texas
dog home care urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My mother recently had an accident which has left her in a similar situation to what it sounds like you're going through with your father. She had to have most of her skull removed to alleviate bleeding around the brain, which has left her (a year down the road) sometimes a little bit tongue tied and irritable. I consider her very lucky as things could have been so much worse. She has had a seizure and a few scares since, but overall is doing fairly well.

Her accident was a wakeup call for me and got me moving, but at the same time I feel trapped. I empathize with your situation wholly and suggest trying to move out if you can. It's been the only reason I can handle the stress of being around her, and gives me the space I need. I still take care of her as best I can, but you're important, too. Make some time for yourself - get out of the house, find time for something you enjoy, whatever that may be.

I wish you the best...especially with the cattle. That's rough, man.
 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
Posts: 670
Location: Ontario, Canada
144
homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This thread has helped me a lot, so thanks to everyone.  My mom had another 'incident' a few nights ago and I decided enough was enough.  I will try to help her but I'm not going to stay here anymore even if she doesn't get help.  Just by realising that I can't help her if she doesn't want it and deciding I've done enough, I'm in a much, much better mood.  
 
Posts: 1975
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
156
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If he's got Alzheimer you need to have him declared incompetent so you can do what is necessary with the animals.
 
garden master
Posts: 2707
Location: West Tennessee
803
cat purity trees books chicken food preservation cooking building homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

elle sagenev wrote:If he's got Alzheimer you need to have him declared incompetent so you can do what is necessary with the animals.



I have no idea how one would go about getting a doctor or more than one doctor to evaluate, and go through a process for someone to declare incompetence over another person. What I think may be easier for Jennifer, and also for others in a similar situation where alzheimers in a parent is just beginning, is to talk with said parent and get them to agree to, and sign, a durable power of attorney document, before they can no longer understand what it is. It can really make decision making later in the future, such as the sale of a home or automobile for example, that requires signatures, much easier for the caretaker, and help avoid further complications, such as court, for caretakers that are already stressed during difficult times.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Wheaton Labs
232
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dad sold off ~75% of the cows in the overstocked pasture! Huzzah! The cattle operation should now take much less work, especially as we are moving into spring and the clover is up and the grass is coming on. I wish he would get out of the cow business entirely, but this is at least a huge step in the right direction. I am going to maintain my distance from the cattle operation, because I think that giving him even minor help in that regard will lead to him putting us back in the same situation, but now he should be able to maintain things with occasional hired help until he is ready to sell out. I imagine that after a season or two of fiddling with it without my help, he will sell out and lease the pasture and enjoy living with no work and plenty of money (which is not a prospect I feel should invoke so much resistance!). But if he can maintain the business with hired help, more power to him.

He is not willing to give me power of attorney at this point (if he can’t have control, no one will!) but the family and I are keeping an eye on things and will start laying the groundwork for having him declared incompetent if it comes to that, although I still view that as an incredibly dire prospect. Perhaps we could work something out with a third party power of attorney through his lawyer or something (giving up control to me seems especially difficult for him; I don’t think he respects me much and also thinks that anything that doesn’t involve dousing the pasture with herbicide biannually will result in losing money and eventually the ranch).

In any case, I’m counting this as a win, although not an unqualified one.
 
Posts: 155
Location: Jacksonville, FL
30
tiny house solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I showed up to the party late, but it's good that things are working out. I too have been spending years now doing elderly care and it takes unwavering physical and mental fortitude. Many people have no idea how difficult and intricate daily life can be for a caretaker.

And on that note, perhaps for forum nomenclature the word "caretaker" under the community banner would be a way for all types of caretakers to find relief and perspective, as opposed to something that has names in it pertaining to those being cared for.
 
pollinator
Posts: 165
Location: Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
64
cattle dog hunting books chicken food preservation cooking bike building sheep homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good news, Jennifer! I’m glad you got the cattle sold. That’s got to be **such** a relief.

I’m also soooo glad my mom gave me a full POA before she got to the point that she was incompetent to grant it. With regard to having your dad declared incompetent so you can manage his affairs, be very careful. It’s one thing having a POA and quite another being a legal guardian. Have a very good lawyer to advise you if you feel you have to go that route. My mom did that with her sister and the responsibilities were pretty draconian (and very expensive). She managed to be released from the guardianship, but that was a close shave and also very expensive. Her sister was Schizophrenic, not in a nice way like in some of the movies. And later suffered from Alzheimer’s as well. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad since your dad has means, but just be sure you’re aware of all the possible downsides to legal guardianship.

Try not to take it too hard that your dad is so difficult. My mom is, too. It’s really difficult not to be angry when a loved one treats you so very badly. I try to remember that her brain is full of lesions and she has no clue what’s going on. People respond badly to plenty of therapeutic drugs (steroids for example, chemo drugs, lots of things) also. Try to ignore it. It’s very common and definitely not personal. Hoping you’ll find a good way through. What you are doing is intensely meaningful though I know it doesn’t feel that way. By caring for your dad you’re making the world that bit better and you’re making yourself better, too.

As his sole heir and his caregiver, though, you’re going to need greater access to his business affairs and finances. At the least, get him to add you to his account so you can buy his groceries, pay his bills, etc. If at all possible get a POA from him. Medical and general would be best, but the general is the most important. Doctors will listen to you regarding his care just because you’re his nearest kin, though obviously a medical POA would be best. These simple documents will make your life so much easier. He will not be getting better. If you can’t get this done now, using diplomacy and tact, you’ll have it to do later in the courts—which is far less desirable.
 
Greg Mamishian
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jennifer Richardson wrote:Greg, that is interesting and heartening to hear. I wish you all the luck in the world with your mom.



Thanks, Jennifer.
We each make our own luck.

From what I've seen, everyone eventually reaches a point where they are better off dead than alive. This makes death merciful in ways impossible to fathom... until it's our turn.

I just started reading a book "Words at the Threshold" by Lisa Smartt. It is about the last words people speak before they die.

 
Cob is sand, clay and sometimes straw. This tiny ad is made of cob:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!