Week 1: Dad Moves In


Last updated: January 14, 2010
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It started with a frantic phone call from my mother. "Your dad just threatened to kill me."

I tried to remain calm, asking Mom what, exactly, Dad had said.

"He barged into my bedroom after I was asleep. You know that big flashlight Margaret and Dave got him for Christmas last year? He shook it at me and told me he was going to kill me for cheating on him."

Three months ago, Dad was diagnosed with dementia.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Dad was always the sane one in the family, the one who stood by my mom through a serious bout with mental illness. Dad was the one who held the family together and maintained a sense of normalcy for his three children. He was a man known for common sense and rationality. He was the guy everyone in the extended family consulted on important matters. He was our rock.

Now, suddenly, he's not rational. He thinks my mother is having affairs with numerous men and has become obsessed with punishing her for her "transgressions."

After this overt threat of violence, I realized intervention was in order. I talked it over with my husband and siblings.

My sister lives in a remote area of the Colorado mountains. She has a husband and small son. My brother and sister-in-law recently saw their youngest child graduate from college. They're successful professionals in Texas. They already care for my sister-in-law's dad, recently widowed and suffering from a stroke.

I'm a nurse. My husband, Lee, and I have no children at home. We live about 400 miles away from Mom and Dad in sunny Albuquerque. We have a large, ranch-style home with plenty of space for a roommate.

My siblings and I agreed that we wanted to keep Dad out of a nursing home for as long as possible. I told them Lee and I would welcome Dad into our home. My brother and sister seemed relieved to hear it.

And so, the weekend before Christmas, I traveled to Colorado to pick up Dad. Dad thinks he's moving in with us until Mom can sell the house and move to Albuquerque, too. I wasn't entirely comfortable using a pretext to lure Dad here, but I knew he wouldn't come any other way.

Dad has been living with us for three weeks now, and I frequently feel overwhelmed. What am I supposed to do when he breaks down in tears over my mom's "infidelity"? How could I forget to give him his morning pills? Do we need to get in-home caregivers to stay with Dad during the days I'm at work?

My goal with this blog is to share my home care journey with you: the heartbreak and triumphs, the problems and the solutions, even the conversations about how to treat a sweaty scrotum (which has already occurred).

Welcome to my new reality. Maybe it's yours, too.

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27 Comments So Far. Add Your Wisdom.

over 2 years ago

Hello! ekakbbd interesting ekakbbd site! I'm really like it! Very, very ekakbbd good!


over 2 years ago

Elizabeth, I am so touched by your compassion and situation....it is hard. Answers are not scripted......look at the dynamics in play , Transitions are always difficult, with dementia or without. Loss is always hard, with dementia and more without. Do I connect, yes. I care for my 87 yr mother. You must decide how to go forward. He can not go back. Your focus now must be bilateral....your family's needs and his needs. This will be difficult to reconcile. Safety must be the primary driver. Everyone counts in your evaluation.....discounting either will make prolong the struggle. God bless.


over 2 years ago

This article was particularly moving on several levels. I cared for my Dad in my home and I can relate to much of this story. It was so emotional reading this as I recalled how hopeless I felt. This story was very helpful because I am now dealing with a husband who has been diagnosed with dementia. Thank you for sharing your journey with me.


Anonymous said over 2 years ago

I go to see my dad everyday, but he says I have dumped him out the back door. I cry uncontrollably and I feel more stress than i'm willing to admit. How do i take care of my dad in the nursing home, his new home? He says the one person he can depend on has turned their back on him? i feel awful!


Anonymous said almost 3 years ago

I have the same issue but my mother is somewhat neglectful to my father who has Dementia. I try to have empathy but it gets clouded with anger. I want him to live with me but he won't leave my mother. Help.


over 3 years ago

JUST MOVED MY DAD FROM ARIZONA TO MY HOME IN ARKANSAS,HE WANTS TO GO BACK TO AZ BUT DR.WON'T LET HIM DRIVE OR LIVE ON HIS OWN ANYMORE.WAS TAUGHT TO RESPECT MY FATHER THIS SICKNESS (DEMENTIA) IS A FAMLIY DISESE.HOW DO WE CARE FOR SOMEONE YOU LOVE DEARLY AND DECIVE THEM DAILY? US AS CAREGIVERS .....(CARE) AND FEEL LOST THAT YOU HAVE TO TREAT YOUR PARENT LIKE YOUR CHILD AND NOT THE PERSON THAT YOU HAD SO MUCH RESPECT AND DEPENDED ON THEM FOR ADVICE IN YOUR OWN LIFE.WHERE DID THIS TERRIBLE DISEASE COME FROM AND HOW DID MY DAD GET THIS,THIS MAN WORKED HARD ALL HIS LIFE HE IS 86 NOW AND A SHELL OF THE MAN I ONCE KNEW.I HATE LYING TO MY FATHER ,IT FEELS SO DISRESPECTFULL BUT I KNOW IT IS FOR HIS OWN GOOD,,,,,I HOPE I DON'T LIVE TO SEE THIS DISEASE FOR MY CHILDRENS SAKE I HAVE ALREADY APOLOIZED TO MY CHILDREN IF I DO


over 3 years ago

We will be moving my dad in with my husband and myself. It remains to see what will happen as he is not here yet. Its good to know that someone else has ezperience and can help.


over 3 years ago

Thank you for sharing this blog, it has been very comforting being able to read and share our love and patience for our parents. Three years ago I realized something was going on with my dad. He would call me saying he was lost trying to find his way to my house, which I have lived in for many years, and he had driven here many times. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to have your children take your car keys from you and tell you you can no longer drive. Needless to say, I took his keys for his own safety and the safety of others on the road as well. After discussing with my husband I asked my father to move in with us and our two sons. I knew I was going to need all the patience and caring in the world to make this world because I had my mom also living with me and her and my father had seperated five years prior. They never divorced, they just seperated, and now I had them both living under my roof. Dad accuses my mom of cheating on him, and he always curses at her when my husband and I are not around. It really bothers me that he does it when my two sons, ages 10 and 11, are within hearing distance, eventhough he curses in Spanish and they only speak English it still bothers me. Of course when I ask him not to curse in my home he says my mom is lying and he doesn't curse. It saddens my mother that he is in that situation, so she helps him by cooking for him and giving him his medications when I am at work, but he still treats her like if she was his maid and is very demanding with her. I am the youngest of their five children, and the only one who cares for him. One of my sisters lives 1 mile away, two of my siblings live 40 miles away, and a sister lives 70 miles away, none of them are involved in his care. My sister, who lives 1 mile from me, said she would come a couple of times a week to take turns giving him his daily insulin shot, she only showed up three times the first week and never came back. I have days where I just break down and cry because it's so overwhelming. I have not resorted to counseling, but from what I have read on here, it seems like a great idea. I know it also is taking a toll on my mother because she hears him constantly asking the same questions over and over. He keeps saying he wants to go back home and that he's bored here and that it's hell here. He's 75, but he's aged well, anyone would say he looks 65. Dementia is a very scary disease, to lose our mind is the scariest thing that can happend to us. Again, I thank you for your blog, for letting me share my feelings, for the comfort of knowing I am not alone, and seeing how many other people really care for their parents.


over 3 years ago

I am currently caring for my father with AD. I help my mom most every day as I live in their basement. My dad is now in a rehab facility (nursing home). He seems comfortable there. Me and my siblings visit him all the time. I take mom to be with him every single day. They are married 61 years. I cared for my husband as he died from colon cancer. This AD is just as hard if not harder to care for. My dad cries when he sees my mom and doesn't understand why he can't walk. He wears a diaper and doesn't know why. He has a pee bag on and why once again. I bring his german music and john wayne or marilyn monroe movies to his room to help pass the hours. The job all of us caregivers are doing is a silent blessing. I do what I do because I love my dad and mom. I cry and I go on. I go to therapy and cry some more. Thank you for this site and caring. joan To all of my fellow caregivers just tell yourself you can do this.


over 3 years ago

Please find some comfort in knowing that your words have helped more people and families than you will ever know. This website has been a god send to me as I go through the last chapters of my mom's life. Yours in particular struck many chords as I live through her dementia. Thank you so much for chronicling what I know was the most painful and personal time of your life. Your parents raised a wonderful person. I'm glad your dad is at rest.


over 3 years ago

I've been caring for my dad for 2 years now....it gets very overwhelming! My mom (80) helps as much as she can and my younger brother helps when he can (he works in Wash DC and communtes here to south-central Pa. UGH) I recently got remarried and I understand what you mean about the stresses caring for a loved one can do to a family! I try to remember that my folks were there for me and now its my turn to try and do what i can for them....but there are times i just want to escape. Please hang in there and know you're doing the right thing....just remember all the good times you've had with your Dad and know that this is the diesease and not him! Wishing you the best!


over 3 years ago

I am in the early stages of care giving to my husband who has been diagnosed with AD. most of this is new to me but I see changes everyday. I have trouble with his evening glass of wine. He Dr. has ask him to stop drinking if but he want listen to him & gets very angry if I don't get it for him. I really don't know what to do! I know I have a lot ahead of me and this web site has helped me so much.Sometime it frighten me to know what could happen but i also feel I need to learn all I can in advance. Thanks to all for your helpful advice.


over 3 years ago

My mother also believed that my father cheated. Neither of them had AD but they were in their 80s and my mother may have had vascular dementia. My brother, a psychiatrist, gave mom some medication that helped. The accusations were difficult for the family and we all tried to reason with my mom. She was not a violent person and my father was patient with her. We were fortunate and they died before any kind of placement option was needed. My husband who does have AD occasionally becomes suspicious of our male caregivers. So far we have been able to defuse the situation by showing him pictures of our caregiver's families to demonstrate that they have wives and children and would not be interested in me. I also try to keep reinforcing how important he is to me and to behave toward him in a loving manner. His feelings of concern go away. We continue to have the male caregivers. I have been fortunate that my husband has never been combative or abusive. I use a lot of humor in caring for him plus songs and conversations about things that happened in the past. I do not lie to him and remind him that he can depend on what I say. This is not to say that there aren't many problems in being a caregiver for AD and I reach the breaking point and behave non productively, especially late at night. Then I become filled with remorse and go to him and apologize if I frightened him and tell him that I will figure it our. He always says, I know.


over 3 years ago

It felt made up and had no "helping" content. Maybe the "content" came later in the blog. Remember, this is my impression and no offense is intended.


over 3 years ago

I help care for my dad with advanced AD. This is one of the hardest things I've done. Dad gets bitter, angry, cries and it sucks. The doctor prescribed an agitation pill now to help mom get thru the day. I live in the basement with my 20 year old son who attends college. I drive my parents around town as dad can't drive any longer. I am looking for a caregiver to help mom now. She is 83 and this is taking a toll on her. Dad acts like a 5 year old most of the time. I have been living here two years now. I find myself crying and feeling helpless. I go to two support groups and they help quite a bit. I keep telling myself I can do this. We, as the children will do whatever we can to make our parents as comfortable as we can. I play german music for dad and he smiles. He's still lost and in his own little world but for a couple minutes he's ok. That's all I need. God bless all of you who help. Take care.


over 4 years ago

I'm just coming on board here, so I've started reading here at the beginning. I appreciate the blog and all the commenters thoughts, too. I'm sitting here realizing how fortunate my Alzheimer husband is not violent. It's sobering to read these problems that I may face in the future. My husband's logic is greatly diminished and his short term memory is gone. Thank you for taking the time to write of your experience. The road has been very hard for you. My best to you and yours.


over 4 years ago

My Dad doesn't have AD but does have other medical issues that are making life challenging for him. He lives alone, an hour away and has no other real support system near him. His medical practitioners are near my home and he spends a good bit of time driving to doctors appointments. In the last year he has been hospitalized with an infection that affected his brain. Some days he seems fine and some days he says things that make no sense. He lives in his own home which historically has been meticulously kept by him. He has lovely furniture and artwork that he treasures. Today, and for the last year, his home is in disarray, cluttered with piles of papers, mail and magazines. I have trying to convince him to sell the house and move closer to me in something more manageable for him. He becomes belligerent and hostile and thinks I am his enemy. He threatens to leave town. He has fallen off of a ladder inside of the house (that he shouldn't have been on in the first place) and hit his head on his nightstand causing a gash on his head and a pool of blood on the carpet. I am trying to honor his desire to be independent, but it is becoming increasingly worrisome as I am concerned about his safety. The more I try to help, the angrier and more hostile he becomes. If I step back, he accuses me of abandoning him. If I try to help, he becomes angry and belligerent. This feels like a no win situation.


over 4 years ago

I was reading about the mother who was so mad she could not have her wine at 4:30. Why shouldn't she be mad? Would any of us enjoy or accept someone telling us what we can and cannot do? She may be thinking "I'm an adult. Been one a long time, longer that my daughter! It's my wine to drink, when I want. My decision". Now have that simple little decision taken away from you. It stinks. Makes a person angry. So they do only what they are able to do to express their anger. Stop eating, refuse the pills. Nope, not fun for us, not fun for them. I tell my friends when I am old and my husband is not around, that is when I will keep a gun "this is hypothetical only" just to keep my bossy children away from me. Oh, they love me, but I already see their "knowing" so much more than me. I don't want them bossing me about. Thank goodness they are good people and love me, but I will then be interrupting their lives and anger will erupt on both sides at times. My mom is coming to my home in 3 weeks. I am ready to help her enjoy some of her life now, but totally torn as I see her fading and my wants for her being unachievable. I see assisted living for her in the near future. She doesn't, but I need my life also. And she needs more stimulation and other people interaction than I can give her. Only have a short time left to really do things and enjoy time with my husband after raising children and he being away at work so much of the time.


over 4 years ago

I feel your pain. My mom looked at me tonight and told me she hated me, ( because I did not give her wine at 4:30 in the afternoon.......); she refused her evening meal and all pm meds. I have never seen so much anger. I am surprised she did not strike me when I told her I loved her. She is living with me because she has dementia and has been here for 10 months. She is unhappy with me and wants to return to her home 8 hours south. She states she would rather reside in Hell, than in my home... I am her only child. She is widowed. Her Dr took her lisence and said she could no longer live alone in October, on my birthday, which she declared was her Death Day...I am doing the best I know how. Tonight, she was visibly agitated. I wish I knew why. I don't know what to do to help. All my positive affirmations just made her more angry. I feel locked in place. I can't abandon her, can's share the work load, and I don't want to live like this. Nothing I do is of value to her. I feel like Harry Potter confronting the Dementis. At least no violence has been threatened tonight. Hang in there. I'm a social worker and in my niave years served as 'the Adult Homes Specialist' for our county. There is no magic solution. Looking back, I didn't have a clue......................this is the hardest thing I have confronted to date......and my path has been far from easy. My second born was afflicted with learning disabilities , severe asthma,and a seizure disorder..home schooled and advocated for her for years. She is now, herself, a teacher for students with autism , seizure free. We have a great relationship. She is about to have her first child. I can not imagine saying to my child what was said to me...........I sincerely hope I do not live long enough to contract this awful disease.....this is just hard.


over 4 years ago

I'd like to comment on something many of you are saying - that is that you hate to lie to your parents or loved one. I am my mother's caregiver and I felt that way too but while at a recent caregivers support group, the leader (an expert in dementia) told us about the 'compassionate lie' and that it was not only okay to lie to them but in many circumstances, the best thing to do. As long as the lie was for their comfort, didn't harm them, and either calmed them or comforted them, it was the right thing to do. For instance, many times there is no good in telling your parent that their spouse was dead when they ask where they were. Perhaps telling them they are away on a short trip will put the issue to rest for the time being. Or, a women I know who lives in a memory care center thinks she is on vacation and wonders how long she gets to stay at the 'resort'. Staff tell her she gets to stay for another month. This is comforting to her and later she forgets the entire conversation. Her husband recently died and she was traumatized for a week and then began asking if he was downtown having lunch with his friends. Staff said 'yes' and she is so much more at peace - now joins in with activities. She has forgotten that he died and there is no good reason that she needs to be reminded of that. It only brings her pain. As long as it is comforting to the person with dementia, I have learned that a compassionate lie is okay. I have learned to use it with my mother to bring peace to her life. Telling them the truth and forcing them to be rational often agitates them and does not do them any good. At this point in their lives, they aren't living in our reality so helping them be comfortable in their reality is our job. You aren't lying to them, you are making them more comfortable.


over 4 years ago

Linda SD.Thank you for the insight and for sharing your experiences. My Dad has not gotten physically violent but has threatened to throw a flashlight through my sisters TV if they didn't take him home, while he was convalescing after breaking his collarbone in an unreported fall, and had been verbally abusive to his home health aid, ordering her off his property but he was never like this before his dementia. He was the calmest , nicest, most considerate person and the best Dad. I am so glad my Dad is the one who actually got himself placed in a Memory Care unit as we did not want to go the court route either and were not getting any other alternatives from the Elder Lawyer or APS people. Basically what they were saying was that he still had rights and we had to wait for something more to happen so we could get him into a hospital and then a nursing home. The way it happened was not ideal but the results are the best we could have hoped for.


over 4 years ago

My father was 82 when he started accusing my 81 yr old mother of having an affair with a neighbor. He had been diagnosed with AD but this was new issue. His rants at her were horrible resulting in him throwing things at her and her in constant tears and fear. When I was in the house he would start obsessing over this to me and I quickly realized that no amount of "reasoning" works with someone with AD. This escallated to where I was afraid for my mother's safety. There were other really bad things he was doing so this was actually mild. I knew my mom, nor I could take care of him after he had two strokes, open heart surgery and stomach surgery and his anger and AD got worse. I knew we were headed to putting him into a nursing home. I contacted the Alzheimer's association and got in touch with an estate planner who helped me understand the disease and Medicaid requirements. My father got violent with me, hitting me and me holding him off when a neighbor called the police and he was Baker Act'd out of the house, evaluated and sent to a nursing home being declared a risk to himself and my mother, and incompetent. I have heard many personal stories where spouses and family underestimate the degree of possible violence and the consequences of letting the violent person have access to children and family. Not all people get like this but it is nothing to ignore. A coworker's mother called the police on her father and the police put him in jail for spousal abuse rather than using the Baker Act to confine him. This later caused my coworker issues when trying to get him into nursing home for his Alzhiemer's since he then had court hearings and costs. It's good to understand what happens when you call the police, and have conversations with your local police prior to escallation. Something for discussion. When is too much when dealing when the AD patient gets violent. Wish you the best with your father and looking forward to more blogs from you.


over 4 years ago

It is frustrating when you just wish you could break through their clouded memories and reason with them, but you can't so acceptance of this is my goal. In my case I'm the one who lives in Colorado while my Dad is in NY state near my sister. My Mom died of complications of early onset Alzheimers at the age of 70. My Dad now 89 has dementia and was living alone at home with daily caregivers and my sister coming in to help and make sure he ate and took his meds. He refused to live with my sister and becomes very agitated and threatening when at her house for more than a few hours. He has fallen and hurt himself but did not remember it and a few times we were not aware until a while afterward. He still refused to go anywhere. Finally, he called 911 at 2:30 one morning complaining of chest pains and he was taken to the local hospital. Not heart problems were found but an xray revealed two broken ribs, so he had fallen again, again not remembering it. It became very apparent to the ER staff that his dementia was much worse and he was taken right to a Memory Care unit of a nursing home. He thinks he will be going home soon, but my sister tells him they will have to go by what the Dr. says. It has been about a week now so it's all new to us. I feel guilty because I am so far away, cannot move back to help and can only go for visits as my family and business is here in Colorado. My sister has done all the caring for him for the past several years but at least now he is in a safe place and she can rest at night without the middle of the night phone calls all the time from him. He is now closer to her house and she can go for visits much more easily. I too never thought this would be my Dad's disease. He was always healthy,walking everywhere, taking care of his house etc. And of course it makes me concerned that I will end up this way too.


over 4 years ago

I found your comment interesting about feeling guilty when you had to lie to your Dad. I'm starting to feel very guilty where my Mom is concerned, since I just got her an appointment for a full mental evaluation and I don't think she really understands why we're going to the doctor. How much DO you share with those suffering from memory loss? My Dad was diagnosed a year and a half ago with Alzheimers and in some respects he's doing better than Mom. She has pretty much given up on life, lives in her PJ's and won't leave the house anymore. She also thinks that some of the care-givers are "hitting" on Dad. My brother thinks we're wasting our time and maybe even hurting her by making her go through this evaluation. I don't have room to take them both in, but I imagine some day in the future I may have to take in one of them. Any thoughts? H.


over 4 years ago

With so many of us facing this very foreign territory (dementia in the family) it is a real gift to have insights, real life solutions as you're so sharing with us in your blog. Many, many thanks to you. Very grateful indeed!


over 4 years ago

In my situation almost everyday my mom thinks that we moved from another house to this house. I'm 20 years old. We've lived in the same house all my life, and my mother has lived with my dad for about 30 years here. So a few times a week she will take all of her clothes out of her closet and put them into bags. As you can imagine, this is really frustrating. All caregivers get frustrated, so you're definitely not alone with those feelings. It really helps my mom to calm down when I try to ask her why she packs her clothes, why she thinks we lived somewhere else, and what she is feeling. I sometimes have to tell her with a direct but not angry voice that we don't live anywhere else and that she gets confused. In a way, I try to help her think logically and it allows her to express her own feelings of frustration. It's like a therapy session. Another thing you could do is let your dad talk someone he really trusts and listens to. That person could say "You and your wife/mom have been together a long time. She loves you very much. Why would she cheat on you since she loves you so much?" This may help with the emotional part. For you, you can tell yourself "I accept that my dad (insert whatever thought, feeling, action, problem your dad has). I cannot control these things, but only help in the best way that I can. At the end of the day I know these things and will be ok." Personally I've been using my free sessions of therapy provided by my school. I recommend therapy if you think your emotions are keeping you from carrying out tasks and feelings of helplessness. My dad gives my mom her medication. He gives her whatever pill she needs at each meal. So when you have breakfast, just make the meal a reminder that your dad needs his medicine. Other things you could do is set an alarm or get a white board to make a checklist. Hope this helps!


over 4 years ago

My husband's father behaved the same way. When you say you sometimes feel "overwhelmed," I understand, since i have been there. I home-cared my mother during the last year of her life. It is fortunate you were trained as a nurse. I will look forward to following this blog ...


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