Thinking it's time for NH How to or if | CAN

Thinking it's time for NH..How to or if..

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Thinking it's time for NH..How to or if..

Hi all, I am new to the boards, and have a few questions, so please bear with me. 

I've taken care of both my parents for 9 years now, with my mom passing away 3 years ago now, I am the sole 24/7 caregiver for my father in my home. The past few months have gotten really bad. 

Physically, he is strong as an ox. Seriously, most days he can run rings around people in their 50's. He is very strong. It is his mind that is failing, and he is in denial. Every day is a battle with him. Every little thing is difficult, to say the least. I will ask him a question as nicely as possible, and he snaps horribly. I try to tell him something, and he snaps horribly. All day, pretty much every day. I wake up every morning wondering what horrificness awaits. He seems to enjoy being difficult and seems to sit in his wingback chair all day, trying to think of things to scream at me about. He  can't be left alone because he does things like leaving the stove on, and he has bad panic attacks if left alone for even an hour. Forget about being left alone all day, that is not possible. 

It is exhausting on me and is taking a toll on my health. He refuses anti anxiety meds. He refuses a lot of things that would make life easier for him and I. His doctor even throws his arms in the air because dad won't take his advice. 

I have asked the local area on aging on having him involuntarily (is that the word?) committed to a nursing home, as he is pretty much beyond living at an assisted living facility. The area on aging said he has to be a threat to himself or to others. Here is my main question(s) about all of that. First of all, he is so defiant. Because he is an adult he still has his rights, right? Well, he refuses to give up driving, and me trying to get him to stop, he gets nearly violent. So, his driving is not terrible, but not great, that I feel he should not be driving. I've talked to my brothers (who both live out of state, but are both pretty much 0 help and pretty much in equal denial and neither really want to be bothered, even though the one brother has POA). Neither brother is willing to help, much less to see about having his license taken away (please bear with me, I guess I have more questions than I thought).  They really can't be bothered.  I have tried, believe me. 

Now, here is I guess my main question. He has come after me a few times with clenched fists raised in the air, acting as if he is going to strike me, but he never has. So now, today, the dog barked at a noise outside (not a noisy nor yappy dog, rarely hear a peep out of the dog unless someone is outside). The dog is little, 10 lbs, and dad said in a horrible disgusting threatening voice "I am going to give that dog a licking if he does that again!!" he sat in his wingback chair, repeating that he was going to hurt the dog if the dog barked again. Dad had just fell asleep into his afternoon nap, so he was so apparently bothered by the dog barking. Are these two 'threats' really enough for him to be considered a 'threat to others'..? I mean, he has not actually hurt me nor the dog, but..he seems to be getting worse as the months, and even days, go by. 

This is all becoming a huge worry for me. I do not have any help. If I go grocery shopping for an hour, I worry about him being alone, and I also worry about him putting the dog outside in the freezing cold (or horrible heat and humidity in the summer). I have checked around for daycare and that sort of thing, but dad refuses. And because he is an adult and is 'smart' and 'with it' enough when he goes to the doctor appointments, they do not see a problem. His heart doctor (who does see dad is stubborn and does not listen) sides with dad, because dad is after all, a legal adult and not been deemed incoherent or anything. 

So, is he considered a danger to himself or others..? Leaving the stove on, and threats, but no actual violence..? Also, if my brother has the POA, I am not even sure if *I* can have dad involuntarily committed to a NH...? Brother does not think anything is a serious issue....and no, brother is not willing to take dad in for a week for some relief for me. That tells a lot, doesn't it...? 

Just wondering what, if anything, I can do, to possible have him involuntarily committed (it would be a very ugly scene, trust me!!), or if he even 'qualifies' to be involuntarily committed..? Thanks so much for any and all advice..

Jessica May Tang
Jessica May Tang's picture
I'm so sorry you're going

I'm so sorry you're going through this! This sounds so difficult! I'm wondering if he's showing signs of dementia. Have you tried calling his primary care doctor and telling him all of these signs? I think it's also a good idea to call both brothers and have a frank conversation about all of these signs as well. I also think it's important to share your feelings around it as well. Have you guys talked about maybe having you be POA instead of your brother who is not even around? If after a frank conversation they still refuse to listen, I would put my foot down and insist that they come and visit just for a week. They need to see what you've been going through. Wishing you lots of love.

My sympathies with you

I'm so sorry to hear you are going through all of this. First of all, I completely understand your position and the siblings not being helpful part. These are definitely signs of some sort of age-associated change and it could be a quickly progressing dementia or it could be another underlying issue. It sounds like your dad is being very difficult so convincing him to go to a neurologist might be difficult but either psychiatrist or neurologist might be helpful in determining what exactly is the issue and if it can be treated. I've had difficulty convincing my dad to go to certain appointments in the past. What I found has worked is finding some common ground, taking advantage of times of peace to show that you care. Give him a smile, a hug, something that is not verbal to show him you do care about him. If he's not listening or making you frustrated, cry in front of him. If he won't understand reason, he might be able to understand your emotions. At the end of the day you are still their child and they might always see you as the baby they raised rather than as an adult that is taking care of them now. He might be bored sitting in the house all day and benefit from a community of people, friends, and socialization. Maybe you can go with him to some adult day care facilities? But before that, I agree with the above poster, discuss your concerns with his PCP and have that doctor be part of the family conversation if possible to get your siblings to understand his needs at this stage. Have the doctor do all the exams used to diagnose dementia -- those can help detect moderate to severe dementia. I hope you get some relief soon. I think getting your parent involuntarily committed is fraught with a lot of legal issues so try to get the POA or have him understand your position that he needs more help than you can provide. See if in home care is an option with people who come into the house to help him out. Try to get him out of the house more doing activities and such. As long as he isn't getting lost when he goes out, maybe some activities out in the community would be good for him too.