Thanks for Letting Me Vent!!


Thanks for Letting Me Vent!!

(Editor's Note: Today, we welcome Jacquie, who cares for her dad, to our blogging team. You can connect with her on her profile page: @jes1951.)

spillage-308942_640I think I have big problems caring for my father, then I read other blogs and think I have it easy and what I feel is all out of proportion. Yet I'm ready to go off the deep end and really have nowhere to turn. There are no caregiving support groups around here and although Dad has what is called a "life nurse", I'm just spinning my wheels and digging a deeper hole all the time. I have expressed my concerns to her, she has relayed them to his doctors, and for the most part things are ignored.

Here are the problems. Yes, problems. My mom passed away 17 years ago. Twelve years ago, I saw how Dad was not taking care of himself even back then and talked him into moving in with me. I noticed things then, but while I was still working, I didn't have to put up with them too much. His health has not been good for many years. He's a type 2 diabetic, has COPD, high blood pressure, acute congestive heart failure, kidney disease, knee replacement surgery that didn't improve his situation and is as round as he is tall, among other things. Believe me when I say I could cope with these things.

Now that I have had retirement forced upon me (I was laid off & even after two years of trying, no one wanted to hire a 60- year-old), I am with him practically 24/7. The reason is that he suffered a stroke three years ago. He lost all peripheral vision (thank God that was all he suffered) and wound up not being able to drive any longer. So I became chauffeur. Again, no biggie.

But here are the problems. He has always been a dirty person, but it has gotten so bad, I don't know what to do anymore. He refuses to bathe, and because he cannot walk very well (he will not use the walker I bought him in the apartment), he puts his hands on everything including the walls for balance. The white walls are so dirty that I've literally scrubbed off the paint. He stinks, his bathroom stinks, his bedroom stinks and when he was driving and owned a car, it reeked as well.

He does not have dementia, but he is slow on the uptake these days.  It takes him several hours to read the newspaper but DOES retain what he reads. He knows all the grandkids names, ages and birth dates. When he eats, more times than not he handles his food with his hands. He is capable and does cook himself breakfast, although it's the same thing everyday.

He splatters grease all over the stove and wall, and though I have provided a cover for the pan, he won't use it. Before he sits down to eat any meal he ALWAYS goes to the bathroom. When I was sharing meals with him, I always made sure I took my food before he sat down. He'll eat food right out of the serving dishes instead of putting it on his plate. He says he doesn't want to dirty another dish. I've told him the dishwasher uses the same amount of water to wash 10 plates as it does one, but he just shrugs his shoulders.

When I tell him to use a fork and knife, his answer is "fingers were invented before forks & knives".  What do you say????  I have told him time and again to wash his hands and he argues with me that he does. I show him his hands, with his filthy fingernails that are longer than many women's and he says that's natural.

His hair hasn't been washed in over three months. He refuses to shower. He said he'd bathe more often if he had a tub or larger shower, but when we went on vacation earlier this year, I made sure we had a handicapped room with a walk-in shower and never once did he step into it.

After eating his meals with his hands, I tell him to wash them. He just goes in his room, turns on the TV and proceeds to fall asleep. I can no longer eat meals with him. Being a former home owner and a tree hugger, I guess, I recycle, turn off lights, make short use of electricity, etc. He runs water like there's an unlimited supply. He leaves lights on wherever he goes. He takes cat naps all day long, in front of the TV. When I turn it off, a few minutes later he'll wake just enough to turn it back on and go back to sleep. This goes on all day. The remote literally never is out of his hands. He'll turn lights on in his room on a beautiful sunny day, because he's too lazy to open the blinds. He'll turn on the fan, because he's too lazy to open his window.

Am  I blowing all of this out of proportion? I myself have been diagnosed with adult ADHD, clinical depression, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. I am scared to take the meds prescribed for my ADHD , as it raises my blood pressure even higher than it is on the meds I'm taking. I've basically holed myself in my room.  I am soooooooo disgusted with the condition of our apartment. I clean and the next day it's dirty again. I clean the stove and the next day it's full of grease. I don't make meals anymore as I can't continue to eat the garbage he buys.

As I said I more or less was forced into retirement. Since my ex-husband wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom, my social security is very minimal. So Dad pays all the bills. He even paid for my three-year-old car.

How do I tell my father that his habits disgust me when he pays for practically everything?

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Jacqui, the things you describe would make me crazy! I don't think you're blowing it out of proportion at all. You certainly have a right not to compromise your own health and safety, but how to make him change his habits? Will he use hand sanitizer if you ask him/tell him to? I hope you can get some help - a third person might be the key to making a change.


Hi, Jacquie. Thank you for sharing your story and concerns. My mom has dementia and insists on doing dishes (especially drying them and putting them away) since it's the one thing she still feels comfortable doing. However, her dish-washing doesn't include soap or hot water, and sometimes it doesn't even include water. And this just drives me mad, with the thought of germs on our plates and in our food. With that said, I can't begin to imagine what you're going through in your house. You have every right to be concerned and seek help for your situation. I hope your get some outside help soon.


When someone decides to do, or not to do, something that's a personal choice. But a lot of the choices your dad is making are having a negative effect on your home, hence a negative effect on your life both physically and mentally. You may not yet be showing a physical illness from the grunge, but you are showing the mental impact and physical stuff will soon follow. You have every right to demand some changes. Clutter is one thing, but dirt and germs are really not good.\r\n\r\nPerhaps by sitting down and having a discussion with him on some of the personal changes you've noticed happening within yourself and the concern you have on the route they will take if they are allowed to progress. And that the uncleanliness in the apartment are what is causing them. So in order for you to begin to get better some things have to be done differently. I have had similar discussions with my mom. They haven't had to do with cleanliness, but just as important. And by having it as a discussion and including her with figuring the solutions most of them have been successful. \r\n\r\n---Kimberly


Hi Jacquie--I'm so glad you are blogging! I would feel just as you do--I would be exasperated, upset, defeated and just simply grossed out.\r\n\r\nRegardless of who pays the bills, you deserve a clean and healthy living environment.\r\n\r\nHas the nurse suggested a home health aide to help out? I wonder if a professional, like a home health aide, would have better luck getting your dad to bathe. I wonder if his poor health makes it difficult for him to get in the shower and then manage the shower. \r\n\r\nAnd, does the nurse make home visits to see your dad?\r\n\r\nI hope it felt better to let it out!!! Know we're always here to listen. :)