Stressed out about visiting Dad in nursing home

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It has been a good few weeks since I visited Dad in his new nursing home. He has been upset there this week, so I am going in tomorrow with my sister.

And if I am honest I feel utter panic and dread at the prospect of visiting him. I feel light headed and want to weep. Last time I went in 5 members of staff had to restrain him as he was trying to get "home". He rammed a wheelchair into my legs and called my Mum a bitch for being diagnosed with dementia. I know that much of this is the illness (Huntington's Disease). In some ways it would be easier if he had been a caring loving father, but he was often a selfish bully before he became unwell. He never attended parents evening or school plays. Was awful to my Mum and sister, less so to me. I know it is silly to feel bitter about these things as a grown woman in my 40s. But when I have to put myself out for him, my mind dredges up all the instances that he didn't do the same for us. I am also at risk of inheriting HD, so it makes it all the more difficult to deal with his behaviour. It is like looking at my own future. Not his fault. But just hard.

I don't really expect answers. I just needed to vent really. I will go and visit. I just need to find a way to cope with it better.
Hi Sally
Somewhere in your earlier posts you mentioned a light bulb moment where you realised you are not responsible for your parents happiness, nor, I would add, are you responsible for them getting such dreadful illnesses.
Maybe you need to take the lightbulb with you tomorrow? :idea: ;)
(((HUGS)))
MrsA
Oh heck, this must be so hard for you. We tend to think that all old people are lovely but some were not nice people in their younger days.

I've had a couple of friends who didn't have good childhoods and they've severed all ties as they've got older as it's the only way they feel able to cope.

I'm not saying you should do that by the way as it's completely your own personal decision.

There's a book out there called Tipperary Mary. It's a true story about a woman who was adopted and then trained as a nurse, married and had children. As a district nurse she came across an old woman nicknamed Tipperary Mary who was a drunk and had been a prostitute and it turned out she was her real mother. She felt no love for her as she had abandoned all her children but, as a nurse, she felt it was her duty to make sure she was kept clean and fed.

I think it is even harder for you as you still have your Mum and have to consider her feelings too. Xx
Thank you, thank you for virtual hugs and support. I was able to sleep well without fretting and today's visit, whilst pretty horrendous, is now done. He tried to bite my sister and one of the care workers. He told us to eff off and was generally violent. Again this is all the illness in a man who was ultimately selfish and self centred in the first place. Our visit just seems to bring out utter hatred. Part of me feels sorry for him as who wants to end their days in a care home? But we have fought tooth and nail to get him into somewhere nice and it is absolutely lovely as are the staff. But he is now beyond understanding that his wife has dementia and he can't be at home or why my sister and I can't have him at our homes. The care workers said his behaviour when we are not there is not as extreme, which is some comfort.

I've not heard off that book, Penny I will look out for it.

Thanks again all. xxxx
Sally, I think for me the question is - how much of his attitude is 'inherent' in him, ie, was there before the HD manifested. You seem to say he was always selfish and uncaring, let alone after the dread symptoms started to appear.

If that was so, then I think your sympathy can justly be highly limited. What comes from the HD itself, or his fear of its progression, is 'more forgiveable', but what is just 'him anyway' (ie, he'd be like that even without the HD) is HIS responsibility. He 'chooses' to be selfish and horrible, and that's that. you don't have to be patient or sympathetic then 'just because' he has HD.

That said, how long has he known that either he IS an HD manifester, or even a carrier - because maybe that knowledge (or fear) along might have had a malign influence on his personality - eg, feeling angry at the world (understandably) and also, maybe, thinking 'a dreadful fate awaits me, so I'm going to do what the hell I like, not care about others, while I'm well enough to do it'.

Again that said, however, you yourself are in the same position, as in, you don't know if you are going to manifest HD, or even carry it (not sure re genders, if you can be either/both), and you are living with the very real fear that you are, and yet YOU are not selfish and horrible! So does that not apply to him too? ie, he, too, should not let the HD affect his personality so malignly??

I'm sorry to add this bit, and do say it's not fair on him at all, BUT, at what point in his life did he become aware of the HD? As in, if he knew, before you were born, that HD affected him or might affect him, and yet he went ahead and had children anyway, was that not 'irresponsible' so to speak??? Of course it could be that he didn't know for some reason, or that even basic genetic counselling was available before you were born, or, of course, that 'pregnancy selection' (which probably has to end up as termination, at least then??) wasn't a possibility or an option.

As for yourself, well, my point of view now is this - you are living under the shadow of HD, and whether you have yourself checked or not (and obviously that is a HUGE decision), the fear is still there, and that means, I think myself, that the priority now is YOU and YOUR happiness. You don't know what your future holds for you, and yes, it may be the same as your father's, but for that very reason you need to spend this precious healthy time having the best life you can - and if that means cutting your father out of your life, either completely, or a lot more than you are currently doing, then I think you are ENTIRELY RIGHT to do so.

It's a desperately sad and difficult situation - but I think, right now, YOUR life is more important than your father's (or, indeed, for the same reason, your mothers - one 'inverse blessing' so to speak of dementia is that at some point, she will cease to know you, or be aware of her circumstances, and though so, so sad, will take that pressure off you....)

Wishing you the best that can be in such very ,very difficult circumstances - kind regards, Jenny