Dad's Caregiver. Don't Think I Can Take It Anymore

I'm in a really tough spot. I'm 24 years old and I'm my dad's caregiver. My mom got diagnosed with brain cancer when I was 19 and I was her caregiver for a year up until she passed away. This really did a number on me mentally since I had to watch my mom deteriorate each day until she passed away. I had to drop out of college at the time, but was happy to do so to take care of my mom.

My dad got a heart attack about 1 year after my mom passed away and was just doing awful at the time. I dropped out to work full time to help out. My dad ended up getting a severe second heart attack a couple months later and ended up in the hospital in a coma with most of his organs failing. The doctors thought he wouldn't even make it the night, but thankfully fought through one very tough year in the hospital. I was in a long distance relationship at the time and my boyfriend ended up moving to my state and living with me(we ended up having to move apartments since my rent was insanely high) to help me with the rent and become my dad's caregiver once he finally came back home. My whole family ghosted on me during all of this.
My dad is also only 59 btw.

Well my dad finally came home and is doing much better health wise. He's on dialysis, but doctors are absolutely shocked at how well he recovered and even admitted they didn't think he would do this well. My dad has always been a very kind person, but since moving back home it's like I've been living with a stranger. He does not appreciate anything I do for him.
Everything is a huge fight with him (I've never even heard him raise his voice before this heart attack). It's been almost 2 years since he came home and I'll be honest, it's been hell for my boyfriend and me! Before he got his disability pay, he was constantly fighting with me over how little money we have after our rent/bills. He would yell at me to just skip bills constantly despite trying to explain to him that we can't do that. During that year by myself, I took care of everything financially and began to realize my dad had been absolutely awful with budgeting and his money! Almost all our bills were 2-3 months behind despite us having enough money to pay and more at the time. He also was getting so frustrated with me over not letting him be in charge of the bills/finances and constantly referring to me as a child and how he's my father. No matter how much groceries I was bringing home, he would still complain saying how he wants to eat steak or these elaborate meals that were just out of our budget. I finally grew so fed up that I let him take control since we were fighting every single day after I got off a 12 hour shift of work. Well it didn't take long before we we're again 3 months behind and almost every bill and being threatened with losing our electricity/internet/my car/etc. My boyfriend and I maxed out our credit cards just trying to please my dad since he would buy expensive groceries that wouldn't even last him and start crying how he didn't have food.

I thankfully, after 1 year, managed to get through to his head that this isn't working and I need to take the budget back. I told him I would let him help me, but he needs to cool down on how much he's spending on groceries. He finally agreed, but every now and then he will go out to get groceries (I'll tell him to spend a certain amount) and he'll come back telling me he spent $50+ more. It's extremely frustrating and I'm trying to keep these slip ups as minimal as possible. He won't let me go get groceries since he feels like he's not allowed to do anything in this house.

I should also mention...he has a ton of medications, but will not let me help him manage them at all! We've had nonstop fighting about this and he absolutely will not budge. He's shoved me before when I tried to take his medication bottles away from him and then will claim he did no such thing. The reason why I am so concerned about this is that he is constantly taking more of his painkillers and anxiety pills than he should. He's slowed down the last couple months and keeps claiming he's using it responsibly now, but every now and then he'll say he's stressed out and take a couple more than he should. When I suspect that he used more than he should, he flat out lies to my face. Since he's not abusing as hardcore as before, it's difficult to tell sometimes. I'm still very concerned though since last year he ended up in the emergency room twice from overdosing. I've had so many talks to him about it, but again's as if I'm talking to the wall since he will keep blaming his nodding off on being sleepy/tired or agitation on being stressed out. I should mention he also took my car and crashed it from nodding off while driving last year. Thankfully, he was unharmed and did not cause harm to anyone else, but I just couldn't believe that this was my dad.

I'm trying to go back to college next year and I'm starting to feel like that it's pointless to get back to focusing on my life. My dad is constantly screaming about how little money we have and making it 100% about him. He's embarrassed me beyond belief in front of my boyfriend with constantly picking at him/cursing at him in the past while being high or just fighting with me nonstop right in front of him. Any little money my boyfriend and I have for ourselves, he demands for us to use it towards his groceries since he's constantly running out early.

He doesn't even have teeth right now due to poor hygiene!! I have no idea why he's even buying food that he can't eat!! He's constantly yelling at us about how his disability money is HIS and he can use it all on groceries if he wants. We have so many bills and all of us are chipping in. I don't understand why he's being so selfish. I haven't spent money on myself in months. He uses such a large chunk to groceries and then will deny ever doing so or just say he bought all those groceries for my boyfriend and me(we've told him already a 100 times to not buy groceries for us).

I'm at my limit...I feel so bad, but I want out of this before I have absolutely no relationship with him. He puts pills before me and I've told him countless times how it effects me. He's very selfish with money and then will blame my boyfriend and I for not bringing enough money. Any extra money we ever get goes straight to his groceries. We don't see eye to eye and I'm getting to the point where I feel like I'm just enabling my dad since there's been times where he just spent all the money and came to me to go get more by either getting a loan or working overtime. Since my mom got sick, I feel like I've been deprived from a life. My boyfriend and I never go out due to money and fear that my dad might get hurt (he almost started a fire before in our kitchen from falling asleep)... The thing is, I don't know how to tell him I want to move out with my boyfriend. I feel very unhappy/depressed.

I'm terrified something bad will happen to my dad if I'm not there (will go back to not paying bills/fall/etc). I don't want to put him in a retirement home since he's only 59 and deemed that he can take care of himself. I tried to kind of bring this up yesterday since he went and spent money again despite us barely having any on groceries. We ended up in the worst fight possible and I ended up leaving the house because I couldn't take it.

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One thing that I don't remember seeing mentioned.  Is your Dad a military veteran?  I know the VA has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but they do have programs for a lot of problems people have.  You may find help there.  Another thing that you might want to consider is consulting an attorney.  You need to protect your legal rights as well as your Dad's.  Someone might eventually have to be appointed his legal guardian.  It's truly commendable that you have cared for your parents all these years.  But, I agree with other comments that you are in over your head.  For goodness sake, you are only 24 years old.  At this rate you will be an old lady by the time you turn 40.  I strongly encourage you to talk with his doctor.  Does he have a church?  If so, his pastor might be helpful.  Is there a Council on Aging where you live?  Just remember this, your first priority is yourself.  You cannot take care of anyone if you don't first take care of yourself.  Good luck.


I am trying to find a person in need of home care or memory unit care. I was with a wonderful Lady for 6 years that had dementia. I enjoy giving them a little smile.. I am having a hard time finding an individual that wants private (not business) care. It's good for me so I can connect with the person and it's cheaper on the family. Please let me know if you can connect me or you can e-mail me at

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AARP Expert

@pg54666093 wrote:

I am trying to find a person in need of home care or memory unit care. I was with a wonderful Lady for 6 years that had dementia. I enjoy giving them a little smile.. I am having a hard time finding an individual that wants private (not business) care. It's good for me so I can connect with the person and it's cheaper on the family. Please let me know if you can connect me or you can e-mail me at

you definitely need to say where you are if you're going to put an ad out for yourself. i hope you find work.




Sorry Jane, I thought I did.  


I'm in the Loveland, Mason, Maineville area.  45140

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AARP Expert

Child. What Akgogirl and Amy said.


And. Why are you putting up with this insane situation?

Those **bleep** ghosts need to materialize and step up. 

Your father is ill on many levels, and if he is addicted to pain medication, then his lies and mood and manipulations and shopping addictions are all part of his addiction. Hard as it is to do, please don't take his horrible new personality PERSONALLY. Do not. And if he is not addicted to pills, he is still being a terrible person. Do not take that personally either. Easy to say, hard to do, but ESSENTIAL for your mental health, physical health, educational future, relationship with boyfriend, financial security.


There are several ways you can get out from under this situation. You can move out with your boyfriend to another place. Let your dad assume all his responsibilities and eventually he will fail. Perhaps he will hit a kind of bottom. Perhaps other family members will finally step up (you need to inform them all.)  You do not have to work in isolation and try to be his doctor/ manager/ housekeeper/ psychotherapist/ cook.  I mean really. There is no where written that adult children need to martyr themselves, their future, mental health, finances, etc, for their fathers or mothers. Honor thy father and mother can sometimes mean walking away from their craziness. 


Therapy. Find a therapist and go. Regularly.  He or she will hear you and immediately know that you are over your head and need coaching and help to get out from  under.


He definitely needs a thorough assessment by a physician, preferably a geriatric internist, but someone who will see all his meds, look at his history, including wrecking a car, and get him on a path to recovery of mind/body/spirit. that is not your job. you can help, if you choose to. if he'd been arrested for having drugs in his system at the scene of the accident, he'd be mandated for drug treatment. but in any case, if he refuses all help, its up to him. he has the right to make bad choices. 


Get out. If you don't move out, then 'separate' as much as you can, including finances. Pay off your credit cards. Take care of yourself. Yes you should go to college. Community colleges are a great way to start while you are also working. 


Please respond to our posts. Thank you for being so candid. If you react to what we've written we can bounce around more ideas for you. I feel very angry about your situation on your behalf. Please write back.




I'm 57 and take care of my 85 year old mom.   Have been for the past 4 years.   24/7    I love the comment "ghosted" for the family that disappears and never helps.   Cracked me up.   I've always been my parents helper.   I'm the baby of the family.   You know how you said your dad's temper "changed".   Sometimes especially after heart stuff they can have memory loss.   Unfortunately some of that is the ability to edit what they say and do.   My mom has alzheimers and had a memory loss.    I hope you get some help.     Does  your dad have any family?   Maybe it's time for them to step up to the plate?    I don't know what resources are in your town.   Care co-ordinators can help.   Usually when someone needs help when they are getting out of the hospital the Social Worker makes home recommendations.   I hope you find help.    You are appreciated!!!!

AARP Expert

@s715271n I'm so sorry to hear of your challenges - and apologize for this delayed response. It sounds like you have been going through many ups and downs - first caring for you mom, which must have been so difficult and heartbreaking. Now helping your dad through his heart attacks and dialysis and dealing with his mood changes. It's so hard to deal with providing the actual care for your dad, along with managing the finances and juggling your relationship with your boyfriend. No wonder you feel overwhelmed! You must be exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically. 


A few things for you to consider:


For your dad's behavior, depression and mood swings, cognitive changes  - it is not uncommon after a heart attack (or often other major health challenges) to face these issues and changes. In fact it's estimated that about 1/3 of those who have heart attacks subsequently have depression. Is he receiving any treatment for these issues? Has he received any counseling? I imagine perhaps his grief at losing your mother may be intertwined as well. It was a lot of pain and loss close together (for both of you).You also said he is also on many medications - are any of them to deal with the mood and behavior issues or depression?


In addition, when he is on multiple medications there may be interactions. It can be very helpful to ask your pharmacist to look at the full list of his medications and make sure they are all compatible. Are you able to speak with his doctor about the pain medications and your concerns about possible abuse? Are you concerned about addiction? If so, you might consider seeking support from Al-Anon, an organization that offers support for families of those who are dealing with addiction issues. You can contact them and inquire about local group meetings and they also have online message boards. While the information on the website focuses on alcoholism in the family, many people attend meetings and post in the message boards who are dealing with other addictions or dysfunction in the family.  


You mentioned your dad is on dialysis. Cognitive impairment, depression and even dementia may occur with chronic kidney disease. You might discuss the changes in your dad's behavior with his kidney specialist. You can find information from the National Kidney Foundation. 


Those are all things to consider for your Dad. But you are so depleted - your feelings of wanting to leave are understandable and normal. They are also a clear sign of burnout, which can cause you to also have health problems. Your instinct to take care of yourself is good! Of course it's not always possible for you to remove yourself from the situation entirely. So while you are ensuring all of your dad's health issues are being addressed and managed, you'll need to do some things to take care of you too. I liken it to a car - you don't expect it to run on empty and neither can you. You have to keep filling your own tank too! Sleep is a top priority, along with eating healthy foods, getting exercise and other healthy ways to handle the stress. What nurtures you? Fills your tank? Only you know the things that give you energy. It might be talking with a friend, a cup of coffee, meditating, yoga, etc. It's also addressing your own grief and loss and the emotions of seeing your dad change. Do you have access to counseling? A caregiving support group or al-anon might be very helpful. It's great that you are on here and I hope we can help too! 


You can contact the local area agency on aging and ask about caregiver support. Even though your dad is just 59 they can still refer you to caregiver support and local support groups. Find your local area agency on aging by visiting and enter your zip code. 


I hope these have been helpful thoughts - you are an amazing daughter! I have been caregiving for my parents for many years too, and I know how challenging it can be and how hard it is to deal with the changes. Hang in there! Please let me know if I can be help!


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family and Caregiving Expert





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