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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all,
I am new to this site and it's just what I've been searching for.  I can identify with others and can receive some advice as I too am living a life situation that is difficult for me.  NOthing really bad, but difficult.  I would like your advice, please.

My parents returned to the US about 3 years ago after living for 30 years in a Caribbean country.  My brother and I both live here too.  My mother passed away about two years ago, she was 89 and my father is now 90.  When they came, my father insisted in brinigng 3 dogs he had there, which now live in the house and are inside 24/7.  They are big, they are unruly, and all over the place.

I have been living with him for 2 years now, since I divorced.  WE share the house, which is roomy, but his dogs are everywhere.  He keeps the house neat, but it's usually dirty and full of dog hair.  He bathes the dogs every 3 months.  When I first moved in with him, I would clean the whole house and tried to set some rules, and he got very upset with me.  He insists that this is my house too, and he is a nice man, has his mental faculties basically fine.  But he's always depressed, especially after my mother passed away (they had a terrible relationship) doesn't watch tv, I am most of the time @ work and commuting to and I'm not here all that much. 

The issue is that he insists on keeping the dogs even though he doesn't have the energy to do so anymore.  I understand him, that he's lonely, but he's refused to go to a Senior citizen center and interact with others his age, doesn't even listen to music.  Many times I have wanted to move and find my own place, start my life again, but I feel guilty leaving him.  My brother and wife live very close by and he comes almost every day to see my Dad.  It is not my intention to not care for him, but I feel I need my space and privacy, which I don't have living with him.  But, at the same time, I can see that my father is very old and he's very stubborn with his pets, which I am not particularly fond of.

Any thoughts?
billie jo
Reply with quote  #2 

savina, i just wanted to say welcome. i have to give your situation some thought. i don't have any great words of wisdom at this point, and being new years eve i am not sure how many will be around. others will stop in soon. in the meantime, welcome and check out either the chat room tonight or the 24/7 late night crew later and join in if you want. everyone is always welcome. those are the two places where people can get toether and just relax. don't be shy. hope to see you then. first i need a little nap. see you later. gail

Reply with quote  #3 

Follow your instincts because they are right on target. You need to find another living space to decompress and to have your own life. House or apartment?

Your brother lives nearby and visits everyday so this is the biggest plus and buys you some space. That is great news.


As a huge fan of the dog whisperer, Cesar Milan, I can tell that those dogs need daily exercise. They need to walk 30-45 minutes each day or it is terribly hard on them and unhealthy. My guess is that your dad doesn’t feel well enough to do anything other than feed them. (My mom got so ill that taking care of her chihuahua wasn’t even easy.)

Maybe there is a local high school or college student who could help walk the dogs and give them a bath. Contact the local vet to see if there is an intern interested in that or if they know anyone. Or check out the local pet store bulletin board or even post a flyer asking for help. Dad needs his dogs for comfort, but it can be hard on them too with no little means to release energy. Not trying to make you feel guilty, just trying to help a little since this figure prominently in your message.


You should find a place and move out. You can’t make your dad happy and you can’t prevent falls or things that could easily happen while you are at work. Build in safety as much as possible, but by all means---go live your life in your own home.



Mary E.
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Savina,,

I think that adults just need their own space and to have their own lifestyles.. Sometimes no matter how much we love one another and how alike we are, we STILL get on one another's nerves if we're under the same roof..

My adult daughter lives with my husband and me..  She's a sweetheart, yet we are always getting on one another's nerves, because someone will invariably lose the other's mail or leave dirty dishes in the sink, and so on..

I'm so sorry about the loss of your Mom.  Your Dad would be further devastated if pushed to give up his dogs, I think.  I am a dog lover and I would lose my house before I'd give up my dogs..  I know not all people feel this way.  My mother, for instance, has no love of dogs and is mystified by the attraction.  If she were to live with me, she would be thinking I should give up my two Brittanys.  This would never happen..

If there is any way you could get an apartment of your own, your relationship with your father would probably greatly improve..  Your brother sounds very involved and caring, so your father could probably do well even if you were to move a distance away.. 

Reply with quote  #5 
Savina,,,,,,  welcome
i am another companion pet  lover,,,,  tis the unconditional love thing ,, i have one of my granddoggers for a sleepover tonight, Betsy - a bulldog
i am sure your father benefits greatly from their presence, even though unruly ,,
possibly you can enlist the services of a dog sitter,,,,  they should offer exercise or outside play time.  try for your area.  with a daily outlet for their energy, and some training they can become welcome family members. 
having your own space for some peace and serienity does wonders after a long day at work,, i can relate to that after regaining my own life back.
with the assistance from your brother, and other avenues of assistance you can enlist, you can easily take steps to walk into a life more suiting to you.
blessings for this new year to come
Reply with quote  #6 

I would suggest you get your own place, look into some sort of carer to come and do the necessary for your father, and hire a dog-walker. Depends what income is available of course.

Farm Gal
Reply with quote  #7 
welcome, Savina!    And a Happy New Year to ya!  What I read from your post is that your Dad is able to live on his own and take care of himself properly.  He maybe has a few problems with pet upkeep? 
I would agree with others who have already said that you should probably find your own place to live at this point.  You are NOT abandoning your father, you are simply living your independent lives.  Not one thing wrong with that.  (And a whole lot RIGHT with it, actually!)
As an Over-The-Top pet person, myself, I feel like if your Dad went thru the trouble to bring his dogs here from another country, he IS attached.  You say that he keeps the house neat, but the pet hair is out of control.  I could personally raise my hand for having "been there."  And really, finding help for him with his pets will probably be much easier than finding help for Dad, himself, would be!  I would check with local animal shelters and anyplace that attracts animal-loving volunteers.  For just a few bucks a day you can probably find a soft-hearted person like myself to come by and help out with proper, healthy care for the dogs. 
And, also as others here have already mentioned, having his pets is likely very healthy for your father.  That doesn't mean that YOU have to live with a situation you find uncomfortable.  If your dad can be independent with some assistance exercising and cleaning up after his dogs, then find somebody who is willing to help out with that and get out of jail guilt-free, Savina.  Whether or not he avails himself of programs available at the senior center is his call.  If he just wants to stay home with the unconditional acceptance of his dogs, then the best you can do is to make sure those dogs are properly cared for. 
Please don't feel as if you are trapped in staying when your father has other resources (your brother who stops in daily) and personally does not require your presence in his home.  That day may come soon enough, so take your freedom while you can!
Reply with quote  #8 
savina, welcome.
there is nothing wrong with getting your own place to live - if you can (financially). Nothing at all.
You can still help your father. Plus your brother visits and helps, and that is Huge !!! (trust me !!)
You are not "stuck". I think you will feel much better having your own space. You could even find a "room to rent" somewhere nearby, if you wanted to, at first. Just to have your own place to go to, and it would not be as expensive as renting an apartment or house.
Good luck to you. I will use that tired and worn out phrase "Take Charge Of Your Life!!!" - it is overused, but -- so true. You are the only one who can truly take charge of your own life.
I am assuming your father does not need 24/7 care ??
Reply with quote  #9 
Hi all of you,

I appreciate so much all of your comments and suggestions.  I needed to hear some of these things, as I have been feeling very guilty just to want to have my own place.  My father is a good man, gentle, yet he's very stubborn.  Believe me, I understand his attachment to his pets, yet at the same time feel he's imposed them on me and anyone else who comes to the house.  We all want to help him, and we do.  He is very old and very lonely.  At the same time, I feel I need my space, have a place to bring friends over and to just be me.  But fear he will not understand and become hurt and resentful when I tell him. 

AS for the grooming and other services for the pets, we have already suggested these to him, but he refuses to.  He feels he can take care of them, and he lets them out into the back yard to run around a few minutes a day.

Thank you to all of you again....I have felt supported through your words.

Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #10 
I have just found and been so far amazed what I have read on this group. I don't know where to begin. I am 50. My husband is 70. He left me and our autistic daughter who he previously adored. He is watching porn, he has a relationship\obsession with my best friend (behind my back) needless to say we are not best friends anymore. He writes in his diary that they are in love, What "" she is an alcoholic compulsive liar, how can he be in love with her?. I´m sorry, is this dementia or is he just I daren´t say it a dirty old man. He accidentally uploads porn to my computer via the cloud, all young girls, half dressed, bare breasts, provocative. I´ve lost my husband, he used to be so wonderful, but in the last 5 years he kind of got taken over by aliens, and now I need to know, was it dementia or porn? He left me, so I moved on. I am in the process of divorce. I see he is in the company of prostitutes, it is unbelievable.. We had a wonderful family and he threw it all away. He lives a double life. I have to know, it is killing me, does this sound like dementia (he is diabetic) or is he just mentally ill and obsessed stalking these women. I saw our phone bill and i see him all day on whatsap, he is constantly talking to these women old enough to be his granddaughters. somebody please please advise me. What do i do? This was my husband, but now he is a completely different person. He even looks different. What baffles me is how he can control his behaviour if he needs to and he lies so well. But i want to think it´s dementia but then again I would have thought dementia doesn´t know when to put the brakes on? PLEASE HELP ME this is driving me mad. I´ve lost him. It´s like the living dead, it would be easier if he was dead because this is so awful to watch. How has the porn and the alcohol taken over his life? I´m sorry, i must sound mad.
Reply with quote  #11 

First of all, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. 

Having said that, it is very difficult to know what is truly going on with your husband, but I think it is safe to say that he is being very disrespectful and harmful to you, regardless of the cause.  Even if he has dementia, you still have a responsibility to protect yourself and son, which you are clearly starting to do.

To answer your question about what to do about him, since he left you, all you really can do is focus on your own well-being and safety.  Having him out of the picture may actually help, because it's hard to maintain your energy and strength when someone toxic keeps popping up on your radar (either because he keeps showing up or you keep tracking him down.)  Make sure you and your son are stable and safe (physically, financially, emotionally, etc.) and get good legal advice so you can maintain some semblance of normal life. 

Since your husband isn't willing to work with you right now, I doubt he'd be open to having an evaluation for dementia.  Therefore, I think the best thing to do is to manage your own matters and focus on your son.  In situations like these, it's so hard to accept that we have no power to fix things, but as soon as we do, it frees up some mental space to take care of ourselves and those who rely on us. 

Should your husband be willing to get help in the future, you will be in a better positon to respond if you are coming from a place of strength and healing, rather than a place of exhaustion and depletion.

Good luck.

Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #12 

Thank you for your reply and your time. 

I know what you're telling me is true, that whether or not it is dementia, the effect is the same; he is toxic to be around.  It is 6 months since he left me and 4 months since I moved countries to get away from having to watch him hell-bent on his course of self-destruct. 

Dementia comes to my mind because I have a very close friend who used to work as a senior dementia care nurse in Holland and when I described the situation to her, she recognised that something just wasn't quite right (also given the fact that she knows my husband), she said that over the past year or 2 he had really changed.  She told me how she had experience of ones with fronto-temporal lobe dementia which had effectively caused the brakes to be off in the department of self-control. 

Also my husband had a minor stroke almost 2 years ago, but the pornography, the flirting, inability to control alcohol and affair with my best friend had been going on for about a year before the stroke. I have begged my husband to speak to the doctor about possibly having some psychological issues, but he just gets furious with me. He has developed an enormous hatred of me and will not speak to me at all, I cannot believe it, we have been married for 23 years. I do not know what on earth I have done to deserve this level of pure hate, other than that I could not tolerate the pornography or the lying or the flirting. He was hiding mobile phones and SIM cards in plant pots and suitcase linings (he travels for work, he still works and he's very competent at his job, he's a business consultant).

Is it possible for someone who is just turning 70, who is perfectly good at his job, treats other people perfectly well but loathes me with a passion? It is totally beyond the realm of my understanding, it is as if there are 2 people within the same body, he is like a Jekyll and Hyde. (sorry I'm not making much sense!). 

The other weird thing is that physically he looks very different, I know this must sound crazy too but his eyes have become this flat deep black. 

Thank you to anybody reading this, it is helpful just for me to write it down. Negotiating a divorce settlement with him is horrific, since he won't talk to me at all, it forces me to pay for a lawyer I just can't afford. Sometimes I've read emails that he's sent to his friends telling them things that I have supposedly done, for example delete family contacts or take money from his bank account, but none of this is true and he knows it isn't, I don't know why he would write such wicked things about me. It is like he has made up this whole history of bad behaviour on my part. Of course I am not perfect, I have made mistakes along the way and I have been seriously upset at times when finding hidden phones and maybe I should've remained more calm, but it is just as if he has made up and now fully believes that I am worthy of his hatred.

He never used to be like this, I knew that before I married him he'd been using porn and I am his third wife, and I'm wondering whether somewhere along the line without me noticing he had returned to using pornography. It is all such a mess and I really appreciate you reading this.

Reply with quote  #13 
As I indicated above (sorry...sometimes I forget to put my name in my posts), it's really hard to tell what is going on.  From what you've written, many of his behaviors fit the description of someone with a personality disorder, so that definitely could be the case. In my experience, people with personality disorders can function perfectly well at work and with others, but treat those closest to them very badly.  During the seduction phase, they can be the person of your dreams; but once they get bored or feel you are no longer useful to them, they devalue you and ultimately discard you.  It is a very scary personality because they can present very well to outsiders, but be horrible behind closed doors. 

If he does have a narcissistic personality, he is likely never going to compromise or empathize, so don't expect the divorce to be easy.  Narcissists can be very manipulative and charming, and often get away with things just because people like them.

On the other hand, it certainly could be related to his stroke.  My guess is that if it were stroke related, other people would be getting the same treatment as you, because he would unable to control his actions well.  The fact that he can control it and keep his job makes me suspicious that it's more than dementia.

Either way, you have done nothing to deserve this.  We don't cause other people's dementia and we don't cause other people's personality disorders.  I know it's painful to experience this treatment after so many years together, but sometimes things emerge as people age and they can no longer hold their masks on.  

Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #14 
wow,, what can I say except yikes you are describing him.
thankyou. because it´s funny, somehow, some reason I have been searching for reasons why it must have been my fault that he fell in hate with me and then gaslighted me. I think I get it now. there is nothing I can do except protect myself and my daughter. thanks again for your wonderful and timely advice. So glad I found you before I completely cracked up.  Helen

Reply with quote  #15 
I hope this validation will give you strength to keep moving forward despite whatever toxicity he throws at you.  (And my apologies for referring to your having a son instead of a daughter...I really should read things more carefully!)
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