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 Just put dad in AL in February, was diagnosed with dementia, now it appaers he is relapsing after being sober for 2 months. He has freedom to leave the facililty and is taking the bus to baseball games and who knows where else, scary! The agreement between dad, my sister, myself and the facility was that he not drink in order to stay. They have not kicked him out yet, we have power of attorney but have no idea what to do is he has to leave. We are clear he cannot live with either of us but is not capable of living alone. Are there any other options for substance abusers with dementia?
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Although I have known for many years my mother had an "issue" with drinking, only in the last few years has it made any major impact (or noticeable impact) upon her life or upon ours.

Her drinking was “never” to be discussed or mentioned in any type of negative light.  Suggesting she had a problem at all was basically being a vindictive “child”.

A year ago, my mother’s enabling husband, whom we loved dearly, passed away from cancer.  As you would imagine, the drinking escalated, as her health declined, and accidents began.  All was written off to the depression of losing her husband.  This was her reasoning for never eating, never going out, and smoking up to 3 packs of cigarettes a day as well.  Antidepressants worked for a short time as alcohol became the main source of relieving her pain.  Along with this also came an increased amount of manipulation on her part into having others do for her.

As I spent some time with her this summer, as well as my children, it became very clear that the amount of alcohol she was drinking (which was from morning until night…and without eating very much at all) was now causing more medical problems.  She would fall (intoxication related) at least three times a week.  Most of these falls resulted in broken ribs, noses, and a massive amount of blood loss as she was on Coumadin and prednisone.  Always was the refusal to seek emergent medical treatment.

Family and friends had always “known” that my mother would drink too much, but to avoid any confrontation it wouldn’t be brought up.  I knew logically, and from being in the medical profession that she could not continue on sabotaging herself while we sat around watching.

Shortly before thanksgiving this year, I received a call from my aunt that she was unable to get a hold of my mother.  Knowing she didn’t drive at night, my son and I drove to her house to check on her.  She was found on the living room floor….she had been incapacitated for almost 28 hours.  She somehow managed to get a blanket off the sofa to cover herself, but stated she could not reach either phone in between the blanket.  On admission to the hospital, I spoke with the ER nurse and told her point blank that the reason she had fallen was that she had been intoxicated.  As she was moved to the ICU, the alcohol part was lost.  I was lucky to speak with her attending and let him know what was going on.  At that point they had been running numerous neurological tests to determine the reason for her “fall”.

She was evaluated by the psychiatrist who suggest in-patient treatment.  As she had broken her collar bone, skilled nursing and physical therapy were needed first. Her physician specifically told her that her daily drinking was the cause of her medical issues and that she must stop immediately….along with smoking cigarettes.

It was unfortunate that my mother has been adamant about refusing any psychiatric care.  She will never admit to having an alcohol problem and becomes very irate when the subject may be mentioned.  I only realized from this past hospitalization, and talking things over with my family members, that they still will not mention the alcohol issue to my mother.  They acknowledge that she has a serious alcohol problem, but are reluctant to say it to her.  This makes me…..once again….the “bad” child. 

I am more than aware that I cannot “make” her stop, nor can I make other family members “stop” from buying her either alcohol or cigarettes….and that I will become okay with.  The one thing I know I will not ever be okay with is having one of my children with me to find her passed out, bleeding, or deceased. 

I think logically we all know that our parents’ alcohol abuse was not caused by us, and that their abuse did and does affect us…..we as children just have a very difficult time confronting them with it and not holding some guilt within ourselves.  There is no single or easy answer for any of us dealing with the alcoholic parent, especially the elderly alcoholic parent.  We all need to deal with the situation that best meets the needs of ourselves and our families as well as our parent.

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 My 84 yr old mother has been drinking ever since I can remember.....( I am 51)  I went to therapy for her drinking when I was 16.  She lives with me now, since we relocated from NY to SC. ( 2yrs ago) She was unable to stay by herself. She is so feeble and unproductive. Osteoperosis is a maor factor, she has the hunched over back, and refuses to use the walker ( in the closet for 3 yrs!!)  My siblings (3) think it it funny that she weighs in at 100lbs., and can swallow a half gallon of svedka a night. My 27 year marrage is suffering..I am suffering....

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pq to me

Your three siblings think it's FUNNY that your mom is underweight and drinking herself to death?  That may be one of the worst things I've ever heard.  Dear me, is an AL not an option?  Others will have better, more experienced advice to give you, but your home situation sounds bad, and you are NOT required to sacrifice your life and marriage for your mother.

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There is a lot of good information online about Adult Children of Alcoholics.  Sadly, the family dynamics you describe are not uncommon.  
I recently stumbled upon a 12 step program for families of alcoholics that I have found to be very helpful.  One of the first steps is to understand where you have power and where you do not.  Once you accept that you are powerless over your family member's alcoholism, you can implement boundaries to protect yourself and work on not feeling responsible for their (and other people's) choices.  At the end of the day, the alcoholic has to be the one to stop drinking.  We cannot do it for them. 
Please know that you are not alone and that we care.  A lot of us have gone through this and we are finding ways to heal.   Let me know if I can help.
Take care.

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I agree with Splotchy's post, she is 100% correct in my opinion.
I know this is hard, I had some of this happen concerning my mother, not all that you have endured but some of it.
One thing that happened in my family, my daughters saw mom, their grandma, and what alcohol did to her, this is one of the reasons they do not drink, as alcoholism can and does run in families. So seeing the results of alcohol abuse is not necessarily a thing to avoid where children are concerned, but, again how you deal with that is a personal matter.

I also found out  that when my mother was being taken care of by me and my daughters, that we did not need and were not required to supply her with her alcohol. If she was unable to get it for herself, too darn bad. We did monitor her during the days after she could not have alcohol anymore, so she didn't get the DT's. Meaning we were monitoring her and if she needed a drink to save her life, then we would have given it to her, but fortunately it did not happen.
We do many times feel the need to take care of a parent, but, I for one, feel in caring for a loved one, you need to help yourself to achieve that goal and ending their self destructive behavior is a step in the right direction. I had been in Al- Anon for many years due to my family being alcoholic, including, the father of my oldest child, whom I divorced many years ago.
So, my point is, if they want your help, there needs to be , as Splotchy and many many others have said on this board, BOUNDARIES.
Another thing I found out, when the alcohol is removed, do not think you are going to have the person you think they should have been, they are still and always will be alcoholics, only recovering ones because they put the cap back on the bottle. Until they realize what they do to others, they will continue to be the same personality, the personality that led them to this destructive behavior in the first place. My second husband, a recovering alcoholic, who tried so very hard to be a better person, shortly before he died, he said to me, rather sadly,"Us alcoholics hurt a lot of people", that in my opinion, is a huge understatement.

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Here is a two-page document that describes some of the characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics:
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Let's try again:

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Thank you for sharing that link. I just bookmarked it for later.

Although I just scanned it, it was stunning in how many I recognized in myself. I have trouble letting go either. Forget to show feelings. The fear of loss of control is playing a part in a couple of panic attacks that I have had on planes or in cars. Maybe why I never married.
Very, very good information.

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Hello -

Just came across this forum.  Interesting information.  I could relate to a lot of it.
My mother died at 42 from alcoholism.  My father is still alive - barely.  He is 70 and still an alcoholic.  He refuses to take care of himself or his house.  He gets mad at any suggestion I make to improve the situation.  It makes me mad that he has spent his younger days living it up and partying and now that his life is in shambles I am expected (by society I feel) to take care of him.  I didn't force him to drink.  Those were his choices.  He chose to drink, he chose to live in a dump, he chooses every day to smoke and drink instead of doing something to improve his situation.  He can go to the store for beer and cigarettes all the time - he is capable of cleaning his house.
I feel like all I can do is just sit around and wait for him to die.   And to be honest with you I probably wouldn't be upset.  It's not my fault that I have no attachment to him - it's his. 
I just needed to vent.  Thanks for listening.
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My elderly father has turned into an alcoholic.  When I was a kid my father was light drinker. I never ever saw him intoxicated. He was never abusive and he was a good father to me and my brothers.

His behavior started to change when my mother passed away about 3 years ago. He started acting very strange and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. He started having financial problems so he moved in with me and that's when it became clear that he had turned into a full blown alcoholic.

I spoke with him expressing my concern about his drinking. He promised me he was going to cut back. It only got worse. He was frequently intoxicated. Not showing up for work. Stumbling over things. Slurring his speech, etc. I knew I had to do something. So I called AA and arranged a meeting for him. I gave him an ultimatum and told him either he join AA and get help or he would have to move out of my house.

He refused to get help and chose to move out. That was one of the most painful decisions I ever had to make. But this seemed to somehow give him a wake up call. I know he didn't completely stop drinking but I did see some improvement. He seemed to have more of a clear head was taking better care of himself.

We live in Atlanta and we recently had a lot of rain. His house was flooded so once again he had to move in with me. Since he moved back in with me he's back to being a full blown alcoholic again. I can rarely have a conversation with him without him being under the influence. He always acts so spaced out. I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself or hurt someone else.

When I spoke to him today he was almost in Zombie like state. He drags his feet like he can barely walk. I've never seen him in this bad of shape. I was thinking about giving him the same ultimatum again but I don't know if that just might make it worse. At this point I really don't know what to do because he has no where else to go. I was wondering if I should at least forbid all drinking of alcohol in my house.

I'm just so frustrated with the way my life has been for the last decade. My mother was sick with heart failure for years and I sacrificed a lot of my life to help care for her until she passed away in 2006.  Now I'm faced with dealing with an alcoholic father. I don't mean to complain about anything because I know a lot of people have it far worse than I do.

I'm sorry for being so long winded but I have no one else to talk to about this. My brothers are not willing to help. And my friends really don't understand. I just feel lost right now.


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Rather than tell you a long, convoluted story about my PTSD father and his drinking, I will tell you what I have learned from a time line I created using his medical records. My dad stopped drinking as soon as he was given monthly B12 injections. He never fell off the wagon once after this.

My sister and I never felt that the Ala-non meetings fit our particular situation and now I know why.

I may be 100% wrong about this, but it seems very odd to me that your father suddenly became an alcoholic in his old age. I don't necessarily believe that your mother's death triggered his drinking.

Perhaps his doctor could do a complete work up on him to check for deficiencies that may be contributing to his problems.

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Eric and Michelle,
I am sorry for your respective situations.  Living with an alcoholic is very confusing and frustrating.  Having both a father (now deceased) and a brother with the disease, I have learned that it is virtually impossible to force an alcoholic to stop drinking.  Even if they stop drinking on their own, all of their underlying issues are still there and need to be addressed.   In most cases, this addiction is treatable only when the alcoholic is ready and that usually is only after they hit rock bottom.
Love alone is not enough to help them.  Furthermore, when you grow up in a dysfunctional family like this, you tend to develop certain characteristics yourself that sometimes get in the way of having healthy interactions with them.  Here are some common characteristics ACOA share (adopted from the ACOA Laundry List):

1. We are afraid of authority figures.

2. We are frightened by angry people and by any criticism
3. We are approval-seekers.

4. We have abandonment issues and often put up with unhealthy behavior.

5. We live life as a "victim" and make decisions that sabotage ourselves for the benefit of others.

6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

7. We feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves.

8. We sometimes get used to drama and learn to live with it.

9. We confuse love and pity and often try to rescue others.

10. We stuff our feelings.

11. We judge ourselves harshly.

12. We are dependent personalities who will do anything to hold on to a relationship with our loved ones.

13. We sometimes take on the characteristics of the disease (emotional disturbances, emotional wounds, distress, etc.) even though we don't drink.

14. We react to others instead of creating our own lives.  We want outside approval instead of validating ourselves.


What I've learned is that we have to go through some form of "recovery" ourselves in order to manage a relationship with our alcoholic family members.  We have to learn how to undo our own emotional damage and establish good boundaries so that we can be healthy around them.


The only person we can control is ourselves.  That is both frustrating and liberating at the same time.  I would suggest that both of you try to read as much as possible on the emotional components of alcoholism, and learn where you have power and where you do not.


There is a lot of information on line as well as some message boards.  Good luck.


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Hi all-- is anyone still on this support group? I am struggling to care for my 64-yo mother who has been an alcoholic for at least twenty years now (since I was fourteen) that I can remember. My only sibling was killed in Iraq six years ago and that leaves me the one to care for our mother. (Bio father not in the picture.) She bought a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere and pretty much just smokes and drinks and cries all day. She talks frequently about not wanting to live anymore. Last summer she stopped eating and called me all incoherent and worried about falling, which she's been doing a bit lately. I called an ambulance and they hauled her in to the nearest hospital and gave her a sandwich and a Paxil prescription, which she didn't want. They ran blood tests and scans and I talked to the attending nurse and told her the alcoholic bit but they said she was just suffering vitamin deficiencies from not eating. I talked to a local lawyer who recommended that I call wellness checks on her with the local police when she calls all drunk, but the police either don't notice that she's drunk or won't tell me, so that's not racking up a record that could be used at some point to intervene. I've been to Alanon and found it frustrating because so many were living with alcoholics and/or not dealing with parents, which is to me kind of its own thing. As in, my mother likes to tell me that I'm still the child and she's the parent and I am not responsible for her choices, etc. I'm planning to start attending ACOA meetings and restart individual therapy. But I just got back from visiting her and feel so deeply sad that this disease is eating her alive. I go back and forth between thinking she's making these choices to drink, smoke, etc. and thinking that she's a victim the same way as if she had cancer. I know it's in between somewhere...that it's like she has cancer but won't seek treatment. I struggle to convince myself that there's really nothing I can do to stop this train wreck, but really doubt myself sometimes. Especially as I dread the morning I call and she doesn't answer and then I find out she's fallen and bled to death...or ends up with wet brain...or
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