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Can I Bring Hope Back to Dad?


"I am the caregiver for my father, and I am worried.  I think Dad has lost all hope, and I wonder what that is doing to him. When I visit him to cook and clean, he does not say much. We just watch television together after I have finished my tasks. It seems that is all he wants to do. He does not speak much about the future, but the comments he does make about it seem negative. 

It’s difficult to see my dad so hopeless. What can I do about it?"


Mary's Answer:

This is a tough one, as restoring hope in someone else is not within our power to control. Hope comes from within, and it is not something you can simply give. 

What is important for you to note is that you do not own his discontent. With that said, you can still be the loving, supportive person you are without taking on your father’s burden. 

In spite of what he says or does not say, you can be a positive force in his life. Most of us react to seemingly small acts and words.  I personally remember one positive comment from my father in his later years that I will hold close to my heart forever. It was an affirmation that mattered. Do not minimize any interactions with him.

You are already caring for your father, for which I am certain he is grateful. The time you spend with your father is priceless and is not just for completing tasks. Sometimes we have little time to listen as caregivers. If you have the opportunity to just talk about the times you two have shared, perhaps he will derive some positive encouragement from that interaction and look forward to more time spent together.

Make sure you let him know at least once that you appreciate what he has done for youIdeally, it would be something he currently does. If it is as simple as the fact that he is there to listen to you, so be it. We feel like we matter when we hear gratitude from others for our actions, especially from someone we care about. Having a meaningful life is one that makes a difference in someone else’s, and knowing he has made a positive difference in your life will help him rediscover his own meaning. Will it give him hope? It may, or it may not. It will likely help him look forward to seeing you. 

In spite of what he may or may not say, let him know that you love him. As his child, be a self-sufficient, happy, and kind adult. Treat him how you would like to be treated at the same age, then walk away without worry.  You have done your best.

One caveat, if you feel your father is depressed; please encourage him to seek professional help if he is willing.

I wish you the best.

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