anonymous Asks ...
I think my dad has alcohol brain damage but I am not sure. My father is a heavy drinker. I do not know if he is an alcoholic but he drinks about a mickey of rum every day. He is 52 and early retired on disability and he lives alone. He’s got VA care. He used to be quite socially normal but he has gotten stuck in his routines and he gets very upset when his routines are interrupted. He cannot seem to roll with any changes. He gets fixated on any small problem or deviation and he can’t let it go for hours. It is not rational. Since stuff always comes up this means he is upset about something everytime I go over to see him. The other symptom he has is he has lost his sense of humor. Why is he getting like this? If it is because of his drinking I know there is nothing I can do because he won’t stop. If it is because of something else there is probably still nothing I can do because he is so stubborn and resistant to doing anything different but I should at least try. I am really his only family that still talks to him.
Anna Deeds Says ...
Thank you for your question. Unfortunately unless your father sees a doctor, there is no way to know why his behavior has changed. It could be due to the alcohol or a consequence of getting older. Either way, the alcohol is not doing him any good. But you are right that you cannot change your father. If he doesn't see it as a problem, he won't get help.
If your father has a primary care physician, you can try contacting his doctor and letting the doctor know what you are observing. You can try to go with him to a doctor's appointment and discuss his symptoms with the doctor. Your father would have to consent to this or his doctor wouldn't be able to talk to you because of his HIPAA rights to privacy.
I would try to get through to your father by pointing out how unhappy he seems and how upset he gets. If you can connect to him on an emotional level, he may see the benefit of getting help. People will often want to change how they feel even if they don't want to change their behavior. Then, his doctor can show him how his behavior is affecting his feelings.
Whether your father gets help or not, you have to take care of yourself. Reassure yourself that you have done your best to help him and you cannot make him change if he does not want to. Consider going to Al-anon for support in dealing with your father's alcoholism. I wish you the best of luck and I hope your father sees what he is doing to himself.