How can I help my dad who has begun to lose all hope?
May 23, 2007 7:47 AM   Subscribe

How can I help my dad who has begun to lose all hope? My father has gone through a string of major life setbacks lately. I'm worried about his health, his mental state, and his future. And I'm wondering how best to help him turn things around.

Though he's in okay shape for a type 1 diabetic in his 60s, that's not saying too much. Optimistically, his life expectancy is maybe 5-10 years. About a year ago, he was laid off from his job. Though he's a talented engineer, the combination of his age and mental state make for little to no job prospects. After much cajoling, he applied for disability but was turned down. He's now going through the slow process of appealing that decision.

To top things off, much of his savings were lost in a divorce a few years ago. When he stopped getting unemployment, he was granted a reprieve from alimony. The biggest and most recent setback was when, even with no job and no income, my mother took him back to court and was awarded alimony, including back payments. Note, all their kids are adults, she is capable of supporting herself, but is the kind of evil person who just wants to make my dad as miserable as possible.

So, how can he make money she won't find? He is hesitant to make any forward strides because they may result in additional court fees and raised alimony. At this rate, his savings will run out very soon.

Or how can he appeal the alimony decision without going further in the hole? And how can we help restore his hope, when he is a proud man who is hesitant to accept any outside help?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't suppose you could talk to your mom? It's obvious from your tone that you aren't terribly fond of her, but couldn't you appeal to her humanity, child to mother style?

I really haven't got any suggestions about restoring his hope - other than in times of mental crisis, I often find it uplifting to be exposed to beautiful things. Beautiful music, art, literature or natural scenery. Perhaps you and your father could take up a hobby together?
posted by msali at 8:38 AM on May 23, 2007

My dad:
69 years old, engineer/executive (20 yr GM'er), type 2 diabetic, went several years without a job back in the 90's after taking a buyout. It got so bad we couldn't get him off the couch for a while there.
So at some point, he took some steps. He borrowed some money from a close friend and bought an interest in a small, struggling company. It had so many problems, he didn't come home from work before eight every night for a year. In 2003, we split his interest from that company into a company of our own and he's still coming to work every day - about 3 hours a day, and loving every minute of it.

So I can't say how your dad could avoid alimony - declare bankruptcy, perhaps?
posted by disclaimer at 9:15 AM on May 23, 2007

Tutoring in math or science? It's the sort of job that can be rewarding and usually pays under the table.
If he likes teaching, there are also many volunteer organizations that would sincerely appreciate someone like him, which might boost his mood.

Does he like pets?
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 9:18 AM on May 23, 2007

My friend's dad was in a similar situation, early-retirement-wise and becoming a couch potato-wise; he eventually found a job driving a van for a senior community. He makes several runs per day, taking groups to the grocery store, doctor's office, things like that. It gets him out of the house, he talks to other people, and he's making some money (I don't know how much, though). And if your dad finds this type of employment, I don't know how he could keep it "under the table." Good luck to both of you.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:27 AM on May 23, 2007

A good, easy to get job that pays cash: cab driving. If he doesn't live close enough to large city, there are usually limo/black car services that offer similar opportunities. During my years behind the wheel, I discovered that the vast majority of non-immigrant cab drivers were a) ducking alimony/back taxes/wage garnishes/&c., b) unable to get "real jobs" due to poor resumes/checkered pasts/&c., c) incapable of doing any "hard" labor due to medical conditions, or some combination of those three. The benefits are similar to Oriole Adams' van-driving above: it gets you out of the house and interacting with people; plus the hours (while long) can be flexible, the labor is minimal, and the cash is tax-free and immediate.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 9:55 AM on May 23, 2007

Hiding his assets or working under the table likely puts him in contempt of court. I'm not sure this will help his overall situation.
posted by Sheppagus at 10:54 AM on May 23, 2007

This is sort of extreme, and if your mother is the sort of person who would intentionally make your fathers life as miserable as possible then it might not even work, but perhaps you and any siblings you have could get together and tell your mom that if she doesnt stop being such a bitch then she will never get to see her children or grandchildren again.

As for you pop, I would nth the driver idea, or perhaps encourage him to move to another country with a less expensive cost of living like the Phillipines or Thailand, which would also solve the alimony problem...
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:41 AM on May 23, 2007

I'm sorry about this situation. My first thought is to encourage your father to see a therapist. I would think his depression is probably a major factor at this point. Many therapists work on a sliding scale, so it might not be a big expenditure.

Secondly, I'd suggest that he investigate working as an engineering temp. Kelly Services,, (I'm sorry I can't seem to link to it) has an engineering division, as do other temporary agencies. He might be able to make a little money, plus he would probably get some confidence back and be around people who value his expertise. He could also work as much or as little as he likes, and many times these temporary jobs will lead to full-time jobs. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door.
posted by la petite marie at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2007

My dad (retired NC programmer) worked for Hertz shuttling cars between the airport and their lot. He loved it and stayed into his late-70's. He only stopped when his dimentia overwhelmed his ability to find his way around.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:44 PM on May 23, 2007

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