You did it, didn't you? You promised, long ago when your dad died, that you'd take care of Mom and she'd never have to go to a nursing home. You promised Mom – after her visit to a nursing home, one of the worst in the state, to visit a friend – that she'd never have to go to a care facility of any kind.
No, you would always take care of her. After all, she always cared for you. Or, even though she wasn't a very good mother, and you never really got along, one cares for one's own, right? Or, your mother was pretty healthy and doing okay and you were divorced and trying to take care of two children, so you moved in with your mother. She cared for the kids for awhile, but then began showing signs of strange behavior. You feared for your kids, your mother and yourself. "What have I gotten myself into?" You thought.
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Many people are facing the fact that their sweet intentions have taken a sour turn. Certainly, for some, the decision to cohabitate with their elders works out fine. Two or even three generations residing in the same home can work. It can work when there is plenty of space so that everyone has some degree of privacy. It can work when there is respect for one another and a place to go when one has had enough family time. It can work when there is plenty of cooperation, planning beforehand and even some respite care for the elder, should that be needed.
Reality bites. For the vast majority (and I have no statistics, but am going by mail I've received from people asking for help, plus the very active forum here on Agingcare.com), things may start off okay, but they steadily go downhill. People feel hemmed in by a deathbed promise, or a promise made to a parent who was once in good health. They feel hemmed in by the financial needs of all generations. They feel hemmed in by guilt.