A piece of advise from the current me to the me of the past two plus years (and to anyone miserable with their current situation..)

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Let me preface this by saying:I do realize that not everyone is able to change their situation for financial reasons, but some of us are able, but choose not because of guilt.

Dear Karen, you have been tied up like a pretzel for the past six years with your mother. Ever since your wonderful father passed away, mom has been stuck like white on rice to you hasn't she? He was her center of attention and then you were. Maybe he enjoyed that. You, on the other hand, did not! It wasn't fun to have to bring her everywhere with you, since you weren't "allowed" to go to even a movie without her. Since your family is only you, mom and your two children, and mom kept saying she was lonely, you thought a few "hey mom, maybe you could get a smaller apartment. There's a lot of your church friends who live in assisted living. Do you want to visit some of them? I heard they're great" would work? Oh you silly, silly child. Mom said "those places are for people whose family doesn't love them." I know you have those words running through your head, don't you? Oh dear. Thought that was bad, didn't you?Well, it got worse real quick didn't it?

At least she was living in her house and driving then. But, alas, when she first started showing signs of dementia two years ago, your life went into overdrive and you had to do everything from paying the bills, transporting her everywhere (since she had two car accidents within three days), making sure she ate. Kind of ironic how you DIDN'T want to be the center of her attention, but you were kind of forced to make her the center of YOUR attention! Oh, and remember how stressed out and resentful and angry you were at this stage? Everyone said to put her in assisted living, but they didn't know her like you did. They didn't know that you tried and tried and said it six ways to Sunday, but no, your independent and headstrong mother wasn't going. Period.End of conversation.
Again, you thought that was rough. And Karen, it was. But, dementia being dementia, of course it got rougher.

Mom kept falling and then she would stay at your house and then go back to her house. That plan worked out great (hey, remember how guilty you felt when she fell because at least you would get a break when she went to skilled nursing for a couple of months?!!). Oh the joy of those breaks. And then (boo hoo), the day she came back and life went back to...not a life at all.

Six months ago she fell, went to skilled nursing (remember you rushed out the door when she was there and went on vacation without her?!!). OMG, a vacation WITHOUT your mother? Wow!! Never told her that did you? Probably too scared of the guilt trip she would send you on. And that is never a fun vacation to be on, right? When she came back to the house, you thought it would be the same pattern, back to her house in a few days. But sadly that didn't happen.

You looked for the "signs" you always look for, so she can go back to her own house, but they never came. Oh sure, she DID improve physically with PT and OT coming in the house several times a week. She did get stronger, but still, each time she fell, she would never get back to where she started initially would she? Sadly, there is no PT and OT for dementia is there? So each time she fell, went to the hospital and went to skilled nursing and came home, the dementia never improved, it just got worse. Every time.

And so, here you sat for the past four months Karen. And where was mom? Yep, living with you. You never really said "Hey, I think I'll have mom live with me." it just happened. But you knew how difficult it would be with her living here. You knew it was very difficult to keep up with all of the physical demands of dressing, undressing, bathing, doing her laundry, paying her bills, making doctor's appointments, taking her to the hairdresser, keeping an eye on her house, making sure she brushed her teeth. Arguing, or trying not to given the dementia, to get her to brush her teeth, wash her hands after peeing. Wow Karen. And don't even talk to me about the EMOTIONAL toll it took. Why didn't you just stick her in assisted living at this stage?

Because you wanted to do the "right thing" You wanted to honor the promise you made to your mother never to put her there.

And the consequences of unbelievable stress, wishing you were dead, having no life, 54 hours a week spent catering to her every whim, snapping at the kids because of your frustration, feeling EMOTIONALLY STRANGLED TO DEATH.

Yesterday you FINALLY made the right decision. You decided that mom will never ever be happy. She wants your father. Good luck bringing him back form the dead! You decided that at the age of 48, you COULD still be happy...given half the chance.

Today I will go visit my mother in assisted living. I will smile when I walk in. She will probably say "why did you dump me here?" and "I wouldn't do this to you." And when I leave? I will smile even more.

We, the caregivers, all deserve to smile!!

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It is OK that you young dear caregivers love your elderly members, but do not let the guilt "trap you own Life".
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Oh Debralee that says it all "got to live their lives in their 50's, 60's and 70's" THAT is what make me so resentful. No one is promised tomorrow! My parents did not want to care for my GF when he was old so guess who took their turn??? GAH!
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karenp thank you for your true and honest post. Your comment helps more for the caregivers of this site than the articles written on this post. Adult children have the right to chose whether they want to become a 24/7 caregiver without remorse or guilt if they chose not too. We have the right to live our lives the way we want without interfence or expectations from others in responsibility to aging parents. Both my divorced parents got to live their 50's, 60's and 70's enjoying their lives with no responsibilites, going on vacations and just enjoying their retirement. Now that I am in that stage of my life, I have every intention of doing the same thing irregardless of my parents needs. I will not abandon them, but neither will I give up my life to become a 24/7 caregiver.
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Karen,
I can really relate. I have quite belitteled by my sibs,sometimes so horribly that I wished I was dead too.l But If I had done things their way Mom would be dead, or at the very least she would still be staying with me, and I would be ready to shoot my self so they could have their so called deserved inheritance.
They are full of advice, critizism, and they even visit every few months.
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Just a word to those who say "never" and some others also. (1) Never say never; no one really KNOWS hows they will react in the future. (2) Those of us who make sure our parents are provided for but NOT in our homes after trying for so long may be dealing with parents who were unkind or even worse. As long as they have a roof over their heads, get good care and good medical attention, and we visit when we can, please DO NOT judge us or our decisions. To each his/her own! I HAVE made sacrifices and so has my family and now it is time for US to live without having to be stuck at home or worrying every time we go out; time for us to begin to enjoy our "senior" years.
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Just wanted to give an update: I have come to the conclusion that me playing martyr was not for me. I honestly THOUGHT I was doing the right thing by sacrificing my time, my energy, my happiness, my future, myself. After all, isn't that what a "good" daughter does? She sacrifices everything for her elderly mother. That is what I believed.

I was wrong. Honestly. If my mother was in her right mind (and clearly, with dementia, she is not), she would say "Karen. Love me. Do for me. Be with me. But not 24/7. Not at the risk of your health. Be my loving daughter. But it's okay to take breaks from me. Really. Create your own life. I want to be a significant PART of it, but I do not want to be ENTIRELY it."

Of course, those words I will never hear. But I know my mom. Known her for 48 years. I know she would not want me to suffer along with her. What's the point of two suffering?

I feel SO much better. My memory is completely back to where it was before. My house is gradually getting cleaner. I can follow plots on tv now instead of just thinking 24/7 about mom.

And guess what? Mom STILL loves me!! I make sure she is safe. I see her when I want to about 3 times a week. I bring her little treats when I come.

And here is the kicker: When I have been hugging her lately it's because I really WANT to. Not because I "have to."

Being apart from her made me see that I do exist, but I was on a self destructive highway, with a halo over my head. I have ripped that false halo off my head. And now I just love mom more than ever!
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Hey, just take a vacation after your mother or father has been placed in assisted living and will not cooperate because she or he does not like something and becomes abusive when unable to get his or her way instead of politely asking for sensible help. You need time off; just let the social workers take over buying supplies and non-prescription items for Mom or Dad - they will just have to pay for their substitute service if you are not availble. Don't think guiilt for a single second and get out into the world to your needs to work, get your errands done, socialize or travel-maybe for a whole month!! Just let some family member know that you are out-of-town then get going out-of-town to get a life at it. God says "Do not be Afraid!!".

PatatHome01
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When my mom was my age- 55- she had already been widowed and her mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She told me then that if she needed care later in life, she did not want to live with us. She in no way wanted to be a burden- and we should be comfortable putting her in a nursing home. She did develop Alzheimer's and after her 2nd husband divorced her, she had to move in with us. She stayed for 7 months and it was tough, but I felt we needed to help her through the post-divorce transition. She started leaving our house (to go home, which had been sold and was 100 miles away) and as my husband and I both worked, it wasn't safe for her here. I found a good memory care facility 15 miles from my home and she's been there for a year. Long story short, even though now she wouldn't be able to communicate her wishes, when she was in her right mind, she told me what she wanted for the future. The danger is in THE PROMISE that children are forced to make to their parents. I have 2 sons and I have already told them that if I become incapacitated, I don't want then to feel bad about making the decision to put me in a nursing home. Just make sure it's a nice one, that they're taking good care of me, and that they come to visit me. I DON'T want my kids to stop their lives to take me in to their homes. I don't want to be a burden, either. Have the talk with your children NOW, while you're still of sound mind. This cycle could repeat for generations and it's not fair to do this to your kids.
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Mark, I am worried about you...anything you can do to reverse early diabetes will be worth it and make you feel a lot less like you are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. Many people need to lose only about 10% of body weight to lower insulin resistance enough to do this. Excercise and healthier foods on no money is not easy but can be done. Eat chicken. Eat air-pop popcorn. Eat whatever fruit and veggies are on sale that week. You have accomplished a lot and your life and your future matter, even if right now there is no way to see beyond making it through another day. If your income is negigable emough to put you in danger of losing your home,there ought to be some kind of help available - have you been in touch with Area Agency on Aging or anything like that in your area?
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I think one point many people miss is that our parents, when they become ill, and dependent upon us, are also going through a major change themselves. They are depressed, scared, and grieving for the life, partner, friends they have lost. They see the end of their days at hand, and sometimes feel they have nothing to live for. Viewing them as a burden, I think you miss the blessings that come from making the sacrifice and giving our loved ones some compassion at the end of their days.
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