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Note: Some gifts don't look like gifts based on the torn packaging! The return may be spiritual, physical, emotional, tangible, a lesson learned, etc. Some gifts will not be delivered until a later date, some are on 'lay away', while others, you feel you'd like to return to sender! Still, other gifts just keep on giving. Think about your journey and share your gifts.

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freqflyer - I currently I have fibromyalgia, and my hips and back are going south (not helped by having to lift walker or wheelchair in and out of trunk whenever Mom goes somewhere. The problem I have is I cannot take narcotic pain medication, so the thought of getting hips replaced terrifies me. The thought of not getting the replaced replaced over time is just as bad. Moving up to WA, so perhaps that will help with the pain (edibles).
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Olmaandme, you mentioned "what doesn't kill us will make us stronger". The problem is that is it killing us, and it's not making us stronger. My health has declined drastically over the past 6 years, I will never see 90+ like my parents are seeing... I won't see 80+.... I will be lucky if I live a couple more years. My parents might even out live me.

There are writers on this forum who's siblings have died while trying to care for a parent, and said parent continued to live on for many more years in assistant living/nursing home. I've seen writers on these forums suddenly disappear.

There are writers on this forum who have had heart attacks or other very serious illnesses while trying to care for their parent(s). You'd be surprised at the number of women who have gotten breast cancer from the stress of being a Caregiver. They may not be writing on Aging Care but I have heard them talk at breast cancer support groups.
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mymothermychild, you made me think. I do believe the gift my parents are giving to me is to DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY from what they are doing. Thus, I am currently getting my Will, Trust, and POA's in order.

I am still trying to get my parents [90+] to update their badly written will from years ago, I dread that my parents won't live to sign a new Will, Trust or POA, and it will be a journey of landmines to straight out. Recently I took them to talk to an Elder Law attorney and my parents do like her which surprised me because of my parents attitude of women as professionals [they should be home having babies].

And for me to move into a retirement village sooner than later. How foolish to live in a huge house that you can no longer take care of, which my parents are still doing.
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I've learned patience.
I've grown stronger and more self reliant by doing all that I dread or hate.
I've gone aware that old age is not necessarily our golden years, nor can we prepare for the unexpected.
I've learned to be more mindful,thankful for every day, every smile or laugh, every moment I have right here, right now in good health and of sound mind.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
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As I read your responses to my question on gifts, one thing became increasingly clear. We are so incredibly human, yet have been placed in such extraordinary circumstances. We know and appreciate the simple pleasures of a bathtub, a therapist for yourself, a puppy, an uncluttered living room, or just the freedom to go on a shopping spree guilt free. We need the opportunity to kick, scream, swear, and throw ourselves a great big pity party - in order to avoid imploding! We need and appreciate a heart felt thank you, hug, or just a nod affirming that someone else understands our journey. It is not the reason we do what we do, but gosh, it sure would feel good to receive them. We all need to be able to lay down our swords and remove our breastplates of armor for just one dag-gone minute to breathe, exhale, rejuvenate and replenish our spirits. We are pillars of strength - we are advocates- we are fighters - yet so very vulnerable...so very human. As much as I loved my mom ... as thankful as I am to God to have had her in my life for so long ... as humbled as I am at having been chosen by God to walk this journey with my mother... I am nonetheless mortal. My days are also numbered. I too, am flesh and blood and need nurturing. Comrades, caring for yourself does not diminish or devalue your loyalty and devotion to your loved one. It simply means that you value the gift of your own life and realize that you too, are precious.
Permission granted to look inward for a minute, gift yourself of those special little things that you deserve, and place your guilt on the shelf. I understand. I wish you peace.
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This question brought about an "oh, poor me" moment. The only gift I've received in the last 5 years has been the one AC sent. Is that pathetic or what? Sometimes Mom will tell me to pick myself up a card or buy myself something, but it isn't the same as receiving a gift picked by someone else. I, OTOH, wouldn't let someone's Christmas or birthday go by without buying them something I know they would like, or at least sending a card. Sometimes it is like all give here and nothing coming back in. Well, really, it is exactly what it is.

Sometimes we get to a point in life where the only gift we can receive will be the one we give ourselves. I am going to have to dream big this Christmas and let my own narcissism rule.

It is really sweet thinking about the spiritual things -- love, patience, etc. But sometimes it's nice to get something tangible. Personally I would like to give myself a clean, uncluttered house with a real bath tub for Christmas.
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Some of the gifts I've received have been tangible - Mom picked out a dog that I never would have chosen to be "her" dog, and he is adorable. I love him! Best dog ever! We live in a much nicer home than we would have been able to afford on our own, and live a nicer lifestyle.

Non-tangible gifts - are a bit more difficult. Mom and I have always been close and have always gotten along. My patience has improved as Mom has struggled more recently, although I notice it has only improved with her. With other people, I'm very impatient and close to tears.
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My "gift" would be that letting my mother in my house is what finally got me to RUN to a therapist.
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I never expected to be the only responsible person for a second cousin. I was busy trying to help care for my elderly parents who had some health issues and run my own business, when her dementia hit full blast. It quickly took over, not just my cousin's life but mine as well. I'm not sure when the roller coaster ride will end.

Still, I've learned so much from this experience:
My faith in God has grown in ways that I didn't know existed. I feel much more spiritual.

I have learn what it means to not sweat the small stuff.

I've learned that people are fragile yet strong and those who are strong must help the fragile ones.

I've learned how to truly treat others as I would have them treat me.

I've learned the true meaning of compassion.

I've learned to not be so judgmental. Everyone has their issues. As it turns out, I don't know it all.

I've learned to ask for help.

I've learned that my health is vital and that if I don't protect my health, it can cause terrible things like dementia and stroke.

Perhaps, the biggest lesson I learned is to appreciate each and every day. We are not guaranteed tomorrow so I try to love every minute, even if I'm overwhelmed.

Oh, I've learned that I must simplify my life. My goal for 2015 is to lighten the load and the stress. I'm working on it. lol

I've learned that if I don't make my life happy, no one else will.
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I think my gifts are still on 'lay away'. Going on four years of ever increasing demands and responsibilities.

I am thankful for my many blessings, but I never expected my life to turn out this way.
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im happy for the impression it left on my sons . theyre both pretty generous and nurturing anyway , now they know there are no range posts . any of us can do anything thats required of us .
we always expected my oldest sister would care for mom at end of life but oldest sis cant manage a household . her home is a zoo and always in terminal decline .
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I have received the gift of acceptance and perseverance. As hard as it has been and still is I have learned through prayer and God's help to accept this terrible disease of Alzheimers and give my husband the loving care he deserves.
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Way too tired to share anything. If you mean caregiving is a gift, yes, it's a gift to my parents... but on the flip side, it has drastically cut my life short, I don't think that was the gift my parents were intending.
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