Saying no to being a caregiver without guilt.

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Just wondering if anyone actually said no to being a caregiver to an elderly parent without guilt or knowing it is not an obligation.


Just because a parent needs a caregiver doesn't mean you have to be the caregiver. You can help them get good caregivers or assist them to move into a graduated care facility, foster home or other alternative housing so they can get the care that they need but we all have busy lives and caring for an elderly parent is often very difficult and financially draining. Always say NO if you don't believe you can work this into your life because if you say yes you could be very sorry in the end. Guilt is an unnecessary emotion that often puts us into situations that are not good for anyone. Let it go and live your life.
Hi Debra
I have not exactly said no to being a caregiver, but my situation is somewhat relevant to your posting. My fiance's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease almost two years ago and we live abroad. We both work online and have made the decision to split our time between areas with a lower cost of living (at least for now) to maximize our savings and contributions to retirement. I am almost 33 and my fiance is 38. His mother is in the early stages of the disease and does not require any sort of caregiving at the moment. His sister is very upset with us and has not talked to us or seen us in almost 2.5 years (we have been back to the states several times to visit with family during this period) She sees her mother dying in this instant and believes we should settle back in NJ. I understand where she is coming from, but I am not sure she realizes that we are talking about a situation that could last a decade or even longer. If we lived in NJ, there would be no question that we would do whatever was needed; I did a lot for my father when he had cancer and I would have no issue providing assistance to his mother if we were there, provided I felt I was capable. If it were a situation where she had some aggressive disease and was only expected to live a few months longer, for example, we would come back to NJ and be with the family during this time and do whatever we could without question. But, to uproot our lives ,and put our financial future in jeopardy at this point, especially when there is not even any caregiving required is just not something I can do. Who some point maybe we will end up back in NJ, but to move back solely because of this, and have his mother's illness dictate every aspect of our lives for years and years to come will not be good for our finances (NJ is expensive!) or our relationship. I know we are making the right decision in this moment, but to say I have no guilt over it would be untrue. When I see what the people on here go through, I truly admire them because I do not know if I would have it in me. I do not know if you can ever get over the guilt or feeling a sense of obligation, but the best you can do is really think everything through and read through this site; I have found it very helpful and it has strengthened my sense that I am making the right decision for this moment in time. I feel like I have a right to secure my financial future and to say no to doing something that would jeopardize that.
I wish I had said no years ago. It truly is draining in every aspect of your life. do not, and I repeat do not feel guilty, put yourself first. Read alot of these posts first and think long and hard before you make your decision. You will be liable for every aspect of your parents life. It may lead you to false accusations in the future, by a not too clear headed parent, or a jealous sibling. I never thought it would happen to me but it did. Under the very best of circumstances this can be very difficult. or, it might be a wonderful experience for you and your parent. I suppose it depends on your parents overall personality, emotions, health and psychological well being. hind sight is 20/20, I should have known better, knowing my mother's personality, but thought I was doing what was right, and I know I always did right by her, but that doesn't matter now to her or my sister. So, just be careful. Good luck in your decision.
Thank you for your advice. I know in my heart I could not be a good caregiver to my mother, too many issues. I was raised to respect my parents and still hold those beliefs, but my parents raised me in a very dysfuntional lifestyle. I left home at 16 and made a very good life for myself and own family. I would not want to revisit that lifestyle having my mother or father live with me and caring for them. My parents are divorced and luckily my father has little contact with me, but my mother is another story. She is very needy and a master manipulator. Out of three children, my mother has picked me for her crusader of her life. I don't mind helping her, just not willing to take on her future care. She is trying to obligagte me into that possible role and I just want to be able to say no without the guilt or her manipulation because of my beleifs.
I am in a similar situation. I live abroad and my sister is living with our mother as her primary care giver. I wrestle with the guilt I feel about this every day. On the one hand I feel I should be there too supporting what has become an untenable situation. On the other I know that it I have made the life choices I have for a reason and I do have a great life here. A home and a business with my husband. I am often told it's alright for me as if I am just away on a long holiday. My offer of sharing the load has been rejected ,however I know I am criticized for not being there. I am damned if I do and damned if I don't. In many ways I stay away because I am frustrated at the toxic emotional mess that is being played out and know I would approach things in a more practical and pragmatic way.
In answer to the original question, no, I don't think you can say no without those feelings of guilt, but I do understand that you may well have good reasons for saying no. You have to be realistic, for the good of all.
I hear you geranium. I too think its a no win situation. I think guilt is a natural emotion regardless of our choices. We all do the best we can with what we know at the time. I too am someone that is obsessed with doing the right thing but in the end, it still felt like the wrong thing. With siblings its very hard. There is a lot of resentment about each other's choices. I wish the dialogue was not so fraught but sometimes it cannot be helped.
I've recently stepped away from helping my dad. Feel like Im abandoning him sometimes. Lots of dysfunction in the mix and too much to mention. Over the weekend I gave in and realized I can't physically or emotionally do it anymore. Home health nurse/sociol worker are now his caretakers.
Sitting here I feel a great loss, and that is just me wanting to be that loving/caring daughter who wanted the attention from her dad she missed years ago.  I wanted it to be me to help him get better and to take care of him and love him   He rejected me then and still is in many ways. Now, I'm rejecting my need to try to pull him closer to me, wishing he'd take part in caring for love me like "I" think he should. He's not capable nor wants to love me like I want. 
Sunday night  I gave up. I saw him last on Sunday...and it could possibly be the last time.  
I too, have obsessed over doing the right thing and it's ALWAYS ended up being wrong.  Now, it's in the hand of APS.  Guilt? Yep!  Relief?  Yep!  But feel frozen,stuck, anxiety, mad, and sad. Ugh..this sucks 
Bella, by stepping away, you are getting him the help he needs. Only way to get it, IMO.
Listen to Barb, Bella. You've done what your father needs done. That's real love, putting the person's needs first. Far more meaningful than trying to make your own, unique father-daughter relationship fit into some kind of stereotypical ideal when it just doesn't.

You can still visit him, can't you, if you choose to? Not saying you should, not if it's going to make you sad; but you haven't been advised to stay away or anything, have you?
I could visit. Don't want to be in his presence right now. He stated to my husband he wants to give his truck to his help at home girl and all his tools to a loser friend. We don't need the truck or's the point of thinking of all my husband has done for him. Dad needs $$$..Medicaid denied him.
Yes, stepping away is the best thing for all

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