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My 3 sisters and I are helping take care of our elderly parents. They both have health issues (mom more than dad). They have drove us nuts and continue to at times and we've done things for them they I never ever thought I'd have to...changing depends, cleaning up puke etc. As much as I don't want to do certain things I think back to when we were babies/kids and all they did and sacrificed for us. I know there are times when we need outside help (believe me we've used agencies that provided help for things we can't do). I just wonder why so many don't want to return the favor and help their parent(s) out more?! I KNOW things can be very stressful but I always remind myself to take a breath, step away if need be and remember all that my parents did for me when they probably didn't want too/and or was at their wits end.

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Reading all the comments shows me many different facets of the reality vs. ideology.

My mother-in-law stayed with us for 20+ years. She felt very uncomfortable - almost paranoid - of being alone so my wife quit her career as a Research Scientist. We took her wherever we went however we two could not go anywhere on our own leaving her alone. Last three years she was in Nursing Home and my wife visited her EVERY DAY for 8 hrs/day. Yes, it was strenuous and our relationship got impacted since her mom was the priority umber one.

However, I do not regret it at all. I am glad that I was able to help her take care of her mom. Blessings of parents are important if one believes in Karmic Theory.

My older brother is 10,000 miles away and his only child is here. He chose to be away since he did not have enough money for medical care here and had could not qualify for Medicaid. He is 77 and his wife is 78 and she takes care of him. I visit them every year and I see the toll that has taken on her. There is no way, his son, being the distance, can take care of him. My brother came for 6 months to be with his son and all the doctors said that he should be in nursing home (has variant of Parkinson called Shy Drager Syndrome) but his wife refused to have him move to nursing home.

Having said this, I realize, after reading the comments as to how truly difficult the situation can be for many. There is no nuclear family any more and folks are scattered all over so the nearest one gets the burden. Medical advances have lengthened the life span but not the Quality of the Living. I read a book by Dr. Atul Gawande "Being Mortal." I recommend to read it by everyone. Though I am 70 year and in good health, I keep praying to the Almighty NOT to burden my kids (or anyone else) for long illness and ruin their life. I hope our good Karma will fulfill my prayers.
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and japan intends to " robot -- ize " every aspect of the manufacturing and service industries . japan , in their 25th year of economic recession and high unemployment .
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There's about 400 Billion dollars - in 2009 currency - worth of "free" caregiving to the ill going on in the US by about 30% of the US population. Who by the way, are primarily untrained, definitely uninspected, and unlicensed. Where are our priorities and values as a society to do this to the caregivers and the care receivers?

If society really had better values and priorities, people would not have to struggle and battle and suffer the way they do.

Aid for the impoverished would not be cut back year on year while this population grows year on year. Clueless legislators would not tell poor families they can no longer buy grains and beans in bulk or fish with assistance funds (WI....looking at you.)

Taking care of the weakest, most vulnerable, and least powerful among us would not be so poorly paid and respected while fools in ivory corporate towers accumulate more money than they can spend in 100 lifetimes for cutting jobs, ruining the environment, and spitting in the eye of the society that even makes them possible.
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Wow, sandwich42plus, you articulated a profound observation very well!
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From my few years on this board I have concluded, we have a generation on our hands who had everything about their life "just taken care of". They had new schools to attend, very generous salaries, benefits, and career potential & longevity compared to today. It was possible to graduate from high school, get married, start at the bottom and work your way up while supporting 2.5 children, a car, and a house on one salary. You could put yourself through college on a part time job and emerge without debt. You could serve in the military and come out the other end with free college, great loan rates, and a host of other benefits.

They did not have to spend a decade or more doing in-home care because their parents didn't live nearly as long as people do today. Diseases that killed in short order then, don't now.

They had much better access to a lot of things that are either cut back to the bone or non-existent today. This economic and social change is lost on them though.
Somebody (that's us by the way) is supposed to "just take care of it" as has always been done.

Except what we have to deal with today is nowhere close to the way it was. We all have debt going up, salaries going down, a thousand times more uncertainty at work, and volatility in every aspect of life it seems. You can lose your entire retirement on the capricious decisions of a corporate president and board of directors. There is no loyalty to employees or reward for hard work as there was before. Corporations are as unethical as they can get away with being.

You can work 25, 30, 40 years and have no pension to speak of. No assurance of much at all. Unless you're downsized because you have seniority and the higher salary that needs to be cut to humor board of directors who place no value on workers.

It's d@mn near impossible to take care of things the way that should be possible, that should be good for people and families. The caregiver situation needs a lot more public attention, policy protections, and the whole society is going to have to kick in to support it. We're all going to need it at some point or other.
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3rdPup, my parents never took care of their own parents because the distance was too far, but my parents had a lot of siblings, the sibling's spouses and a lot of grandchildren who were old enough to drive to help.

The other day I tried to explain to my Dad how overwhelming all of this is for me as my parents [mid-90's] choose to remain in their large home instead of moving to a fantastic retirement community just down the road, which they could easily afford, where they would have had MORE freedom... nope.... they have to depend on me, instead.

I explained to my Dad when his Mom needed help there were 15 relatives who his Mom could depend upon.... and my Mom's parents there were 12 relatives who her parents could depend upon.... for my own parents, there is JUST ME, and occasionally my sig other. I am an only child who was never blessed with children. I am so exhausted emotionally, and my own age decline is coming at me quickly because of this... my parents could still outlive me.

My parents had 25 fun filled years of retirement, lots of travel, etc. Here I am pushing 70 and I probably won't see retirement... sigh... all that frugal savings throughout my life will now go to my own assisted living care instead of traveling to see the world :(

Couple years ago my Dad had asked me to give up my career to drive him and Mom all over hill and dale.... I asked my Dad if he gave up his career to care for his parents.... his answer was no... he never asked me again.
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There are many layers to this, but one important point is that child-rearing was an integral part of the life my parents chose, while eldercare is an interruption or in the worst case a complete derailment of the life we chose. So it really can't be viewed as "returning the favor." How is ending a relationship or leaving a job "returning the favor?" Our parents didn't have to choose between their kids and their relationship, or their kids and their source of income. It's that type of language that makes people (like me) defensive.

I like what Mallory said about the "innermost sanctum". I articulate it differently, but in my ethical framework, we are moral agents who have not only the right but the duty to uphold our personal highest values. Not everyone holds their parents' care and comfort as among their highest values, and that can be due to the nature of the relationship, the parent's qualities, or simply the person's other competing values.

Many of us get roped into caregiving because there are no better options, and many others avoid it simply because they can. I'm angry at my siblings for not understanding what a burden this is for me, but as far as not wanting to sacrifice to help Mom, I understand that completely.
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Well, you don't have to wonder "why so many don't want to return the favor and help out their parents".. I believe you got your answer...
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3rd pup, (I love your nickname), the the answer is, we have no idea why the other pups do not share in this incredible burden. We can guess and hypotesize, but really only each person knows why. I've done what I can do (and the small pay I get doesn't cover what my career could have been). It will eat me alive if I dwell on all the various freedoms my sibs have. Try to imagine if today is your last day on Earth -- what would you do? Go kiss mom goodbye and then go to cherish th3
e last few hours of your own life? Or spend your last hours changing mom's diapers? Please value your own Life more. Then the question is no longer about everyone else but about what really matters, your own life. If you choose to include mom into your innermost sanctum, your own Life, then I don't think you would be asking the question. So maybe you are trying to value yourself more but coming up against resistance--maybe it is trying to guide you, back to You.
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I cared for my dad for 12 years. He had Alzheimer's. I have been caring for my Mom for 7 years now and she has cancer. I'm a single mom with no child support. I'm a nurse but I can't work full time because my mom' s dementia is progressing. I love my parents dearly and I'm blessed to care for them but my rich brother who lives out of state doesn't realize how these past 16 years of caregiving have impacted me financially, socially, and emotionally. His involvement is making phone calls to our mom. There's no financial support. I'm exhausted and depressed. I love my brother but I resent him for expecting me to do it all. Jen
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3rdPup, you asked "I just wonder why so many don't want to return the favor and help their parent(s) out more?!"

We are answering you from our various perspectives. Of course, most of the folks on this forum ARE helping their parents (or another loved one) so in a sense we might not be the right people to ask. But you asked and we are answering. Not defensively, I think, and no reason for you to get defensive.

What kind of answers were you expecting?
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I am only 53 but already feel some arthritis (esp. knees) and am doing more and more for my mom who is in her 90's. Yes I am a caboose baby. I had a very difficult upbringing emotionally since the family was already "done " and then came me. The 4 older sibs are all out of state, enjoying their careers and families. I chose to stay in same state, closer to family since I wanted my 3 kids to really know their grandparents. Family values. I helped my mom immensely with her mom, when I was in hs/college. Mom could not even handle gramdma's funeral plans--I distinctly recall sitting in the funeral dir's office, propelling my mom along with all the details. I even sang at gma's funeral. At the other g'parents funerals I also sang, and served as pall Bearer since there weren't enough boys. My high heels (silly me....) sunk into the wet turf, but I didn't mind, I was being Strong Woman. Fast forward to Today, and my kids KNOW their g'parents on both sides, even tho my dad is now gone. Mom needs tons of help--WHO Is there for her? Little ol' caboose baby, who has always been there, oddly enough. It is difficult for me to maintain my own "career." I have a caregiving contract with my mom, and she does pay me $15/hr (half the going rate) for SOME not all of the hours I do. One sister (lives 4 hrs away but last visited 2 yrs ago.....for 45 MINUTES), she discovered the caregiving contract and tried to raise holy h3ll. Mom to her credit listened to her tirade and hung up on her. Currently mom is seeming more confused, and I'm considering talking with her about moving to AL. I do not know what the OP question was but please know, there are many many people here who have an incredible variety of family backgrounds. My family sort of kept me physically OK but emotional abuse was considered normal. Now, 45 yrs later when we are all Adults, there is still emotional crap going on. If it gets too difficult,.I will walk away, because ultimately only I have to live my own life. If sibs complicate things, to where I cannot provide help for mom, then, they are welcome to take over caregiving.
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3rdPup. many of us aren't hands-on care because we are senior citizens ourselves. But we can still help with logistics, which is far better for my parents then me being under the same roof with them.

How many hospitals, assisted living and nursing homes do you see employees who are RN's, Aides, etc. who are 55+ years old? Very far and few between... there is a good reason.... we don't have the energy or the physical ability to help those who are older then us.... we have our OWN age decline issues.
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Wow, 3rdPup, I'm glad you didn't lose your job, and I certainly hope you had reasons for ending your engagement other than caregiving. I hope this doesn't come across as judgmental, but I don't think anyone should give up a job or relationship for caregiving. Our parents have had their lives; we have to allowed to have our too. There's something very wrong when one generation doesn't get to have their lives due to the needs of the generation before them.
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I haven't been a member for a long time on here. My comment was a very broad topic and it wasn't geared towards people who've had bad experiences with their parents growing up etc. If I had a different experience growing up (not good) I probably wouldn't help take care of my parents. If they treated me bad, I wouldn't be around them. I wouldn't subject myself to it. I am very aware that caregiving entails different things when you're in your 30's as to when you're in your 60's. And, yes, we've had to give up things. I almost lost my job from taking off so much to help take care of mom and I ended an engagement. My sisters have given up things too. It seems that some have made assumptions (and seem to get a tad defensive) based on my comment/discussion that I only see one side and think everyone had happy childhoods and never had to struggle. That's not the case. I respect that everyone has their own opinions and experiences.
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3rdPup -I think the fact that you are working as a team with 3 others makes a huge difference. The sacrifice is not as great when it's shared. Probably none of you has had to give up a job, relationship, or home to help your parents. I have a sister who helps my Mom frequently - takes her to doctors, shopping, oversees her finances, etc. My sister is okay with her role. She's not doing more than she wants to do or giving more than she wants to give.

I, on the other hand, am giving more than I want to give, and it's been that way for 4+ years. For one thing, I moved to a state where I hate the climate, and have not even had a vacation since I moved here. I have sacrificed too much already and with no end in sight, for someone I really don't even like or have a close relationship with. Yes my mother cleaned up my puke when I was a kid. She chose to be a mother. I didn't choose to be her mother, or anyone's. My mother had 20+ years of carefree retirement where she flitted around the country, partied with her friends, and worried about nobody but herself. I have been tethered to the side of a doddering old woman since my retirement and before. Jeannegibbs said it very well, and sandwich42 said the rest. I was willing to do this for a couple of years, but it goes on and on with no end in sight. My mother is grateful (sometimes) for all I do for her, but no amount of gratitude can compensate me for all the time I've given up not being able to live my own life.

The minute my mother is disabled enough to qualify for Medicaid, she's going to a nursing home. You may think that's cruel, but people reap what they sow. She's not a companion or a friend to me or anyone I want in my life. I can't be done with this period of my life soon enough.
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Answering about generic huge groups is too hard.

My general observation is that there is zero financial support for career caregivers. They are typically family members over age 50 who earn no wages from this work, put away no savings, and can't contribute to social security or their own well being.

The elder can get some care benefits, but there are very few benefits specifically for the caregiver.

The fact that the caregiving job can last for years is a big factor. 5 or more. 10-15-20 for a dementia patient. This is a serious chunk of life to give up. And if it happens when you're 50, you're not going to be done until you're 65 or 70 or older.
Quite bluntly, it takes a whole lot longer to die than it used to, when the caregiving job might be 1-2 years or less.

A lot of workplaces aren't flexible about this either. Especially for non-exempt/hourly staff who may not get sick leave at all. If you're not on the clock, you aren't getting paid. The rules aren't the same for everyone.

There are more obstacles to being able to caregive than supports. Some people just can't take it on.
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3rdPup, wow, if you are now younger than your mother was when you were born, you are in a waaaay different situation than most of the posters here. We do also have active posters who are young -- sometimes grandchildren. And all are very welcome! Just be aware that doing caregiving at 30 is HUGELY different from doing it at 60.

I didn't say that "most" people here come from dysfunctional families. I said "many" and that is very apparent from the hundreds of posts I've read in the years I've been a member. It stands to reason that a support site is going to appeal more to people from a troubling background. Many from nurturing environments don't even look for this kind of site. (Some do, obviously. Like me and you.)

I hope you don't think that anything I said implied that your shouldn't ask questions and express opinions from your perspective! I was just answering your question from mine.
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I know that all parents were not nurturing. And I'm not assuming that everyone who isn't doing what I'm doing falls into this category that I am speaking of. I didn't "know" that most people on this site was raised in dysfunctional families. And obviously this comment wouldn't pertain to them. Yes, I understand that many who are trying to take care of their parents now are older than what their parents were when the roles were reversed, but not all are. I'm actually younger than what my mom was when I was born. I agree that some people can recognize that someone else can take better care of their parents than they can. Kudos to them. But just as people who've had not so great parents come here to vent and get support, there are people here who have/had loving/nurturing parents that come for the same. They have thoughts/questions. And by no means oblivious to how there are other situations that aren't ideal.
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1) Not all parents were kind, loving, nurturing people. Most were (I hope). Mine were. But some were selfish, self-centered, demanding, demeaning, neglectful, and provided a toxic environment. Many of the people on this site were raised in dysfunctional homes. Do you believe in karma? Do you believe that often people reap what they sew? Well, not all parents planted good seeds in how they treated their children.
2) Not all people are cut out to be caregivers (or parents). Such people do well to see that someone else provides excellent care, and to advocate for their parents. A friend was exasperated that her family expected her to do most of the hands-on caregiving because she didn't have children and would have the most time. "Why do they think we don't have children?! We know we are not nurturing people!"

3) Often by the time our parents need help we are into old age ourselves and have started some physical decline. When my mother cleaned up my puke and diapered me she was in her twenties. When she began to decline I was in my 60s. That does make a HUGE difference. "Repaying" our parents for what they did for us is simply not comparing apples to apples.

4) Some people are just plain selfish and can't be bothered caring for an elder. Not everyone has a valid excuse/reason for not helping out. But please don't assume that everyone who isn't doing what you are doing falls into this category. It simply is not true.
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I wonder that same question, I take care of my mom all the time and I have two brothers that don't do anything, one wants her dead already and the other is "TOO BUSY" to ever help out cause he has his own family he says. I can't even think about not being here for my mom, she did so much for us, and I know for sure she wouldn't treat them like that, she traveled for 14 hrs one time just to see my brother for 15 minutes, and he now lives 10 mins away and can't come see her but once a week for 5 mins?!?! I don't wish this on my worst enemy but he will live with the guilt when she is gone, not I.
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