What were your folks doing at your age?

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I've noticed reading this site that a lot of caregivers are caring for elderly parents who did not care for their own parents. I know my Mom and Dad did not. When they were my age they we're enjoying their retirement, travelling around the country in their RV. The caregiving of their folks was left to another sibling or their parents died without needing prolonged care.
Why is it that we are now caring for them? Do you think they were unaware of the financial, physical and emotional burden caregiving places on the children so they never planned for their old age? From what I've read on this site it seems that very few of us that are currently caregivers want our children to have to care for us in our senior years. Maybe our caregiving experience is a hardship for us but perhaps it will be a blessing to our children. Maybe we'll be more knowledgeable because of our experience and will be open and direct with our children on what we want done with us during those senior years when we can no longer care for ourselves.
Your thoughts?

16 Comments

I am 68 years old, when my parents were my age they were taking the subway into Washington DC seeing all the sights on a regular basis... visiting the Library of Congress doing genealogy study of their family trees... traveling to stockholder meetings out-of-state just for something to do plus it was a tax write-off :P..... going to a small resort several times a year... doing volunteer work at the local hospital 2 or 3 times a week.... eating out... anytime they bought something for the house, they would go to 4 or 5 stores to price shop.... visiting landscape gardens to buy plants. No wonder when I called the house they were never home !!

My parents never took care of their own parents because their parents lived many States away, plus my parents siblings, a ton of nieces and nephews lived in the same area as my parents' parents so they were all hands-on.

All the elders lived at home on their own. Thus, all my parents siblings did the same thing. Therefore I have cousins who never got to enjoy their own retirement, even thought their parents did, because they were trying to maintain two households.... one cousin, in his 70's, gave up and sold his house, he and his wife moved into a retirement village while his Mom and Mom-in-law stayed firmly planted in their own individual single family homes on big lots, he couldn't keep up with 3 single family homes. His Mom passed on at 100... Mom-in-law is alive and also 100.

My father and his second wife did take care of my paternal grandmother to some extent. But she had quite a bit of money and had 24/7 caregivers in the home, so the hands-on caregiving on their part was pretty minimal. Maybe they were just circling around waiting for the payoff when she died (her will actually provoked a lawsuit in the family so I know my father and his wife were eager to inherit the estate).

My mother at my age was traveling around in a series of RVs with her dog and her friends. She would stop in to visit some of her kids on her trips up and down the coast. As a guest, she was the type who expected to be waited on hand and foot and who never chipped in for a meal or lifted a dishcloth. That was definitely an omen of things to come, although I didn't recognize it at the time. I looked forward to traveling and leisure in my own retirement, as she well knows, but I guess she thinks that taking care of her is such a blessing that it's worth sacrificing all my other goals and plans.
I'm still in my 50's, so at my age my dad was working long hours on the farm. His father was already dead and his mother lived on the "home farm" with his bachelor brother, his sister was also nearby so of course they looked after her. My mom was already starting down a long road of physical difficulties, she had a hysterectomy before I knew what that was and was already showing signs pointing to the massive heart attack she had when I was 16. My caregiver roll model was my mom's mother. She cared for my grandfather for at least 10 years after his stoke, and I never knew him as an able bodied man. I have often wondered why the family didn't help her more because by the end he needed total physical care and the government supports we enjoy today were not available then. I suppose it is because she was fiercely independent and had that ability to make everything she did seem effortless. I am flattered when I have been told I am like her, but I know she was one of a kind.
My mother retired at my age (56) and dad a few years later, then they continued traveling the world and enjoying life.. until dad got ALZ. Hubs and I have not had a "real" vacation in years ( wanted daughter to graduate with no bills for school.. and I;m not complaining.. it was our choice). Then folks moved in.. even getting to our place at the river was an adventure, as his mom has some form of dementia also. Dad passed on 2/28.. and mom and her sister decided that we were all going to Ireland...my family and her two daughters. So we are finally going to get a vacay! 7 of us.. But I will admit that right before folks moved in, daughter moved out.. and hubs and I were looking forward to our own time.. but Mom is pretty "with it" so I am hopeing things will look up now, for a little while at least
I'm in my early forties.
When my parents were my age, I was a pre-schooler.
They worked their jobs. We went on a summer vacation to Myrtle Beach. Sometimes we drove to the mountains for the weekend.

My maternal grandparents were doing just fine. My paternal grandfather was also doing just fine. Both sets of grandparents still lived in their respective farm houses and drove their cars & trucks around to do whatever they wanted.

When the grandparents eventually fell ill, my mother's sister did the caregiving in both cases. My mother was too selfish and pre-occupied to be bothered. When my dad's father had a stroke, he stayed in our home for a very short period of time. And I mean short. My mother was not having an invalid on her hands. I don't know what happened between him leaving our home, and being able to go back to his home. I guess he must have stayed in a nursing home or something until he was better.

Now, my mother expects me to drop my life and wait on her, but I have not. I must still work and tend to my marriage and children. Neither one of us get along with the other, so setting us up in a caregiving situation would be toxic to all concerned. She is in a very nice memory care unit where very patient people tend to her needs and care. And probably will have to for time immemorial. If anybody is going to live to be 150, it's going to be her.
The elderly didn't seem to live as long then because by the time my parents were my age their parents were gone and they were enjoying early retirement as snowbirds in Florida. My folks are 88 and 90 and although they planned very well for their retirement and are comfortably well off, they will not part with a dime. In fact they are getting worse. Because of their savings/income, they do not qualify for any free services. They do qualify for household help at a subsidizes fee of $14 an hour, which I feel is money well spent. They refuse. Services like Meals on Wheels is $5 per day and, as my Dad puts it, "I can cook a Delissio pizza for $1.99! Why would I pay $5 for Meals on Wheels?" So I do what I can, but I refuse to start paying for services they can easily afford. It's frustrating, but that's the best I can do.
My mother was in her second marriage. She did not have to care for her dad because he died when I was a little boy. She did not have to care for her mother because she was able to afford in-home care until she died.

My dad was in his second marriage. He did not have to care for either parent for both of them has been long dead.
I'll be 48 in a few weeks (is that right???? lol). My parents were a bit older than most when they had me -- my mother was almost 37, and my dad was 41. I know my father was involved in his parents' care quite a bit, but didn't do anything hands on. He and his parents were able to get out of Austria during the Holocaust, thank goodness, but they were broke, older, knew no English, etc. when they arrived here. Their health, both mental and physical, went downhill quickly, and I don't think either of his parents lived past 75 or so.
My mother had moved across the country to pursue her doctorate, met my father, and so on, so she never moved back. Her father died in his 60's of a heart attack, and her mother became more frail and had dementia, probably in her 70's. My mother's sister, who lived locally, handled everything.
My mother had many valid reasons for not being involved in her mother's care, or her in-laws' care (not living nearby, having small children of her own, working full time, etc.), but I can't for the life of me imagine her having the tiniest amount of patience to do it. I saw her become so angry and rude to her mother, when most people would be worried instead.
Anyway, neither side of my grandparents had any money. My parents were able to make a good living, saved well, and now my mother is in a good place financially. Her mother and her sister both had/have dementia. Her mother probably died at around age 89 (probably had dementia for 12 years or more?). Her sister seemed to do relatively well until she was in her late 80's, then dementia appeared. In early February, we were told by hospice that she had about a week left. Two weeks later, she turned 92. And she's still going. I find it very sad, and rather morally twisted that we think this is somehow acceptable.
My husband and I hoped that we would be able to enjoy our early retirement years.........but he died. When my parents weremy age - they were enjoying a carefree life together. Their parents had died earlier. Same with my in-laws who traveled all over the world and spend every last penny and then some. The inlaws refinanced their home so many times in order to get their fun money. Their parents had died earlier as well so there was no caretaking. My in-laws enjoyed themselves until their late eighties. They ended up moving in with me 2 years ago leaving a pile of debt. FIL then died at 92. So at 59, I sit on the couch at night and wonder how it is that instead of my wonderful husband..........it's my MIL with dementia in my house with me. How did this happen? But I know to live in the moment. So I get pleasure from simple things. But I miss my husband more than I could ever explain.
Sorry for hijacking this! Just thinking more... when my mother was my age, I was 11 years old, my brother was about 12. My parents were both tenured university professors, and coincidentally, I JUST read an article on the changes facing college professors in this day and age (living wage?? Not likely). It is not the same world my parents had.
It's a very different time we're living in, in many different ways.

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