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My parents and I are separated by 150 miles. When the time came for them to downsize 12 years ago, they moved further away from all of us. Their little community is a great one. Dad is now in a care home and Mom in an independent living apartment. So far in the past two months, I have missed two weeks of work to be with my mom. She had a complete hysterectomy the first time. And the second week was because fluid accumulated (a seroma) in close proximity to the surgical incision. I struggle with trying to understand exactly how Mom is doing to help her know which way to turn and who to call - her doctor, the tax man, a friend, her pastor, or me. We talk often. If we go more than two days without talking, I get nervous. Until she moved into her independent living apartment, I was a wreck. I think she was, too. She is 80 and in good condition mentally. I can't get an accurate read on her physical condition. We seem to go from one crisis to the next. Believe me, the friends in her community are as helpful as they can be. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if Mom wasn't surrounded by such caring people.
My one remaining brother (there used to be five of us & now there are two) lives nine hours from our parents, so I'm working to accept that I am there "go to" person. I work part-time, am married to a very understanding husband, have a 19 year old daughter who is a junior in college, and find myself wishing I could have my life back.
I went from helping my oldest sister through her battle with cancer to helping the folks. Things are mostly stable right now. Knowing that another crisis will come is creating some excess anxiety. I feel ashamed for complaining. I try so hard to be patient and kind because, having lost two sisters and one brother, I know that when my parents pass away I will miss them horribly.
Tonight I'm just tired...

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Agree with addled. Applaud your efforts. I am long distance 6hrs each way with full time travel job. My mom has refused and then fired any help I set up. I'm finishing a tremendous eye opening book and it parallels so much I'm seeing in my last few months. I recommend it to everyone in addition to the wealth of expertise and experience with everyone on this site. Do your homework if possible before you take on roll of caregiving.

A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross

Also Bitter Pill --a soon to be released article in Time Magazine.

Good luck and keep your guilt in check. It's a daily struggle for me.
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Long distance caregiving is very difficult. What am I saying? I'm preaching to the choir! Although I can't identify with being close enough to go back and forth, (and God bless you I applaud you for doing that!) I started my caregiving 1800 miles away. So I'm very familiar with the frustration of not having a handle on what's happening and trying to manage things from afar. I was absolutely blessed that Mom had a primary care physician who would talk with me from time to time by phone (Mom had signed a Release of Information form, and I am her POA for health). Being divorced, I packed up my life and relocated to provide daily caregiving--having no idea I'd still be doing this function seven years later. I'll not even get into the issue of disengaging from the job market at the worst time in the history of this nation. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad my mother is still alive at 91 and fairly stable now. However, in retrospect, I would have done many things differently if I'd understood what I was getting myself into. So as you're in the process of deciding how to proceed with your parent's care, I can't stress enough the importance of gathering information from seasoned caregivers on these online boards before making any life changing decisions for yourself. For example, I think I would have insisted that Mom relocate to where I lived and had an established support system instead of relocating to an isolated rural area. I would have approached my older brothers with a written needs assessment and forced the sharing the care issue. Once I relocated they both have gone merrily on their way with their lives while I've done all of the caregiving. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Some decisions can't be undone once you've made them, and being armed with taking the time to explore your options can be empowering. Hang in there!
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I have been a distance caregiver for 4+ yrs now. My Dad and I are not compatable and I at least know it, he doesn't as he seems to think his care is my sole responsability( my brother also-tho he has been smart enough to put up boundry's).
Dad is a narsasist to the fullest extent .
The 1st 2.75 yrs I would drive 5.5 hrs one way every other week to cover weekends and do all his bill's shopping and other arrends then drive 5.5 hrs home to work a70 hr week in construction. I know well how hard the commuting is and i was darn lucky to have an employer who would give me 2 extra days each time(so i had 4 days off). I finally got a Geriatric Caremanager- and a live in Caregiver(god bless her i don't know how she does it)we now use an agency for her time off weekends and I go down every 4-6 weeks to STILL do all his shopping-he refuses to let the caregiver do it,He won't let her drive his car(that was a 2 yr fight to get his lisc. taken)without him in it(yet she's go a legal state lisc.and she's not a kid.)
Get yourself a geriatric care manager to keep an eye on your parents and update you. Do you have Med and financial POA in case? and because of the HIPPA laws please have your parents Sign for permission for YOU(and brothers) to be able to discuss and check her medical info. Hospt, nursing home,Dr,Medicare etc..
Fyi my brother lives 1 hr away and is scarce when something needs to be done ,but is the apple of Dad's eye- my Mom passed 24yrs ago.
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I'm three hours each way. Mom passed 2 years ago. Dad has dementia and interminable stubbornness. Now he's not driving any more. It's a mess and physically/emotionally draining.
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I know exactly now you feel. I drive for 2 1/2 hours each way to care for my parents. Which may not sound like much, but it is. I also work full time and am keeping up my own home, meals and taking care of my parents needs. My mother is by herself at the moment and she is wheelchair bound at her own doing. My dad is in hospital and has been for 2 months and another one is being for seen from a broken shoulder resulting from a fall. I can't put her in respite because they would kick her out because she is SO demanding and difficult. She has home care for 5 hours a day. She refuses to make anything easier on any one. I am an only child. I have a great husband and no kids. Couldn't have any. I am told often it will work it's self out. WHEN. My hair is falling out and I have lost 14 lbs. from the stress of keeping up with the paces. Don't beat yourself up!!!!!! You're doing the best you can and so am I....
Good Luck,
Anksana
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