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Currently, I am caregiving for the third time. The first was when my now ex was diagnosed with cancer with a 20% chance of survival. We were separated at the time and I moved back in to care for him. It was a long hard 2 years, but he did survive. I moved back out. Then his mother became a hospice patient. True to his word to his father before he passed, my ex was trying to care fot her at home on his own. But he was still recovering himself and it was draining him. I moved back in to help him. She was given 3 months to live. She lived 9 months. I was credited with my excellent care of both of them, although it was draining. After she passed, I moved back out.
Fast forward to today, living with my current boyfriend. We are now caring for his 88 year old aunt. It's been difficult to say the least. Her health is declining. We recently found out that besides being legally blind, having mobility issues and diabetes, her heart is failing. She's been put on blood thinners and the doctor wants to do a pacemaker, and there is danger of blood clots. She has more testing to be done.
Recently, my mother has been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia. My father has had 2 strokes, one of which damaged the emotional part of his brain and he now has psychiatric problems. Keeping him on his meds has been a chore. Mom forgets and he just doesn't want them. I am doing my best to look after them from a distance (they live half hour away in their own apartment).
My youngest brother lives close to them, but he's very unpredictable and a major control freak. He's sometimes very good to them, other times completely removed. I have had to intercede several times on their behalf.
Mom has expressed that as she gets worse, she wants to go into assisted living. She doesn't trust my dad to remain stable and she doesn't trust my brother to be consistant. And she knows just what I have been through.
Therein lies the guilt. I have cared for people not blood related. I nursed a man I didn't even want to be with. I have cared for two very narcisstic, manipulative old ladies afraid of dying and angry about it. But my mother? How could I not care for my mother? Who has loved me deeply my whole life? She's never asked for anything but some of my time.
I am 53 and have been waiting for years for my life to start again. I just don't know that I could do it again. Mom is letting me off the hook, but there's so much guilt.

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Your mother isn't "letting you off the hook." Your mother loves you, and wants what's best for you, and absolutely doesn't want to add herself to the list of people who have been willing to use you.

You might find it entertaining, one day, to ask her honest opinion of those who were. You might learn some interesting new words, of the sort that you never knew she knew.

Make your mother happy by declining to involve yourself in other people's care and instead turning your attention to your own wellbeing. This should also allow you the leisure and income to spend meaningful, social time with your mother in her declining years. You have done good and generous things in the past; but that is plenty. Your turn now.
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And check around for AL facilities sooner rather than later. Yes, what zytrhr says can be true, but many ALs are not like that. And once she is established in one, visit often. There are many little things that the aides will be more than grateful for if you do them. Back rubs, foot massages, washing her face to make her feel clean after supper. Helping her dress, helping her to the washroom. Just being POA can be quite a hassle. Take her Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners. Give her scented, gentle soaps. Buy new fancy underwear for her. Bedjackets and bathrobes. Comfy fleece sweatshirts and pants in pretty colours.

She'll love you for it, and you'll love her for loving it.
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Z, where does your expertise stem from? Have you worked in Eldercare? Had a parent in a longterm care facility for an appreciable amount of time?

You speak as though you've had experience with many facilities. I'm sure we'd all like to know how you come by your vast knowledge.
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Well, Trishg, all I can recommend is to get some counseling to alleviate the stress you feel. I now understand why you did what you did in the past, but your mum has given you a great gift. You can visit your mum every day if you want, even twice a day. But you won't be responsible for any of the cleanup, feeding (unless she wants you too), the changing of sheets and the laundry -- let other caregivers tell you their stories.

I know that it's easy to say "Don't feel guilty!", but one does. I know I do. But DO follow your mother's wishes and understand that you are doing just that -- she wants AL, so give her AL. Let that be your gift to her.

Perhaps if you look at it that way -- that you are doing HER a huge favour -- that will remove some of the guilt. (Not all mums want their daughters to change their diapers and shower them -- not by a long shot. I know I don't.)

[[[Hugs to you]]]
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CarlaCB

My point is it's hard to find an AL that puts people over profit, Sure they're out there, but they're few and far between. The lure to make a lot of money on someone's illness and/or need of care is just to tempting.
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I don't think being a loving, kind person is a flaw. I don't regret anything I have done. A little angry that Auntie lied. But as my BFs only living blood relative, he would have regrets if he didn't do his best to make the last years of her life comfortable. But he does stand up to her frequently when she pushes too many buttons. I stand by him because I love him. I'm just tired. And I will honor my mother's wishes. I love her more for not wanting to burden me. I just feel guilty and am not sure how to get around that. It is really making me stress about it.
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zytrhr - I don't understand your point. On one hand, you seem to be saying that the OP's mother (or my mother?) would be treated with dignity and looked after in an AL, and on the other hand you say the OP will have a hard time finding an AL where people are placed over profits. I don't know if your view of ALs is correct in general, but it's a moot point in my mother's case since I don't have the power to make her move and she certainly isn't going to go willingly.
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You are generous, but I would get some help to break this cycle. While you have reasons for volunteering to help provide care for these people, it's still something there. You can only be manipulated if you allow yourself.

I wouldn't risk getting pulled into caregiving again. I'd try to find a source of strength to find ways to help and support, but that do not involve being a caregiver. Your mom has provided you a solution and yet you don't want to take it. Why are you guilty, unless you are miseable?

It might be some kind of a syndrome. I'd get info and help with it. Maybe, there really is something about it that you crave. I would think that by now you really are exhausted. I can't imagine how it would be good for your health.
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Well, there is a back story to caring for my ex. He's my daughter's step father. Her own father was a dead beat who came and went as he pleased (until as an adult she told him to get lost permanently). My ex was her Dad. He and I were "oil and water" as she says now. But he was good to her and loved her as his own. He was the one to dance with her at her wedding all all the other important occasions in her life. He was the Dad that showed up at the hospital to hold our grandson when he was born.
He was diagnosed with cancer soon after our grandson was born. Aside from his mother, in her 90's, there was no one else to help him through. My daughter was a bit overwhelmed with a new baby and a full time job, trying with her husband to make ends meet. Though he and I had run our course, I couldn't watch the only Dad my daughter had die before her eyes. I stepped in more for her sake than anything else. And even though I didn't want to ve with him anymore, I didn't hate him, and had appreciation for loving my daughter as he did.
The same could be said about his mother. My daughter was trying to help with that, but not successfully. She's young, not familiar with all the medical ins and outs of hospice. I had just been laid off my full time job and was working part time. My ex had not built up enough strength to go back to work yet he was trying to care 24/7 for his dying mother.
He is now strong and back to work. He is a wonderful grandpa and always there for "our" daughter. My daughter tells me how grateful she is that I stepped in when she could only help a little. I didn't do it for her gratitude. I did it because I love her and know that he truly loves her as well.
So there is my back story. The aunt . . . Well, she begged nit to be put in a nursing home, lied about how self-sufficient she really is. My BF and I did not know just how bad her health was when this began. I am working full time. But often from home. She has caregivers come in during the day, nurses and therapists. But every evening and weekend, we are treated like servants. It's gotten better since my BF told her the NH was still a viable option. But caregiving is just so exhausting even with a cooperative person.
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Trishg,I can relate to your predicament. 10 years ago I cared for an aged dear friend. She had no relatives, husband& only son had died years previously. Meanwhile, in conjunction with caring for the needs of my Mom & Aunt(for 16 years), 7 years ago my husband & I gave total care to my MIL for 6 mths, who died of Pancreatic Cancer. Then we cared for his Dad after his Mom died. His Dad died a month ago. Currently, we are down to 2(mom& Aunt both in their 90's).Although I feel terrible & I know my Aunt will be hurt, I am SERIOUSLY considering informing my Aunt I am stepping down as her POA for health & estate. I'm fried now. I keep thinking I need to conserve what little energy I have left to re-charge for my own health & that of my Husband should he become ill.
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I think the larger question is why you've been involved in successive caregiving episodes for others, when you didn't have to. The statement that you've cared for a man you didn't even want to be with puzzles me. You recognize this, but don't understand the underlying issues.

Do you have any idea why you've extended yourself to care for these other people?

Your mother is more important than those other people and you do owe her support, but not necessarily by direct in-home caregiving. You're fortunate that your mother is very insightful and practical and sees AL as an eventuality.

Support her in that, help her find a great place, make plans to visit, but as Babalou suggests, get some therapy to find out why you've been a repeat caregiver when you didn't have to.

Perhaps I missed it but I didn't see any mention of your working or having a career. You're young enough to go back to college if you haven't already and develop a career, while also finding out why you became involved so intimately in these other people's health needs and care.
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CarlaCB

Better to have mom in AL, where hopefully she is treated with dignity and looked after. OP will be surprised at how hard it will be to find an AL that puts people over profit.
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I would like to add from my own experience that I had a good relationship with my mother before she became disabled, and I feel certain I would love her a lot more if she had gone into assisted living as I initially suggested. She refused to do it and sobbed heartrendingly at the very suggestion, which induced my two older sisters to rush in with assurances that it would not be necessary, while I sat there dumbfounded, shocked that they would so easily sign our lives away just because Mom got emotional.

Now, five years down the line, one of said sisters is deceased, the other has very little time for Mom, and I am increasingly resentful of the fact that I can't move on with my life until Mom dies. You don't want that for you and your Mom, I'm sure.
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Your mother is giving you a gift of love while she still can. Accept it with gratitude. You will still be caring for her (and, I assume, your father) while she is in assisted living and you will be able to give them time and love from a position of strength and calm, free of the stress, strain and exhaustion you would undoubtedly experience as their full-time, hands-on caregiver. That's what your mother wants and is asking for. Your relationship will stay loving and (hopefully) resentment-free until the end if you go along with her request.
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I look at the lessons I have learned from my past and try to apply them to today. I imagine some of your life lessons have taught you how to navigate the health care system and how to advocate for someone who is chronically ill and/or dying, a very valuable skill! Use what you know to help your parents find a good placement and a geriatric doctor that will be proactive with their health needs. It is still caregiving, and it allows them a level independence that your mother clearly still wants.
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Your mother is sane, and not a narcissist. Don't feel guilty.

And i think that I'd get myself to therapy to figure out how to stop getting myself roped into caregiving duties.
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