I have mixed feelings about caring for aging parents.

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I wanted to acknowledge some feelings I've been going through and I found this forum to be supportive and helpful. I'm sorry in advance for the lengthy post and I give my hats off to you if you have the patience to read till the end :)

I'm a 29 year old daughter, 30 in 3 months, living with my aging, slightly health-challenged parents. They are fully functional but I have witnessed their reduced mobility and their increasing health problems (Dad is 65, an engineer about to retire soon, had two open heart surgeries in his lifetime, prone to kidney stones and gallstones, diabetic type 2, and must watch his cholesterol and fat intake. He does not exercise and spends most of his free time watching tv or on the computer; Mom is 50-something, intensely diabetic type 2 diagnosed in her late adult life, has arthritis in the knees, exercises lightly once in a while, and I would say is a bit more "active" than my dad because she's been a housewife all her life and cooks, cleans, etc).

My younger sibling, right after finishing university, found a great job teaching kindergarden in Kuwait and has been there for the past 3-4 years. My older sibling is married and living in Australia. Once a hard-working business girl with a hectic schedule that left no time for social life, she's now a stay-at-home mom (for the time being).

I am very grateful for the love and care my parents have given me during my life so far. However in the past couple of years, a few sore points have surfaced, such as me not being married yet. This has been especially hard for my parents, for both my younger sibling and I. We come from a culture that places a lot of importance on marriage and securing yourself a family, etc. Personally, I do want to get married but I don't want to rush anything and I equally put a lot of value on living your youth, travelling and establishing your career and character before tying the knot.

Feeling a little hindered living at home, and being fed up with living in Montreal where weather, corruption and taxes can be unpleasant, I finally summoned up the intention to move and explore a new life, hopefully finally make that career change (from engineer to full-time photographer (and yes I did study photography at a university :)), and of course, meet new guys. I wanted to do it this year, 2013.

But over the holidays, my dad had to be hospitalized because of a stone infecting his gallbladder, his liver, his intestines, etc. The pain he went through seemed horrible, many a nights moaning and such. My mom and I took care of him, visiting in the hospital, getting him what he needs, etc. They performed a surgery to remove the stone and he is back at home, well and resting.

My feelings during the hospitalization (it was the second time in 2 months he had to be hospitalized for this issue)...was that of sadness for the pain my dad was going through, resentment for him not having a more healthy lifestyle, determination for myself to lead a more active lifestyle more than ever (I already practice mindful eating and regularly exercise, but again, coming from a family whose history and cultural roots does not emphasize healthy eating and exercise, and being curvy myself, I always felt like the odds were against me haha...but I am working hard at demolishing that "excuse"!), and then the other feeling I had, which is why I am writing this all now is....a bit of anger and fear. Anger that I'm the sibling that is left to deal with this alone, having to take on the responsibility and atmosphere of living with older people that have lost the zest of youth. I know it's bad of me, and with anger comes guilt at feeling this, but I just have to acknowledge it. They took care of me when I was little, and have nurtured me, educated me, never kicked me out of the house telling me to pay my own rent and buy my own food. But I think I've come to a point where I need to provide for my own young adult life. I see the relationship now between my siblings and my parents, over the webcam, or phone or when they visit - and I see a certain respect between them that I don't have with my parents. And then fear of not being able to move to a new city or country and have that living abroad experience - because I'll feel guilty of leaving my parents to live alone. Although as I said, their health problems are not severe, just regular aging problems.

All of these feelings I've just described - sadness, resentment, determination, anger and fear - have all came out externally. I've been caring for my dad (sadness), I've been reprimanding him for not eating healthier or being more active (resentment), I've talked my parents' ears off about how I am watching what I eat these days and exercising intensively (determination), I've been rude to my dad (anger), and I've been procrastinating with the detail planning phase of my move (fear).

I don't know how to get rid of this attitude that I consider immature and unattractive. Any thoughts? Thank you so much.

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hi everyone, i wanted to thank you all for your wise words and support. there's alot of truth in what you wrote - i do have to move on with my own life, and not feel guilty about leaving the nest. the gravity of my parents' health is maybe bigger in my head than it actually is, and i know my sisters will understand my decision. my parents have an idea about me moving, we've talked about it for a while now. but when i acknowledged more and more their aging and mortality, i guess it gave me something to think about. i'm quite a 'passionate about life' person (not an uncommon thing), so i pursue pleasure and hard work and love and all that stuff...so i think these reactions i described earlier were also because i was dealing with the reality of life, that we will all slow down and age, and eventually die one day.

i will definitely talk to my parents about their own plans for the future. and NancyH, yes my mom is challenging herself to cook a little healthier and make wiser choices while grocery shopping :) thank you...eating well is so important!

thank you all again for your support...and may 2013 bring you health and happiness among your loved ones!
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blush, If you are close enough to your parents to actually sit with them and voice your concerns about BOTH theirs AND your future's, then I'd say do it. Tell them what you wrote here, and ask them if they have a plan in place for their future. Maybe they need to be getting 'long term' health care now while your dad is still working. That would pay for a nursing home or whatever in the future. I'd just be honest with them about all that's on your mind, and see what shakes out. You don't have to berate them for being lazy and not wanting to exercise more, they already know that.. believe me. You could however find a good diabetic cookbook and challenge your mother who knows all about planning meals since she was a stay at home mom, to try out some recipes. Good luck on yours and your folk's futures.
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It is time for you to move out and get on with your life. In fact, it is overdue. Yes, your parents took good loving care of you. That's what parents do. They took good loving care of your sibling, too, and I don't see your siblings hobbled with guilt about living their own lives.

Your parents are younger than I am. They have minor health issues (as I do). They do not need a live-in caregiver any more than I do. And having you their doesn't seem to be helping, does it? They still aren't exercising or eating better. The gallstones aren't going away because you are there, are they?

Maybe in twenty years your parents really will need some caregiving. You can decide then, with your sibling, how best to handle that.

Staying is not really helping your parents. It is certainly harming you. Time, and past time, to get out and start living your own life.
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It may seem harsh but you always have to take care of yourself and your future first. I am sure your parents do not expect you to give up your life to take care of them. We know several families with parents in other countries and no one is rushing back home to sacrifice the rest of their life/family to care for parents.

Are there other family or friends in the area that could pop in to visit once in a while to make sure all is well? You might check with their doctors to see about an evaluation by a Home Health Provider to determine what the immediate needs are and get that all in place. Planning is so important at this point in their life. Possibly it is time to look at assisted living apartments?

I know it is a difficult situation but you are not responsible for your parents' lifestyle choices. Communicate with your siblings and get their feelings aout all this. Have your parents talked to you all about their plans for these years ahead? I wish you well!
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correction..."However in the past couple of years, a few sore points have surfaced, such as me not being married yet. This has been especially hard for my parents, for both my younger sibling and I." - I mean ON both my younger sibling and I, since we are not married yet.
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