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I can't think of many reasons why breaking my ankle is a positive thing. I'm trying to make good of a very bad situation I guess and this is what I have realized: I've been mostly helpless now for five days. I can get around by crawling, hopping on one foot, crutches - forget it - I don't need to fall again. Even with a walker, I can't take care of myself beyond a sponge bath, taking 10 minutes to get to the bathroom, etc. Bottom line - I am depending on my spouse to take care of me which he is trying to do. But, he isn't good at it, he doesn't anticipate my needs, I have to ask for everything, one by one. Then I feel like a baby, a nag, totally a burden. Its 11:40. I've had coffee, no breakfast, because I haven't said I want breakfast, so its assumed if I don't ask, I don't want it. If I ask, I feel like a pest so I am sitting here, hungry and contemplating whether it is worth it to heave myself out of the chair and hobble into the kitchen and eat a bowl of cereal while standing at the counter. Nah, I'll wait until I have to make a bathroom run and grab a cookie and maybe I'll get lunch in another hour or so.
Then it occurred to me - this is probably how most of our parents and grandparents must feel if they have any conscience or if they are still cognizant and know they are helpless and a burden for their most basic needs. I feel more sympathy for all of them, and for my mother (even though she has needs that she refuses to let anyone help her with - so she is the exception)
Anyway, I think about how it must feel to be really old, and wonder if I want to live if I can no longer take care of myself. Worse than being helpless is feeling like a burden.
Sorry for the rambling - I've had wayyyyyyyyyy too much time to think about things.

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AmyGrace, I can relate. My Mom isn't quite where yours is but definately has her moments. It's a battle to get her into the tub and she hates her hair being washed even more. But what you said at the end there, my Mom has been the same way, while she did incredible things and was an amazingly intelligent and courageous woman, she always put herself down and still does thru the dementia. It makes me soooo angry. Whatever negative influence that got to her in childhood stuck and it is so sad.
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vstefans. Yes, I am washing and ironing her blouses, jackets and slacks (and washing all the dirty dishes she sticks under the sink, etc). And no, she doesn't want me to do it because she doesn't think they need it. She will wear filthy stained ripped clothes, for days or weeks at a time. If I offer to wash and iron them, she gets nasty - "Everyone says I always look nice (they don't any more) - or when you are 100 years old you can't be expected to be clean." So basically, she just wants to wear what she wore 8 years ago when once someone complimented her, but her dementia makes it so she doesn't really care how she looks any more. Its more of a habit to wear what she is familiar with and nothing new. Five years ago, in IL, one of the residents kindly suggested to me that I might want to "take that jacket for a little while" because she wore it every single day for weeks". She hasn't showered in 3 years, she has refused her hair appointment for the past three weeks. Sadly, its her dementia progressing and I know she is depressed, always has been, and very negative. Unfortunately she refused to move to AL and family backed her for years (she has been incapable of taking medication responsibly and wouldn't let an aide in the door. A few years ago she either threw away 7 days of Aricept, or took it all in 2 days - all she said was she took it all, and everything was gone when I got there) I understand that one of the stages of Alzheimers is physical and verbal aggression and anger all of which she has started to exhibit. I know, deep down she is slipping, losing her grip on reality. Its very sad to watch. I'm sure she is very frightened. At 100 death is not far away and if I were that age I would think about it often. What is hard is to watch someone who is capable of some level of helping herself, but refusing to do it and refusing others also. Mom has always been weird that way, sort of self destructive.
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I spoke to my MIL yesterday. She's wonderful, so is my FIL. They're in their 80's and have been "ok" for the most part, although as my FIL says, "Getting old is not for sissies!" Physical issues mostly -- no dementia thank goodness.
Anyway, my FIL's vision has been going downhill for a while, and he stopped driving at night a few years ago. Yesterday, his eye doctor told him he couldn't drive at all anymore.
He's not at all like my mother, who was furious, indignant, and continued to drive anyway until we took her car away from her. He was sad, and so is my MIL, but they understand and will comply.
My husband and I were sympathetic and also relieved that he won't be driving anymore. Their daughter who lives somewhat nearby offered to pitch in (he volunteers at a hospice several times a week--really a wonderful man), and I know it's kind of a lot for her, so they're looking into other transportation. As gracious as they are about everything, it's still sad.
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@Capt: What the heck are you going on about??
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bla , bla , bla . ive been working on my mule faced helpers truck all day and its clear to me that she feels entitled to my help -- cause im a guy , im supposed to jump to save her in that department . what im going to do is fire her and do the stonework without her lethargic , overpaid , dumb ass ..
this goes back about 2 years . i fixed her car three times when she was my mothers hospice aid . when i asked her for the agreed upon respite she flatly refused the first time and ignored my text the second time i asked . men dont like being taken advantage of either . EVERYBODY pull out their debit card , heather destroys machines then expects other people to pay for it . what a joke ..
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AmyGrace, your mom is most likely angry and mean because she is depressed. And she may be depressed because she can't keep up appearances...in some ways it is not selfish, but trying to hold on to her standards by wanting to have her clothes ironed...switching to easy-care to her would mean she had given up. I'm assuming you also wash her "filthy" blouses and jackets? Or is she not letting you do that??
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My Mom will sometimes get to crying and saying that she is upset because she can't do anything. And sometimes she will cry when I'm changing her diaper, saying that I shouldn't have to be doing it..etc..so yeah, I totally think that it is an insult upon injury to these people who are already suffering.
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I've never been very mechanically inclined, to say the least, but I've never minded doing physical, "outdoor" stuff. There's a funny picture somewhere of me wielding a chain saw. It's a smaller version of the one you can rent at Home Depot - well, I couldn't rent it, because the guy behind the counter said I looked too small to handle it. Fair enough :)
I've helped my husband with some yucky tasks, like removing a dead rat from the attic, installing insulation in places he was too big to get to, and so on. But when we were discussing moving the t.v. in the living room from one wall to another, which would require the moving of a gazillion wires, speakers, etc., he told me that if it were just me living there, I should "just move" instead. And I think I would!
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cwillie, you are right about many older women not knowing how to maintain a home on their own... my Mom would be that way. I had to laugh back when I was first divorced how my Mom said she would send Dad over to my house to change the furnace filter, guess she thought it was come highly complex project :P But back in her generation, husbands had their chores, and wives had theirs, and rarely did it ever cross over.

But now my Mom is finally showing Dad how to use the washing machine, how to do some simple things in the kitchen, how to use the vacuum, how to write out a check, how to use the budget book, etc. Oh well, better late than never.... I mean very late as they are both in their 90's.

The newer generation is more crossed trained, thank goodness :) I was ahead of my time as I preferred to shadow Dad on his chores than my Mom. Oh well, I can't cook, but I know how to fix things.
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Breaking my ankle back in my 20's sensitized me to to the barriers that most don't seem to notice, from uneven sidewalks to thoughtlessly placing a bench below the buttons for and automatic door to websites that use creative low contrast colour schemes. It's beyond me why we are still building new homes, often of monstrous size, that still have narrow doorways and halls and devote not a second's thought to universal design principles.
As for the great divide between men and women, I think independent women have had to spend their lives learning how to do things in a different way from men, who often use their superior strength and height, not to mention the "old boys network", to get things done. Unfortunately many older women allowed their husbands to take care of things and were totally unprepared and/or unwilling to look after their homes, finances etc when they needed to.
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Another things I gets my goat is when sig other says he does a LOT for me.... yeah right, LOT of excuses.

This discussion has diffidently brought a new light on what our futures might be when we get older.

One thing I have noticed, men get to retired, but women never do. Dad retired and started doing things he enjoyed... Mom still continued with the cooking, laundry, bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, grocery shopping, setting up doctor appointments, etc.
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Jessie, I thought about your question. I think some parents may feel they are imposing if they ask for help if that is their personality when younger. But if they people are spoiled, like my mother who has no ability to perceive how others feel) or have dementia they may have other reasons. Mom's refusal for "help" for some things, from aides or even family has always been about personal pride, how she thinks it might look to others or just out and out stubborness to admit she needs it. Other help that I do, which doesn't involve her personally being around, like - all her finances, shop, run her all over to doctors, take her filthy blouses and jackets and iron them (she is too selfish to wear things that are easy to care for - she has her "image" of what she thinks people see) She doesn't care or appreciate at all. Her dementia makes it worse. She never touches us, hugs us, tells us she loves us any more. Today my sister visited and she was such a monster to her my sister brought her food and left. I can't do anything for her until I can walk and drive again, and frankly I'm glad I don't have to see her and listen to her complaints and now she has become aggressively angry and mean. I'm just waiting for her to become physical, and then I guess we will have to put her in memory care. For 100 years old she is remarkably strong.
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Of course, it was freqflyer. :D
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NYDaughter, what you wrote is so true. I have trouble asking for things. I wish family would offer help, instead of me always having to ask. I mean, my brothers act like they are doing a huge favor to even call my mother. I loved it earlier when someone wrote about expecting a parade for doing some little thing. I'll have to go back to see who said it. If I backtrack now I'll lose my message. :)
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This question did make me wonder something. AmyGrace, you feel like you're imposing on your husband to ask for help. Do you think that many of our elder care receivers feel this? I know that my mother has no understanding at all of the demands she puts on me. I do so much for her and usually all I hear is, "What do you do? You don't do anything!" That is most disheartening. It makes me feel like maybe I should go get a pumpkin and some pet mice to magically change to horses and carriage.

I do think that most of us can empathize with our parents. The problem tends to most often go the other way when parents lose empathy with their adult children.
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A monk once told me "When you wash the dishes WASH the dishes." It's about being present and in the moment. Unfortunately, too many people can't be bothered to give their full attention to things they consider mundane or boring. They act self-important and many have personality disorders including narcissism. Men are particularly oblivious because their mothers treated them like little princes who never had to pick up their clothes, make their beds, or cleanup after themselves. Fathers reinforced the son's sense of entitlement to be catered to by others and especially by women. How many times does a person need to ask before it sinks in that breakfast would be nice? I am so tired of hearing "but all you have to do is ask." Perhaps the proper response is "all you have to do is think."
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My ex had a 2-day limit on compassion. He would be oh so supportive on Day 1 if I had a problem, less supportive on Day 2, then irritated with me on Day 3. Notice I said ex.
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I wish we could edit our posts! I hit the wrong key, and now its posted before I could edit!
Anyway, just wanted to add to Gershun - you are so right! The ability to brush our own hair, step into the shower, put on our socks and shoes - every is a gift.!
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Nice to know I'm not alone! That book "Mars and Venus" is so true. Drives me crazy when the media tries to force one size fits all for men and women in many ways we are (because we are human), but in social interactions, interests etc there can be big differences.
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Another way to look at this is to really appreciate what you are still able to do.
Caregiving really opened my eyes to that. I have a whole new appreciation for showering, wiping my own bum, just getting out of bed by myself with no assistance. They all seem like luxuries to me now.
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I was in an auto accident with a head injury, still dealing with over a year later. My husband did have to take the lead for a while caring for our daughter. I was able to do things for myself, but stayed dizzy for quite sometime. Not being able to drive drove me batty and I relied on him and my parents for transportation for 4 months. On the plus side for Amygrace is your ankle will hopefully heal completely. My sister is just healing from recent ankle break and she had to stay with a friend a while. So I can imagine it really opens your eyes to how our parents we are caring for are feeling.
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Doesn't one have to be in the hospital for 3 nights before one can get visiting nurses or physical therapy at home? In today's medical world, just about everything is now out-patient, even my mastectomy was out-patient... [sigh]
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Visiting nurse services can be ordered by your physician if you can not take care of yourself. You can also get in home PT OT and home health aide to assist with personal care and etc. Usually covered by insurance.

You might consider Meals on Wheels --- they can deliver to you a hot meal 5 days a week (at least in our area) and can also include evening and weekend meals. A person who is disabled temporarily can qualify for this assistance I believe.

If you are part of a faith community, check with your clergy or office staff about volunteers that might be able to help you during this short term need.

You need to make your husband a list (breakfast in the AM and Lunch by noon and pain pills at X and Y.....) you need to keep up your strength. My husband would go days without eating...so I have to remind him that I can not do that. Even if you just told him which boxes of cereal you need near your recliner...and put milk and other beverages in a cooler with ice that you can reach. He can be asked to refill this a couple of times a day. Make a list of places for To Go food for Lunch and dinner...and have him go and pick it up or pick ones that deliver.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery....don't be afraid to ask for help.
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sandwich42plus, that reminds me of the time when I was staying in the hospital after having surgery, our hospital has available a nice recliner for the spouse/sig other so they can sleep in the same room overnight. I was so scared after surgery and wanted sig other to stay. He didn't want to stay.....

Well, it will still early in the evening, I was alone in that room, so I started to channel surf... ah ha... now I saw why sig other didn't want to stay... the Yankees were playing that evening. I am still spitting nails over that. Or as Dr. Phil would say "women have long memories".
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Same here, I dread the future if I should need any help.... all sig other would do is stand around with his hands in his pockets not knowing what to do. I really believe their Mom's spoiled them. They never got to see their Dad's be caregivers...if someone was sick at home, the men would be sitting out on the front porch until someone call them in for dinner. Don't get me wrong, not all men are like that. My boss waited on his ill wife hand and foot, he adored her.

My sig other would think he was being gracious telling me don't bother cooking for him since I am recovering from whatever, he will get something out for himself. Ok, I guess that means I need to struggle to get to the kitchen so I can have something to eat. Like, what's up with that???

And why do we have to ask them for hugs?
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I have had to point out to my husband in the past when he was acting hostile or resentful or put out for having to help with new babies or if my elbow was broken. He is blissfully unaware of the little noises, eye rolls, his curtness, the fact I have to enumerate every little detail of what I need because he can't think of it. "How am I supposed to know!!!" We have had some doozy fights over it when I tell him that he does NOT get to act like the victim in these situations. Suck it up and get the ___ job done. And try not to act like a flipping teenager in the process. We're still married after 20 years, so it apparently hasn't broken our relationship!

I also am concerned for the future should I become an invalid. So many men fall into this category that is can't be coincidence. They never played with dolls or were forced to be the quiet, gentle, anticipatory one in the family. They were taught the opposite. Don't be like mom, be a rough and tough dude who never emotes, never expresses sentiment, and by golly absolutely never exhibits a soft side in front of people.

I live in fear of an old age where I'm not mobile and I have to coerce him out of his recliner, away from the football, and away from the beer to bring me some water, or help me toilet, or clean up, etc. I raised two kids with him, but I pray to God I'm never compromised and dependent on him.
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freqflyer, so glad you understand. My hubby will happily do anything I ask as far as house repair, improvement, yard, etc but when it comes to showing the least bit of sympathy or compassion when I need health care help, it seems he just does the robot thing. He doesn't ask for praise when he cooks me dinner because I can't even stand up, but he acts irritable and it makes me want to apologize for "putting him out" so he can't get his usual projects done. Then he says "it is what it is and we'll deal with it" - boy that makes me feel great yeah. Just one hug to tell me he feels bad for me would go a million miles. He will watch me struggle to get to my feet after pulling myself up to a chair, offer his hand, but it is such a completely cold neutral gesture. He is clueless, and you can't make a person feel compassion - either it is in them, or it isn't. I think it was how he was raised, and how he raised his kids (he was married for 25 years before me). No sympathy when anyone was ill, just soldier on and deal with it. He's a wonderful man otherwise, but I have to admit, I am concerned for the future. Eventually I will have something serious happen and I don't think I want him to care for me. I just know he will resent it, and although he won't say it, I will know it. I can see the future because I have had a lot of minor health problems plus a chronic bad back and now osteoporosis so I know I could eventually fall and break a hip. I'm not rich so I don't know how I can plan to be cared for as I need it if that happens. I have enough to worry right now - trying to make sure my mother is ok from 40 miles away. I guess I'm on a pity trip
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AmyGrace, your hubby and my sig other must be from the same cloth... "he doesn't anticipate my needs, I have to ask for everything, one by one." When I had major surgery years ago, I really felt like I was all alone, even though sig other was in the house. Of course if anyone asks him if he helped me, you would think he very devoted and helped me 24/7 :P And why is it when they actually do something, you feel like you need to throw him a parade !!

Anyway, I understand how it would relate to be older and not able to do things for yourself. One thing to be thankful for if the internet, I can buy groceries and have them delivered to my door. Same with clothes. Back in the early 1980's we couldn't do that. Now, I just need to keep one step ahead of the curve to keep up with new technology.
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Very true. I wonder if my mother feels that way as she has never said. They say we should all walk a mile in someone else's moccasins. This is a lesson for me on how it feels to be unable to do some things for yourself. It is also a lesson for my future, at least, that we would all be better off if we try to help ourselves as much as we can. Caregivers are human, not martyrs, not every caregiver loves caring 24/7 or has compassion, or even is empathetic enough to anticipate basic needs
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Well, you really don't get a choice about how long you have to live in a dependent state. So you either learn to accept things as they are or you need medications to protect others from your wrath. Elders get caught between not wanting to live and being afraid to die. Limbo.
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