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My mother is completely alone in life. Although she is not in a great amount of pain, she can no longer walk, dress herself or go to the bathroom. Her adult children are not in positions that they can stop working to look after her. Her care is approximately $10,000 a month out of pocket. No matter how "attractive" her surroundings are, living at this stage with no mobility is for the very wealthy, which she is not. It's clear that our society and the medical industry at large has not fully debated why we believe we should live as long as we can when in reality the cost and loneliness that accompanies a very long life is in reality a nightmare. My father and I worked diligently to make smart investments to weather whatever might come but there is no way that most working American's can actually afford the cost that is necessary to keep people alive when it's clear that they have lived much too long.

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Comment on meds: i just turned 79, still working full time. I had a heart attack almost 20 years ago, got off all the prescription drugs (statins and some of the others nearly did me in), have a supplement assortment that keeps the blood pressure, sugar and weight under control along with a very limited diet. I live at my daughter's and take care of myself, still driving (but I try to avoid out of town at night).
I know I'm fortunate to have good genes (my grandmother lived to 92, still taking care of herself, and her sister lived to 102. I have four cousins in their mid 90's, still have bodies and minds working.)
My own plan is to stay active and keep going as long as possible.
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NY-DIL - If I didn't step in to take care of my mom, then she would suffer, relatives would guilt trip me, my conscience would eat at me, so I had to. No other choice. It is technically an active decision, but it sure feels like being forced. I resent my loss of freedom, my loss of time to spend with my children and husband.

I'm going to plan better so my children won't have to be forced to take care of me.
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"We are being forced by guilt or obligation to give up our lives for our parents to be here." It's not a passive thing, Polar. Caregiving is a decision; it's an active choice. And, in hindsight, many of us would not make the choice again. That is telling!
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Supcola - I usually hear "I would give anything for my mom/dad to still be here with me" only from people whose that particular parent is already dead.

I don't usually hear anyone who is currently taking care of their parents and having burn out say anything close to that. Most of us would say we want our lives back. We are being forced by guilt or obligation to give up our lives for our parents to be here.
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Quality of life, living till we die,  taking care of our parents, our siblings, feeling like you have no life, no one to help, having enough money,

Quality of Life:  Defined by the person and not by others.  There's a lot of talking that needs to be done before we are faced with caregiving.  Find out what quality of life means to your loved one.  It may be less than what you think.

Living till we die: This is called the sanctity of life.  I will make sure that my family knows what my quality of life needs to look like and strive for the best.

Taking care of our parents, siblings or other relative: It is an honor to care for someone.  I am not saying it is easy.  I'm not saying everyone is cut out for it.  Just sometimes it's "tag your it."

Feeling like you have no life:  Find a way.  Figure out something. Anyone who is a caregiver needs to be able to feel like they are NOT hostages.  If you don't find a way you will become resentful.

No one to help: Find an elderly program that may have social workers who know of services provided at low or no cost.  You are not alone.  We all need help, but we need to ask for it.

Having enough money:  Maybe this is where a lot of the frustration stems from, not enough money.  Long Term Care...why isn't Medicare changing with the census.  Many baby boomers, yet; no insurance for Long Term Care (OK, well it costs money).  Getting help even if it is temporary. 

I feel for each and every one of you when I come to the site and read.  I'm surely not the one to offer advise.  I just wish I had found this site before my dad passed away.
I would give anything for him to still be here with me.
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I think it depends. My dear MIL was fine to 93. Then she went into hospital for something minor, and deteriorated rapidly after that. She live to 99+, and I am sure she would gladly have skipped the last six years. Other people pass the tipping point in their 80s. It’s much easier to make the call looking back afterwards, not so easy to pick it at the time.
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My cousin is 97, drives, gets speeding tickets, tells off the cops, cooks, cleans, active in the community and is a hoot! She cooks and cleans for her friends that can’t do it for themselves. She goes to exercise classes.

Don’t you wish everyone could live like that? She has no walker, no cane, dresses beautifully, she does not look 97! I think a lot of it is her attitude about life in general.

She’s a very caring woman who has buried two children, one daughter was only five years old, the other one was in her forties, heart attack.

She has never showed any bitterness. She lost her mom at a very young age, a baby and her dad abandoned her. He remarried and devoted his life to his new family and forgot about his other kids. Her brother was my godfather, sweet man. He died young. Her sister committed suicide.

She was raised by two old and mean aunts who told her she would never accomplish anything in her life because she was dumb and ugly. Of course she wasn’t either of them. Straight A student and moved far away after graduation and ended up working in DC. Met the love of her life and married.

My great aunts told her she was too ugly to find a man and marry. Crazy, huh?

My cousin always had a ‘Devil May care’ attitude and I swear I think she will make it to 100 and still be in good shape.

My husband’s great grandma lived just shy of 102. No medical issues. Died of natural causes, basically old age.
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Quality over quantity, plain and simple. My husband turned 90 last April, and I don’t see his life as quality anymore. He sleeps around 15 or more hours a day, he cannot shower or dress himself, his diaper has to be changed through out the day, he has to be given instructions on absolutely everything. His over all health is good (thanks to modern medicine) and he could live another ten years. His great health insurance has paid a great deal money to keep him healthy, but it will not pay for a nursing home. He had emergency surgery this year to stop bleeding in his bladder. I told the nurse he has a DNR and she said he would need to sign a new one. He didn’t want to sign it, so I told her that my responsibility was only until death do us part ONCE, and he would need to be taken care of by someone if his heart stoped and he was given the opportunity to die naturally at 90. I then drove home, while he was in surgery, to get my PoA. I’m blessed, but being on call 24/7 is taking away from my quality of life. I do have a private pay person that is amazing, but ultimately the responsibility falls on me.
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Amen. My mother is 92.5 years old and living in Memory Care at $6400 a month. She hates it there, and wants to go back to Assisted Living where she couldn't handle it for 9 months before she got pneumonia and went to rehab. She has chf, afib, is wheelchair bound, has moderate dementia, has had 2 bouts of pneumonia which she recovered from, 3 severe nosebleeds which required trips to the ER, chronic vertigo, has been incontinent for 3+ years, chronic insomnia, stage 3 kidney disease, a moderate stroke about 11 months ago, severe neuropathy in her legs, chronic depression and anxiety........and and AND. She's 'with it' enough to complain non-stop about who's not doing enough for her, and how her grandchildren don't visit her, and how me, the only child, isn't there enough, and yada yada. It's all too much, isn't it? Yet medical science will keep her alive through it all..........I fully expect her to keep fighting tooth and nail to stay alive through more bouts of pneumonia, more nosebleeds, more vertigo, and just more bad health in general. The next step is a Skilled Nursing Facility when she runs out of money and that will force me to go thru the Medicaid application process which I'm dreading with every ounce of my being.

Living to THIS level of old age is a nightmare, and I do not want to do it myself. So I won't. Plain and simple. I would never put my children or myself (or my husband) through the torture chamber and plan to have 'suicide pills' available for both of us, if necessary. A person needs to determine when enough is enough.
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Agree, Tom. As a matter of fact, the funeral director I used (for mom) told me: majority of people he handles died around 70-75 yrs old. (He stated that: my mom, @90yrs old, was an exception).
Actually mom's health was great until 75, which kind of lines up with his description. After 75, mother just struggled & got more pills ect, but no quality of life was added by them..only delayed her pain & suffering for another 16.5 years.
By the end, she was nearly begging God to take her home.
Yeah, man's chemicals are really just making big pharma richer & people poorer.
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My boss is 84 years old and has no plans for retirement. I am in my mid 70's now. We joke the only way we will know to close up shop is when we both need to take Uber to and from work.
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Many in my family lived to be close to 100. They had wonderful health. They walked or took public transportation. They ate home cooked food, not trashy fast food. They did very well. They read constantly, had sharp minds, volunteered in church and community. They were admired and respected. I have a cousin who is 97 and very active, no health issues, no walker or cane. She is doing great. Not all elderly people are in poor health or have ALZ or dementia.

I wish that my mom were so lucky. She has Parkinson’s disease.
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I agree totally. My MIL has been on the slow road to oblivion for more than 5 years. Beginning at age 92, her dementia had advanced to the point that she couldn’t be left alone. My husband and I cared for her, first in her home with a few hours of paid help, then in our home 24/7 for 5 years! After that, I was nearly bonkers myself.

For the last 6 months, she has been in a facility that costs $11 K per month. I hope each day that she will quietly slip away in her sleep. There is very little pleasure left in her life and the exorbitant cost will take everything she hoped to leave for her grandchildren.

She is 97 now and who knows how long this dwindling will last. I have resolved in my own mind not to place this kind of burden on my own children.
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I am 65 years old. I have good medical care and have worked hard to make good diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. But I still have health problems. Last year I had 4 cardiac procedures, cataract surgery. I also had full dental implants done prior to cardiac surgeries. Within the next 30 days I will have surgery for port placements to begin dialysis. Not looking forward to the surgery or dialysis, but I’m not ready to check out yet. But the one bright spot is once dialysis is started you can’t go back to normal. Once I make the choice to stop dialysis I will die shortly thereafter and I’m glad that I will have that choice.
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I completely agree! Quality of life matters. We should not be filling the pockets of doctors who schedule more and more appointments so they can have a bigger house and take another vacation. It’s a scam on the aged and caregivers.
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My dad is 92 and has stated that he might outlive me at age 62. I wouldn't put it past him....
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I really don't think there is a magic age to "check out" as some say. I don't want to have the terrible quality of life my mother had, nor do I want to be someone's burden. Of course with no children, it's going to be all paid help for me. My husband is 77, takes no medicine and hikes in the mountains. I am significantly younger, but cannot keep up with him. Sometimes I think it's because he does not waste energy on taking care of others. I am broken after so many years caregiving my mother. Why am I still on this forum 6 months after her death?
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I'll agree with that one. I read an excellent book about this called Rethinking Aging: Growing Older and Living Well in an Overtreated Society. The author is Nortin Hadler, MD.
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When I was in my early twenties, I went to a psychic for a reading. I wouldn't say I was gullible; just thought it would be a bit of fun. She announced the usual; you will find love...your career will progress ... and very matter of fact like she stated I would die at 85 due to heart disease. Great...85 is a long way off.! Now that I'm 68 with HBP (under control) 85 still looks fine to me. If I don't make it, that is my fate.
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It's good to hear she's in no great pain. The story of your father and you is certainly inspiring. It's my belief our society clings to Science as savior, and Science can do mighty impressive things. I am glad for nearly all of them.

My Gran had pithy statements for many things, and one of them was "When people get to be so old, they ought to take them out to a wall and shoot them!" She lived to 86, mobile to the last, and died swiftly of a stroke after enjoying a nice dinner at my mom's. She never said who "they" were and why/how "they" would make murderers of themselves.

I would be interested to know if you've heard of a sale to a child of a mortgage-burdened home of the parents. In this cozy arrangement, parents sell property to an adult child or to a specially designed trust for the long-term benefit of the younger generation and then lease the property back. The parents get:

Tax-free cash or out from under the mortgage.
A place to live.

The purchasers get rental income that, for tax purposes, is generally offset by related business expenses.
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Same with my mom Willie. She survived cancer, breast and skin. Quadrupole bypass at eighty, severe osteoporosis that caused horrible stress fractures in her spine. You name it, she went through it. Not to mention losing her husband to cancer, raising seven kids on her own, one being mentally ill and then having one of them die before her.

Yep, she was a strong Irish woman. All things considered making it to 92 was no small feat.
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I've heard that people who have always been fit tend to keel over and die with their first health crisis while those who have had many health challenges throughout life have learned how to fight, so that even when their bodies fail they can coast along for a very long time. That was certainly true for my mother - she had heart trouble and nearly died when I was in my teens then was quite ill for the next decade or more, in the end she held on years beyond what any of us ever imagined possible.
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It is interesting when people die. A friend who is a nurse told me that people who had every chance of living would suddenly die and others who were at death’s door lived. So we never know, do we? Same with age. Some young people are sicker than some old people.

I personally don’t want to live to be really old if I am in poor health. I’m 63. I picked up a living will at the doctor. I definitely don’t want unnecessary prolonging of life if there isn’t any chance of survival for me.
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I knew a woman who had final stage breast cancer, chemo, bone marrow transplant, surgery and reconstruction, the whole bit!

I really thought she would die. Everyone did. She looked me straight in the eye and said that she was not going to die because she was “too mean to die!” None of us could argue with her. She was dreadfully mean! Guess what? She beat the odds. She survived the breast cancer. So much for living your life right for good karma, haha.

Was horrible how it all began. At forty she did her first mammogram and they did not tell her the results. So she thought, no news is good news. Did not follow up to get results. Then taking a shower she felt a lump. Had been on hormones. Well, the cancer nearly killed her but she fought with a vengeance!

She sued the hospital, won tons of money for her children. Died not to long afterwards because she was a long time smoker. She then said, her mean behavior and fighting couldn’t save her any longer.
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My dad is 92 and really doesn't have a good quality of life anymore. I don't want to be a burden on my kids. I really hope I'm gone before that happens.
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A twenty-something woman I work with recently announced, "When I get real old, like 50 or 60, I'll be ready to go." Well, I'm 62 and not ready to check out yet.:)
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The big factors in increased mean life expectancy are

town planning
vaccination
clean water and effective sewerage
antisepsis
Pasteurisation
anaesthesia
obstetric care
absence of major wars

more or less in that order of discovery. It's the things that kill young people that make the real difference. Antibiotics have been wonderful while they lasted but they didn't make the biggest jump. Blood pressure treatments and statins are just tinkering with the back end.
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Well men evolved didn't they? People who invented Penicillin etc and now cholesterol lowering drugs and heart medicine were not around then. This earth and the people in it are on a journey I suppose. I don't think we're supposed to know the why's and wherefores but if you ask God maybe he'll give you the answers that you need for your own personal journey.
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I appreciate the spirit of the last comment, but it doesn’t make sense. Why did God decide to allow the invention of vaccinations, or of blood pressure medications, which undoubtedly prevent and postpone death in many many people? Did God decide that from about 1950 He would number the days differently? My GP says that few of his patients would live for long beyond 85 without drugs (and particularly drugs related to heart function), but the options are rarely discussed, particularly in a Nursing Home context. The budget of many Western countries is increasingly overwhelmed by the costs of the very elderly and close to death. It is hard to see who genuinely benefits.
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I think that without quality, quantity is pointless.

I do believe that our days are numbered and God has made that decision and there is a reason why some live active, healthy fulfilled lives into their 90s and some are in a living nightmare at a young age. I don't know why but I believe there is a reason that only God can answer.

Live each day as though it were your last. Live, love and laugh as though each day were your first. There in is happiness.
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