Taking care of our elderly.

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My 3 sisters and I are helping take care of our elderly parents. They both have health issues (mom more than dad). They have drove us nuts and continue to at times and we've done things for them they I never ever thought I'd have to...changing depends, cleaning up puke etc. As much as I don't want to do certain things I think back to when we were babies/kids and all they did and sacrificed for us. I know there are times when we need outside help (believe me we've used agencies that provided help for things we can't do). I just wonder why so many don't want to return the favor and help their parent(s) out more?! I KNOW things can be very stressful but I always remind myself to take a breath, step away if need be and remember all that my parents did for me when they probably didn't want too/and or was at their wits end.

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Reading all the comments shows me many different facets of the reality vs. ideology.

My mother-in-law stayed with us for 20+ years. She felt very uncomfortable - almost paranoid - of being alone so my wife quit her career as a Research Scientist. We took her wherever we went however we two could not go anywhere on our own leaving her alone. Last three years she was in Nursing Home and my wife visited her EVERY DAY for 8 hrs/day. Yes, it was strenuous and our relationship got impacted since her mom was the priority umber one.

However, I do not regret it at all. I am glad that I was able to help her take care of her mom. Blessings of parents are important if one believes in Karmic Theory.

My older brother is 10,000 miles away and his only child is here. He chose to be away since he did not have enough money for medical care here and had could not qualify for Medicaid. He is 77 and his wife is 78 and she takes care of him. I visit them every year and I see the toll that has taken on her. There is no way, his son, being the distance, can take care of him. My brother came for 6 months to be with his son and all the doctors said that he should be in nursing home (has variant of Parkinson called Shy Drager Syndrome) but his wife refused to have him move to nursing home.

Having said this, I realize, after reading the comments as to how truly difficult the situation can be for many. There is no nuclear family any more and folks are scattered all over so the nearest one gets the burden. Medical advances have lengthened the life span but not the Quality of the Living. I read a book by Dr. Atul Gawande "Being Mortal." I recommend to read it by everyone. Though I am 70 year and in good health, I keep praying to the Almighty NOT to burden my kids (or anyone else) for long illness and ruin their life. I hope our good Karma will fulfill my prayers.
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and japan intends to " robot -- ize " every aspect of the manufacturing and service industries . japan , in their 25th year of economic recession and high unemployment .
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There's about 400 Billion dollars - in 2009 currency - worth of "free" caregiving to the ill going on in the US by about 30% of the US population. Who by the way, are primarily untrained, definitely uninspected, and unlicensed. Where are our priorities and values as a society to do this to the caregivers and the care receivers?

If society really had better values and priorities, people would not have to struggle and battle and suffer the way they do.

Aid for the impoverished would not be cut back year on year while this population grows year on year. Clueless legislators would not tell poor families they can no longer buy grains and beans in bulk or fish with assistance funds (WI....looking at you.)

Taking care of the weakest, most vulnerable, and least powerful among us would not be so poorly paid and respected while fools in ivory corporate towers accumulate more money than they can spend in 100 lifetimes for cutting jobs, ruining the environment, and spitting in the eye of the society that even makes them possible.
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Wow, sandwich42plus, you articulated a profound observation very well!
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From my few years on this board I have concluded, we have a generation on our hands who had everything about their life "just taken care of". They had new schools to attend, very generous salaries, benefits, and career potential & longevity compared to today. It was possible to graduate from high school, get married, start at the bottom and work your way up while supporting 2.5 children, a car, and a house on one salary. You could put yourself through college on a part time job and emerge without debt. You could serve in the military and come out the other end with free college, great loan rates, and a host of other benefits.

They did not have to spend a decade or more doing in-home care because their parents didn't live nearly as long as people do today. Diseases that killed in short order then, don't now.

They had much better access to a lot of things that are either cut back to the bone or non-existent today. This economic and social change is lost on them though.
Somebody (that's us by the way) is supposed to "just take care of it" as has always been done.

Except what we have to deal with today is nowhere close to the way it was. We all have debt going up, salaries going down, a thousand times more uncertainty at work, and volatility in every aspect of life it seems. You can lose your entire retirement on the capricious decisions of a corporate president and board of directors. There is no loyalty to employees or reward for hard work as there was before. Corporations are as unethical as they can get away with being.

You can work 25, 30, 40 years and have no pension to speak of. No assurance of much at all. Unless you're downsized because you have seniority and the higher salary that needs to be cut to humor board of directors who place no value on workers.

It's d@mn near impossible to take care of things the way that should be possible, that should be good for people and families. The caregiver situation needs a lot more public attention, policy protections, and the whole society is going to have to kick in to support it. We're all going to need it at some point or other.
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3rdPup, my parents never took care of their own parents because the distance was too far, but my parents had a lot of siblings, the sibling's spouses and a lot of grandchildren who were old enough to drive to help.

The other day I tried to explain to my Dad how overwhelming all of this is for me as my parents [mid-90's] choose to remain in their large home instead of moving to a fantastic retirement community just down the road, which they could easily afford, where they would have had MORE freedom... nope.... they have to depend on me, instead.

I explained to my Dad when his Mom needed help there were 15 relatives who his Mom could depend upon.... and my Mom's parents there were 12 relatives who her parents could depend upon.... for my own parents, there is JUST ME, and occasionally my sig other. I am an only child who was never blessed with children. I am so exhausted emotionally, and my own age decline is coming at me quickly because of this... my parents could still outlive me.

My parents had 25 fun filled years of retirement, lots of travel, etc. Here I am pushing 70 and I probably won't see retirement... sigh... all that frugal savings throughout my life will now go to my own assisted living care instead of traveling to see the world :(

Couple years ago my Dad had asked me to give up my career to drive him and Mom all over hill and dale.... I asked my Dad if he gave up his career to care for his parents.... his answer was no... he never asked me again.
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There are many layers to this, but one important point is that child-rearing was an integral part of the life my parents chose, while eldercare is an interruption or in the worst case a complete derailment of the life we chose. So it really can't be viewed as "returning the favor." How is ending a relationship or leaving a job "returning the favor?" Our parents didn't have to choose between their kids and their relationship, or their kids and their source of income. It's that type of language that makes people (like me) defensive.

I like what Mallory said about the "innermost sanctum". I articulate it differently, but in my ethical framework, we are moral agents who have not only the right but the duty to uphold our personal highest values. Not everyone holds their parents' care and comfort as among their highest values, and that can be due to the nature of the relationship, the parent's qualities, or simply the person's other competing values.

Many of us get roped into caregiving because there are no better options, and many others avoid it simply because they can. I'm angry at my siblings for not understanding what a burden this is for me, but as far as not wanting to sacrifice to help Mom, I understand that completely.
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Well, you don't have to wonder "why so many don't want to return the favor and help out their parents".. I believe you got your answer...
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3rd pup, (I love your nickname), the the answer is, we have no idea why the other pups do not share in this incredible burden. We can guess and hypotesize, but really only each person knows why. I've done what I can do (and the small pay I get doesn't cover what my career could have been). It will eat me alive if I dwell on all the various freedoms my sibs have. Try to imagine if today is your last day on Earth -- what would you do? Go kiss mom goodbye and then go to cherish th3
e last few hours of your own life? Or spend your last hours changing mom's diapers? Please value your own Life more. Then the question is no longer about everyone else but about what really matters, your own life. If you choose to include mom into your innermost sanctum, your own Life, then I don't think you would be asking the question. So maybe you are trying to value yourself more but coming up against resistance--maybe it is trying to guide you, back to You.
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I cared for my dad for 12 years. He had Alzheimer's. I have been caring for my Mom for 7 years now and she has cancer. I'm a single mom with no child support. I'm a nurse but I can't work full time because my mom' s dementia is progressing. I love my parents dearly and I'm blessed to care for them but my rich brother who lives out of state doesn't realize how these past 16 years of caregiving have impacted me financially, socially, and emotionally. His involvement is making phone calls to our mom. There's no financial support. I'm exhausted and depressed. I love my brother but I resent him for expecting me to do it all. Jen
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