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I'm not a parent and I know parenting is not "easy" by any means, but I venture a guess that caring for an elderly relative full time is much more difficult.


The reason I'm asking this question is because my aunt said to me today that caring for three teenage daughters is the more difficult of the two scenarios (me being a live-in caregiver for grandma while working 2 jobs versus her bringing up 3 teenage daughters, plus having a multitude of pets, a house to maintain, and a husband to deal with).


While parenting is by no means "easy", I would say that caregiving is more difficult:


- an elderly person often cannot move on their own (i.e. wheelchair or bed bound). Moving an elderly person is far more difficult than moving a baby or small child- there's much more dead weight to deal with, and you can injure yourself or the elderly person.
- they may need help bathing
- they need help getting dressed
- Incontinence issues
- Memory problems
- the elderly are far more likely to fall or get sick. It's not like kids, where a toddler falls and bounces right back up and "awwwe so cute you went boom". No. If an elderly person falls, there is nothing "cute" about it. It's more like "oh $#*! Call 911!"


While there are some similarities between the two (feeding, dressing, diapers and trying to keep them entertained), at least kids are sort of adorable in the process. Elderly people not so much. This is definitely not my idea of a joyride by any stretch.


In all honesty, my aunt had some nerve to actually say that to me, and how I should "enjoy it while it lasts". Sometimes I wish she would take Grandma for a week and see how difficult it really is. She won't, because she already has an idea from ten years ago when grandma fell and she cared for her in her home for 3 months. Obviously, she has forgotten exactly how hard this really is. There is nothing "enjoyable" about watching someone you love waste away and slowly die right in front of you.


Nope, Crazy Aunt is just talking out of her arse. That's my guess.

100% Harder for Elderly Parents! I raised (2) Sons as a single Mom because I divorced an abuse Man. Thankful to God that they both did and are doing Very Well in Life. When I turned 60 almost 6 years ago - I thought - Now I'm going to LIVE. Well... 2 months after my birthday - Dad breaks his hips and has a Stroke and now beginning stages of Dementia. Then 2 months after that - Mom started showing signs of Dementia.... I have (4) Siblings but they youngest and I are the only 2 that are caring for our parents. We have homecare about (20) hours a day and my sibling and I - We trade off the graveyard hours (10 pm to 8:00 a.m.) by the weeks. We both work FULL TIME Jobs. The other (3) Siblings are living  as 2 of them live out of town and now the 3rd one had a stroke so he can't help much. So just me the oldest and my youngest. I'm now 65 yrs. old and it's taking a "toll" on my body and spirit. I find myself almost wanting Him to pass already! I know that sounds cruel but I'm Tired! I want to Live!!! My Sons are upset because they were so use to me being active, etc. Now I find myself JUST EXISTING and they See the Wear and Tare on me. My come and help occasionally and even MY Grandchildren come and Help but All of the Other Grandchildren - Do Nothing to Help. Barely visit and the majority lives here in Town! The cost of homecare is high because the increase of care for both of them. Then when I see someone that knows my parents - They ask "How's your Parents?" That makes me Angry! Ask me How I'm Doing???!! I just answer "They are Still With Us". Yes - I'm Venting and Thank you for Listening.
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Linda to all the above. No one has it easy, God gives each of us a cross to bear. It's just how we handle it. I will not even suggest. My Husband dies of cancer at 44. I raised a 3 and 5 year old girl and one teen. Father got Dimentia Mom got Alezheimers. Now I am caring for a man who just lost his wife to Covid. Look deep and you will find a blessing. Just remember the one that you are complaining about may of been the on who raised you. Or cared for you in your time of need.
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This is very hard for me.

It depends on the situation. Most of the time it is harder taking care of aging parents unless there are special needs children who require lots of help.

My parents had medically fragile children who had progressive dementia caused by Metachromatic Leukodystrophy. My siblings were in their early teens when they began to show symptoms. It was a long hard 45 year journey for my family.
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I can't see any value in making such competitive comparisons, so I'll just suggest this point: when what you want is sympathetic and/or practical support, don't expect it from someone who may be struggling with her own, different challenges. Find other resources.
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Taking care of an elderly parent hands down is tougher and I will explain why.. no one touched on this subject.. I raised 3 girls when I was 25 years old to age 50! Now that I am 55 I’m taking care of my mom with Dementia. I’m not young anymore and my patience is less. The amount of bending down and cleaning up I have to do is exhausting. Answering the same questions over and over again is mentally draining.. she lives in her own house with 24/7 care aids. I have her 2 times a week for dinner maybe 4-5 hrs she stays at my house and I honestly get through it because I know she will be going back home in a few hours. Those of you that have it 24/7 are going straight to heaven!!!
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I read an article that said "Caring for a parent with vascular dementia is the hardest job in the world". I agree. Its toll is immense.
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I am guessing it is hard to raise children but it is also very hard to care for aging people. Given a choice, the young people are learning new things, experiencing life, learning to set goals and achieve dreams - they are funny, sad, etc. and they keep growing and the problems of raising them get less as time goes on but with old people who are set in their ways, develop severe physical and mental problems, and high needs, heaven help you. It is not the same - both are difficult but taking care of the aging, especially with dementia can be sheer hell.
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There's really no comparison, as every situation is different.

In general, I would say kids would be easier to raise and care for, but that's only if you have a "normal" situation. There are trials and tribulations, tears and laughter, but for the most part, kids are little and very dependent, but as they grow, they become more independent and >hopefully< self-sufficient! There are those who have difficulties, some more than others, and never become independent or self-sufficient, so they could be more difficult than most elders to care for, as they WILL grow larger and could become more difficult too.

On the flip side, elder care is also dependent on the person and their needs. Some age gracefully and don't need a lot of help. Some need more and more help, but are still a pleasure to have around and care for. Some are very difficult, cantankerous, fight everything tooth and nail! Then there's dementia. Even within that group, there are so many differences - each case is unique.

Sure, there are some similarities, but there are many differences, both between raising kids and caring for elders and also in each group itself. My grandmother was VERY easy for my parents and mom's sisters to care for. Safe place to live, food, medical appts, etc. She was very easy going. She was probably late 70s when she passed. Mom was over 90 when dementia kicked in and was relatively independent until then. She can be difficult and outweighs me, can't do stairs, I can't handicap the bathrooms, etc, so I couldn't take her in. My brothers were both excited after our first MC tour - Gee, for that much I'd take her in! Sure they would. OB's final visit was his wake-up call. Ten, maybe 15 min and he refused to go visit again. He "didn't know what to do with her." Annnnd you wanted her 24/7? YB, to the best of my knowledge, stopped visiting when I stopped hounding him for an answer about some special occasion they were having. I got tired and frustrated practically begging for an answer. Not demanding that he GO, just say Yes or No, so they can have a head count! So yeah, them taking her in would've worked out SO much better than the nice place I found for her, where it was closer for me to make visits and oversee her care, and the staff was wonderful and caring.

If I had been able to take her in, then I would agree wholeheartedly SHE would have been much more difficult to take care of than the two kids I raised alone from ages 3 and 5. Even though the kid-raising stint was 15+ years, the 5-6 years just doing what needed to be done (more than just overseeing finances and providing supplies and visits!) was hard enough. Taking on full care, even with help, would've been much worse.
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Only just opened this discussion... first hit after the original post:
OkieGranny

"Let's face it, life is hard no matter what. There will always be people needing care and, we hope, people willing to care for them."

Yup, it can go either way, but there will also always be those "just talking out of her arse." as Kimmotion says... ;-)
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That would depend on the child and the elder. For the most part, caring for an elder seems it would be worse, because you know they are not going to get better and eventually the end will come. However, some children have caused their parents an unbelievable amount of heartache, and some children are so incapacitated that they, too, are not going to get better.

Let's face it, life is hard no matter what. There will always be people needing care and, we hope, people willing to care for them.
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Caring for the elderly is harder, I raised 3 daughters and had some challenges but nothing like caring for my parents. And the older and sicker they get the level of care is more demanding.
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Caregiving for an adult , hands down. My babies grew up and became functioning children, and then adults . What you are doing is much harder , you are overwhelmed daily trying to care for an adult, who will not get better . Your aunt doesn’t have a clue .
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Imho, that depends on the situation of the elder, e.g. if they live local to you or far away - in my case, it was the later and required me to move 7 states away to take care of my elderly mother. So I'll give a yes, caregiving to an elder is more difficult than taking care of a child.
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I am a parent to one son and multiple animal children, to include past full time caregiving to our precious dog who had brain tumors and subsequent complications from them. My son caused a multitude of challenges for us growing up and there are still challenges with him now being a young adult. I am also now a caregiver to my mom who has very limited mobility as well as what I believe dementia and who now lives in our home. Hands down, in my opinion and from my experiences which includes many very difficult trying ones, caring for an elder is much more difficult!!
I am speaking from my experiences and views only- everyone sees things through their own lens. We've been blessed to have many family and family friends live to ripe old ages and be able to live on their own with good health and minimal oversight- the similarity I've seen with them is that they all stayed very active and engaged in their communities, etc., so this is not about that.
For my mother, she is like a child, but nothing keeps her entertained like it would with a small child. She's not interested in books, puzzles, nothing. She cannot entertain herself. Just wants to run back and forth to the bathroom all day long, watch TV, talk endlessly, go through tons of diapers and ask when her next meal or snack is going to be even when we are eating a meal or snack and doesn't like a whole lot of different foods. The repetitive questions are endless. If I leave for a bit- because she can be by herself for a few hours- she wants to know when I will be home so she can eat, knowing full well where all the food is. I am not mother-bashing, just venting in a safe space here with folks who understand. This all was brought on by her not wanting to do anything to help herself so I am more than just a little frustrated as I am the one now paying the price as is my family.
Anyway, caring for an elder is not the same as a child, except from what I have observed from my friends and family who have special needs children with severe needs. The messes are bigger, they are harder if not impossible to lift and/or move, if they have any kind of mind they are set in their ways, etc. They don't move forward with independence and skills, but go backwards. You also cannot just pick up and go with them. Many times they are unwilling to leave the house and will put up a fight if you try. There's more to it as well, but overall I say elder care is much more difficult. It's not something you really plan on doing like you plan on taking care of your children and/or pets as they are your responsibility from the start.
There may be folks who enjoy elder care and feel that caring for kids is tougher, but I feel at least with kids you are raising them to be responsible, independent adults and you are looking towards their future, so there is hope and excitement. With an elder, you are watching them decline, which is very difficult. There is no hope and excitement. When you have an elder who can and could have helped themselves and won't, which has led to their decline, that also causes frustration.
I say your aunt might need a memory refresh to remember how hard this really is. There is no "enjoying it while it lasts". That's true for child-rearing, not elder care.
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sjplegacy
Kids can get dementia too. "Lysosomal Storage Disorders" (LSD) can cause some of the same symptoms as Alzheimer's. 

Niemann-Pick Disease and Sanfilippo Syndrome are often called "Childhood Alzheimer’s” which are both storage disorders.
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Hands down taking care of an older person is much more difficult.
A baby is easier to handle and depends on you for their care.
An adult/older adult has had years of Independence and has lived life on their terms. They're heavier, have their own mindset and have a since of Pride.
They know what they want, how they want it, and is able to say NO.
If this person is not willing to relinquish some of their Rights, life can be down right difficult.
As a Caregiver/Family caregiver you have to be able to detach your emotions when necessary. Make sure they're mentally and physically safe and exercise compassion, empathy, sympathy.
Take a much needed break from your caregiver roll, even if you have to arrange a stay in a care facility for your loved one.
Take care of the Need, not the want.
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First of all, it’s not a contest. Everyone has their burdens to bear. I raised two teenager daughters and taught high school for 38 years. There were definitely very tough times and stressors, but there was also hope and energy and life. Watching my mother deteriorate has been much, much harder on me both emotionally and physically. I agree that your aunt has “some nerve” to compare the twophases of life and tell you how lucky you are. I sincerely want you to take a week’s vacation and have your aunt look after your mom. Aunt and her three daughters ought to “easily” be able to do that.
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Caring for an elderly person is more difficult. They need as much attention as a newborn baby, but in addition they are sicker, their health is declining, they need more doctor visits (until they are in hospice), although they may have good days - they will not "get better" or be more independent, the decline may take years, if they bite - they have teeth, if they can stand and walk - they can do things that put everyone in danger, the list goes on. Make sure that you get aides or other people to come in and take over so you can get breaks. At some point, consider an assisted living facility for her if it becomes too much for you.
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Caring for an elderly relative, esp a parent, is harder. The physical needs are often more distasteful in an adult, and there is significant emotional distress, and sometimes fear, in watching a person you relied on through your life is now dramatically deteriorating.
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I agree with you 100%! At least she has her husband to help her with the kids etc. There's nothing "cute" about taking care of someone who is nasty, won't bathe, unappreciative, doesn't like your cooking, says I'm mean even though I feel I've bent over backwards, hard to take a few minutes for myself and made to feel guilty for doing it while other siblings go on and have a life! Obviously these are my gripes but your last sentence says it all!
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Hello Kim,
I am not a parent, but am an educator to children with autism. I have provide part time caretaking for my parents, but nothing as which you’re describing. It was more of driving, helping with chores, helping after surgeries, etc.

I tend to agree with you that having to care for an elderly parent is harder. Here is my rationale. Children (I’m assuming your aunt’s children are neurotypical) learn and grow. They learn, maintain generalize skills. Teaching these skills can be very difficult and daunting at times. It can try one’s patience to no end, and cause stress. But hopefully the results are for children to grow into productive adults. But there’s progress.

With elderly parents things are different. They are losing skills. It’s harder to reteach a skill to an adult which I’ve had to do with my dad who suffers memory problems. It requires so many more opportunities to utilize the skills and generalization is often a slow progress. And that’s even if you can reteach skills and under the best circumstances.

With the loss of skills comes increased stress for the caregiver. You are responsible for varied levels of care. But as time passes the levels become more and more complex. This could be physical like bathing, moving, dressing, feeding or emotional like entertaining, redirection of perseverating dialogue, ensuring validation of emotions, etc.

As for your aunt? She needs to remember if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. Or my fave from teaching.
THINK:
T - Is it true?
H - Is it honest?
I - Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?

I hope your situation will improve and your aunt will be more mindful of her comments.
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Hi
I think the main difference--having raised children and am now taking care of a relative with a paralytic stroke--is that most of the time babies and children grow up. If my relative was born to me he would now be nine years old. The chronicity and some of the decline is difficult to adjust to.
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No comparison. I am doing both at the same time. Kids are teachable and can give back. Caring for elderly is physically/mentally draining- the decline is heartbreaking and moving/changing a large person who can barely move is tough on my body. And it gets harder over time.
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Elderly caregiving is harder. Definitely. A child begins as very needy. Each day they learn how to do something and become more independent. They learn how to talk, to read, to reason. The elderly person loses a tiny bit (or a lot) each day and become more dependent on others. Conversations can become harder. Their ability to be out in the world becomes a very small circle of who they can count on. You are watching them fade instead of watching them bloom.

Your aunt is saying things to make herself feel better. She has 3 daughters becoming more independent each day - she does not have to jump up to go to their room to see what they need. She is not wiping rear ends for them or the hubby all day long. They can make their own sandwich. They can help feed the animals. They do not require the 24/7 hands on care of an elderly person and she should certainly see that. If you are the granddaughter caring for g'ma, then even her daughters should be able to to 'enjoy it while it lasts' the same as you.
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It definitely depends on the individuals involved. My 96 yr old dad who lives with us is amazingly easy. He is thankfully extremely healthy, mostly sleeps, never complains, eats when we do and so far has none of the problems you have described. Whereas my daughter when she was a teenager...wow!
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It's not a contest. They're both hard. I did them at the same time and they were both hard, but different. Circumstances are different too. My mother who was cognizant, aware and very appreciative often brought me a lot more joy than my teenagers! Trust me, teenagers are not cute! Yes, they hopefully get better where olders get worse, but they can cause a tremendous amount of stress. I love my kids, but the teen years are tough. Caregiving, as you know has it's own limitless supply of stress. They are both hard.
You're feeling like your aunt is dismissive of the work you are doing. Don't worry about her or compare to her. Make your own decisions, your own boundaries and value your own hard work taking care of your grandmother.
I will say, as a parent, raising kids is so hard and you don't know how hard until you do it. VERY much like being a caregiver. In that way, they are similar.
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I truly believe there are multitudes of differing factors and circumstances in comparing the stresses of caregiving of children and adults. For me, raising two boys and teaching pre-kindergarten was much easier than being a caregiver to aging parents. There is no relational "history" with children for the most part. As a parent of children, you still have "more" daily control...teenagers included! I still have a teenager at home. As a teacher, the children return home in the afternoons and there are regular breaks from them. Personally, it is like comparing apples and oranges. It is interesting how some individuals fail to filter situations and always "believe" they have the most difficult tasks...until they truly walk in another's shoes for a significant period of time. Again, there are so many issues to consider. However, even in my 50's, teaching 4 year old children is tiring, but less taxing than the constant care of an adult.
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I've done both and Caregiving is deffiently by far harder.

With children it gets better with Seniors, it only gets worse.

Children grow and learn while the Senior gets dementia and doesn't remember.

Babies are much easier to change their diapers and not weigh so much as a Senior where everything is a strain and hurting your back,, trying to help them get up, go to the pot, change clothes, help get them to a shower or bed baths.

Even harder to get them to eat then a baby that opens their mouths like a baby bird.

My 96 yr old Dad is afraid to eat anything with substance as he thinks he will choke.

Takes him about an hour for him to eat and the whole time he'll adk what is it, what do I do know and unless you tell him to chew and swallow with every bite, he'll want to spit it out.

Tell your sister that you will be happy to change with her for one day and she'll think being a parent, especially to two teens is absolutely Nothing compared to a Caregiver.

She could leave the house anytime. Even over night or a week and her husband and teen daughters could survive with ease.
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Raising kids is so much easier than caregiving my wife. I raised 1 special needs boy ( extreme ADHD) and I am currently raising a special teenage boy 18Y/O while caring for my wife (60Y/O) My son is also special needs, (many learning disabilities along with some development problems) but is super easy, very polite, and always thankful.
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Elder care is like child rearing in reverse.
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