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Few are, as we are too swamped by our own caregiving demands. Our society needs to do a mental shift so people can do just as you suggest. Most of us get into caregiving slowly and then don't have much time to even think. Good question!
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I will not do this to my family. My mother told me the other day that I was lucky to have a granddaughter to take care of me. I told her I would never do that to someone I loved.

I plan to research facilities and move to one. What my mother has done to me has to stop. And it will stop with me. It's unfair to ask a anyone to take on the elderly.
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After caring for my mother in law in our home, I have promised myself I will not burden my daughter with the responsibility of taking me in. My husband and sister both know my wishes and have my competent permission (should I become incompetent later) to place me in a facility that meets my needs without feeling guilty. It is what I want for me and for them. In fact, once Mom is gone, my husband and I are looking into a retirement home for us. I've had it with cooking, cleaning, etc. Let someone else do it while I enjoy my life.
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So many insightful answers on this post. The judgemental ones aside, seems to be a consensus that we are responsible as much as possible for our future elderly years. When I look at how my children have been affected by the negativity of their grandmothers (the grandfathers were totally different) and the constant complaining about "getting old" - "don't get old" hearing it a thousand times "gets old". There are those that grow old gracefully and those that don't. Much of it has to do with choice and the blessing of good health. But, also there are those who accept their fate of various illnesses without torturing their families.

My father in law passed away in his sleep - in the Catholic faith, this is considered a "blessed death" - justly received by one of the kindest men (outside of my father) I have ever known. He had crippling arthritis in both knees; suffered immense pain and worked until the day he died at 83. Never, I mean never complained. My father as well had numerous ailments and suffered the torment of a narcissistic wife. Never complained as well. So, my perspective of aging has seen both sides.

Aging is a part of life - I live with chronic pain so my perspective is also from this experience. I know what it is to lose a part of your life, to often be housebound, to miss out on some of my kids school functions, etc. etc. etc. and numerous social gatherings with friends, and not to torture my children with my pain. So, after having to listen to the constant complaining from my MIL and mother about "the aging process" after they lived quite wonderful lives, I know first hand that there is a choice on how you view what happens to you and you have a choice on how to deal with it.

I know dementia can distort the thinking of even the kindest person and cause them to actually change in demeanor and personality; and in this they have no control over it. This is heartbreaking, but more palatable as it is justified, rather than those that just take out their old age frustrations on their families.

In planning for my future elder years, the main focus will be taking care of myself to the best of my ability. My three beautiful daughters are never to go through (again) what they endured with their domineering, self-centered grandmothers. I'm not like their grandmothers in any way and I don't want my children to go through what I have had to undertake. I've already told them their is to be no guilt whatsoever in any decisions they have to make regarding my elderly years. In no way do I ever want to be a burden; it is not my style and certainly don't want it to be my legacy. I had children because I longed to be a mother and take care of them. That in NO WAY is the same thing as taking care of an elderly parent; especially a demanding one. I didn't have children for them to take care of me.

I don't regret the caregiving I have given and continue to give; but it has taught me that I don't want my children to have similar experiences...I love them too much and want more for them.
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I do not have kids of my own, so am hoping that at the end one of my nieces of nephews will have pity on me. But I will make my will, POA, and take care of all bills including burial, and hopefully leave a bit of money for each of them.

And if I get to the point where I am very sick, I will end my own life. I know many people don't believe in this, but I believe that if life is no longer a "life" why continue it for the sheer pain, or to avoid pain of others.

I hope to let the kids know that I love them all and not to grieve for me. After seeing my mother suffer so much, I have bowed to get myself in the best possible health and as I age I will care not to be a burden on any of them. Unless fate hands me something I can't change, I will not be a burden on my nieces and nephews.

I know - and I'm not sure how I know - but I know I will be the one that buries my family. I am dealing now with my mother's death (11/2/10) and I know that within a year I will deal with my baby brother's death. I will bury my father and my siblings one by one, and hopefully carry some of the pain for the family and for their kids of those siblings that had kids.

Life is so hard, and death is so painful.
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Thanks for the tip. I'm sure you believe everything you say. But I don't believe my mission is to give myself to others. Isn't it nice to live in America where we can each have our own beliefs?
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Queen - I am almost 57 yrs old and have been a full time caregiver for my mother for the past 2 1/2 yrs. I should be working, earning money towards my own retirement and/or disability, but I am not. I am jeopardizing my future to care for my mother. Do I want my own children to do the same thing? No way. I want my own children to continue to work to ensure their financial security in retirement. That is not selfish at all. That is practical.
Helpful Answer (8)

To me, the best way to reduce the caregiving-related stress that our kids will otherwise experience in 20-30-40 years is to be smarter than the average person in this country is being about his health and his future.

People so often seem to think that their aging MUST involve disease, suffering, pain, and loss of independence simply because that's what inevitably happens when people get older. Yet many people in this world have been able to age well, to live on their own into their 90s, and to avoid disease--or to conquer it.

Doesn't it make sense to look at their examples and decide this is how WE will age as well?

Each day there's a fork in the road and a choice we can make in terms of our health. We can cope with our stressors using excessive amounts of sugar, alcohol, or cigarettes--like many people do---and perhaps end up in a hospice some day with diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, or lung cancer. Or, we can choose our future and our health by making good choices in terms of diet, lifestyle, prevention and by finding better ways to cope with our frustrations, such as meditation or prayer or seeking out someone to talk with when we need to.

We can allow ourselves to tense our muscles 24x7, enduring years of back and neck and shoulder pain--like many people do--along the way taking NSAIDS, having steroid injections, and eventually, when it's pretty much bone against bone, having surgery and then perhaps being told nothing more can be done and that we'll just have to live with the pain. Or, we can take the time now to learn how to truly relax and live in the moment more often and work towards treating our body (including our muscles) with kindness.

As someone who battled TMJ/TMD and RSI and eventually won (currently 5+ years symptom-free in spite of not having surgery and still being at the keyboard 8-10 hours a day) I have learned that sometimes you have to ignore the negative voices around you that claim you are doomed to a life of pain and/or a loss of independence due to your circumstances. Sometimes, not all the time, the answer is still waiting to be found if we just keep open, keep listening, and refuse to give up on ourselves.

Aging may be a part of life, but how we do so is largely up to us.
Helpful Answer (6)

Jola, your point that we have many opportunities at which to make choices for our own old-age health is well taken. It reminds me of the t-shirt slogan, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of my body."

But your post comes a little too close to blaming the victim for comfort, in my opinion. I think of my husband who took excellent care of his health (according to current knowledge and recommendations) and has outlived his family life expectancy by decades, only to develop dementia. And he felt cheated that his father and brothers got to die of heart attacks in bed, and he is faced with living out his old age dependent on the care of others. At what fork in the road did he make the wrong decision? His doctors and researchers sure don't know.

To answer annet's question for myself, I've taken out long term care insurance, although the amount is already too small to be meaningful. I've done the POA and Health Care Directive. But who has time and energy and money to do more than that? And I'm afraid the experience of caregiving someone with dementia hasn't inspired me to be super careful about my own health. My cardiologist lectures me and and I think of my husband wishing he'd had a heart attack. So if I take better care of myself I will live longer and have a better chance of developing dementia. And this is a good thing because ... ? Hmm.
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We do not have children to take care of us.

Watching my dad go downhill and the guilt and constant worry about him in a nursing home... etc... HAS got us thinking of getting our house ready for us to live here a long time even as we get older.

We do not want to end up in a retirement or nursing home. We know that is not for us now.

We are trying to plan for our future and caring for my dad has made us old before our time..... and old thinking before our time.

It also scares me how quickly & easily they take the control away from the elderly person and give it to the POA and/or children. My dad is a little flaky sometimes (when drugged) but that is no excuse to label him as alzheimers and take away his decision making control.
Making sure no one does that to me is one thing I am trying to make sure does not happen.
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