How do I help my boyfriend of 15 years with his stress and guilt about his inevitable move to care for his elderly parents?

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He does not want to end our relationship. His mother does not respect me. He has begun to ask the "hard questions" to his parents, after many heated discussions with me. I am the last of eight with one surviving parent, he is the only remaining adult child with 2 very elderly and frail parents who still insist on living in their home. He has become convinced that when the inevitable happens his life will be over and does not want to "ruin my life" and be resentful toward him. Even though we are not legally married, I am just as committed as if we were married (I was widowed 20 years ago). I told him I want to remain with him, and am willing to stay in our home while he cares for his parents and tends to their affairs. He just despairs and tells me that is very naive.

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My strongest suggestion would be for the BOTH of you to read through this site. All the caregiver stories are eye-openers, to say the least. Get to know what you're heading into.

Ask all the hard questions and if necessary, consult with someone who specializes in the field, and use them as a mediator, if possible - with you and your SO and with the parents. If you choose to take the ride with him on this bandwagon .. and it's really a lonnnnnnnnnng ride .. be prepared. Though I don't hesitate to say, that no preparation can actually prepare you for the experience. It's a turbulent ride at the very least, and qualifies for the horror show at the worst.
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You have time before the"inevitable" happens. Set you boundaries now in your mind and stick to them.
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I'm sorry you are going through this but I also agree with ChristinaW. I do not understand the power that all these elderly people have to make a proclamation that they wish to do or not do something and everyone caters to them. I wish to be a healthy size 6. I'm still waiting on the wish fairy to give me my way. Life doesn't work that way. I am always amazed at the number of elderly people who will say something against a grandchild or great-grandchild about how "spoiled" this generation is and they have to learn they can't have everything they want when they want it. Then they turn around and say to their adult children, "I don't want to leave my home but I want to inconvience you because well, you inconvienced me with your birth and I had to change a few diapers and feed you. Leave your home, life as you know it, quit your job and by the way, sell your soul to the devil so I can get 5 more years." And the adult kids say, "ummm...okay."
My advice? Run. Run. Run.
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Dear Lwitteman: I was just going to suggest that you read the post question on this same topic by Rayanddee, and I see that she herself responded to your question! Her post is titled "Relationship problems and caregiving. My partner of 5 years is a in-home caretaker for his mother. Any advice?" There are many answers to her post that you may also find helpful. My personal opinion is that both you and your boyfriend are naive (not in a derogatry sense, just not fully aware of how intense and grueling elderly caregiving can be). He has already told you he is ready to 'give up his life' to care for BOTH his parents when the 'inevitable' happens. That is where his loyalty and commitment is. Thinking he can handle it alone is naive, but that's his problem. You have told him you are willing to stick around and play second fiddle while he tend to his parents, and he has told you that you are being naive, and I think he is right. I think he is trying to tell you that he will not have a life of his own or room for anyone else in it. I think he is trying to spare you the grief of this lifestyle. You have already committed 15 years of your life to him, and he obviously is not willing to commit his life to you. I believe his parents needs will always override your needs. If you don't think you will end up miserable and lonely waiting to begin your own life with him, just listen to Rayanddee's story.
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I was in the same situation as you. Through this forum I was able to get a good look at what I was dealing with. My long time boyfriend also chose taking care of his mother who also thought the world revolved around her and her needs. I put up with it for 5 years. While he lived with his mom caring for her I thought I was being "understanding". I found out that perhaps he was using his mother as another reason not to committ to a "real" relationship. I have health issues as well and continued to run my ranch by myself with little to no help at all from him as he was "busy" taking care of "mom". His mother lives 1 mile from my home! I began to see what was happening. Trying to be a "understanding" person is affecting me now. I can't keep up on heavy chores, I am exhausted at the tend of the day and when I talk to him in the evening he is "serving" his mom dinner while I sit exhausted and serving me myself and I dinner. Now I am dealing with the fact that my son is seeing the exhaustion I am going through managing my ranch. My son lives 3 hours from here and manages to get up here every other weekend to go to dump for me..help me. my sons uncle has said he would come help me on the ranch...re-building, painting, repairing, much needed weed control..etc. etc. My son said yes and would provide free board in exchange for work. I felt such a sigh of relief. Sitting alone night after night in a very rural area..eating alone.being alone when the boyfriend lives 1 mile from here is insane. I told boyfriend that sons uncle will be here visiting for 2 weeks to see his sister who is dying of bone cancer and what his chances are for finding employment here as well will be. Boyfriend had a meltdown of anger when he found out Imay be taking in a roomate for help! watch out the scales can become very unbalanced...you may end up the martyr and suffering because of your choice to be "the good girlfriend"
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Be careful about being too committed to him. (I spent 7 years waiting for the love of my life to marry me - and then he didn't! At least the woman he married got enormously fat, which cheered me up some!)

If he is choosing to give up his life to his parents, you may not be able to help him. You do need to think of yourself first, to be sure that you will be OK no matter what he decides. Can you get him to sign up and post here? That may be the best way to help him.
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Your boyfriend's parents have options, including: 1) 24/7 caregiving from only son, 2) outside caregiver at home, and 3) an assisted living facility.

Caregiving is very grueling, especially for someone like you who is not married to your significant other. Will he stand to inherit much? Do you both work full-time? I highly urge you not to quit your full-time job to care for his parents. Why? Because your boyfriend is not as committed to you as you think he is - why else has he not married you? Now, if he chooses to pay you a living wage for caring for his parents, perhaps. But what about your health insurance? Vacation? Sick time? Who will care for them when you can't? It is not reasonable for you alone to be around the clock care. Seriously. Noble, perhaps, but I think you'd become resentful indeed.
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I don't understand how he can care for two elderly people, on his own. Doesn't he work? I want to stress to him, that my mother is MUCH better off in the nursing home. No one that ever knew her can believe it. But, she needed bathed, toileted, nutritional meals and physical therapy. She is 94. No one could have cared for her at home. She is very hard to reason with.
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Well, those "two very elderly and frail" people run the entire world, is this correct?
What is the discussion about? He needs to become an equal rights ADULT and let them get live in help or move into a care home.
Maybe it's time they don't get every single thing they want, and maybe your significant other needs to let them know that. Hmmm?
What is the deal with "adult children" of ancient bully parents?
Don't the children ever get to be adults and live their own lives?
Selfish old people. They are not "frail." Ha!
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