Should we care for our elderly parents just because they cared for us?


The whole argument about how our parents changed our diapers and cared for us when we were babies is a bunch of bull. When our parents were young (younger than most of us here) they wanted to start a family. They were in love and wanted a child to love and to create a family. Once mom got pregnant it was a joyous occasion and mom and dad looked forward to those 9 months with great anticipation and joy. And then this little itty bitty person was born, completely dependent, and was fed and hugged and loved for many, many years. Mom and dad worked very hard to help shape that little person into someone who was good and kind and respectful and polite and moral, learning many lessons along the way. Eventually that little person grew up, went to college, moved out and started a life of their own and this too was a momentous occasion. Mom and dad had done their job well and were very proud of the family they created, raised, and watched as their child continued down it's own path.

This is NOT the same thing as bringing mom or dad into our homes so we can care for them because they cared for us when we were little. We didn't come to them with fully formed personalities, we didn't come to them out of the womb with personality defects and dementia. As babies we didn't argue with them when they tried to change our diapers, we didn't curse them either. We didn't accuse them of stealing from us and as babies we didn't leave the house to wander down the street in freezing cold weather with only our p.j.'s on.

It is NOT the same thing.

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Watch over them, yes. Hands on care for them, no. Most family members lack the medical training to care for them. No single person can do what 3 shifts of nurses need to do. Know your limitations. Or die trying.
Helpful Answer (23)

I cared for my mother for a little while b/c I felt indebted. Then I realized that the moment I was born she owed ME. At 79 she's still trying to pour on the guilt. It's not working. Dad used to say children are not supposed to be an investment against old age. I've prepared for that, and even if I hadn't I wouldn't expect my sons to take care of me. They have their own families and their own problems. ... Still, they check up on Daddy. ... For my birthday last Saturday, those rascals sent an exotic dancer to my office. I thought she was the auditor we've been expecting. Until she pulled out a boom box and started dancing to the Mary Jane Girls' "In My House."

Everything they do for me comes from their heart.
Helpful Answer (23)

My mother was always too busy shopping and having a good time to bother with me so I grew up pretty much alone. Out of duty I cared for her for four years until she went into a NH in November 2012. With Parkinsons, dementia and stroke she can't sit up or stand.

When I visited yesterday she was unable to get words out, talking gibberish. I'd witnessed this before when she was having a stroke so I had the RN check her out. She said she was ok, likely had a mini stroke. Although she's had parkinsons for 15 years she's never had the shakes but now her legs shake a lot.

She's deteriorated terribly in the last little while and I think she'll pass very soon. I have no feelings for her at all and I'm not sure what I feel right now apart from sad that she's wasted her life being a mean, nasty, manipulative narcissist. She wouldn't even lift a finger to help her own parents as it was "too much trouble". Her wishes are that she's cremated and her ashes scattered. There would be no point in a funeral or service in any event as she has no friends.

When I began to care for her I lost everything - quit my career, sold my home and moved 200km. It's hard to have to rebuild your life but now I'm retired I plan on doing some volunteer work and getting out and about. I will not waste what time I may have left.
Helpful Answer (16)

There is such a huge difference between family building and caregiving. Family building has high stress times, such as the terrible twos and the teen years. There is a lot of work, but a job done well has the reward of having children doing well in the world. There is time when the kids leave to put aside money for retiring.

Caregiving OTOH has no such reward beyond maybe a spiritual one of "job well done." It is done later in life, so there is no time to rebuild. The productive years of putting away money for retirement can be lost.

Personally I think responsibility passes down the line. Our parents raised us, we raise our kids. Anything going back the other direction is done from love and respect, and not obligation in the US.
Helpful Answer (10)

I don't think we should care for them just because they cared for us. I actually helped my parents take care of my 5 siblings - we all were children they could not afford and then who they didn't have time for. In fact, as a result of my own childhood, I chose not to have children myself.

I did take care of my mother for over 2 years. And as others have said, I learned that I cannot do what 3 shifts of nurses do each day. And live my life, and work to make a living, and prepare for my own retirement. Since I do not have a child who will do all this for me.

My brother reminded me that our dad used to say we kids were his retirement plan. The sad thing was, he didn't help his kids get the skills and abilities to take care of him in his old age. I think it is very selfish for parents to have children so they will be loved and then expect those children to sacrifice their future for them. If parents don't want to sacrifice their own future - or even their present - for their children, they can choose not to have children.
Helpful Answer (9)

I think the problem is that we would like for it to be family = trade pact, but when the parent broke the pact first but still expects the adult children to honor it when no reparations or acknowledgments have ever been made - it rankles something fierce.
Helpful Answer (8)

My mother and father saved every penny they ever got their hands on for my entire life. It was for their "old age". My dad once told me that all of,his money was his to do with as he pleased, burn it if he wanted to......well OK.

They both couldn't pay for college, a nice or even not so nice wedding. No vacations with the kids or grand kids. No generosity what so ever. All they had was for their "nursing home" care.

Now at the end of the day, mom is left and she has a big fat bank account ( around 1 million) that we had better not even look at, even if we are dying, because it is for her nursing home.

So I am going to honor her wishes and put her in a nursing home and she better d*** well like it because it is all my brother and I ever heard our entire lives. She made it easy.
Helpful Answer (8)

It is like comparing apples and oranges. Our parents are supposed to love and care for us above all when we are babies. If they don't it is most likely we would we taken away from them and placed in a safer environment.

If the love is there, a child will want to make sure a parent is taken care of. If a parent has been abusive or neglectful, how can a child even learn how to be giving and loving. Why does the parent seemed surprised when the child doesn't want to take care of the parent?

I personally feel a parent is responsible for nurturing and taking care of a child. They are responsible for making sacrifices, thinking of the child instead of themselves, loving the child, being emotionally supportive of the child, being the one person who would take a bullet for the child. If they don't do this, how can they expect the child to give them, in most cases, the last of their good years to make life better for the parent?

If we are taught to love the parent and the parent loved the child unconditionally, then we would do whatever needed to take care of the loving parent. Unfortunately, like in my family, selfishness ruled the day. And no, I will not personally take care of my mother and she has truly earned this.
Helpful Answer (7)

yea, you need to understand how helpless the elder will become debra. the last year of my mothers life something as simple as a smile from me would result in a heartfelt thank you from her.
im glad ismiami mentioned emotional support because that is sometimes the bulk of the carer task. caregiving seems to panic you debra, it doesnt have to.
im personally having a blast with my aunt.
oh yea, she took me in 15 years ago when my marriage blew up and i was phsycotic on hepc chemo. she nursed me back to health with the greatest of love and patience. i owe her big.
Helpful Answer (7)

Parents are legally required to care for their children or face charges of abuse or neglect. More parents do it willingly and joyously. My mother was one of those, although when I came along, I was a complete surprise, since at 42, most of her friends had grandchildren by then, and she had been told many years before that she'd never be able to get pregnant.

Mom was happy about my unexpected arrival but my father was not. In fact, he kept a notebook in which he recorded all the expenses that I incurred, starting with the cost of my delivery, right up through college. He never presented me with a bill, like Bernard Cooper's father did, in Cooper's memoir, "The Bill From My Father," but he made it clear that children were expensive and inconvenient.

I took care of my mother when she was dying from cancer. My father refused to let me arrange for a housekeeper or a nurse when he got dementia, so I put him in a nursing home: a very good one.

Long story short, you get what you give. Nobody should be guilted into caring for a parent simply because their parent fed and clothed them when they were young. If there's no love there, the old person is better off in a nursing home when they can't live alone any longer.
Helpful Answer (7)

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