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Having been responsible for 2/3 of my life for my mother's well being, she's now 95, I have determined that living to a "ripe" old age isn't necessarily what it's purported to be. Has the role of caregiver had an impact of your own aging process and the role of family in your care?

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I was heavily responsible for the last 8 years of Moms life and completely her 24/7 caretaker for the final 3 years. My husband and I realized that she would likely outlive her funds and remaining in her beautiful independent living community was getting too costly. We built her a house on our property (we also have 20 acres) and became completely in charge of her daily company, care and management including her financial issues.

Initially it was wonderful yet became overwhelming with time, and emotionally draining the final few months. I had a supportive husband who never complained about his "absentee" wife; I had an exceptionally good relationship with Mom and she remained sweet to the end. I am grateful I had the capability to do this for her, yet the experience has profoundly concerned me and I think, frightened my daughters. They have neither the tempermanent nor caretaking knowledge I have; neither has had children so do not understand what it means to truly subordinate your life for someone else that you love dearly; only one is married and they were overwhelmed by what I did. And, although I have LTC and the assets to allow them to hire the assistance I could not achieve for Mom, they do not own homes of their own in which to house me.

I no longer believe living into your 90's is desirable unless you are in ideal health and have full mobility and faculties. I believe I will outlive my husband after caring for him. I do worry that there will be no one to truly care for me to the end as I did for my Mother.

At the same time, the thought of going into a facility is deplorable to me. I would not have my mother live her final days in a 10x10 room and neither will I. I have often spoken with women friends and joked that we will have to buy a large home, live commune style and hire a caretaker for us who will live on the premises. This makes it afforadable and provides the companionship that often dwindles away. Towards that end I will have my insurance, my savings and the equity in my property once sold. They are my life preservers and I treasure them dearly. Actually it is not such a joke and I just learned that my eldest daugthter brought the same concept and concern to her sister regarding their old ages, and they are only in their late 30's!

I am 65 now and after my experience of caretaking, truly believe our society needs to re-evaluate this "sanctity of life at all costs" concept. There is nothing sacred about wasting away in a bed until you become a shell and your heart finally stops. It is cruel for all involved and if laws werent made by men with immense financial and medical resources to maintain their comfort that the average person does not have, I believe there would be a more humane perspective towards end of life needs and care.

I do all I can to eat well and live a healthy life and have also realized I need to throw away a lot of junk (esp. paperwork). And, I need to organize a notebook of some type with my financial and personal information in it or my children will have a hell of a time figuring it out. I was intimately involved in my parents business and financial world which made it much more manageable.

Otherwise, I do not know how to change the path that I am on and just pray not to have dementia.
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Oh yes. I watched my 50 something year old father, handsome, strong, athletic get sucker punched by Alz in the prime of his life. I endured hell on earth from a narcissistic, hateful mother who eventually disowned me and died all alone. God help me if I ever have to travel either path. I kinda like how the Indians, when they got old and sick, left the tribe for the wilderness. I live on several acres of densely wooded land. Sounds like a plan to me.
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Too funny Bonichak!! Never had children and no nieces or nephews so I don't think I have to worry about asking God for mercy on any relatives. Christina, I love your answer, I too hope to being doing something I really enjoy when I leave, I just don't want to end up in diapers and having to be rolled from side to side so I don't get bedsores.
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Getting too old is worse than dying too young!!!! Our society really needs to re-evaluate death, dying, and extended care traditions. I would much rather spend a million dollars educating a thousand children than extending the "life" of a dementia patient by a couple of years -- even If the dementia patient is me ---especially if the dementia patient is me!!!
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ABSOLUTELY!!!!
Once again, as has been the case all my life, my parents are teaching me by showing me what NOT to do!
At 93 and 95, they have lived long, self-imposed, miserable lives - denying themselves anything of joy...scrimping and saving, so that they might have the money to sustain their lives of misery, and reminding anyone who will listen. Both have dementia and physical problems.
Fortunately for my brother and me, though, they are both currently in separate facilities, and getting good care, but getting them there was HELL.
Yes, I have no illusions or desire to live to a "ripe" old age, and am currently thinking about ways to insure that doesn't happen.
Meanwhile, the lesson for me is to live each day to the fullest, because I may have 25+ years warehoused in a facility.
Excellent discussion question, crispycritter!
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Oh, absolutely, crispycritter - great points.
At 62, I've greatly simplified my life by de-cluttering my home and keeping it up, in sellable condition, being prepared to downsize, though I don't expect that to happen for another 10 years. Simplifying my life and surroundings and affairs hopefully will allow me to maintain my independence for a longer time, though I'm ever alert for new resources available to meet the demands of an aging baby-boomer population. I've already experienced arthritis, and loss of energy, and realize I cannot do all that I used to. This summer was the first year that I have not been able to physically do my own yard work, and it was scary. I do NOT want to be in denial, as my parents were.
I am mostly scared, though, of dementia, and not being able to mentally handle my affairs, so I'll seek out the counsel of an elder issues attorney.
Many things to think about!
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Absolutely. My girlfriend and I were talking about that. But, I hope that since I've had to do this for my mother, I can negotiate a deal with God. I hear He doesn't really like to do that, so I'm praying instead for mercy on my kids and a quick drop dead for me after a day of gardening and a night of singing in a jazz club. Ahh, Rat Pack, here I come:) I think we can create anything. xo
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In my experience many people are living way too long because of advances in medicine. Don't get me wrong----There are countless elderly people who are enjoying a good quality of life and are living longer because of the great medical treatments we have today. Unfortunately there are many other people who are alive and miserable, suffering and causing extreme stress and upheaval in their families because of pills that are keeping them going long after their time. It's nice to live long if you can remain relatively active, independent and somewhat content but many seniors are living in misery when they would have passed naturally years ago. My dad had blockages in his heart 10 years ago. He had a massive heart attack in the hospital during a procedure and underwent an emergency double bypass. His heart had actually stopped and he was brought back. He did recover and enjoyed a few years of relative health. Now he is 82 and has been in poor health mentally and physically for years. He was an enormous burden to my mother who has been dead for a year and a half now. I know she prayed for her own death to release her from her daily hell of dealing with him. I am alone and caring for this poor man who is angry, miserable, has trouble walking, falls down and cannot care for himself any longer. Although I am happy he lived through his heart attack and got to meet his grandson.....most of his life since then has been bad and I wonder if it would have been more merciful for him and for us if he had passed back then.

The other thing I want to address is that when you reach an age where you are getting old but still capable and independent you should move into reasonable housing that is appropriate for the elderly. My mom and dad both refused to leave their giant dilapidated house which has poor plumbing and electricity. My dad refuses air conditioning and refuses to have repairs made to the house. He has fallen on the stairs many times and had no interest in improving his situation although he has the finances to pay for things and us to help him. It is sad and pathetic. I will make sure to follow this advice so I am not such an extreme burden and cause of constant stress and worry to my son. If you actually love your children this is a very important thing to consider before you start losing your mental faculties. It's too late for my dad and for me.
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To be honest, I don't want to live past 80. More than that would be just ... wrong. I am, however, thinking about retiring somewhere in South America where the American dollar might go far. Tend to a garden, suck up the clean air, feel my true place in the Universe.
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I too think 80 is about the limit and fear dementia more than anything. We have three (82,87 and 88) parents between us and it is not pretty. My dear mother now 82 and in a NH told me thirty years ago that if something ever happened to her to just find a nice home and let them do their work, not to disrupt or destroy my life. Well, she had a stroke a bad one and the docs despite a DNR brought her back so she has had 3 years of hell on earth. I want no part of a life like that and do the best I can to eat well and stay active, but honestly taking care of the FIL and then sometimes my dad has not made for a happy life for me. I have pared down the stuff after moving 28,000 pounds of my parents stuff to another state and now having to tackle the FIL's over stuffed condo. My affairs are in order and hopefully I will do the swan song with more grace than my elders. I hope to move in the next few years to a rural location with a smaller home and lots of gardening space if I'm lucky I will die in the garden where I am most a peace. I truly hope that by the time I am 80 we will have figured out how to keep the mind as alive as we have the ability to keep the body or that society has acknowleged that allowing people the choice to die is in fact a right if they so choose.
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