I have been the primary caregiver to both my mother and father. But, it was my mother's array of ilnesses that caught my attention. She has arthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, incontinence, démentia, osteoporosis, heart disease, poor balance, and now is not ambulatory because of a broken hip, a broken fémur and a sub-capital fracture of the femur. She has been in nursing home care for 3 years. In my mind, I believe that most of this did not need to happen. My mother was a person who never made any effort to exercise. She was mostly sedentary. She was a homemaker and also worked outside the home when my brother and I were teenagers. She was an excellent cook and had a gréât appetite. She was not able to control her weight and eventually reached over 220 pounds. I believe in my heart that some lifestyle changes during her adulthood could have prevented some of her illnesses. Witnessing what happened to her has been both a heartbreak and an éducation for me. To cope with the grief and sadness of dealing with her illnesses, multiple hospitalizations, pain, discomfort, and loss of independence, I decided to make changes in my own life. One of the best décisions I made was to join a community group fitness program. I typically exercice for 45 minutes a day in a class with other seniors under the supervision of a group fitness instructor who is aware of the limitations and the goals of people like me who want to maintain our health. Even though my mother's nursing home is an hour away from where I live, I continue to visit her at least 3 times per week. I continue to wash and iron her clothing. I take care of her financial and médical correspondance. I volunteer once or twice a month as a docent at a muséum and I continue my éducation and life-long learning by taking one graduate class per semester at a local university. I am trying hard to fight dépression, grief, and sadness by keeping myself busy and by keeping my mind occupied with positive thoughts. My mother is 91 and is continuing to décline. I do my best to advocate for her and to see that she receives proper care. I truly believe that I am doing all that I can for her, but also believe that I have to fight to maintain my own life. On a daily basis thèse choices are not always easy. I am 68 years old and I just adopted a "rescue dog". He keeps me busy too! And in moments when I'm feeling very sad, he seems to find a way to entertain me. There are some days that I think he helps me more than I help him. I'm writing all of this to tell everyone that caregiving does not need to completely take over your life. I urge everyone to try to find balance. Although you may feel like you are being selfish, you must also take care of the caregiver. Please find your way to do that - as I have done for myself. It will help you to take care of yourself and it will help you deal with the ressentment that we sometimes feel when the demands put on us are unrelenting and there seems to be no relief in sight. I have made my peace with this. I know that my mother will not recover from her illnesses. But I also know that I have been kind to her, and dévoted, and that she is reasonably comfortable and happy despite this difficult situation. I have learned a lot about caring for the elderly. Maybe this is my mother's last lesson to me. I was raised to know to do the right thing, whether you feel like it or not. I feel like I am doing that. At the same time I know that I have to live my life as well. I hope that all of you will find your ways to take care of your parents but also take care of yourselves too. Of course, every situation is different but you can find your way.