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Our parents started declining a few years ago. Eventually, both needed someone with them around the clock. My two sisters live nearby and take turns being there, working around their schedules. Both sisters developed their own health problems during the same time our parents did. Both are amazing care givers. I started going more often once our parents needed someone in the house at all times. A paid care giver comes to the house in the day during the week. Thank goodness our parents have a decent pension to cover that. Adding up the days I've been there, I have been there a third of each year for the past three years. I took a job that pays minimum wage but allows me the flexibility of being there to share the care giving duties. I turned down better jobs to be available for care giving respite. I became too available. I did this to be there for our parents and for my two sisters so that they could do things other than work and care give and to protect their health. My being there allowed them to go on vacations, go to one sister's son's college graduation week out of state, spend time with their own families, work overtime, rest, etc. When there, I work my bottom off and thought that was appreciated. I even do a lot from a long distance. We eventually got cameras to watch for falls and potential crooks. I have overheard on those cameras several conversations that were so hurtful. I've been accused of being dramatic. They also say the two of them are doing the care giving alone, as if my contribution is not much. When I did voice, in anger, that our one brother, who lives two hours closer to our parents than I do, does nothing, I am now considered the bad guy. Instead of giving me the benefit of the doubt and realizing that outburst was uncharacteristic, I got criticized. Why does the one who shows up one quarter of the year get criticism while the one who does nothing gets praised for showing up for an hour about twice a year? Of the four children, I am the only one who has never taken from my parents. Our mother provided child care for both sisters while they worked. Our parents bailed out all three of my siblings and many adult grand children financially throughout all of their own bad financial decisions, never questioning their priorities. I have always accepted the consequences of my own financial bad decisions, quickly ending those behaviors early in life, and refused to take advantage of my parents that way. My husband thinks I'm the only one who owes them nothing. I might sound like a martyr in this post, but I don't act that way when I'm there. I'm not asking for praise, thank-yous, or money. But I could do without the criticism. I feel like no good deed goes unpunished. It makes me want to stop helping and seek a better job for myself, hence a better future. I love my parents and want to be there for and see them. My husband and own two adult children have suffered through my long absences, less income, miles on our cars, no family vacations for three years, and me being stressed, angry, and exhausted all of the time. Putting my family at risk financially will land us in our own possible desperate care giving situation some day in our own old ages. I will not let our two children be our care givers. While it's an honor at times, it's physically and emotionally exhausting. It is the most stressful thing I have ever done. It makes me think and say things out of character. Care giving is more bathroom related than anyone talks about. Medication situations, constant appointments, advocating for parents whose generations trust doctors even when they don't have their patients' best interests at heart, blood sugar checks, insulin injections, running another household, vet care for their pets, and so on. Lifetime TV movies would have you believing it is about spoon feeding a sweet old mother or father and remembering the good times. I don't know if I'm venting or hoping for advice. Thank you for any kindness or advice.

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Please read all the replies.....then read them again. These wonderful people on this forum have been there, are there, done that, are doing that. Your life needs to be your own...you state your family is suffering. Stop doing all you do.
let your siblings step up to the plate to take care of mom, since all they do is complain/criticize. Honestly, if i had heard my sisters talk about me on the camera, i would have confronted them right then and there!!! I would have said, im done, shes all yours and walked out the door. Then you can visit your mom as her daughter, not a caregiver....
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
Reading the replies over and over really does help. I am generally non-confrontational, so reading these again and again empowers me and has given me many ideas and options. The people who took time to respond really are wonderful. Thank you.
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Me, my mother never has appreciated anything I have done, and, everything is always my fault. I no longer try and have not spoken to her for 8 years, finally I get some peace.

Perhaps it is time to make a new plan, since they have funds it might be time for them to move into AL.

Me, I would start backing off and start regaining my sanity, my life. I wish you the very best!
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
I'm definitely backing off. Good advice.
I'm sorry you weren't appreciated. I do feel our parents appreciate us.
I wish you continues peace and your own sanity and life.
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My dear, what you do is stop allowing yourself to be a doormat and tell those siblings you are done. You owe your own family more of you, and if your parents have the funds, it is time for assisted living. Pleases do not sacrifice anymore of your life and what time may be left. Please let us know what happens...
Sending hugs to you, I know exactly how you feel...
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
I DO owe my own family more of me. I will remind myself of this daily. I can live with the painful loss of a sibling or two or three, but not my own husband or two children. They have been amazing throughout all of this. I get tired of hearing myself talk about this. I can only imagine what they are feeling.
Sending hugs back to you! I'm sorry for your struggles. I'm thankful for your response.
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Walk away. Take a better job. See them when you can. Put you and your family and financial future first.
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
So simply put, Such a perfect response. Thank you for saying what I needed to hear. I appreciate it.
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Remember this: you are helping to care for your parents for THEM, for THEIR sake and for THEIR safety, not for any other reason. I am an only child so I can't relate to having siblings who make me out to be the bad guy. My mother makes me out to be the bad guy, though, no matter HOW much I do for her, it's never 'enough.' My father, on the other hand, appreciated everything I did for him and was more than grateful and thankful. Unfortunately, he's now departed, leaving me the burden of caring for my mother who lives in Memory Care, thank you God, but there is STILL a ton of work to be done, regardless.

My 3 cousins all cared for their mother, my mother's sister, and her husband until their death. The son had little to do with the caregiving, but the two women (as usual) did 99% of the work. The son was given equal credit in spite of having done nothing to earn it. The two women fought like cats & dogs, and still DO, over 'who did more' for the folks. One says they did, the other says she did. Back and forth they go, still to this day, when in reality, it doesn't matter.

What DOES matter is YOUR future. Working for minimum wage will decrease your Social Security payments down the road. And probably your retirement future in general, since you won't have an IRA or anything like that. Please don't compromise YOUR retirement! Do what works best for YOU now, and leave more of the care giving duties to your siblings!

Forgive your ignorant siblings. Forgiveness is for YOU, not them. You are doing a great and valuable service for your folks and that is an admirable thing!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
I figured moving a parent or both into a facility wouldn't completely alleviate the care giving responsibilities. You still have to look out for their well-being. So, I feel for those in your situation too. The work of which you speak outside of care giving exists. I feel for you. I'm sorry for your treatment. You deserve better for your care and kindness to your parents. I'm glad one of them appreciated you. Even though frustrations exist among siblings, I can't imagine bearing the entire load as an only child. I won't argue with them on who did more or percentages, but I can say our brother does 0%. I'd prefer the anger of my sisters be directed towards him, not me.
Your social security payment and IRA contribution comments hit hard with me. I had only thought about income loss, not that. That is the incentive I need to strive for better work. I'm nervous about the perceived gap in my resume', but I have found some great suggestions on how to handle those concerns in an interview.
Forgiveness in my heart has been accomplished. I can do this because all three of us sisters have care giver burn-out. I just miss what I thought was a bond, a closeness. I hope that returns. I feel like this care giving roller coaster has changed us all. Some of it has made us better people, but the trauma is monumental. I have felt more peaceful and am not angry right now.
You, too, have done and are doing a great and a valuable service for your parents and that is also an admirable thing.
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It is not okay that you or your sisters are sacrificing your lives to prop up your parents. They have the money for facility care and that is where they need to be.

I can't imagine why people cave to their parents demands to stay home when it is costing their offspring their own lives and future financial security. It is selfish and unreasonable to ask that of anyone, let alone people you are supposed to love.

I would send the sisters an email stating that you and your family have looked at what all of this propping up of mom and dad is costing you and your future and you can no longer do it, effective immediately.

Then you can go visit your parents and be their daughter and not caregiver.

I can't imagine any loving parent willingly costing their offspring the ability to work to secure their own future. You won't be able to afford in home caregivers because you have given up years of earning higher wages and you see how unrealistic having your children bear that responsibility is.

This is the perfect time to back off, you are already the bad guy.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
Our parents aren't aware of how it is affecting us. Well, our mother is, but she doesn't want it this way. She isn't able to communicate it to us now. She always said she didn't want to be a burden. Most likely, she would tell us to find an assisted living facility. I guess that's our fault. We built our own cage. The entire situation caught us off-guard. Backing off is a great suggestion. I believe my two sisters will back off more if I do. I am going to send that e-mail, so they can see it. I'm not sure my spoken words are even heard except for my regretted words. My hope is that we get more hired care giver hours. Even if they don't, I can only control my life, even though I feel like I no longer have control of my life. Regardless, I can't control theirs. I say use their money for care. Meanwhile, we've begun researching and visiting facilities. It's an emotional process, for certain. Your comment about already being the bad guy helped me rethink the entire situation. If I am still viewed as such, whatever decision I make won't change that. Thank you.
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I have to say that I have been thankful to anyone who has contributed to respite in my experience. The responsibility during that time is still the same. To keep the routines, medications, appointments and all else on schedule.

Respite has come from the kindness of others or through paid help and not so much the family members I expected. I've been avoiding the negative feelings I have towards those family members that I thought would be present for my mother. Mom looks to her family but there's just me for the most part.

I blurted out all my negativity to a friend. It helped to hear my friend say: don't second guess yourself. And btw you do deserve praise, thank you, and money. It's a lot of work to live your life and help another live theirs.
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
Thank you for your calm and reassuring response. I appreciate your comforting words. I'm going to work on avoiding the negative feelings towards those who don't contribute, using work as an excuse, yet finding time for their own fun weekends. That will lie on their consciences, not mine. Dwelling on it serves no purpose for our parents or me.
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I deeply empathize with you/r situation.
As I've heard many times, it isn't what is happening, it is how we relate to it.
In other words, what can you do to reframe your reaction to how you feel? What can you do to lessen the load on yourself? How can you give yourself the nurturing you need? What changes can you make.
This caregiver need can drive anyone nutzo. We have to remember to NOT go down with a sinking ship and these are very individualized, personal changes in thoughts and behavior we need to make. Be it meditating for 5 minutes to taking time off, to learning boundary setting, getting to a therapist, bringing in a social worker or county support. Writing here is REALLY GOOD. Get it out and along the way, some supportive feedback will help.
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
I've calmed down a lot and am working on re-framing my reactions and attitudes. As much as I have practiced yoga and meditation, I should have come to this realization sooner. Thank you for reminding me. Planning my healthy lifestyle is a priority, my largest personal priority, in fact. I don't want my children to have to take care of me or my husband. For now, care giving should be seen as an obstacle, but one that can be worked around. I guess this is life, really. Your advise is profound. Boundary setting is key. I've always avoided seeing a therapist, but I am seeking one that works for me. You have helped me rethink that. So many have to give a diagnosis. I'm told this is for insurance purposes. I know myself well enough to know I won't do well once labeled. For others, that works and is fine, but not for me. I will pay out of pocket for a therapist who will see me as someone who needs to talk through the trauma of care giving and grief, and help me see things from a different perspective. Online support (this site) has helped me tremendously. Group support did not. I take on the feelings of the others in the meeting and either feel like I'm talking too much or not given enough time to talk. I think I found my forum. Your supportive feedback is appreciated.
I hope your own situation is going well.
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"I turned down better jobs to be available for care giving respite. I became too available."

You definitely became too available if your sisters can say your respite contribution is nothing. Since your sisters are sharing the day to day care giving they probably do feel they are carrying the major load. There is an extra load/stress of being the person that _must_ answer the bell which your sisters probably feel a little more than you do. I know am _very_ grateful for all respite care and cannot imagine telling anyone their contribution is nothing, not even the ladies who are being paid to provide care. Your sisters most likely really appreciate your efforts and greatly misspoke in a moment of anger. Care giving is very stressful and tiring. When we are stressed out and tired words come out of our mouths we don't really mean and in a calmer moment would agree do not really reflect reality.

Your post seems to indicate your sisters have retained their jobs and provide care after work. They seem to be making care giving a part of their lives but not sacrificing as much of their own lives as you have been. You are sacrificing your vacation time to provide opportunities for your sisters to have vacations? That's not good, you need and your family deserves vacations too.

I suggest you start putting yourself and your family first and care for your aging parents and consideration for your sisters second. Take a good job again. Continue to provide respite care for your parents either on _request_ or on a schedule that works with your job like a weekend every 2 or 4 weeks. If your sisters want coverage every weekend maybe your brother would pay for some weekend in home care hours (if your parents' funds cannot extend that far). Perhaps you take one week of vacation a year for respite care to allow a sister to take a vacation, or maybe it's time to hire more in home care for those vacations.

The care needs of our aging parents only increase as time passes and their capabilities decline. Your family has done well helping your parents remain in their home for several years, but maybe this dust-up is a sign the impact on their children's lives is getting to be too much. Perhaps the family should consider AL; your sisters could rotate days visiting after work and you and your brother could rotate weekend visits with all of you making sure your parents have good care. After your parents have settled into AL, vacations wouldn't be a big problem anymore.
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gabbygabby Dec 3, 2019
I agree that my sisters have a much larger burden than I do. I have provided a great deal of the care giving, but am unable to do so once I am back at my home. There is a small feeling of freedom knowing that. I agree it is harder on them, because I know I wouldn't want to trade places with either one of them. Yes, they continue to work while a paid care giver is with our parents. It took going through several care givers to find a good one.
On a side note, don't give up on finding a good one. They do exist. If you see any red flags, trust those red flags. Put in cameras too and observe often. We treat our hired care giver as part of our team, not as hired help. Of course, she doesn't take advantage either. End side-note.
A good job hasn't been an option for me since I chose to be so available. I never intended to box myself in. Things kept happening that made me feel obligated to do as much as I can. Maybe I did martyr myself. I didn't want it all to be on their shoulders. You said "Your sisters most likely really appreciate your efforts and greatly misspoke in a moment of anger." I think you are right about that. I've said things in my life that I neither meant nor believed came out of my mouth, It is such a trapped feeling. We are constantly blind-sided. Not knowing when it will all end adds more stress to the situation. I truly never thought it would get so bad and go on so long. I love my sisters and forgive the cruel words. I'm going to print your suggestions and share them with my siblings.
Thank you for responding. It helps.
PS - I have never heard the term "dust-up." I plan to use it when appropriate. Thank you for adding that to my vocabulary.
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"I love my parents and want to be there for and see them. My husband and own two adult children have suffered through my long absences, less income, miles on our cars, no family vacations for three years, and me being stressed, angry, and exhausted all of the time."

So one-third of each year for the last three years totals to one full year that you've been gone from your husband and children in order to take care of your parents and help your sisters. That's a lot of time.

My husband is POA both medical and financial for his dad and also was for his mom before she died. If my husband was gone for one-third of the year, not earning money for it, and coming home exhausted and angry, I'd probably be separated.

Caregiving must work for everyone involved. It sounds like your arrangement is not working. Your first responsibility is to yourself. If you burnout, you are no good to anyone. Trust me, I've been there. I burned myself out for my inlaws, enabling them to live alone for longer than I should have, and I got sick. It took me a year to recover my health.

You can love your parents and help care for them without abandoning yourself and your own family. Sadly, too many caregivers learn that lesson too late e.g. when the good jobs are beyond their expertise, their health is declining, their children resent them, their spouses feel abandoned and have turned elsewhere for intimacy, and their finances are in shambles.

A new year is at our door step. It's a great time to make changes that benefit you. I urge you to have a heart-to-heart not with your parents, not with your sisters but rather with your husband, that man to whom you made a promise. Together you both can figure out what you are and are not willing to do for your parents. And let your sisters worry about themselves.
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NeedHelpWithMom Dec 3, 2019
NY,

Your last sentence of this post reminds me of an adorable story with my younger cousins. My first cousin had a boy and a girl. The oldest, the boy is my godson. He is two years older than his sister.

My cousin was married to a jerk that left her when the youngest was only six months old.

We spent a lot of time with the kids. Our kids weren’t born yet. We wanted to help my cousin out as much as we could. The kids spent many weekends with us so my cousin could have a break. She was always exhausted as all single working moms are.

One afternoon we were taking the kids on an outing and as usual my godson who was four at the time was picking on and bullying his little sister. We constantly corrected him for this but he was relentless.

Well, his little sister, who was two years old finally had enough! She looked at him with a lot of spunk said, “You just worry about yourself! Stop bossing me around!”

My husband and I cracked up! My godson shut up! He didn’t expect that from her.

My husband looked at me and said. “That’s smart advice for anyone. I am not worried about her. She obviously can take care of herself and will put anyone in their place!”

That little girl is all grown up with two daughters of her own now. The older one is just like her husband who is shy. The younger one is exactly like her! Hahaha

My cousin always felt like her kids were cheated because their dad walked out on them.

I always told her that when they grow up they will know how much she loved them. Her children call her on Father’s Day to wish her a Happy Father’s Day!

Oh, and her kids. They are very close. He knows she would never take any crap from him. Hahaha
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