After watching and caring for my elderly parents, I have been tuned in to almost untold depths of compassion, worry and turned it inward for my own future. I cannot imagine my kids having to care for me as per our relationships that while ok, is not something I would really envision. I also dont want to go into assisted living after witnessing my aunts care & death. I see my parents grieve their own lives and loss of friends and family and I have such empathy that I feel their pain inside of me. I have a front row seat to aging in a way I would not had I not cared for them. I wish I could take away their pain and sadness - and see the beauty they have available to them every day. I wish I could turn back the clock in some ways, and speed it up in others. I realize how fast time has flown and have put my life on hold in a way because I care for them - knowing once this is over I will face my own elderlyhood and how much time do I really have left? I am alone - divorced after 20 yrs of marriage. I feel isolated from others though I make an effort to reach out and have some semblance of a life. I am afraid of them passing and the pain it will cause the remaining partner...and the loss of people, regardless how they were to me, who raised me. I wondered if anyone else ever experiences their own stage fright when it comes time for their own final act. Sorry for being macabre but this is the frontline of life - being a caregiver and it's like staring into the sun.

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Dear Scaredtaker,

I hear you. I think its only natural to ask these questions and have these feelings after watching our parents go through the third act as it were. Life is very hard.

I tried so hard to keep my dad going after his stroke. It was hard. But I also never expected my dad to die last year. I just never prepared myself for that day or moment. It was like a movie and I wanted to see my dad wake up and say its okay. It was frightening. To think how fast time has gone.

I really don't know at this point, what is going to happen to me if and when I reach my 70s, 80s or 90s. I hope for good health and to have good people around me, but I just don't know. Till that day arrives I hope I can find some joy and happiness to carry me.
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Well said,CM! Here here!
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So... Do you have another option?

There's a famous WW1 cartoon by Bairnsfather of a grizzled old soldier with another, younger soldier, both of them stuck in a filthy, waist-deep, mud-filled shell hole in no-man's land. And the old soldier is saying crossly to his companion: "if thou knows of a better 'ole, go to it!"

The future can be frightening. Sometimes we're not given any very pleasant choices. I too have been feeling terribly tearful and anxious about how fragile and vulnerable people are - not anyone in particular, just everyone, and especially the ones who count on loved ones, who seem to take it for granted that they'll be there, when we know better, that one day they won't. I share with you the feeling that we're being prodded towards the front and thinking "hang on! Not ready for this! You've put me off! I've been busy! I need another go at it..!"

But we've got this life to lead, whatever one might think comes after - something, nothing, another turn, an *explanation* would be nice - but anyway we have this one to do. Best make the best we can of it, eh?

And fretting about what fate awaits us between now and the end... Stay fit. Stay well. Keep busy. Make yourself useful if you can. And if you do have the misfortune to develop dementia, well now... You probably will be scared stiff, but not about anything you really do need to be scared of. Not sure if that helps..?

And, as the late Peg Bracken put it in her section on "how to comfort yourself when you have behaved like a jackass" - and I know I'm always quoting her but I love her and she has been my heroine since I was twelve - "at the *very* least, you've served as a bad example."
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Don't you still have a bit of traveling to do, your way?
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My Way
Frank Sinatra
And now the end is near
So I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I've traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exception
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
Oh, and more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fails, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, no not me
I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words he would reveal
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
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The poet Naomi Nye says,

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.[3]
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Good way to put it as "stage fright". My fear was that my parents would outlive me. They were in their mid to late 90's, and in better health then I was. For me, I was physically drained and emotionally exhausted after 7 years doing mainly logistical help then physical hands-on caregiving.  I will never reach or even come near their final ages.

Many people have a bucket list of things they want to do before they past... but once caregiving is on the horizon, that bucket list gets thrown away. My parents have passed, I am still trying to climb out of the abyss. Forget travel, I don't want to be more than 10 miles from home... yes, as you said stage fright.

My Dad went into Independent Living/Assisted Living for a year after my Mom passed, and the place was so great I wished I could have moved in, too :) But it wasn't my time. There are some lovely places out there, many 55+ communities, too. Of course it depends on one's budget.

I have no siblings and no children, so I have to plan to pay someone to take care of me. Dad had some wonderful caregivers, and they were worth every penny. It was a sticker shock regarding such cost. So I will continue with my career and keep saving for all those "rainy days".
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