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I'm reaching out to see if anyone has a similar experience to mine. I relocated a year ago to care for my older brother who has vascular dementia and clinical depression. I lived in another state, and I was flying back and forth monthly after I had to put him in an AL and become his POA.


My brother did not adjust well to the care facility. He would not eat or take medications at first. He doesn't speak to anyone or attend activities. He stays in bed all day and has to be coaxed to get up and go to the dining room to eat. He seems to have lost his will to live. I was getting burned out flying back and forth to try to help him, so I made the difficult decision to relocate.


Although I knew I was uprooting my own life (I'm single and retired, age 70), I couldn't just abandon my brother because all other family members/friends have died. It's just the two of us left. I am struggling to make a "new life" for myself here in a different city, but starting over again is rough at 70. I am glad I was available to come help my brother, but this major life change so late in the game is harder than I thought it would be. With God's help, I'm making new connections and finding new activities. I do feel twinges of guilt from time to time when I choose to do things for myself instead of spending time with my brother, but I'm hoping this will get easier. It's one day at a time for now. Thanks for listening!

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Yes, I was caring for my Mom and she wanted to move to another state to be near her last remaining relatives - her 90+ year old brother and sister-in-law. So, we sold real estate and moved across country.
Unfortunately, within a few years her brother & his wife both passed away.

Now, I'm here alone - except for my Mom who is now in her late 80's confined to bed. I'm In my 60's & disabled due to a fall.

It's been hard, mostly because the virus shut downs have limited my ability to meet people. And most people around my age already have their own social networks developed.

So, yes I've done something similar to you.

I just take the good days with the bad days, and try to make myself as much at home here as possible. With the change in real estate prices lately, realize I can't go back "home." But, even if I did - most of the people I was friends with have moved to other states and other areas. Or focus entirely on their grandchildren - taking care of them, raising them. etc So wouldn't be seeing them much anyway.
Some have passed away, also. Not much left for me there.

So, you're not alone and my advice is to "bloom where you're planted" as they say - if you like your new area and plan on staying there.

The option of leaving will always be there, just depends on what would be waiting for you wherever you went.
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svking Sep 21, 2021
Thanks so much, LavenderBear. It would not be easy for me to go back "home" either for many of the reasons you noted. I'm reading a book called "The Unexpected Journey of Caring" by Donna Thompson. It's all about how caregiving can throw a wrench into a person's life plans, even in their later years. As you say, we need to find ways to "bloom" in our new settings because our lives have to keep growing, even while we're caring for someone else. Thanks again.
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Oh yes! At 65 yr old I retired and moved from NYS to Virginia to “help” my brother with my mom..she is 88yr old and has Lewy Body Dementia. My only daughter is in NYS. Now at 70.. I sold my cute condo and moved myself to a nearby retirement community apartment {average age here is 84} so I could move my mom into a memory care assisted living facility on campus. So much easier to visit and care for her! I can walk to her building. I have essentially given up my retirement to to be her POA, social director and health care advocate. Now my brother at 69 has health issues and also bought a condo further south. I am attempting to make friends here. But mom is a part time job and that limits lots of activities I could be engaged in. And yes..I feel cheated and even used at times but I keep fairly active in my church and am slowly making friends. This is a bit disappointing to say the least! I rarely feel guilty but at times I feel like I have lost my retirement {I am healthy} and will never get it back.... I have done counseling. It helps. Our situation is a result of great medicine prolonging life into 90’s even 100..When my mom turns 100 I will be 83! She is quite healthy and that outcome is not unrealistic. I am wrapping my brain around the fact that this may be my life for a long time. My mom is pretty good company so it is not so bad. We must find pleasure where we can and pray we stay healthy! Good luck.
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XenaJada Sep 23, 2021
With LBD she is highly unlikely to reach 100.
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"I do feel twinges of guilt from time to time when I choose to do things for myself instead of spending time with my brother, but I'm hoping this will get easier." You up and moved away, at 70 years old, for your brother's well-being, and STILL you are feeling guilty for trying to carve out a life of your own???

A BIG part of being in Assisted Living (hopefully he's in Memory Care AL?) is that your brother create his own routine and lifestyle IN the AL, without relying on YOU for his entertainment. If you are there with him all the time, you are preventing him from creating that new routine for himself inside the AL. Only visit him for limited times and limited days per week to enable him to do that.

If the AL is allowing your brother to stay in bed all day, that is a problem. My mother lives in a Memory Care AL and they DO NOT permit such a thing to happen! All residents except hospice patients must be up and dressed and out of their rooms by 9:30 am each day for breakfast. Period. The caregivers see to it, in fact. Otherwise, the resident can waste away in bed and that is not the goal of Memory Care. The goal is to have the residents interact, socialize, participate in games and activities designed to stimulate them, eat meals together, take short trips to scenic places on the mini bus, etc. If the AL is not doing this with your brother, the AL is the problem here, not your brother.

Remember that it is not YOUR job to keep your brother entertained and socialized, fed and healthy every day; it is the ALs job to do that. Visit for limited times every week and then use the rest of the time to live YOUR life, my friend. Don't get so caught up in HIS life that you neglect your own. There are TWO lives of importance here, not just one. We often get SO caught up in the elder's life that we start to think ours is unimportant, and we lose ourselves. THAT is the big mistake. You've already moved to a new state which is too much by most people's standards, so don't continue to set yourself on fire to keep him warm. See to it that the AL keeps THEIR promise to keep him happy, healthy and stimulated!

Best of luck.
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JoAnn29 Sep 20, 2021
By law no adult in a facility can be forced to do what they don't want to. If a resident wants to stay in bed, then they stay in bed. You are paying big money to live there. The goal maybe to keep them active but if they don't want to participate they can't be made to do so.
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Sv,

For a bit of perspective:

If your brother went to college, and you relocated to follow him,

then became his entire social life,

his activities director,

would he have thrived there?

He won't thrive on his own at his AL, if you do the same things for him there.

YOU need a life of your own, as well.

YOU need a social life.

YOU need activities.

YOU need a comfortable home.

YOU didn't move into an AL. Your brother did.

If he were to pass away, what would you have?

Take care of YOU, too.
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svking Sep 21, 2021
Thanks very much, Cx. All very good points. I think this is the great balancing act of caregiving. Taking care of myself doesn't mean I'm taking any caring away from my brother. It's taking time for me to let that truth "sink in." Thanks again.
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Wow!

That is really difficult during a pandemic. My children moved last year and have been lucky to find 2 friends in their new town. They are considering moving again if my son-in-law gets a job nearer to us... and to more friend opportunities.

Consider moving back to where you are comfortable... and moving your brother to be near you, He might also do better with a short stint in an inpatient psych unit to adjust his medications.
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svking Sep 23, 2021
Thanks, Taarna. I mentioned in a reply to another post that moving back to my old location won't work for me or my brother now. He does have a psychiatrist who is monitoring his mental health medications. Thanks again.
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"Welcome to my life" - I also interrupted my life to look after my parents who reside in WI. I reside in suburban Toronto Canada so I took early retirement (62) to be able to look after them and have been splitting my time between the 2.locations since Spring 2015. Dad passed in 2016 but mom who is now 97 with advanced Alzheimers and become increasingly difficult to deal with. My saving grace has been 2 very good friends (that were passing acquaintances for a few years before this all took place.). I have also joined a local Seniors group in WI and have made friends there as well. During the 13+ month lockdown of the borders I was 'stuck' in Canada and needed to rely on one of the above mentioned friends to check on mom, take her to dental appointments, replenish needed supplies that memory care facility does not supply, etc. She even looked after my apartment/mail, etc. for me (for this I will be forever grateful). I also discovered that the church my parents belonged to for 20+ years also provided a visit every 2 weeks to check on 'former' parishioners and offered a kind ear when I needed it.
It is very difficult to watch a family member essentially die slowly so any emotional support you can find elsewhere may help you to cope with this situation. My thoughts are with you.
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I relocated at age 60 from Houston to a small town in Virginia. Had no idea that 6 years later, I would be full-time caregiver to both parents. Fortunately I had established a network of friends in the new town. When you get a bit of time and have the energy, I'd recommend joining a club (hiking, bird watching, canasta, dining in, etc), or do a bit of volunteering (library, nature preserve, reading tutor for kids), or a church, and chat to people. It helps me remember there is a life outside caregiving and gives me perspective.
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svking Sep 23, 2021
Thanks, BernerMom. Yes, I am working on doing just that. I've joined a line dancing group at a senior center (we dance in masks!), and it helps my physical and emotional and social health. Building new networks takes time. I'm learning to be patient. Thanks again.
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Could he not come to your city?

I relocated to my mother/sister city 3 hours away and it’s a struggle to help

My own life, friends, great doctors are a long drive away.

Now my only child and her family just moved to the the city I left, talk about frustrating. No one appreciates that I’m here and my mother spent years character assignation of the entire family. But worked non stop to get me here or she said she can’t make it.

What a shock, I’m 57 as of yesterday, I really wish I stayed where I was. I’d be with my grandkids now
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bundleofjoy Sep 23, 2021
happy belated bday!!

courage!!
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Your post reads as though you decided to relocate because it would be easier than flying to and fro to see your brother. It’s still hard to understand why brother didn’t relocate:

a) Doctor thought ‘it would be better for my brother to be in his familiar surroundings and relocating would add to his depression’. Why did Doctor think so? Hopefully not to keep a paying patient!
b) Has Doctor been proved correct? Probably not, considering that brother ‘doesn't speak to anyone or attend activities.... he stays in bed all day and has to be coaxed to get up and go to the dining room to eat. He seems to have lost his will to live’. What is ‘better’ about that? How are the very limited ‘familiar surroundings’ helping?
c) You decided that you were ‘more capable of adjusting to a new place’. You are finding it harder than you thought, and brother has made no progress at all. Was it the wrong decision? Are you stuck with it, or could you rethink it? ‘Managing your reality’ might mean accepting that it was a bad decision, you would be better off going home, and brother would be no worse if he relocated too.
d) You feel guilty when you ‘choose to do things for myself instead of spending time with my brother’. Why? Accepting that you and brother are the last of the family, why are you ‘more capable’ and why is your brother more important than you?
e) What does the future hold? How long is brother likely to live? How long are you prepared to live a half-life focused on your brother? What do you do if he predeceases you?

Don’t feel that you have backed yourself into a corner. Think again!
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SnoopyLove Sep 24, 2021
All great points. The doctor seemed perfectly happy to prescribe martyrdom for the OP. I wonder if he would have accepted the same advice if he had been in her shoes. Not likely!

I feel as though that doctor threw a very kind and conscientious sibling completely under the bus.
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Don’t feel guilty for finding time for yourself. Your brother is blessed to have you sacrifice for him. My siblings would never even consider sacrificing for each other.
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svking Sep 23, 2021
Thanks, LoveLea. Yes, I count it a blessing that my brother and I have a positive relationship. I know that may change as his dementia progresses, but I'm grateful for the relationship we have now. Thanks again.
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