For example, for me some things don't matter as much as they used to, verses what I now prioritize as "mattering". By the way, I put this in the Mental health topic section. I'm not sure if this is the correct one to put this question in. Also I'd like to thank people on this forum as I have read other people's questions and answers and have found comfort in knowing things and how to deal with certain things thanks to the users on here, you're all amazing! :)

I can't take credit for this pearl of wisdom but I will take credit for internalizing it. My brother-in-law told me "Don't set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm."

Wisdom I've acquired along the way caring for both of my in-laws and dealing with my FIL who now has moderate dementia:

1. When you start losing sleep, night after night, stop and listen to your body. This is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong and it's time for a change. Sleep deprivation is no joke. Protect your sleep.

2. Do not make promises over which you have no control. The only promise I will ever make to my FIL is that I will help do what is best for him. Right now that means assisted living.

3. Never take on the responsibility of caregiving without having the authority to do so. That means having *durable* power of attorney both medical and financial, which is effective the moment it is signed.

4. Do not put your own financial wellbeing/retirement at risk because of caregiving.

5. Do not put your marriage and/or children at risk because of caregiving.

6. Own your decisions. No one forces you to do anything. Everything is a choice. Think carefully about your choices and the decisions you make for yourself, for your spouse, for your children, for your job, etc.

7. You cannot reason with a broken brain.

8. You matter.
Helpful Answer (25)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
SueZ1250 Jan 5, 2024
Oh this is sooooo good!! I’d have put POA at #1! Otherwise your options are few.
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You can try your hardest, pray your hardest, follow all the advice and do everything right and still fail, in fact in elder care that's a given.
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Reply to cwillie
Midkid58 Jan 1, 2024
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The day I realized that there was no more "best solution" for mom with dementia, stroke, broken hip and CHF.

There was only the least bad choice among several. That gave me some peace and perspective.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

To try to prepare as best I can for my old age , and definitely not to impose on my children by living with them.
Try to minimize any impact my being old has on my own children .
It can be difficult though , unexpected things happen . The brain can go haywire with dementia. My biggest fear is that I will lose insight and will be uncooperative . I want to be that pleasant cooperative old lady .
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Reply to waytomisery

Set strong boundaries, learn to say "NO" and mean what I say, no back peddling.

Eliminate toxic people from my life, I am entitled to live in peace and harmony, and I will claim that right.
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Reply to MeDolly

@lealonnie, I’m taking your words to heart. I’ve done everything I could to make sure my mom’s physical and medical needs are met. Then I started driving myself crazy trying to meet her emotional needs and keep her “happy”. But she’s not going to be happy, even though she is surrounded by loving family & friends and getting excellent care.

My husband and I are 61 and 58. We have plans for our future. I have learned mostly through this forum not to give up those dreams because my mom is never satisfied. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Anything can happen. I still want to do my best by mom, but I’m not giving up my life and future for it.
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Reply to LilyLavalle
lealonnie1 Jan 1, 2024
Good. I'm really glad to hear you say this Lily. I'm happy I responded to SomeGuyinCa. ❤
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I have learned a lot actually...

I have learned there are not enough quality affordable care centers (memory care / long term care) for the number of people that need them.
I have learned that you can never have too much money saved for your care.
I have learned that you can plan all you want to, but you never know what is going to happen to you and how the last season of your life is going to play out.
I have learned that there are things scarier than death.
I have learned that I have the capacity to have compassion and empathy for someone who may not deserve it.
I have learned that I need to give POA to my daughter long before needed.
I have learned that I need to let the guilt go when I can't fix something for mom. (that one is easier said than done)
I have learned that appreciating the small stuff goes a long way. A beautiful sunrise/sunset, a laugh from my mom that is a rarity, the love of a dog, etc..
I have learned that I have my own health issues and they are equally important because if I am not here, mom has no one to help her....the whole airplane advice of put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help someone else with theirs.
I have learned that anyone who down-plays how difficult caregiving is mentally, physically and financially....has never really done it.
I have learned that I am one of many dealing with caregiving and all that entails.
I have learned aging is not for sissies.... ;-)

I love one of the other posters comments: "don't set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm".
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to Jamesj
KLJ0925 Jan 5, 2024
James, that is wonderful!

You have indeed given us something to think about. Even some of us who have been doing this a while, need to be reminded that a 5-minute phone call with a friend or actually listening to the birds or geese as they fly by or hearing the church bells, or seeing a mother with a small child are joys that replenish us if we leave ourselves open to them.

Wisdom can also be stated as the Serenity Prayer says; "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."

It somehow helps when I feel inadequate; I am expecting to do that which I cannot. When I let go of the need to "do it all" I am a better me, for my LO and for myself.
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I see that both things I would have listed have already been said.

* You cannot reason with a broken brain.

* I will not expect of my children what has been expected of me. And since they have not been helpful with their own father's situation, I'm not about to believe they'll be there for me. I sure hope that the inheritance from my 93yo father allows me to buy into a retirement community, and I will live out my life there.

Does anyone else follow Peggy Rowe on Facebook? She is the mother of Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs guy. She and her husband (she calls him PC for Prince Charming) live in Oak Crest in Baltimore, a CCRC. On Christmas her husband had a heart attack. Her comment on a recent post was, "I’m still counting my blessings—for kids who take turns being by our side—and for moving into Oak Crest BEFORE we had to." That's my goal, get in somewhere before I need it.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to graygrammie
Frances73 Jan 8, 2024
LOL when my siblings stepped back from helping or visiting with my parents I always silently said to myself “this is the example you are sitting for your kids, just wait until you need help!”
After years of watching over my mom and her death in 2022, I have come to the conclusion that my own expectations were just too high. I expected that I could be the super human all the way to the end. It is terrible when you find out that you will never be strong enough to meet your own expectations.

Those expectations are set before you realize what you are getting in to. Then, as you realize the difficulty, it is hard to reset your expectations to a more realistic level.

Hope I am making sense. Over a year has gone by and I still focus on my "failures" rather than my accomplishments.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to Msblcb

Don’t have false expectations of LO ever being pleased again , no matter what you do . They are mad that they got old . You can’t fix old.

DH and I will be burying the third of our parents this week that we were responsible for ( no sibling help ) . We are also seriously looking down the barrel of parent ( MIL ) number 4 soon .

Caregiving doesn’t get easier . But I am wiser . I know what to pack in my survival kit .
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to waytomisery
CaringinVA Feb 8, 2024
"I know what to pack in my survival kit." A lot of wisdom in that one sentence, Way. I am learning what I need to move through this and continue to thrive in my own life. Most necessary.
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