How do I apologize to my children ahead of time?

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I am 73, my husband, also my children's father is 75. He has dementia. We have 3 grown children. Neither of us have great health. How do I apologize to my children now for the help we will get from them as time goes on? How do I handle that one does much more than the other 2? I would like to pay someone outside the family for all our needs but that is not possible. I try very very hard not to call on any of the 3. I actually enjoyed caring for both my father and my mother when the time came but it seems young people of today don't feel the way we did. Any suggestions?

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Quote: "I actually enjoyed caring for both my father and my mother when the time came but it seems young people of today don't feel the way we did."

Well, for starters, don't say this to your children! Maybe it's because I'm exhausted for having not slept in a week or so, with being up with my FIL at night, but this kind of struck me the wrong way. Did you REALLY enjoy it, or were there parts of it that were tiring and difficult? The fact that you want to "pre-apologize" to your kids tells me that maybe you know how difficult it can be.

Beyond that, simply having your affairs in order is a huge thing. Establish POAs, get your financial affairs in order, maybe even consider funeral arrangements ahead of time (not trying to be morbid; FIL has had his funeral arrangements paid for, years ago!)

Also, acknowledge when you can no longer do things on your own, and accept help when it's needed. That's one of the biggest things I read on this forum, and that we deal with with my FIL. He often refuses to acknowledge when he needs help (both before and after coming to live with us).  We often beg Dad to just make it easy for us to help him, and accept our help.  That's usually more difficult, than the actual act of whatever it is we're assisting him with.

He also apologizes ALL THE TIME. I wish he would stop. I can't tell you the number of times a day I say to Dad, "You don't have to apologize, it's okay!" So, my advice is - don't apologize. Just thank your kids for what they do for you, don't guilt the ones who don't/can't/won't help, and appreciate the one or ones who do. 

Hope all that makes sense.
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Sondra, where would you and your husband turn for help if you didn't have any children? Get help there. For the purpose of this exercise, pretend your children don't exist.

Also, with respect, if you and your husband are in your seventies then I don't think your children can quite qualify as Young People of Today, surely? They are adults, perhaps with families of their own, certainly with their own lives to lead. Don't demand of them more than they wish to offer.
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I could write a book in response to this question, but it's a question people rarely ask.

With respect to the two children who don't help as much, I would suggest asking them outright if they don't volunteer. Don't leave that job to the one helpful child, and don't put everything on that one just because they're easier to deal with. Reluctant helpers may respond a lot better to direct requests from their parents than pressure or guilt from the sibling. And the helpful child will bless you for it.

Apologizing - I'd love just once to hear my mother say "I'm sorry to put you in this position. I wish I had done things differently." Maybe not every day but at least once in a while. And yes, appreciation helps too. Lead with that, certainly.

I hear that you enjoyed caring for your parents when the time came, but in past generation, the time usually came and went fairly quickly. Not any more. Both you and your husband are rather young and might live another few decades. Your kids could get to be your age and have similar health conditions to what you have now and still be tending to you and Dad. You can imagine that could be a strain.

About needing help. Now is the time to downsize, if you haven't already. Move to the lowest-maintenance property you can find and afford, and the closest to services such as groceries and medical. Too many elderly need extensive help simply because they insist on living in homes they can't maintain, that are too far from the services they need, when they can no longer drive, mow the lawn, clean the house, or climb the stairs. Bite the bullet and do as much as you can to spare your kids unnecessary labor and aggravation.

Finally, give back. Remember your kids' birthdays, and your grandkids'. Ask them about their day, when you see them. Take an interest in their lives. Be a support and a sounding board. Too many parents grow to think it's all about them and forget that their children are people with their own lives who are taking away from those lives to care for them. Don't make that mistake. That more than anything else is what makes caregiving a burden for so many adult children.
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I'm a big fan of open and frequent communication. At the first family meeting I called after my husband was diagnosed with dementia, I had folder for each of the kids and the two oldest grandkids. It contained the best article I could find about Coy's dementia, a copy of the POA forms (not finalized yet), a copy of his healthcare directive. We sat around a table, with the out-of-state daughter on speaker phone, and talked about all these things. His healthcare directive said he wanted no extraordinary measures to prolong his life, and named me as his medical POA. He said he wanted to be cremated. I asked if any of the kids had a problem with cremation. I wouldn't change anything if one did, but we could spend a little more time on that issue. I explained my intention of keeping Coy home as long as I could give him good care, but that the time might come when the dementia became too much for me to handle. I think that was the meeting where we discussed the role of POA and who would be best suited to be my backup.

Then I set up a CaringBridge website where I frequently posted updates about Coy's progress and difficult decisions we faced, and how we went about making them.

No one could ever say they didn't know what was going on.

I think being open and honest with all of your children, including talking to them all at the same time or sending all of them the same email, so you are sure they all get the same message is the best way to prepare them for what might lie ahead. There is no need to apologize for getting old -- they'll do that someday, too.

About the unequal help you get. My advice always is to pay the one who helps you. Draw up a caregiving agreement spelling out what she does and what payment she will receive. This can be at a family discount compared to agency rates, but it will show her you recognize her special attentions. DO NOT promise to leave her extra in your will. Just don't go there. Pay her in the here and now. If you are communicating regularly with all of the kids, they should accept this as reasonable and fair.

Please, ask for help as you need it. Are the children who now help less living close enough to do some tasks? If it is hard for them to actually do hand-on care for their father, could they do other things to free up your time and energy? Could one come over and do your laundry Wednesday evening? The other come and mop and vacuum on Saturdays? They may not want to do these things, and that is OK, but please give them the opportunity to help.

Bless you for being so caring of your children's feelings. But there is no need to apologize, in advance or otherwise.
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This almost sounds like you do not think they will not have the time necessary to help with what is needed. Don't try to manipulate of make them feel guilty. Had my mom said this to me, I would have felt guilty. And that is before she has even asked me to do anything.

Where do you live? Downsizing sounds like it is in order. Do you own your house? Do not think about living with the children for an option. Consider selling to provide you cash to set yourselves up where it is easier to get help. Is Medicaid is in the picture? Get with an elder law attorney to get the necessary documents prepared.
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jeannegibbs: "About the unequal help you get. My advice always is to pay the one who helps you. Draw up a caregiving agreement spelling out what she does and what payment she will receive. This can be at a family discount compared to agency rates, but it will show her you recognize her special attentions. DO NOT promise to leave her extra in your will. Just don't go there. Pay her in the here and now."

Yes! Please acknowledge the one who helps with more than just a thank you!
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So many good statements in these answers! Even though my mom and I had a somewhat rancorous relationship, I knew early on that she was extremely organized with financial matters. She had been executor of family estates and she knew what needed to be done. Before she began suffering from dementia, she bought a funeral pre-planning contract (which didn’t turn out to be much, but at least she tried). She put my name on her checks. She saved absolutely every receipt from her daily expenses and wrote those expenses down in a journal. She cleaned house and when I had to do the final clean-out there (sadly) wasn’t much left. THIS was her apology to me for 3 years of nursing home care and advanced dementia where often the worst came out, aimed at me. Words are words, but actions do speak volumes.
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I totally agree with drawing up a family care agreement and at least compensate the one doing most of the care. It is easily done through an elder care lawyer. If a family member doesn't get it, Medicaid will. I also agree that your children aren't children anymore. I will be 60 soon and my mother is 85. They are grown adults with their own life, jobs, responsibilities, and family. The "guilt" that my Mom placed on my brothers and I to take care of her has left some deep emotional scars for us all. We love her, but we could never do enough. I retired from nursing after 37 years and went directly to being a full-time caregiver for my Mom. It almost destroyed me, my relationship and the mother/daughter bond that we had. She always "expected" me to take on that role without regard to my life. I made the decision to place her in a skilled nursing facility and though I wish it could be different am finally able to enjoy MY life. Please do not guilt your children into a bad situation. Again, agree with the person who said, plan as if you had no children? What would.you do then? Also, since you DO have children, thank them for what they ARE doing. It is important. One thank you goes a lot further than a statement like, I took care of you as a child so it is your turn to take care of me. Anyways, I could go on and on from experience, but I won't. God bless anyone out there who takes care of an elderly parent. It is truly a challenge.
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No one knows what the future holds. Apologizing to your children in advance for the help they will eventually offer may turn out to be an inappropriate gesture. Families are tricky. Maybe there won't be any help from your children. And as you said, one child does more than the others. This child may get burned out. I guess what I'm saying is that you can't know that your kids will be there to take care of you and your husband.

If you would like to share with them how much you love them and you'd like to do this before you're unable to I suggest writing them each a letter. Not an email but a letter on paper. Tell the adult child who helps you the most where to find those letters or mail them off yourself but don't mention anything about them helping you and your husband as time goes on. Don't apologize to them in advance because you don't know that they will help you. If I had received a letter from my mom apologizing to me in advance for helping her as she aged I would have thought it was a manipulative ploy to play on my guilt and I wouldn't have liked or appreciated it.

Hold off on the apologies for now.
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I'm not too far behind you in age, Sondra, but I don't have any children. What I plan to do is move into a senior community I can afford, then hope I never need a nursing home. If I do, I'll apply for Medicaid after my money runs out. The good thing about this is I never have to depend too heavily on someone else and disrupt their life. It will also give me a chance to make friends with the people around me. I'd rather live like a Golden Girl than alone and isolated. This is the way that it is for more people now. If you own a home, then maybe you can sell it and use the money to build a new life for yourself. If you have a plan, then you don't need to apologize to your children.
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