How to stay sane when each day is a bit worse than the last?

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I live with my 90 yo Father and 87 yo mother. Mom has memory issues from a variety of causes, the most significant of which was a brain bleed (subarachnoid) from a fall several years ago. Her memory is very variable. Dad was hospitalized 3 years ago with pancreatitis and became very ill with renal failure from a reaction to the CT contrast. He recovered completely from that, but despite rehab, his legs are weak and unsteady. No pain, but it frustrates him terribly, and it’s getting worse. I moved in with them 6 years ago and I now take care of finances, cooking, cleaning and overall management of our home. No conflict, we get along well and agree on how to deal with any issues that come up. But they can’t be left alone for more than a day (not overnight). This situation wil not improve. I try to stay positive, but I worry about what will happen as time goes on. Any advice?

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Thanks for the insight. I know that at some point (perhaps soon) I will need to have some help come in. It’s just been such a gradual decline, and because of that we adapted and accepted the “new normal”. This past summer, my dad was well enough to do all of the yard work (trimming shrubbery, pruning, etc.) except the lawn (we have someone come in to do the lawn). His legs would get week, and so he had to do it a bit at a time, but he still did a good job and was justifiably proud of it. He was able to drive very short distances (only in the daytime, in between rush hours and never in any kind of weather), but I think that will end this year. So right now they’re mostly able to care for themselves and each other with some supervision and support. But they’re not yet in a frame of mind where they would consider help. And Dad hates having people in the house! He likes our plumber, but that’s about it.
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My 80 year old mother lives with me and has for over 20 years. She has dementia. She’s still capable of dressing, bathing, taking her meds. I’m an only child as well. My husband, daughter and her boyfriend went away last week for 6 days. I had a need assessment done in July. That assessment assured me she could be left alone if she slept on the first floor. I had agency nurses/ aides come in every day we were away for 2 hours., to take her to eat, or cook , or drive her to her hair appointment. She loved it. It was great for her to meet new people.
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Daybyday
Read the book ‘Being Mortal’ which is a good guide to what is important as we age. Find out what your parents really want and what you really want for these final years. And yes, now is the time.
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A one-year plan sounds like a really good idea. My two-year plan expired a couple of years ago! But seriously this makes good sense. My folks won’t leave this house unless it becomes impossible for them to stay here. They have good reasons for that; long story, too much to go into here, but I both agree with and respect that decision. When the time comes I believe they will be able to afford a caregiver to come in. I just don’t know if they’ll be able to be convinced that they need it. I guess time will tell. I suppose that the time to have that conversation is now, while rational thought still exists.
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daybyday27, make an one-year plan. What would happen if your parents needed a higher level of care? What would they accept? Are they open to having caregivers coming into the house? If the answer is yes, are your parents able to budget for such expense?

What if your parents needed to move to Assisted Living [not a nursing home], would they accept that move? If yes, do they have a place picked out for the future? Will they be able to budget for the monthly cost?

Now, what if the answers were all no, never, not in your life. That is when it becomes extremely difficult, especially since you are an only child where you can't pass the baton onto a sibling willing to help out. And what if something happen to you?

I wish I had the talk with my parents. My Mom was glued to the house. Dad would leave the house in a New York minute as being 94 at the time he was tired of trying to repair things, plus shovel snow, etc. Mom [97] was in denial of his age. And in denial of my age, too. Here I was a senior trying to help much older seniors. I eventually crashed and burned from the physical and mental exhaustion, and here I wasn't even hands-on.
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Hey thanks for the support. I should clarify a bit. I’m 55, retired from my primary job. I run a small consulting business from home. I’m out of the house 2 or 3 days a week for 6 or 7 hours. So I do get out. My parents understand that I need down time, but they don’t want help from anyone but me. I think their condition is going to have to decline quite a bit more before they will accept outside assistance. Btw, I’m an only chid.
I’m OK with taking things one day at a time or even one hour at a time. I seek out the positive moments. It’s just a tough road. Thank goodness I have an angel dog for company!
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First, I feel your pain! Even when things go relatively smoothly you know they are headed to being worse. People who compare caregiving the elderly to raising a child completely overlook this critical difference. You can survive the terrible twos because you know it is a temporary state. Things will get better. And the end result will be an adult you can be friends with and be proud of.

Caregivers for the elderly have none of those long-term satisfactions. My heart goes out to you.
Instead of looking ahead to long-term satisfaction, we need to get our satisfactions day by day. Dad was less frustrated today. Good day! Mom really seemed to get into looking at photo albums. Good day!

You've been there most days and every night for six years? Yikes! To continue to be effective and to maintain sanity, you NEED respite. I know, people used to tell me that and I put up barriers. It IS HARD to arrange for overnight care. And it is expensive! But it really isn't optional.

Set up some time away every week. Wednesday afternoons take painting lessons. Monday mornings meet a friend or group of friends at a coffee shop. Take some time for yourself on a regular, recurring basis. AND ALSO arrange for periodic vacations. Be gone for 3 days, or a week! It sounds like your parents could understand this.

My advice: take your satisfactions where you find them, and take some time to recharge your own batteries!
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