I am an only child. My parents moved me across the USA when I was 3, away from all family. I grew up isolated from family. My parents never had much to do with their aging family members except ending up with my mom's mom living with them part-time when she was in her 80s. My parents hated & resented every minute of that, and ended up refusing to allow her to return to their home.

Around the time my parents turned 70, they just threw-in-the-towel, said they were old, they were done. I was in my early 40s. And, guess what...the expectation has been that I will be there for all of their needs, dramas, fights (there were a lot of those), etc.

I am now 55, dad has passed, mom is just now 80. I am constantly responsible for the logistics, the sadness, absorbing the loss of it all. Being mom's one & only family member. If she lives as long as her mother did, I will be 70 myself when she dies.

I look around at people my age and (mostly) observe: 1) parent or parents are somewhere between 75 & 90 and mystically still living independently, or 2) parent/parents passed away with little to no fanfare, little obligation on the part of their children, and now the child (age 45-65) just steps in, sells the house, settles up, and walks away to spend the money left behind, free to live their own life in the positive present.

I feel that this has become my life story and that it will not end until I am too old to pursue my own goals & dreams. I just don't think life was supposed to be this way. I am so glad I did not have children of my own - there will never be a risk that I will do this to someone.

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Yes, absolutely - can relate 100%. I've even gone as far to completely cut off contact with old friends I grew up with when they inherit real estate worth hundreds of thousands of dollars without lifting a finger to help their parents. I believe that's a character flaw on my end - but, it's what I need to do to keep going.

My old friends (I'm in my 60's) are all relaxing, enjoying life while I'm working physically harder than I ever did in my 20's/30's with no days off and no end in site. It makes me dislike them intensely - and once again - that's a character flaw within myself. But, under the circumstances I forgive myself for feeling this way.

So yes - I understand/empathize/agree with your feelings 100% - and have no advice for you, since I appear not to be able to save myself ... but, I do understand. And understand completely.
Helpful Answer (25)
Reply to LavenderBear

I hear you, loud & clear. I'm 65 this July, an only child, with a mother who's 95 on the 20th of this month, hanging on for dear life with advanced dementia & at least 10 other issues too numerous to mention. She does live in Memory Care AL 4 miles away, but I'm her only child & only remaining family member who's either alive, goes to see her or deals with her in any way. I'm the sounding board for ALL of it, like you said, the sponge to absorb all of her decades of misery. She's fallen 92x with no real injuries as a result. Her body will be studied upon death (at 104) to see what material it's made of (my guess is super ball rubber) because it can't just be fat that cushions her and prevents broken hips/legs/arms/wrists/ankles from happening. Dad fell ONCE, broke his hip & passed, without fanfare, 11 months later. She's also survived 3 bouts of pneumonia (one thought to be aspiration pneumonia), Afib, pulmonary hypertension, CHF, kidney disease, advanced neuropathy that's put her in a wheelchair in June of 2019, a heat stroke incident where she was found unresponsive, 1 stroke we know of, 3 jabs with no side effects whatsoever, high blood pressure and a partridge in a pear tree! We've had more ER visits & hospitalizations that have broken the Guiness Book of World Records already, and she's still going strong, like the Energizer Bunny. I feel convinced I'll die before she does at this point. Longevity runs in her family, but she's the last man standing out of her whole family of 8 siblings and 2 parents. She has been dependent on dad for their whole marriage and now on ME since he's passed; she's never written a check, paid a bill, called a repairman, nothing. She stopped driving in her 50s for being 'too nervous' and OCD, so her lack of independence has been somebody else's problem forever. It's been mine now for the past 10+ years, since September of 2011 to be exact.

Yes, I'm envious of those who have independent elders for parents and/or those who's folks passed away with little to no fanfare and little obligation on the part of their children. Amen sister. I am only grateful to have made the decision NOT to take mom into my home from the get-go and to be a hands-on caregiver, b/c that would have destroyed ME and my marriage long long ago. Thank God for that, at least.

And Polarbear, I hear you on those who say how LUCKY we are that our mom's are still alive!!!! OMG I could scream! They have NO IDEA at all what it's like to watch someone suffer from advanced dementia and 100 other issues at 95 years old! Lucky my Aunt Tillie's arse.
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Reply to lealonnie1
southiebella Jan 12, 2022
Lealonnie, I could have written your post.
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Upstream wrote: "I am so jealous of people with independent elders. Can anyone relate?"

Oh, yes! I can relate. I miss the independent mother I used to have. Now she has Alzheimer's and needs almost everything done for her.

When someone says his/her parent(s) passed away, instead of feeling sorry for them, I feel relief.

And when someone tells me "oh, you're so lucky your mom is still alive", I just want to leer at them and say "you can have her if you want, and have some of my luck."
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Reply to polarbear
wearynow Jan 12, 2022
I'm with your polarbear..when I hear someone older -- with multiple probelms has passed away--I feel relieved...I also want to tell relatives & friends,"take my mom & gimme a break for 10 days"
I'm 71 (healthy) husband is 75 (not so much). My parents are in their 90's living at home. Mom has vascular dementia (but otherwise pretty healthy) and is sister in I fill in the gaps that my dad can no longer maintain. Housecleaning, most meals, med oversight, dr.'s visits, grocery shopping and so on since they insist on staying put in their 2500 sq. ft. home. Little has been done to thin things out since mom is very attached to her overwhelming amount of stuff and will get very angry if we even remotely attempt to donate, discard, or take for ourselves. She can't remember a damn thing, but if something is missing she knows. Moral of story.....I will NEVER do this to my children. When I reach the point that I can no longer fend for myself, I will make the necessary arrangements. Right now my philosophy is that less is more and am finding that it is not only refreshing, but liberating. I want my last years spent enjoying the company of my children when they come to visit and not them to be confronted with the tasks of taking care of me. Good luck, know you are not alone.
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Reply to Abby2018
Myownlife Jan 14, 2022
Wow, I so get you on "less is more"! My mom was attached to everything like you said, and would definitely know if something was missing. When I brought her to live with me 5 years ago, it took 2 years (house sat empty, but kept with ac, watering and cutting lawn) before mom was ok with my selling it, and I constantly heard about "her home" and everything I did or had was compared to her house. Now, I have a lot of things in my home, but going through a little at a time to get rid of excess. Mom is better now but I still hear about her home and things from time to time.
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I am 82 and my husband, an amputee, is 84. We are independent seniors. I’ve planned for this having taken care of my mother until her dementia became too hard to manage. Our children were young teenagers, my husband and I both worked and no one was home during the day. She became ill and the Dr said once she left her familiar surroundings she could not go back. It was very painful but mom would be safer in a memory care facility and she was better off than she would be at home. Mom had been frugal, worked most of her life, invested a bit and so had some money. I worked with an elder law attorney and created an unbreakable trust for my mom with me as her guardian. She was able to live in the nursing home for several years, never knew me when I visited with her. As time went on she became mostly non-verbal and had to be helped with eating, toileting and pretty much all ADLs. My brother lived in another state so he visited once a year, ok tho, mom and SIL pretty much hated each other. Anyway, all this taught me to be ready for our old-age and I definitely do not want to burden my children with taking care of us. We have always lived below our “standard of living” and now with investments, pension and social security we are able to hire a daily caregiver for my husband and I am able to get out with friends. When and if it gets too hard for my husband at home we will have to go to nursing home placement. If I am still independent I will sell the house and move to a retirement community. Not bragging, but guys, we read these stories over and over - what’s the saying? “Forewarned is forearmed”
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Reply to BarbChicago

Oh I certainly do get where you are at and how you are feeling. I am only child of single self-absorbed, self-centered narcisstic mother with absolutely no other family/relatives. It all fell on me. (Even though in her eyes I couldnt do anyting right - even smile right!!!) After 30 years of 'helping' her (last 15 years required more and more help and assistance every year since she absolutely refused to move from her condo to AL (told me she would commit suicide if I made her go...not guilt there.........) and I even hired her some home help, but she didn't want strangers in the house and wouldn't let them in - throw in some of her surgeries, very beginnings of dementia, 2 years of Covid, etc...)). She finally passed away this last summer after a horrific fall that required 2 surgeries, whereby she ended up in hospice...everything, and I mean absolutely everything was on me - 24/7. I was absolutely and totally exhausted, burned out, - I was so wore out I was too tired to chew my meals...lost 30 lbs in just 6 weeks and was going on 3-5 hours of interrupted sleep. And now am paying the price.

What has 30 some years done for me - well, like many of you - I have no friends, I have no 'support' system - because like who - if you have no family or friends and 'strangers' aren't allowed. And now, at 67, I am no longer able to do many physical things I used to or would like to - all those years took a toll on my body. Heck, the last vacation I took that was more than 2 days was back in 1992 (every time I tried, 'something' would happen and mother would end up at the ER, or she would convince her doctor she needed a procedure that 'HAD' to be done the same dates of my going away...and I didn't have the $$ to do a vacation only to have to book another flight back to deal with an emergency)

SO yes, when someone said I was 'lucky' to have her around - I would just smile and not say a word. And yes, I was envious of all those other out there who were appreciative of their kids' help, of those who were the glass half full, those who smiled. Or those who accepted that the time was now to move into AL. Or who didn't alienate all the neighbors with their no filters conversations. Or who could figure out how to deal with every little 'problem' on their own (the tv remote doesn't work, the next door neighbor isn't nice to me, the bus shuttle isn't going to the grocery store this week, my doctor wants me to have a blood draw.......... to the perceived big problems like the Big Earthquake happening any moment, how and what to prepare for the apocalypse that should be happening any time, what to do when a foreign country takes over ours, how to reinforce the 3rd floor balcony so noone can break into her place..............)

With my hindsight now, I should have done differently. So, If you do not set firm concrete boundaries now, and start putting yourself first - you will be too old to pursue your goals/dreams let alone be physically able to - like me. And be angry and bitter about it because it just might be too late. Because between the aging and the high stress that our parents put us through, not to mention dealing with our own stressful lives in a different world - it will age you faster than you realize. And your mother might pass away this year, next year, 5 years, or 10 and you would still have another 20 to go for sure - and I think you would like to be able to 'live' those remaining years, not just exist in them.
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Reply to Annabelle18
Gershun Jan 15, 2022
Well said Annabelle! I hope you are wrong and there will be some happiness still to be had for you.

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It's a human thing, wishing we were in someone else's shoes, especially when we're stressed to the max. I've found that kind of thinking just makes it harder to do what I need to do in my life.

As my grandmother would say, 'You can't stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can keep it from building a nest.' The sooner those jealous thoughts are squelched, the better.

For your health's sake, bring in support - companions and caregivers - for your mom. Forgive yourself for not remaining Mom's one and only, even if she won't.
One thing you'll find repeated on this site is the importance of getting support - for the caregiving and for the unhealthy thinking.

See what you can do to write your own story.
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Reply to ravensdottir

Yes, I can relate. I'm 62 and I'm my 94 yo mother's sole caregiver. Time is ticking on. My dad did everything for her - they were the perfect pair - he was a giver and she is a taker. However, she was left to me when he passed away 18 years ago. My only sibling, my twin, is passed away. My husband left me 9 years ago and has also since passed away. Every day I pray for strength to carry on through this and really hope that when it's over - if I don't pass away before she does - that there will be some time to enjoy a few things that I haven't been able to do for years.
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Reply to southiebella

I feel many on this group are in the same situation with our parents. Many of us are older and not in good health ourselves trying to take care of our loved ones. I am fortunate my mother has the ability to afford memory care, However she is there against her will. She never wanted to go to a place like that. The problem was she would not let anyone in her home to help take care of her. She would not go to doctors. Her house being a two-story with all ceramic tile floors and a pool was too dangerous for her as well. She is angry all the time at not being able to go home. Because she is there against her will there is no way I can take her out for a nice sunny day. There are times where I see people post about taking their loved one home for the day or out to a nice restaurant I wish I could do that. I wish I could enjoy her company. I know that there are not many years left, perhaps more than I have, she is in better physical shape that I am. However even visits to memory care are miserable. All she wants to talk about is getting out of that place. She does not beg, she angrily demands. The entire time I am there. It’s very rare redirecting works. There are times I resent it, I resent that she is so stubborn and noncompliant. I feel she has put herself in the situation she’s in. It’s not the dementia that makes her that way. She’s always been that way. It’s her way or no way. We could’ve hired caregivers to go in and care for her in her own home. We could’ve dementia proofed it. I know she would’ve been happier. I also know if I let her go home now it go back to the way it was before. She cannot live alone and she is too difficult for any one person to handle. I am jealous even seeing other parents with dementia that are singing and happy, your stories of outings to dinner, the activities you’re able to do with your loved ones. I know I will never be able to have that with my mother again. This disease is so horrible. In the original post many of us found our own jealousy’s and frustrations. We all share and those feelings even if they are in different ways.
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Reply to Djntx22
Upstream Jan 14, 2022
Yes, that's a real problem. My parents were living down the street from me when their situation started to deteriorate. I tried many times over several years to get in-home help but they refused - mostly my mom. It was so time after a hospital/rehab. stay for my dad, when my dad came home, a home health agency was prescribed to help him with physical therapy & meds. I received a call from the agency that my mom had made it clear the nurses were "unwelcome in their home" and they were cutting my dad's plan-of-care short as a result. It was all downhill from there, he needed the help. About six months later, I had to move him to a facility for his own safety & well-being.
I totally get it! And happy to know I'm not the only one who feels jealous when others have it so easy. I roll my eyes inwardly at most of the complaints I hear from friends about their situations. And I can feel jealous of the ones who enjoy time with their parents and families and still maintain a sense of normalcy. Not sure I've ever had much of that, but now, I definitely don't! But I've never been one to cave easily into negative thinking, so here's how I TRY to deal with it -- "try" being the key word here... I remember those around me who have it much worse (ex: parents who watch their child become a quadriplegic at 21 years old; people dealing with drug-addicted family members who are in and out of prison; and many of the contributors here on this forum, who have it worse than I do). I resist the comparisons because they always leave me feeling like a victim. I pray and stay hopeful, looking each day for something positive with my mom (ex: she was more cooperative than usual doing whatever today). I pray about every little issue and ask for God's help. I absolutely could not manage my mom alone. I believe God will equip me for the day, and then I look for it.

I hope this doesn't sound too trite or at all dismissive. I really do feel your pain, frustration, disappointment, and fear.
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Reply to GoodGrace5

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