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I am 23 years younger then my husband and have been married for 40 years. I knew that I would likely assume a caretaker role at some point....but at 65 I miss the relationship we had.

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This is not a personal experience, but I had a friend whose partner is 30 years his junior. He is now 82 and she is 52. They have been together for almost 20 years. He was previously married to a woman his age and it was not a good marriage. He is not an easy man to love. In his current relationship, his SO takes very good care of him. He has had some health issues and scares and she has remained by his side throughout. They have withstood the “oh, your daughter is so beautiful!” remarks and so on.

I can say that that significant differences in ages not withstanding, even couples near the same age have the same fears you do. My husband has heart failure as well and the stress and worry over that has darned near wore me out. I finally decided I would do everything I could to keep him happy and comfortable. He is bedridden and I do everything for him but feed him. Life without him is a black void I do not spend time staring down into or it will consume me with depression and anxiety. Enjoy your hubby for the same reasons you fell in love with him for the first place.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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I’m sorry you’re hurting.
My husband is 11 years older than me, but I could have easily been the one who got ill.
I believe we all ‘miss the relationship we once had’ with our loved one.
It is heartbreaking.
Some days I can’t believe it ends like this.
It helps to remember the many good years we had together & to be thankful for them.
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Reply to Neile6
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againx100 Sep 18, 2019
Yes, the relationship with our LOs does disappear as they age. There is often little or nothing left of the relationship. It's a huge loss, leaving the caregiver with no relationship but lots of work and sadness.
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I too am 24 years younger than my husband. My husband has had dementia for 7 years and could no longer do anything for himself. Where we are blessed is he knows me and his environments do he stays happy doing things we CAN do together. Movies, walks, visiting with friends and family and of course our meals. That said, I very often am grateful that I am 24 years younger because if I was my husbands age never can I hold up with what is required as a caregiver. I get me strength my reaching out to any service or break I can get. I have the gift of an adult day care my husband attends Monday through Friday. I am not at all saying this is easy, but by allowing other services and friends to help it relieves the resentment. I try to not look at what I lost but embrace what I still have. Bless you and everyone on this most difficult journey.
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Reply to Marykaykav
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I am so sorry for what you are going through.  While you are more likely to become your spouse's caregiver if they are older, it is not a given.  I fell in love with and married a man nearly 9 years older, and we raised 2 wonderful sons.  He was in better health than me until he got cancer.  While I took him to treatments and hospitals, I could not stay home with him.  I was the one with the health insurance through work.  I coped by being very busy, and by taking very good care of myself.  Grieving after he died was intense and long.

My second love is a year younger than me, but he is the one needing help.  There are hours, and even days, when I truly miss what we had together.  So this time I am piecemeal grieving.  I try to take care of self, and enjoy the time we have together.  When feeling loss, I write or talk with a friend.  Then, like Marykaykav, I try to embrace what we have.  I also try to remember that I grieve(d) because I have been lucky in love.
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Reply to GrannieAnnie
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My DH is 18 years older than me and after 5 years of taking care of him, I started having health issues that my Dr said were stress related. I am very fortunate because I have 3 step daughters that are very good to me. We got together and made the decision that he needed to be placed in a memory care facility. I visit him every day and they picked a day of the week to go once a week separately so he still has plenty of family around. I am slowly learning how to do for myself now.
If you don’t take care of yourself, then how can you be there for him and he is the one who is ill, but you will follow soon if you don’t have a life and live it.
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Reply to Warrenswife
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When I was looking for a new partner in my 50s, I met a man of my age who had recently retired as a University lecturer. He told me that he was ‘unusual' as he was only attracted to much younger girls. It’s quite common – the lecturer of 40 plus is up in front as a desirable object of affections for girls of 20 or so. The advantage for the young women is the status, wisdom and financial stability they seek. These older men get an unrealistic idea of their own attractiveness – and don’t fancy women of their own age. He’s not the only one I’ve met like this (including a sister in law who married her own lecturer). It did not surprise me that after retirement he didn’t find young women who were attracted to him.

I can’t think of what to say to help, other than that you fell into that trap and now there seems to be no way out. I am sure that you gave your DH the benefit of your young years. For proper moral reasons, you need to care for him now. However you don’t need to mortgage the whole of your remaining life to him. You need to make sure that he is safe and comfortable and cared for. And you need to do the same for your self.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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Emmajane1 Sep 15, 2019
I didn’t fall into any trap! I would do it all again and celebrate every moment. I am merely curious as to how others who are in love with their partners handle the changes of assuming a caretaker role.
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I'm so sorry for this difficult time in your life. My husband is 12 years older and we've been married 30 years; I was 40 when he had his prostate removed due to cancer. Six years ago, he had cancer in both kidneys and had partial removal of both. I empathize with you and I too miss what once was. What should be a wonderful time for us now (he retired this year) is tainted by the stress and anxiety of caring for his 95-YO mother. I will scream if she outlives him.

I cope by lunching as often as possible with girlfriends, walking 5x a week and reading when I'm not exhausted.

My reply is meant to let you know someone else "kinda" gets it and hears you.

Peace and Warm Fuzzies
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Reply to Kate06
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I am 52- my husband is 61 with early onset Dementia - diagnosed 4 years ago. I am not coping well- I am angry. I raised 5 sons basically alone -while he worked long hours in his profession and fed his ego. Our last son went off to college the same year he was diagnosed. NowI’m care taking again?
I sound awful but I am tired and lonely.
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Reply to Alexander21
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ML4444 Sep 17, 2019
No you don’t sound awful. If you have the resources please consider hiring help or placing him in LTc if his condition is at that point. You also deserve a life, and none of us knows what happens in the future. At 52, ( am 57), ANYTHING can happen. Please take care of you.
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One never knows what the future is going to be, when you married an older spouse, or even if he was your age. I am caregiver for my husband, he is 22 yrs older than me. We ve been married 33 yrs. Unfortunatly, he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2015. Is very challenging and exausting physically and mentally day and night. Plus their behavior changes every moment. Just take it one day at the time I guess. I may have an hour or two a week to exercise at home, or work in the garden check on him every 15 or 20 minutes. He can't be left alone for long period of tinet. Thats only break I get. Occasionally if i am lucky I may get break from stepchildren to do the errands on the weekends.
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Reply to Martha007
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There is 17 years between hubby and I and we have been married 38 years. He is 78 and I am 61. He is almost totally blind now and has severe balance issues due to a spinal injury. He stays healthy because of my youth. I recently retired from teaching to come home and enjoy our golden years together. I couldnt see any reason to keep working when we have so little time left to enjoy our lives. There are days I am sad and resentful, but I calmly remind myself that this is our life now and its up to me to set the stage for happiness, there is no purpose in being sad and resentful. Its our reactions and attitude toward what has happened that determine our level of happiness now...I choose for us to be happy so I plan and prepare things for him so he can enjoy what we are doing too. I live for the outdoors, Ive dug a pond, built a waterfall and have ducks on my pond. His job is to feed the wild birds and the ducks and neighbors chickens. He cant go out in the yard because stairs and unlevel terrain is hard for him, so I had a front porch/deck built that is 16x24. We hung the feeders around the outside rail so he could reach them and fill them. We put the feed box up on cinderblocks so we didnt have to bend over too far to get the feed, so he doesnt lose his balance...and every evening after he feeds, we sit and watch the cardinals come in to eat. Every 3 months we take a cruise and depending on the trip we planned, we decide if we want to take a helper with us. Our daughter is going with us in October to Cali. We live in Texas. We will be traveling alone to the Panama Canal for a 14 day cruise in January. We just talk and plan things we want to do and then plan it with honesty about our limitations. I get lost in a parking garage, so now we plan ahead to pay for valet parking...lol. We limit our stress by being prepared and honest with each other. If a road trip is over 4 hours, he wears depends and we have a pad for the seat. Accidents happen and its easier to prepare for them than to deny they will happen. Because of his neuropathy and blindness, I do help him eat and toilet so a quick potty break or fast food in the car is out of the question. I still cant look at pictures of him when we were younger and he was training horses with his sweaty tanned muscular body...I know better than to even go there ... but at 22, that 40 year old horseman was hot! Lol
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Reply to burlebaby
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Emmajane1 Sep 19, 2019
I relate very much to your post. I try to keep our home infused with laughter and joy. I have maintained my interests, hobbies, and volunteer work and I bring all that into our life. Our children also keep in close touch. I am so grateful that he has no cognitive challenges so while he requires care, I still have the most important part of him with me. His balance is very tenuous and I worry when I am away from home even for a few hours . Without those breaks however, I would have less to enrich our life now. It is a delicate balance between keeping him safe and not taking away his sense of autonomy.
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