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When I started out on this journey as sole caregiver for my elderly mother, I had illusions that it would be like a Hallmark Channel movie. I'm not sorry I did it, but the personal cost has been more than I could really afford, with unhappy truths revealing themselves, rancorous arguments, crushingly difficult decisions, and pretty much no support from the rest of my family. I can blame myself partly, as I had little confidence in the rest of my family's ability to work together on this, and tend in general to go it alone. That's been borne out, but I think if I was starting over, I'd get the rancor out of the way early, and get them involved whether they liked it or not, or whether or not I felt comfortable asking for help. I'm not deceiving myself that the difficult would suddenly have become easy, but I think the personal toll would have been much less.What are your thoughts?

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Would I do it again? Only if "I knew then, what I know now". At this point I don't believe we would have arrived at a different outcome - mom is in a nursing home under hospice care. However, if I had gone into this understanding dementia I could have saved myself hours and hours of pointless augments and frustrating attempts to reason with my mother. I also would have developed a thicker skin when it came to the insults and crule statements and accusations. But yes, since my mother needed help and I was determined to be the one to provide it - I guess I would still have walked this road.
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Knowing what I know now, I would not do it again. But I don't know how I would avoid it, honestly. I was totally blindsided by my mother's neediness, her laziness, her expectation of keeping everything in her life just as it was when she was able-bodied, her willingness to make demands on me and impose on my time, energy, and goodwill. My mother had always been a very independent person, and I had been also. My mother gradually changed from "I never want to be a burden on my children" to "Well, I did it for you when you were little" and "When you get to be my age, you can expect to sit back and let other people do for you." It took me a long time to be able to put my foot down and set limits with her, and during that time she had of course become older, needier, and quite dependent on having me around to do for her. I still haven't been able to extricate myself to the extent that I would like to. I think the only thing harder than standing up to your parents when you're young and helpless is standing up to them when they're old and helpless.
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Good comments, all! I'd have to say, that if I didn't get the family involvement, I might have simply left things alone and let them go along uninterrupted. Mom would probably be gone by now. Sometimes it seems like she might have wanted that, but who knows? Life is so tough, sometimes.
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I think I would do it again but differently, with much firmer limits in place, and much less personal involvement. The ideal for my mother, in my view, would be non family, a professional, say a psychiatric nurse, for POA medical. POA financial would have been quite enough for me. With my sister's bent to want all the money and make accusations at me, it would have been easier on me for a professional to have done that too. Hindsight is 20/20.
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08/23/16.... I would do it over again BUT I would have set boundaries at the very beginning.

I didn't live with my parents nor they with me. But I was too quick to say "yes" to running errands, going to tons of doctor appointments, groceries, taking them shopping, buying them clothes, etc. Doesn't sound like a lot in comparison but I was working full time. It became very stressful and exhausting. I had a very serious illness during one point, and my parents didn't understand why I could take Dad to get a haircut.... [sigh].

It wasn't until years later that a therapist told me that if my parents wished to remain in their house, with a lot of stairs and them being in their 90's, then my parents had to take full responsibility for their decision. I was helping them continue in their normal lifestyle while having to change my own.
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Never ,ever would I do this again , if only I could go back in time.
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Ribbman, as I read your post I thought fleetingly 'did I forget writing this or something?!'

Life is lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. Kierkegaard, I think - I read that quoted in a novel, the day before yesterday.

Yes, I would do it again. But only if I could do it with the information I've learned the hard and costly way, as you have.

So does that mean, if we're asked by others, that we recommend taking it on or not? Because their challenges won't be quite the same, and what they need to know they will have to find out for themselves.
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It's not over yet but yes. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, so perhaps I should have pushed a little harder for a diagnosis and prognosis... I thought she was dying three years ago and it would be over fairly quickly. I try to re-evaluate periodically and if the answer ever becomes no I will know it is time to try something else.
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Yes, I would take care of my mother as it's my responsibility. But knowing what I now know.................. I would not take care of my MIL if I could roll back time. Or at the very least I would require - in writing - decent monetary reimbursement for giving up my life for years. My BIL apparently believed my caregiving for HIS mother was.............. worth nothing.
Know that my wonderful late husband was total opposite of his brother.
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As challenging as it has been, I think that I have become a better person due to this experience. I learned of a world that I never knew existed. I learned so much about human suffering and compassion. I'll never view life the same way, that's for sure. The good days are now so much sweeter than before. I treasure my health and thank God for all my blessings. Having sound mental health is my most cherished gift. I know that I have it easy as compared to many other caregivers. I do feel for them and wish I could help.
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