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I don't have children but even after years of caring for an elderly parent, I still find it hard to make all these decisions for care for another person, like chosing the right doctors, dentists, making medicial choices, when to push for certain behaviors and when to let it go etc. I get anxiety and stressed, wondering if I am doing the right thing. I wonder if caregiving comes easier for certain personality types or those with a certain attitude or the reality is that caring for elderly on your own is a really hard job. Do those of you who had children and now care for parents find it the same or harder dealing with the basics?

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I don't have children either, but i think it might be ... not easier exactly but maybe less difficult because when RAISING children, your efforts and pains and tears and joys are going toward a positive, hopeful, and wondrous future whereas when helping the elderly ease into the inevitable, well I think you get what I'm saying...
i do believe though, that if more young people had to caregive for the elderly, we might have less of a population problem!
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Well, I have raised a son, who is now 19, and I can tell you it is different to take care of a parent than a child. With a child, you are teaching them new things, helping them learn to deal with life. With a parent, it is the opposite, they know how to do things (heck, they taught you!), but can no longer do them.
Raising my son was stressful, but watching my Mom move backwards is harder. I find it strange how we are born not knowing how to take care of ourselves, we grow up and do take care of ourselves, then as we get older, we lose that ability again. There have been times when taking care of my Mom is like taking care of a toddler again, it is heartbreaking
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I think it is truly different and I am finding it more difficult. The difference for me is in the change in roles. I had a strong mother who is now fragile and anxious. I just try to love her on a day-to-day basis and realize that normal is no longer important. This website has helped me so much and I hope you will stay in touch with all of us.
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Yes, caring for my Mom is much harder for one main reason. You are expected to provide guidance..."give orders" to your children and expect them to follow your rules. My Mother is still alert enough to know when I am taking over the role as parent, making her aware that she isn't able to make decisions on her own. It really hurts her for me to "tell" her what she must do...like take a bath, change clothes, etc. I am constantly trying to take care of her needs without her losing her role as "parent".
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With kids you know they're gonna grow up and become independent, so your efforts are temporary. With Alz/dementia, no such luck.
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caring for a parent is much harder because they are your parents therefore you are still told that you can't tell them what to do because they are your parents or mine says that to me she says I don't know what she needs.
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I never had children, but I grew so much respect for my friends that have children, and felt God did not bless me with children, he blessed me with the passion to care for my parents. I totally respect what others have said about the "fine" line about being told what to do and telling them what they "need" to do. It was very hard, but my mother and I came to a quick understanding and we made a routine together and once we stuck to that, it worked for both of us. I found it very hard to cross my father, because he was so strict growing up, however; I had to take control at once point and did it very gently with his doctors and my father grew great respect for me and I then took gentle control with him and started to say the big "no" to him. Wow, did that make me feel great after 45 years of him telling me what to do. LOL. There is a fine line, and I think everyone has to decide where their boarders are and know when to jump or not jump.
Blessings,
Bridget
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Yes I find it much more difficult to care for my parents then it was to care for my 2 daughters who now have children of their own.
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I think it is harder taking care of a parent than a child.Children do not always question what and why you are doing certain things for them.They are also alot smaller to give a bath,change etc..
I consider myself a born caregiver in life...with my mom this is the hardest thing i have ever done.
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Parent is definitely harder. I agree with all above comments.

One reason that has not been mentioned is caregiver age. I'm a senior now and I get tired more easily. When I was taking care of my son I was much younger and had more energy. Trying to schlep my 92 year old deaf mother around is extremely tiring.
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Caring for parents is different. They are not like we remember them. That is emotionally difficult. They take longer to do things whereas we can help our children hurry or pick them up and carry them. Etc. etc
I hope that by my example in caring for my dad, my children will treat me with respect if and when the time comes.
I know that my grandchildren are more compassionate with older folks because of their exposure to their great grandpa. Perhaps one or two of them will take a career path that will lead them to this area and make a difference in the lives of many.
Elderly are just young kids in old bodies. They don't like their situation either. They have dreams still too. I keep a picture of my dad when he was young on display so that i can remember that.
"Getting old isn't for sissies" was told to me by a gentleman with Parkinsons several years ago.
I am glad my dad raised me the way he did and I can be here for him now....even though it is VERY hard. Hang in there!
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That's right, naheaton! I have a two year old grandson and when I have both he and Mom, it's a challenge. The funny thing is that I can reason with the two year old because he is learning. I can't reason with my stage 6 Alzheimer's Mom!
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I think they are some people who can accept what has to be done and take charge, versus others who have difficulty doing that. I think some people are better caregivers, more intuitive, patient, versus others who are a different personality type. Some people can't deal with life and do whatever to avoid stress. That being said, I address my mom's needs, just as I addressed my children's needs, doctors, dentist, etc. And probably how you would address your own needs. She has just been included in my responsibilities. The problem is that due to her declining mental and physical states, I have to constantly change my tactics due to changing physical and mental condition. Then she cries when you see her and says that you don't love her, which doesn't bother me now, knowing she is just telling me I want you to be with me all the time. I have 24 hour care for her, in her own little home and see her twice a week. So, caring for kids are different. You are striving for health, and good future for your kids. Your worry never ends, which is something you would need to think about if you consider having children, even as they become adultsYour elderly mom or dad has lived their life. Your child has a life ahead of him and if they don't turn out successful, or disappointing in what they have achieved in their life, you will somehow blame yourself and have a lot of stress. When you give all that you can to someone you love, you can't help but be concerned about their future. That's the difference. Your aging parent will eventually pass on probably before you. Their future is limited. Your child usually will outlive you. You will share their joys and disappointments.The joys balance out the worries, but adolescence is a very difficult time as a parent, especially when your so loved children start rebelling, "hating" you for caring or setting limits. These are all things you need to think about. Kids are great, but they can give you heartache as well as great joy. Aging parents eventually rebel like adolescents and then turn into todders, then infants who yell when they are in pain, expecially with Alzheimers.
So, if you are considering having children, I certainly think the joys are greater than caring for an elderly parents. There is no greater joy than caring for your own child.
I hope this helps from a mom with 3 kids in their twenties and a mom who is 84 with Alzheimers and on a feeding tube.
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I'm a 32 year old mother of 3 small kids (6, 5 and 1) plus caretaker for my disabled parents who live with me. Thankfully, my dad can do most things by himself, but my mom sometimes needs help after suffering a traumatic brain injury which left her partially paralyzed. Both of them, though, have pretty severe mental health issues including memory loss. I cook, clean, handle their finances, dole out medication, carry them to the doctor, all while changing diapers for my child, carrying my two girls to school and back, taking the kids to the doctor, doing all of their activities. It is hard, and I am thankful that I am young enough to have energy to be able to keep up with it.

I must say that raising children is a cakewalk compared to caring for elderly parents (I may change that opinion when my children reach the dreaded teenage years, though). Children are a blank slate, you are forming your experiences with them as you go, and they look up to you. For the most part, they do what you say, they argue, of course, but eventually they comply. With your parents, you have years of experience with them already, and there is so much anger, frustration and resentment on both sides. It's very difficult to experience role reversal - your parents still think they know what's best, and they often don't listen. They're dealing with their loss of independence, and you're dealing with it as well. Being a young adult watching my parents deteriorate when they were so recently vital and independent has been difficult. I cannot imagine what they are going through. And I try to keep that in mind when dealing with them - if I'm having a hard time with it, they are having a harder time.
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I have a teenage daughter and recently widowed father. At times it seems they are both going through the same stage of development with the same self-centered behavior. I have been a teenager myself and know that eventually you grow up and mature. With my father I am unsure what the future holds. He used to be such a reasonable fellow with tremendous concern for those around him. However, I know that he can only stay up so late....unlike my teenager.
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We raised 4 sons and NOTHING I experienced as a parent prepared me for being a caregiver to my MIL. My parents died when I was in my twenties. My MIL does some of the strangest things anymore and somehow I have to tip toe around things (doing for her what she cannot) and somehow trying to maintain her dignity. She is cranky with me only - is sweet as pie to anyone else. I realize she has a hard 'row to hoe' - but she doesn't fathom that I do too. And yes, being older myself just makes it harder. Not sure how much longer I can take it. For some reason I just can't 'let it all go' and I know that is what is necessary for me to continue. I pray a lot - that's for sure!!! But I'd go back to young motherhood any day over this. IF ONLY............
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Yes, parents are harder to take care of.
Like others said, it is much harder and more stressful on your health. Children become more and more independent as they grow older. With parents, it's the exact opposite. Not only is it harder physically, buy emotionally as well. Many of us got to watch our children grow into healthy adults, knowing full well they have a long life ahead of them. With our parents, we have to watch as their health deteriorates and deal with knowing they will not be with us forever. It is a horrible feeling to see those who raised and cared for you in such a weak and fragile state.
I know this is an old question so this answer may not mean much anymore, but caring for a parent is tougher.
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I agree, for the caregiver who is no longer a young parent ae person and who has their own problems and needs it is very tiring, A child can be taught lessons and has an excellent memory where caring for an aging parent - thye dont remember, you cant reprimand them unless its for safety reasons and they often dont remember the next day. It's been like having a two year old for three years. Somedays shes the same old mom and some days she is very dependant. Sometimes she responds much better to the aide or therapist than me because I am her daughter Ive even discussed this with her recently because its baffling that she can manage going in and using the bathroom when they are checking her ability and when its just me she cant figure out how to tun and sit etc the next day and I have to verbally direct her or help her. Also most times with children there are two parents. Here I am alone.
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ps - I started using a baby monitor with video so i can hear her if she gets uo or calls for me. It's allowed me a little more sleep and a little less jumping out of bed all night long. although in the beginning it kept me up all night.
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At times I can get impatient with mom and the amazing thing is, everytime I do I flashback to her doing the same with her mother. Maybe my perspective is skewed but I think that Mom is pound for pound more agravating that my grandmother was. Anyways, raising children is easier because children grow while the aged decline. Both are hard jobs.
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I think both are a challenge and both are different. Caring for your own children is different than caring for someone elses for example. It takes time and compassion and patience no matter who you are caring for and when.
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absolutely! caring for a parent is so much harder. I was a single parent since my kids were 2yrs and 4yrs old when their Dad passed. I remained single to raise them. I worked more than one job usually. Still, looking after my Mother is much harder. With your kids, you get to progress with them. Our society puts all it's emphasis on "progression". They don't teach you about "regression". With your parents, you are in this position because they are regressing at a rate that doesn't keep them safe. You still won't find many places to learn about regression and how to handle it. However, find a good Caregiver's support group and keep going to it, even on the good weeks. You will get valuable support, information, and a place to vent safely.
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ANON:

My twin boys spent their childhood trying to kill each other, so it wasn't that difficult being a father. Michelle, their mother, died when they were 8. They had to learn to become less dependent on me -- self-reliant -- at an early age. Raising them was a labor of love and teamwork I didn't want to escape.

I've always looked at life as a cycle with 4 parts. I took care of my children during the 1st quarter (from birth until they got their Master's at age 25). I cared for my mother for 3 years, during the 3rd cycle (age 50-75). She's spending the 4th in a senior citizens home connected to medical and other services.

When elderly parents become frail and helpless, I assume it's like when babies keep crying in the middle of the night and you have to get up. And when you're the sole caregiver it's even more stressful and exhausting. A good night's sleep becomes a dream.

Some people assume that having raised children prepares you to care for elderly parents. Others assume having cared for parents gives you a head start for when you have children of your own. Well, it does and it doesn't.

Neither children nor elderly parents come with a manual. Both are sort of on-the-job training; you learn as you go. You take what you want from what's out there to get what you need; tweak it, refine it, and make it your own. Our experiences as caregivers might be similar, but I wouldn't want to fill anyone else's shoes in this forum.

As our children grow, we're supposed to grow with them. If we embrace the journey, no matter how difficult, we become wiser and stronger. Of course our love for them makes us do the silliest or hare-brained things, but that's another story. Caring for our parents, on the other hand, tests our love, devotion, and sanity.

Some caregivers are more resilient than others. It's easy to wear masks during caregiving. But whether we wear a teflon mask or a happy face to pretend it's all under control, it's often heartbreaking labor. Particularly when you know the end is near.
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Both my mother and I have the unique experience of caring for elderly parents and becoming "orphans" before becoming parents. While I think there are many parallels in many ways and the experience of doing one can help with doing the other, I see them both as being separate, too. I think I am a better parent not only because I am older, more experienced in life, and have had time away from my own childhood to realize what I agree and disagree with the way I was raised, but I also appreciate that the way I parent my child with respect, patience, and dignity will hopefully come back to me when I am elderly and when I might need her to help me. I do have to say it is easier to sleep with your baby and breastfeed through the night than have to get up every 2 to 3 hours to turn an adult in bed for 16 months straight. Your sleep is not interrupted so badly, because you can barely notice the baby latching on before you are back to sleep whereas the getting up to turn the patient wakes you up and ruins the sleep cycle.

Though as my mother always wanted me to know she never wanted to be a burden and I never once had a child in order to have someone to take care of me when I am old (that is not fair nor is it guaranteed for one thing), I do know the love and devotion I had to care for my mother and father gives me hope that someday it will be there for me too just as she was there for her mother and father.

I will say that when I took care of my mother there were times when those in the medical community did not show me respect because I did not have children. I was asked several times either why my husband and I did not have children or why we did not want children. This was asked in our home as we cared for my mother which I felt to be totally rude and a breech of our privacy - we had little privacy to begin with and here people were coming in and out every day and could not respect our privacy as a married couple to decide what was best for our family. Of course, being adults in our early thirties (looking like we were in our early twenties) probably did not help either.

I think both caring for children and parents have their rewards which in my experience have always outweighed the difficulties. I cherish the time I had with my mother and the special time I have had being a mother to my daughter. I was the last person my mother was looking in the eyes as she took her last breath and I was the first person my daughter looked at when she was born and took her first breathes. These were the most precious moments of my life.
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Caring for an aging parent carries an entirely different phsycological, emltional and physical burden than caring for and raising children. Just coming to terms with the role reversal and the surrender of a parent as your source of support and stability, is difficult. Being anchored then by the resposabilities to protect them, shelter them, organize their lives and finances, provide personal care, etc., while still held to the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship you have developed over a lifetime, is far more complex and taxing.

Caring for a child brings you joy, most often and a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. You share your life with a child in meaningful and positive ways that are not possible with a frail, often demanding aging parent who has a strong personal agenda that you are expected to follow and provide for. Often, you are required to abandon, rather than share your own dreams or interests with an elderly parent, in order to meet their physical and practical demands.

While the reward in knowing that your mother or father are able to carry out their final and frail years under your loving protection is indeed so meaningful, it often comes with a self-sacrifice that feels at times more bittersweet than the sense of accomplishment that comes from nurturing your childs well being and fostering his or her development, independence and future.
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Each type of care giving has its own challenges. When my children were young they were always learning and retaining what they learned. With my elderly mother with dementia, she is "un-learning", i.e. no longer able to remember things she had previously learned and retained. This can be especially maddening in terms of behavior; for the most part a child can learn correct social behavior; an elder may have lost their "social filter" and can no longer express correct adult social behavior. When you cannot change the elder's behavior, you must change how you respond to it. Do this for your own mental health protection. A young child's behavior can get you down but there is always hope that through direction and maturity, things will straighten out. While an elder may act childish, they are not children and the tools you use to deal with them has to be different.
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Each type of care giving has its own challenges. When my children were young they were always learning and retaining what they learned. With my elderly mother with dementia, she is "un-learning", i.e. no longer able to remember things she had previously learned and retained. This can be especially maddening in terms of behavior; for the most part a child can learn correct social behavior; an elder may have lost their "social filter" and can no longer express correct adult social behavior. When you cannot change the elder's behavior, you must change how you respond to it. Do this for your own mental health protection. A young child's behavior can get you down but there is always hope that through direction and maturity, things will straighten out. While an elder may act childish, they are not children and the tools you use to deal with them has to be different.
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My son was very easy and a joy to care for each day.He had/has a serious illness from birth, but was cooperative and positive. My mother is much more difficult to care for despite the fact she is physically healthy and has ,for the most part, normal aging issues. I truly believe personality has a huge impact on the behavior of aging parents. I do not want to be a burden to my son and hope I can be a positive person no matter how old I am and whatever my circumstances are. I have had a few very blunt conversations, by the way, with my mother on the subject. Things improve for a short period. :) Take care. Rebecca
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It is much harder to care for elderly people. It is hard TO HAVE TO TEL your father or mother what to do, how to behave, etc... Their sizes and inability to move or take a shower by themselves makes them usually very heavy dead weight. It is tiring, not only physically, but mentally as well, particularly when they still want to do whatever they did all their lives but can't anymore, which is very frustrating to them and make them irritated. They can only vent these irritations with their caregivers, and, most of the times, not with very good manners.
It helps if you can hire someone to take over at least one day per week so you can relax, at least one day.
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I also use a baby monitor. I don't have video. But, at least, if she fell and called out we would hear her. Even though she wears her Lifeline necklace, the one time she fell she did NOT push the button until morning! We did not hear her call - she swore she called and called. We think she just waited so she wouldn't bother anyone. We have a friend who did the same thing! Only she had a broken hip - but waited until her aide came the next morning - never did push her call button. Why do they do that?

Thankfully, this only happened once and I got the monitor right away and, yes, it takes some getting used to. She coughs and I jump! She gets up to pee and I hear it :-( But she sleeps downstairs and we are upstairs - it is a safety issue.

I agree with Esther123458 - it is hard watching someone come to the end of the road. Nearly impossible to cheer them up :-(
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