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only child ,mom has cancer and other health issues my dad does everything but is in poor health himself. I am a single 51 year old who works two jobs to support myself . I have a daughter who is a single parent and in addition to my parents I help out alot with my grandson. I am very overwhelmed and feel alot of guilt over the way I handle all the resposibility i feel towards my family. I have been cleaning for my parents and feel it is time to get some help. My mom does noy want stangers in her house and so I feel stuck. I told them I could no longer clean as I am really busy. I go over and the house is disgusting and I end up cleaning in a very resentful way. I know they will be gone someday and then I will be sorry for the way I handeled the situation. I have created the way the family depends on me yet now I feel like I no longer can keep up with all I am expected to do.Also I am scared because I dont know how to loose my parents and be in the world without them. I am alreadt grieving there loss as I know they will not be around much longer. I am aware this is a sacred time yet all the other stuff keeps getting in the way. I would br grateful for someones input as I am at my wits end. Thank you

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Hi B,
First, good for you that you recognize what is going on in your life. So many caregivers don't see the problem until it is too late. What you have taken on is simply not possible to sustain. You cannot continue to maintain this level of commitment to your parents, your family and your two jobs. Something will break and I fear it will be you. You MUST get help and you should start doing less.

It is very common for aging parents to not want a stranger in the home, but I'm guessing if a major appliance breaks or the plumbing goes out, that you are not the person to fix it. They would have a stranger in their home. They don't want anyone else because up until now you have been willing to do everything. So now it's time to set some boundaries and put some of your needs at the top of the list...and there is NOTHING wrong with doing that. You are NOT a bad person because you don't want to lose your life. In fact, if you get some help, your attitude will change and the resentment will begin to subside. The scenario that you describe is the biggest challenge caregivers face. There are too many emotions to manage and guilt becomes the most powerful. You Matter! Your Life Matters and I encourage you to get some help quickly.

The thought of losing our parents is, of course, scary, but that fear and sadness should be focused on spending time with them that serves them and you in a good way. Cleaning and feeling resentment about doing it, is only going to erode your feelings of love. All the best to you.
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Dear B,

I completely relate to what you said about feeling resentful yet worrying about how you're going to react when they pass away. I lived with that feeling everyday for over 5 years. I was so busy trying to create an environment in which I would have no regrets while at the same time killing myself to ensure I could someday say, "I did everything I could".

If I could go back to that woman I was in those moments I would tell her to not worry about making sure I would have no regrets. I would also tell her that she was doing the very best she could and that when it was all done and said and dad (in my case I cared for my dad) was gone those regrets passed with him for the most part.

My dad died 5 days ago and I guess if I sat around and really put some thought into it I could dredge up a few regrets but they don't trouble me the way I thought they would.

So practically speaking if you need help, get it! I understand that your mom doesn't want strangers in the house but if she wants to stay in her home then you need some help. Working 2 jobs and taking care of your own family and taking care of your parents is too much for one person to take on. Your resentment will grow, you'll become increasingly unhappy, and you may get to the point where you can't help them at all because you've run yourself into the ground.

It's not fair to you that your mom and dad are expecting you to take care of all of their needs. You're already guilt-ridden and full of resentment. Those feelings won't go away unless you go into therapy and with what you have on your plate, you don't have the time or the energy to see a therapist. If you need changes then you will have to make them. I'm not saying hire someone and yell "Good luck!" as you're walking out the door but you need some supplemental assistance.
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Hi B, yes, you have too much going on for one person!
Some elders are resistant to outside help, but they are also overwhelmed and probably in denial about their own situation.
My suggestion is to step back and be as matter of fact with them as you can. You have to get some objectivity and lose the emotion --as best you can!! I know it's not easy. Your Dad may understand, but he's worried about your Mom, no doubt, and she is perhaps exhausted.
You can get a housecleaning service in, or a combo caregiver housekeeper. I would detail exactly what you expect them to do--the biggest cleaning issues, and maybe you can do sporadic lighter tasks a couple times a week.
As with broaching any difficult subject to discuss, you need to have honest communication with them--whether they like it or not. That's the way it is. When one is strong, capable, a multi-tasker, efficient, kind and generous, that's what happens. You're in demand. Prioritize and take control so you are satisfied.
Take time to be with your parents as a daughter and don't sweat the annoying stuff. You are a good daughter, Mother and Gma. Whew. I'm exhausted just thinking about all you are doing, Dear One:) xo
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Yes, as ChristinaW says, take time to be with your parents as a daughter & don't sweat the annoying stuff is great advice but...I know when you are the one solely responsible for everything, the advice is hard to follow. I too, am responsible for my mother's care as well as my grandson at night while my daughter works. I take care of my mom's finances, doctors, meds, insurance, housework, laundry, etc. I would love to sit with my mom to just visit, but there never is enough time it seems. I work a full time job, I have a husband in Stage 4 kidney disease, and a sister who only comes for 1 day every 6 - 8 weeks. So that leaves me with 2 houses to clean & absolutely no time for myself! Thank heavens, my husband handles the finances & bills at our house as I don't think I could handle one more responsibility! I too, am totally overwhelmed! My mom does have hospice, so that provides 45 minutes of housework per week. Wow! But that that's better than nothing. So actually, I don't have any advise for you, as I am in a similar situation myself! Good luck to you & try to take care of yourself! I try to eat very healthy, take a walk a few times per week & I do yoga nightly, exercise does ease the stress!
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Although we put others' needs first [out of sheer devotion, fear of loosing them--as though that will prevent it--, guilt --the gift that keeps on giving!-- or whatever reason compels us to do it], if we don't take care of ourselves adequately, we will be of no use to them or in managing our own affairs and our families.

You cannot do what you cannot do! There is only so much one person can handle, and beyond that we need help. You have to make the decisions that truly help and protect their interests, as well as your own. And how you respond to your parents is teaching your family at the same time. Be a good role model.

It's hard enough to anticipate losing your parents now [as will /have we all] without creating situations now that will make it harder to deal will the grief later. Don't heap unnecessary guilt and grief upon yourself. Get some assistance to do things anyone can do --cleaning, laundry. etc -- without the natural "resentment" you feel, and focus on the emotional needs your parents have [as well as you and your family too]. They probably realize their lives are "out of control", and the fear from that, as well as the fear of losing each other, is scary. And when they realize that despite your help, and what your dad tries to do, things are actually still getting worse, that's scarier yet. Try an experiment and get outside help to do the basic house and daily maintenance things, and you focus on their medical and other situations--getting them to doctors, making sure they take meds, are eating good food, you are making sure their bills are paid for on a timely basis, etc. See if things don't improve for them [they should see things as better even if they don't want to admit it] and for you. Emphasize the need and desire to help them, but also the need to be what you need to at home.

Get a social worker to come in and access the situation and recommend the help and needed assistance to free you up. That helped us get the basic help we needed with my mother-in-law and let me focus on her "family" needs as well as attend to my children. I couldn't be in two places or take on tasks beyond my time and physical [and emotional] limitations and do any of them well. And running myself into the ground would render me ineffective in all arenas. Outside help is essential. Few families are capable of meeting all the routine mechanical and emotional needs of aging / ailing parents for very long and doing it effectively and without burnout. And when you burn out, you can't take care of anything adequately.

Their situations force the realization that we don't have the people in our lives forever. Accept that, as painful as it may be, and don't live in denial. And don't deny your family your presence and assistance and interaction they need from you.

Don't create future regrets; the "if onlys", "what ifs", "why couldn't I have onlys" will consume you with grief they create and add on top of the normal grief of eventual loss. Protect yourself in order to protect your family and manage your parents adequately.

Been there and done that, and got close to burnout that rendered me ineffective in anything I tried to do. And that helped no one! The social worked assigned to our case saved the day!

You can't do what you can't do; you can only do so much. And as one person said, "Never cry alone". Share the load and emotions. Praying for you and your situation.
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As you read these post, you see you are not alone. I am 52 yrs young and for the last 5 yrs, increasingly I was doing exactly what you are doing. Leave work after an 8 hr day, run errands for my Parents, look around the house and began to see that it was too much for them to keep up anymore..I'm sorry but the kitchen and bathroom need daily attention and it wasn't being done therefore leading to some serious health and safety issues. I soon discovered that it was too much for me also and then go home to my own mess. So I had a talk with Mom, "Mom, I am very concerned about XYZ and I know that if you were able like you once were XYZ would not be in this shape" Mom asked me what do I suggest, I said hire a cleaning team on a regular schedule. she agreed. Now mind you, months earlier Mom would have revolted at the thought and indginity of having someone come clean her home which she took great pride in but through reality and carefully chosen kind words Mom accepted the outside help. After that, I went to town! Had their meds set up for home delivery, Mobile podiatry care, Meals on Wheels, "treated" them with delivered food, online banking...I made it easier for me to help them. I had to preserve myself as it was only me helping. I still had them over for Sunday dinner with plenty of left overs to go, did their grocery shopping, hair cuts and Dr. visits and made those trips an outting for us so we took care of necessities and enjoyed one another. Please find ways to take care of yourself while taking care of your Parents.
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I recently lost the man I took care of for 35 years, my husband. At the end I was burned out. He had 24 hour nursing care but was still at home. The nursing care was a stress in itself, as I was hyper vigilant, trying to make sure they took "perfect" care of him. It made me too tired to have an actual relationship with my spouse apart from caregiving. Now he is gone, and I am left to remake my life, tired, with a bad back and other issues from not taking care of myself all these years. All I can say is to agree with much of what has been said above. Take care of yourself! Your parents will move on to the next life and you will grieve, but you will be left here to carry on. Make sure you are healthy and happy enough to carry on. Please feel no guilt about not being a super human being. No one can do it all, and I did learn at the end that when we set limits others adjust. My husband would have preferred me to do all his care, but he adjusted and even enjoyed his nurses. They brought variety and new friendships to his life. Please do not feel guilty. Guilt is such a heavy burden! You deserve to be taken care of. You desrve to have enjoyment in your life. Please do talk with your parents. They love you and eventually will understand that you need a break and more balance so you can have a happy, healthy life.
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PS By all means, love your parents and realize they are not always going to be here but don't put yourself in the grave before them because you have gone way beyond the bounds of sanity in feeling guilty about not being the perfect child. They would never accept the kind of behavior in you while you were growing up that they are putting us through here. Cherishing them does not have to include being used as the family asswipe.
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You are handling too much yourself! I've never seen such a "stuck" generational age group. Our age (we are approx. the same age) are helping old and young. Now, please put your daughter to work helping clean at your parents. If they complain of "outside help" then now you are solving that -- who would complain about "family" helping? Let them pay her and it will help her. Stop doing all the freebies and talk to a counselor about why you feel anxious about losing your parents. I've lost the parent I cared about almost 20 years ago. I'm stuck w/ the parent who is killing me mentally and physically -- she's like the Energizer Bunny. All my wishing in the world, the praying, the tears, won't bring back the parent I loved and miss. If you think you'll get an inheritance out of it, forget that too -- those days are done and gone. The gov't and the lawyers will find a way to wrest it from you.

I have a great little family of my own and they should be priority. Also, don't forget yourself. I should've have heeded that advice about years ago when I was injured and cannot do all the physical labor any more -- yet, feel guilted into it -- don't let it happen to you!!!

Christinaw's note had a good bit of advice -- choose a priority "quality" thing to do for or do with your parent. One thing though, and make it good and memorable. Whittling back the list has helped with physical stress. Good luck.
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Somehow I don't think that when your parents are gone you are going to regret not cleaning their toilet and scrubbing their floors. What you might regret, if things continue the way they are, is getting yourself into a situation where you had so much resentment toward your parents. You might regret running a vacuum cleaner when you could have been using your valuable and limited time to take them to lunch.

When we called Social Services in to evaluate what Mom needed, the social worker asked if she needed homemaking services, to do laundry and clean. "No," she said, "My daughters can do that." Fortunately one of those daughters was there and spoke up. "No, Mom. When your daughters give up time with our own families we want to play Scrabble with you. We want to try to beat you at cribbage. We want to watch a funny tv show with you. We don't want to scrub your toilet or wash your bedding." And Mom got a homemaker a few hours a week!

They don't want strangers in their house? Well, none of us gets through life having only what we want. What you want and what you need is every bit as important as what they want.

If instead of spending 5 hours a week cleaning for them you spent one hour a week playing cards with them or taking them for a ride through a beautiful park, wouldn't everyone really be happier, and have less to regret?
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