So, what do we owe our parents and other loved ones?

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I think this is a question that people can only answer for themselves and their situation. In may case, I'm not sure that my answer won't change with time. Right now, want to give my mother the support she needs to keep as well as she can and at home for as long as it is feasible. I don't want to count on help from my brothers--one caring for father in law; one recovering from 20 year of caring for chronically ill (and unpleasant) wife; one with serious health issues. The only thing I think I owe my mother companionship (as cheerful as I can make it) if she goes into some sort of institutional care. (Institutional is a neutral word for me; both my daughters were in an orphanage before they came home, but if it is hurtful to others, please let me know a better word or phrase.)

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I'm wrestling with this question now because I just backed out of a promise I made to go to my mother's house tonight to make dinner for her and watch the Christmas parade that her community puts on each year. Actually, it was Mom's housemate who asked me to do all this, since she wants to spend the evening hanging out watching the parade with her own friends. I had agreed to do it, but then I started having trouble with my car and I can't get it looked at until Monday. Besides that, I just moved two weeks ago and I'm still not done unpacking and organizing the new apartment, and I'm so exhausted most of the time that it's all I can do to make sure my dog is still getting fed and walked. I just don't have it right now to spend extra time tending to my mother.

I feel bad about letting down my mother's housemate, who does a lot for my mother for free (just a free bedroom and private bathroom), but right now, today, I just don't have the energy to deal with Mom.

Truth is we're all getting tired of taking care of Mom, but she needs help with almost everything, and that's not going to change except to get worse. I don't know how we're going to manage to keep working this out.

meallen, good question. For myself, I believe everyone needs to chip in and do what they are capable of doing to help one's parent.

Not everyone is good with hands-on care, I know I wouldn't have been able to help in that aspect as I was a senior with my own age decline issues trying to help my parents who were in their mid-to-late 90's. So I tackled logistical stuff, like arranging doctor appts, grocery shopping, regular shopping, errands, paying the bills. I tried to get my parents to accept a caregiver but that idea was ridiculous to them.... silly me, I should realize I would have had to wait until they were in their 100's.

After a few years of helping my parents with whatever I could do [only child], and didn't mind doing it, I evidently became so resentful that my parents never wanted to move to an elder community or accept in-home care, so that I could enjoy the same wonderful retirement that my parents had.

Parents final years not well planned as they never expected to have lived into their 90's. Guess Dad forgot he came from a long line of people who lived into their 90's going way back to the early 1800's. Mom had a sister who lived to be 98.
On the topic of caring for parents, my beliefs are based on the thought that even though our parents clothed us, fed us, and put a roof over our head, none of us asked to be here. Our parents and a higher power (for me, God) are responsible for our existence. The fact that our parents brought us up doesn't generate indebtedness to them; rather they are the ones indebted to us until we reach adulthood. Out of love, we do what we can for our aging parents, but I don't think that means sacrificing homes, careers, health, sanity, and relationships with our husbands and children, just to accommodate all our parent's wants. Sadly, so many of our parents expect exactly that and get angry when we don't. My feeling is "too bad." They can get glad the same way they got mad.
I do what I feel is right and want to do. Sometimes I do not want to do something but I do it because I know it would make my FIL and/or husband happy. For example, in years past I would have gone along to every single family holiday party out of a sense of obligation. I don't do that anymore because I wasn't happy doing it and it took a lot out of me. Now, I pick the gathering(s) I want to go to and politely decline those I don't.

You have to balance your time. There are only so many hours in the day and week. And you have to make time for yourself and for your own needs in those hours. Every so often, you can push the limit and put others first. But, on a regular basis you have to take care of yourself first. That's the only way I've found to get through caregiving. Before I put myself first I achieved both burnout and compassion fatigue and got sick. That scared me straight.
Thank you for the information on this post, I am a fairly new July 2017, caregiver to my dad. When i was growing up he seemed to be my only friend, my mom used to tell me I was born with a birth control pill in my hand, as well as making sure in everyway possible that I knew I was an unwanted burden, nice things to tell a child, it is truly one of my 1st memories. So my dad who was nice to me made me believe that he was all I had, always saying I am the only family you have or it's just the 2 of us, when he was around, maybe 3x a month. I was so very desperate for love I believed that no one else cared about me, 2 sets of grandparents, multiple aunts, uncles and cousins, I could not get near any of them because of what my dad said, as a kid you just know they know something you don't.  Fast forward forty years, I have a wonderful life with a loving compassionate husband, 450 miles from both my parents who divorced when I was 16. My dad, whom 18 years ago married his 3rd wife who was younger than me, i am the baby of his original family tells me on a phone call to never f*****g call him again, I wouldn't let his new wife abuse our hospitality by having her dog run free in my home peeing all over my new carpet. So we did not talk for +6 years, after he called me on 2010 we stayed in minimal contact as he was still married to that thing, this year she decided she wanted a divorce and he called me asking if my husband and I would help him move to our city as he wanted a new start, I always said I wouldn't do that but I have been alone when I needed help desperately, so I can not say I won't help, he told me he was building a barn with a friend and was looking forward to some golfing,  we live in the desert southwest, so we go to help him move, OMG, we thought he would die before we got him medical help. He thought that he was going to move into our home and I was going to take care of him, while he paid bills for the thing by the way, learned this from his phone calls on my phone while he was in skilled nursing for 60 days, he is now in an Assisted living facility,  that he hates, I can do nothing good enough or right in his eyes, which is very sad for him, I have out grown the psychosis I was raised with and I know that I am loved, just not by my parents, I do not try to please him or make him happy, I believe that we each hold those items in our own hands and if he wants them he has to produce them. I care for him by making sure his NEEDS are met, he makes it to his appointments and gets out for lunch once a week. I struggle with my personal feelings towards him and this website and all of its contributors all help me see him as his illness, which allows more compassion then if I saw him as the dad that tried to destroy me. I know that was very long winded but I want to thank you all for the stories of your journeys as some days are hard because of who he is, NPD, lazy, entitled, miserable, unhappy and.... you all know what I mean. May God walk with each of us on our journeys through the New Year. 
I don't do things to help my DH and Father because I owe them. I do it because I want to. And it has nothing to do with whether my siblings help or not (they don't). If I let that enter the picture, I could become very bitter.
I am the oldest of four one deceased. I stayed in the same town where my parents lived. One brother lives in NC the other 30 minutes away. But, its always been me. I did for them growing up and never gave them a problem. I was there when Dad had appts out of state. When Mom couldn't drive I took her everywhere. Was there for all their hospital and rehab stays. Then Mom couldn't live on her own. So she came to live with me. Now I have her and disabled nephew to care for and a house to sell. No, I am not a caregiver, no patience. Yes, I understood Dementia but that does't help when u get blamed for stuff and physically not up to the bathing and toileting. I eventually took the money she had and placed her into an AL. Doing the 24/7 thing was hard. I had no life. She ended up in a NH when the money ran out. By that time she had no idea where she was. She passed in Sept. Do I feel guilt...for my impatience. But I was always there for my parents. I think as a child we do as much as we can. If they have money, its up to them to watch what they spend. If they can't then someone needs to take over. If u can't afford to help them you can't. They will need to cut back. If they have a home, sell it and use that money on an apartment.
We owevto make sure parents are fed, warm and have care they need. We should not have go in debt to care for them, lose a job or future earnings. As said SSI people can get foodstamps. There is help with utilities. Just go to the agency who handles Moms SSI. See what they offer.
Dear meallen,

Good of you to care for your mom and do all that you can. Thank you for asking this question, it is something I still think about myself. With my mother still alive, I really wonder what I am able to give.

In my own case a lot of sense of duty and responsibility came from the culture and my own disease to please personality. Like freqflyer, I, too, did all the logistical stuff from an early age. Because my parents were immigrants and didn't speak or write the language they needed my help. I remember as early as 8 years old having to write the checks out. I really never knew another way and just kept doing what was needed till the anger and resentment was choking me. It did lead to poor judgement on my part and loss of compassion towards the last year of my dad's life. I tried to be a good caregiver and proper advocate, but in hindsight I don't know how well I did.

No one wants to feel abandoned. I tried to use the Golden Rule and thought I was doing right by my parents, but being so angry towards the end, I don't know if doing so much was the right thing anymore.
CarlaCB--it feels awful to think you have let people down, I know. Does it help to think you are conserving your energy for another day?
Great question. I came to my aging parents home to help them at the first days of december. I am at my mother side doing things all day long, so my father does not need to. At the same time I feel I am not doing enough and doing too much. I am counting the hours to the day I will return to my home. And I am sure the minute I enter the highway, guilty will hit me hard. So... I don't know

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