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Fortunately, the parents still live in their own home. They don't appear to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer s disease. The problem is I am always doing stuff for them and it is a struggle to look after my needs. How much help is enough and how do I know that I am doing too much? By the way, they are 90 and 88.

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I began to realize that the reliance on me was because I was the only one in the family available and willing, and because w/o transportation, there was probably a sense of confinement, and a major adjustment. In that situation, hopping in the car to go out to a man cave or somewhere else just becomes impossible.

There's a very strong loss and sometimes sense of panic once a person stops driving and becomes totally reliant on someone else.


Jazzy, I was thinking that in finding others to help, do it gradually and get them for the tasks that aren't as important, at least at the first. It would be too uncomfortable for your parents to have to accept that kind of a redistribution of responsibility all at one time. It's easier to accept gradually, especially if the first "outsider" works out well.

We discussed a similar issue in the caregiving course I took, which was why it's difficult for elders to accept strangers into their circle of care. Suggestions were made:

(a) They're limited, not getting out as much, not socializing as much, and their
circles of acquaintances are beginning to narrow. The process of meeting new people isn't as easy or comfortable as it was when they were more mobile and could socialize easily.

(b) Sometimes there are issues of hearing and vision deterioration; they don't hear others as well, but know that family members are aware of that and speak louder. They don't recognize people, especially newcomers, and feel a bit uncomfortable with them as they're an "unknown quanity."

(c) They might be becoming forgetful and not remember the people, or even recognize them again.

(d) They're battling with other issues such as health that are of higher priority, and their coping abilities are focused on those issues.
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Jazzy, you're right. It is difficult to say "no" to your parents. It seems to be even harder when they become frail and needy. You (I) don't want to be petty, or start feeling like a rebellious teenager. Yet it is important that you tend to your own needs, and, as freqflyer said, that they take responsibility for their choice to stay in their home.

If they can afford hired help, maybe you need to gently start suggesting that to them: "You know, Mom and Dad, there are services that can provide someone to help you with that when I'm too busy with work to help you." I think "no" comes a little more easily, and comes across a little better, when you can suggest alternatives to your parents. That's what I try to do with my mother, anyway, because she'd like to rely on me for all her needs.

Don't blame yourself for failing to set boundaries at the beginning. We never know how this is going to go when we're new to it. I say with respect to caregiving that, by the time you get your feet under you, you're in it up to your neck. It sucks you in before you realize what's happening.

You may have been expecting your parents to realize how much of a strain they're placing on you and to moderate their own demands, but that often doesn't happen. Elderly people have a tendency to become self-focused and to only see their own needs and wants. It's a slow (and unwelcome) realization, usually, that your parent no longer has any sense of your needs or what's going on in your life, but just wants to make sure their own needs get met. My mother seems to have come to believe that I was put on earth to be at her beck and call, and I constantly have to redirect her thinking towards other ways of getting her needs met. It's difficult and emotionally draining, but over time it does seem to work, somewhat. The critical thing is freeing yourself from the guilt and the expectation that you should be able to do it all. Good luck!
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Don't feel bad. I didn't either. In fact I didn't even realize I needed to set boundaries and stand my ground until I began to feel that I was losing my own identity as a person and just becoming a chauffeur, among other things, and until I reached the point of constant fatigue.

It is hard to say no; it's also hard not to feel guilty and compromise later.

Working was a piece of cake compared to this.
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Good point. They tend to rely on family for all their needs. It places family members in a precarious spot, because it is difficult to say "no". Yes, I can honestly say that setting boundaries is something I didn't do at the beginning. Big mistake.
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Jazzy, you're going to have to prioritize and recognize that some things just might not get done.

You might start by listing everything you need to do for your business, priority wise, especially which actions are on a critical path and which are not. Do the same for your parents. The goal is to be able to focus on the necessary issues and let the others slide until and when you have the time to get it done.

Your parents may not be happy, but there has to be a line drawn between what's necessary and what's desirable.

As you drafting these lists, think of which can be handled by someone else, if you can afford the care, or if they're medical issues, possibly can be handled by some doctor scripted home health care

You can also think of how you can combine errands to minimize time and trips. If you cook for them, bring over several days' meals so they can just warm them up, instead of bringing meals over more frequently. Or if they're homebound, consider signing them up for Meals on Wheels.

If you do yard work and lawn mowing, consider whether you or your parents could afford to hire someone to do that.
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Jazzy, I have the same issues. I wished I would have found this website 6 years ago to learn that I needed to have set boundaries on what I can and cannot do for my parents. My parents are in their mid-90's, and so far still are of clear mind, but have normal age decline issues.

Think of it this way, your parents made their choice to continue to live in their home, thus they need to take full responsibility for that choice.

It's been tough, my parents now need to hire people to do their yard work, do the fix ups in the house, pay for home delivery of groceries [I order the groceries for them on-line], etc. Otherwise it becoming mentally exhausting trying to juggle career, your own home, and their home. As I get older myself, I can't keep track of what needs to be done on two separate homes, or when my parents need to see this doctor or that doctor next, or if their car needs updated tags, etc. Wish my parent would hire someone to drive them.
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