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I hate caregiving. I hate smiling while I listen again and again to stories about things that they did in the 40s, 50s, 60s.... I hate hearing about how their pooping or peeing is going that day; that they need me to order more diapers or they don't like the new sheets I bought or that the housekeeper missed a spot or that the sandwich doesn't taste as good as it did 40 years ago when he was still new to pipe smoking... I hate all of it. It sometimes becomes hating them, but I really don't. I hate seeing my fathers cry - one because he feels so sorry for himself, the other because he's trying to keep up the lie that my mom isn't careening into dementia. I hate watching my mean-spirited mom sink into that dementia. I hate watching my sweet stepmom in so much pain it's intolerable. I hate all of it.


I only have one living child remaining. I have been a single mom since she was two. WHAT are we going to do to make sure our child/children don't have to watch us go through this miserable process of aging? HOW do we prepare - not just financially - to make sure they never have to go through this love-hate dance at the end of our lives, too?

Although my sisters and I have become close again while helping my Mom in her elder years, we all agree on one thing, "We will not do this to our children." We all live in our own homes now, three of us with our husbands. All four of us are in decent health in our late 60's and 70's. The most important things we are doing to be sure that we do not create difficult obligations for our children:
1) We are cleaning up our messes now. Lots of accumulated stuff is going to nieces and nephews who are just starting out on their own. We are asking our kids which stuff they would like to inherit (or just get when we downsize).
2) We are not waiting for the time when our children will "put" us into some kind of residential care. We are checking out the options now, while we still have the energy to do the legwork.
3) We are sharing our plans with our children, letting them know that if they think it is time to give up on the house before we make the move, tell us. We could get lazy. We promise to listen to them.
4) We are sharing our financial status with them, telling them our plans. Considering how close I am to my sons, I am amazed at how difficult this is. Glad I am doing it now and not when my mind is half shot.
5) We are writing down plans and reviewing them so that we do not slip in our intentions as the mind starts to wander.
6) Our children are already listed in our doctor's offices as HIPPA authorized. My investment/brokerage companies and banks list my sons as authorized to be called if these companies have questions about my accounts.
7) We have wills, letters of advisement, and limited power of attorney documents already signed in case an emergency requires quick changes.
8) We have each made a list of deadlines. When I can no longer...(fill in the blank) ...I will know it is time to move before...(whatever). In my case when I cannot get my flowerbeds ready to have the mulch blown into place in February, it is time to get help to do the final sprucing up and put the house on the market.
9) We are also talking about the positive reasons to be moving to a residential facility. We don't want to feel like we are leaving behind everything nice. We will be moving to a place where someone else will scrub the toilets, where there the lawns will be mowed without me lifting a finger. My sister is moving somewhere where she will not have to cook or change the sheets on the beds. Another sister is moving to a place where there will always be someone willing to play cards and a mini-van to take us to see the azaleas in the spring. You get the idea. Staying at home gives us space and familiar surroundings, moving on gives us other things.

We will not wait for our children to tell us we need to move, we will move while we are still able to make the most of the next stage.
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KristineB Apr 18, 2021
That is the most beautiful, mindful husband and wife “team,” I have ever heard of.
How refreshing to hear you collaborate, rather than live in denial like the vast majority.
I wish I had that.
Thanks for sharing that well thought out plan.
#inspiring 🌷 👁
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This hits me hard...between my mother and my husbands parents we are spending our 50s being guilted into doing things that our parents DID NOT DO for their own parents they were busy going on cruises and vacations in their 50s not doing a darn thing to help their senior parents. Were spending our empty nest years doing what they just dont want to do for their self anymore ( but thats work and were retired they say) Resentment is a daily struggle every single day now. I resent wasting my 50s taking care of people who are going to die in this house but don't do a dam thing for that house they plan on dying in. Ill probably get ridiculed for saying this..but from my personal experience seniors now days are as selfish as I've ever seen ...every single day its me me me me me but what about me.....I will NEVER do this to my children. I didn't have children so they could "take care of me one day ".
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SeniorStruggles Apr 16, 2021
Heck YEAH! I swear my biological father pretends to be way more helpless than he is. He gave me a brochure that had the name of a doctor he wanted to see circled on it. I said, "Why don't you call him? I don't control your schedule." I re-wrote that doctor's phone number in huge red marker. I handed it back. A week later, he handed it back and said, "I looked him up on Yelp and he's the one I want to see." OK, I said, did you make an appointment. He said, "No, because he's too far from here." I said, "This brochure has 14 doctors on it who all do the same thing. Just call a closer one then!" He replied that it was "too much work" to look them all up and see if they were "any good." So I just decided then and there, tough luck then. You complain every single day that you're dizzy. Five GPs have told you to see a neuro-specialist and one of them gave you this brochure. You don't do it? I'll set up an appointment with crematorium now... Seriously! Just like do it, man. You manage to call anyone else (like me!) and talk your freakin' head off daily. I'm not stepping in. I'm not your f/t assistant.
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I'm an only child managing care for 4 seniors (and one who is now deceased). I've seen a lot (and yet not as much as so many others on this forum): from dealing with Medicaid, social services, unsafe discharges from the ER, guardianship, ending driving privileges, elderly drug addiction, hospice, etc. I chose to involve my then teenaged sons in some of the help so they can have an understanding of what happens when you age, what happens when you don't plan, what happens if you think you unrealistically will never have decline or dementia.

They know me and my husband have PoAs in place (and they know it is them and what the duties are, when the duties kick in and that we in no way want any bickering over our affairs). We have Living Wills (so that no one need make the awful ending of life decision themselves); we have Last Wills (and they already know we have a trust which should be spent on good qualify care for us and whatever is left over will be split 3 ways equally). They have a "working" understanding of how the law works in terms of who can make decisions for another and when. They know in no uncertain terms that they are not to move us into their homes when we seem needy nor orbit around us pretending we are "independent" in our home. They have, first hand, seen the signs of dementia, what a UTI looks like in the elderly, Parkinsons, and the impact of denial and stubbornness. They at least have an idea of when to legally intervene.

The second half of this plan is for me and my husband to be realistic and move ourselves into an appropriate community BEFORE a crisis, BEFORE we "think" we need it, so we get to make the decision while in our right minds and do all (or as much) of that work as possible. Few individuals are able to acknowledge, and then act, when they sense cognitive decline has slipped into themselves, and my sons also know this. So I guess giving your child knowledge and wisdom about what will probably happen is what needs to happen. This way she isn't blind-sided. I would also impress on her that she is NOT your "caregiving plan". She can surely be your helper and manager but not your hands-on daily caregiver. My own mother lives in a small house next to mine and is still mostly independent at 91. My husband and I are not retired and don't plan to be for another few years. I've had the discussion with her that when her care becomes too much for me, she will need to go to the very nice facility where my MIL also is, 3 miles from my house. As my mom's short-term memory erodes, I'm not sure that she will even remember this discussion or like this plan, but we DID discuss it, she DID agree and that's all my conscience needs. So, even if your finances are not stellar, there are still solutions of which you should make your daughter aware for your care, even if it means Medicaid. My MIL is in LTC in a very nice facility as a Medicaid resident. She receives the same care and attention as the private payers. She is even in a private room. She is with people all day and doing better than I think she would cloistered away in a private home. And my husband and I have our lives. I am not judging anyone who wishes to provide hands-on in-home care for their LOs. But it should never come at the cost of their own well-being or future. What would be the point of that? I wish you much wisdom and peace in your heart as you move through your caregiving.
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SeniorStruggles Apr 16, 2021
You're so right. My wealthier mom and her husband set this up for my brothers and me when they were in their early 60s. My poor biological father and his wife did not, and they are the ones whose care is so heavy on my life right now. (I'm their only child, and I never knew them growing up) Next time I can get my daughter to sit still for a few minutes, I'm going to tell her what I do/don't require or want her to do; I'll also write it down, hand it to her, notarize it, whatever it takes. No one should have to do this all alone for their elders. Because of geography, I too now have four elders on my shoulders (the fifth recently died) and I just cannot imagine how thoughtless it is to do this to someone else. The irony is that my father and his wife had the experience of doing this for my great grandma and for my grandpa, so they KNEW, but they foolishly blew through all their money in their 60s, thinking their ship would come in any minute. SO helpful. Thank you sincerely.
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I’ve picked out my Assisted Living, and TOLD my kids that it’s where I want to go.

I love the house where my husband and I live now, but certainly NOT ENOUGH to saddle my children with trying to keep me here.

I will hopefully remain healthy long enough to see my grandchildren approach adulthood, but I leave the choice of visiting OR NOT, to them. I CHOSE to do what I did for those who depended on me, but my PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE is too important to ME to depend on them.

I’ve told them that if my personal situation indicates that I’m not connecting cognitively, they are to DISREGARD my complaints and insults and tears, and I MEAN IT. They have known me as a loving and supporting parent, and I want THAT MEMORY to be the one that lasts.

My “departure service” will be preplanned and paid for.

If anything else occurs to me while I’m still mentally competent, I’ll incorporate it into my “declining” plans.

I love them dearly, and I’ll do ALL I can to spare them.

Of course, all of my legal responsibilities are in place.
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SeniorStruggles Apr 16, 2021
Brilliant and inspiring, Ann.
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I love this discussion and glad you brought it up. I am youngest female in the family. My mother and sister are passed away now. My sister was 12 years older than me, and her generation was really different than mine. She came of age in the 50s and me in the 60s. Big difference. Anyway, I feel I have learned a lot going through their aging and care in their final days. I will not be like them. I will never, ever burden my children with my care in any way if I can help it. My husband and I have planned ahead so we hopefully have enough until the ends of our lives. I actually told my one daughter that when I get old and hard to deal with, that if it becomes necessary to put me in a home, then go on with her life and visit only when she feels like it, even if it's not at all. Of course, she said, "Mom, I'm not going to do that!" But that's what I want, actually. I don't want to be the mother or sister that someone dreads "having" to go visit. I have a rather solitary personality so I'm okay with being alone, if it means not annoying my children or grandchildren. I'll be fine. We enter the world alone; we exit it alone.
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SeniorStruggles Apr 16, 2021
You are my soul sister with the same attitude, OldAlto.
My daughter, 28, continues to believe she'll just tuck me into a "grandma flat" in her basement someday, but 1) she has no idea how awful my own life is right now caring for our elders and 2) I would NEVER like to live with her, even when I'm old, because it's such a burden on the young.

xoxox
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One component is not getting so hellbent about staying in a particular house. So many issues could be avoided if people wouldn’t get so house hung up and realize a home can be anywhere. When a different living arrangement would make more sense, let’s all go for it
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Take care of yourself now. Most diseases in industrialized countries are related to lifestyle.
Eat healthy - prevents or manages diabetes, strokes, heart disease
Get that 7-9 hours of sleep - helps clear debris from brain associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of fluids (preferable water) - clears toxins from blood stream, prevents blood clots
Exercise - 30 minutes 5-7 days of the week. It can be broken into smaller segments throughout the day. Aim to walk fast enough you can't hold deep conversation, stretch all body parts until you reach the point of can't go father, and strength train (lift, push, pull) every major muscle 20 repetitions or until muscles say enough.

Take care of business. It is easier for our caregivers when they know our intentions.
Financial - streamline finances with automatic payments (no missed payments), online banking and online bills (easier to check payments and discover hackers), and financial power of attorney (allows very trustworthy person to do business in your name).
Legal - see a lawyer that specializes in estate planning to have legal documents drawn up: medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, will, advanced directive, do not resuscitate... and anything special if you have a lot of assets or investments.
Medical - get an annual physical, keep up with vaccinations, see dentist every 6 months, follow your doctor's advice
Get organized - simplify your home before you need to, downsize to a smaller place as your abilities diminish, create 2 binders with all your important information in one place (medical history, surgical history, allergies, list of medications and how you take them, names and contact information of everybody you do business with, insurance information...), give 1 binder to the person who will be your caregiver or holds medical power of attorney, and keep 1 binder in an easy to see location (I like making mine in neon colors or red).
Ask for help - when it becomes more difficult to do something, get help
Stay connected - meet with friends weekly (online if you must during COVID), go to church, keep your brain active with fun activities with others, write letters, make phone calls to family and friends, make sure all these people have phone number for person that has your medical power of attorney AND let everybody know who to call if you have an emergency.
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Geaton777 Apr 19, 2021
Yes, at the very least people need to keep their weight down to avoid diabetes and high blood pressure: the 2 conditions that cause health chaos and quality of life misery in old age (1% of the entire US govt federal budget goes towards paying for dialysis!)
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You tell them what you want now so they don't feel guilty or responsible for your care. 'Even if I lose my mind later on and cannot tell you what to do with me, I am ok with living in some kind of facility where others are paid to take care of me. Do NOT take me to your house. Do NOT give up your own life and move in to my house just for the reason of keeping me in my own surroundings.'
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My children know that this house is just a shell.

Our family’s memories are not contained in a house. They are contained in our hearts and minds. We can see them in pictures. My girls know that I will NOT cling to the idea of staying in this place.

My mother is in MC Assisted Living. My local daughter knows that I would be more than happy to move over there when the time comes. It is lovely.

No way do I want EITHER of my daughters to have to take care of me 24/7 when my mind has left me.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 16, 2021
What a wonderful description. It is only a shell. Ahhh...so true.
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The most important thing is make sure you have finances in order. Everything is much easier without financial struggles in play.
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notgoodenough Apr 16, 2021
You are so right, finances are key!

My mom had the means to private pay for care in a facility, as well as a LTC policy. Whatever else I might have gone through, it was a huge relief to know that finances were not an issue. When she needed things, I could just buy them; we had it worked out that if I started to experience financial strain from not being able to work because I had to take care of her, she would pay me. It took a lot of stress out of the situation.

The issue as I see it is that "our" generation isn't going to have the financial resources that our parents had. So it's going to take some serious financial planning to ensure our kids don't end up in the situation we find ourselves in. My husband and I are currently shopping around (with the aid of a financial planner) for LTC policies...and I have to say, being on this site has helped me know the "right" questions to ask: such as, does this policy mandate that a qualified facility have 24/7 RN on duty (thanks, Alva!); is there a continuum of care; will the policy pay directly, or do I have to pay out of pocket and then wait for reimbursement; what's the top amounts they will pay out; etc.

I sure don't want my kids "stuck" where they have to put their lives and their families lives on hold to take care of me and hubby because we were flippant with our future care plans!
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