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As the only daughter left alive, I convinced my husband to sell our home and move 1000 miles to live with my parents. He said yes, on one condition, that we would go away for the winter months. I agreed. It has been 4 years of living half the year with my parents and the other half we go away in the winter. Now my parents health is increasingly worse. My dad has heart failure and has difficulty walking anywhere because he can't breathe properly along with a few other ailments. My mom has her own health issues, mostly depression and has no energy. Both of them are experiencing some memory loss. When I am at home, I take care of both of them, take them to constant Dr.'s appointments, groceries, cooking, etc. Now, we recently departed for our 6 months away and I Skype with my parents every few days. They both are in their early 80's. I always told them while I'm away if there is a need, I will be back home on the next flight. I did get a cleaning service to come in twice a month to do the floors at least while we are away.


The last time I skyped with them, they both were saying that they were not feeling well at all. I'm having extreme guilty feelings for not being there, my dad can still drive but can't really walk to do groceries, which means my mom has to go in the store to buy food (she hates grocery shopping).


The problem is that when I am home with them, I get very stressed out because my parents constantly fight and argue. Also, they are European background and very old school. As the eldest and only child left, I always took care of my parents rather than my parents taking care of me. Now that I am 60 years old and my husband is 70 years old, we just don't have the same energy and patience that we used to have.


I don't know what to do, whether to fly back home and leave my husband for a few months alone and go help my parents or just wait till there is an emergency and then take it from there. I have such conflicting emotions on how to deal with it.

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I suggest that you fly home and make arrangements for them to move into an assisted living facility. If they object, explain that it is just for the winter months while you are away and that this is a better solution than finding in-home help. Of course, it would be great if they love AL and decide to stay. This does actually happen, especially with people who are still healthy and cognizant enough to make friends and participate in activities. They get safety, help and entertainment, and you get peace of mind and the ability to keep your promise to your husband.
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Help your parents find assisted living.
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I am also the child of European immigrants; while I'm not the only surviving child, as you are, I am the only one living in the Western Hemisphere. Many of my friends are first-generation, also.
What this means is that many people in our circumstances have eldercare responsibilities that can be complicated by multiple sets of cultural values.
What it also means is that we have loads of contact with European cultures. And you know what? European cultures -- German, in my case -- are not stuck in a timewarp! Eldercare facilities -- AL, CC, etc. -- are even more common in Europe than they are here. "Old school" is apt, but the European aspect is moot.
Bottom line: you must protect your marriage and your life FIRST. Your parents are an important DUTY, but your husband and your own life are your PRIORITY. Do not renege on a promise to your husband just because your parents are stubborn. If they're not capable or comfortable or safe living independently (without you), then they're not independent. Period. Time for a change in their living arrangements.
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What is our resposibilty to our parents? Very good discussion.

I'm also the last child, 600 miles from my mid 80s parents who are in a similar condition as yours. I feel our responsibility is certainly to provide care for our parents, whether in home or in an appropriate facility. But we also have a responsibilty to not destroy our lives and neglect our families in the process. One is equally important as the other.

In this balance there will be doubt, guilt, second guessing, weepy parents and the whole nine yards. It won't be perfect. Old folks get sick, have falls, the mind goes and there is only so much that can be done to mitigate these truths. This goes on whether you're with them 24/7 or they're in a facility.

So find the best way for your family to balance the care of EVERYONE.
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Your first obligation is to your husband.
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Exactly, Kimber.

To live independently, at the very least, they need someone in town they can rely on. Someone who checks in by phone at least every few days and stops in once a week.

It's time for assisted living if you plan on spending six months away.
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Until you can get them settled in assisted living, order their groceries online for delivery. Kroger stores offer this service and I'm sure there are others.
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Look into continuing care communities that have Independent Living as a first tier.
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In regard to responsibility, the way I looked at it was if my parents continued to live in the single family house, then my parents needed to take on the responsibility of their choice.

I don't know how many times my parents would complain about something and I would bring up "it was your choice to keep living here" [regarding their large home].
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Your responsibility is to make sure they are safe, clean and fed. This doesn't mean you need to live with them or them with you. My Mom lives with me because there is no money for AL at this time. Have her house up for sale but in the meantime she is here. TG for Daycare. She is there 3x a week. After a year, I still don't want to be doing this. It was always me out of 4 kids. Feel at 66 and DH will be 69 this should be our time. I do think its time for a decision. Your husband did his share. Good Luck.
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