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I wonder if I will remember what it was being the caregiver when and if I become like them. I hope I can remember how bad it can be on your child. I don't want to do this to my daughters, just let me live in AL and they go on with their lives.

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SPRINGBIRD, I believe once our parent(s) need our help as they age, we once again become that young adult who is able to do everything. Our parent(s) don't view us as being in our 50's or 70's, but back when we were in our 20's or 30's with a lot of energy.

Neither of my parents needed to take care of their own parents so all this was very new to them, and to me. Their parents had lived many States away. Plus my parents didn't notice I was having my own age related decline, I was still a "kid" to them.... [sigh]

I did have a conversation with my Dad. Dad asked me to retire from work. To which I asked him if he retired to take care of his parents and/or Mom's parents. I knew the answer was no.... he never asked me again.

Then I also explained that his own Mom had over a dozen nearby relatives to help her. And for me, I was it, to do all that those 15 people were doing. The conversation just disappeared :(
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I am lucky, I am not yet 'in the trenches', but neither of my parents had to care for their own parents. My dad lives part time with my brother and his young family and my brother has POA, so I only have to deal with the financial fallout of Dad's past actions.

Mum has planned for many years for when she can no longer live independently, she knows which assisted living she wants to live in, plus has plans for assisted dying, should she feel she needs that option. It is legal in Canada.

I also would not allow caring for my parents to cause me to leave my job, move, or otherwise completely disrupt my life. I do not expect my children to do any of that for me either.
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Things were different when people stayed in the same neighborhood, were part of the same communities for generations. Everyone pitched in, now people are flying or driving all over the country to take care of parents. Also, aging care was limited, when people declined, they soon passed. Now people can linger for many many years with very limited vitality and even awareness. These are fairly new things. As well as having women being full time in the work force and having their income be a necessity to the family.

Part of the whole care giving dilemma is the invisibility of women's work, and care giving is quintessentially women's work. Some elders, especially men, feel that
providing care for them is a fulfillment of a woman's life. They're essentially doing their
care giver a favor by allowing them to help. I kid you not.

Both of my parents abandoned their own parents to move far away and ignored them in their decline. Neither of their mother's lasted long, and frankly it was partly due to their broken hearts over their children's abandonment of them.

So some members of the "greatest generation" has chosen to try and obligate their
children to perform duties they themselves chose not to perform. All families are
not created equal.
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Dear Springbird,

I am sorry, I know its extremely hard caring for an elderly parent. The days, months and years just seem to wear on. I asked myself this same question. And honestly, I don't think it comes from a malicious place. But my own parents just grew up in families where no one talked about feelings and giving acknowledgement and validation. Our culture just dictated that grown up children were obligate to care for their aging parents.

My father passed last year and I honestly think now that he just didn't think it was stressful for me. He was suffering after his stroke from the meds, his reduced mobility, he too was going through depression I think.

I know its hard to find the right balance sometimes. I hope you can get some respite care or consider talking to your parents about a nursing home or assisted living placement. When you start to feel this stressed it is time to look for other options. I wish I had done this sooner myself.

Thinking of you. Sending you love and hugs.
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Springbird - your question highlights what I think is one of the most disturbing facts about caregiving. Almost nobody ever talks about it. Not in the sense of having an honest dialog between the person giving the care and the person receiving it. It's almost like a taboo, I think. Like, my mother will occasionally say something to me like "Thank you for doing this for me." but she will never ask a question like "How do you feel about doing this for me?" or "Are you okay with the role I'm asking you to take on in my life?"

I think that's the core of the reason that many caregivers feel so invisible. Nobody wants to know how you feel. They won't ask you, and they hope that you won't tell them. As long as you're doing what's expected of you and what the parent needs, nobody is inclined to look any further.

So the short answer is, I think, that people don't realize it because they don't want to know. It bites, I know.
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To Suec, 40 years ago, my now 91 year old mother spent two weeks caring for my gran, and still complains about it. Mom with dementia has been living in my home for three years. I am totally convinced this woman will live to be 107...and will attend my funeral wearing her tiger stripped bonnet.....
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In past generations, often an eldest daughter was expected to forgo marriage and having her own family to be the parents care giver. Women's care giving is often invisible, akin to having your very own personal servant waiting silently in the wings.  Which frankly I think a number of elders are hankering after.

As well the sobering thought that for a narcissistic elder, seeing a younger child (relatively younger of course) still having vitality and possibilities ahead of them in life, makes them angry and jealous. And by task mastering our time, they make our lives burdened and us exhausted and thus more on par with their own limited horizons.
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SPRINGBIRD,
Yes, you will remember what it's like because you have DONE it. You won't forget your experience as a caregiver.

The explosion of Alzheimer's and other dementias have become epidemic because we didn't used to live this long. People died younger so we didn't see the progression of these diseases.

I, also, have wondered why our parents expect us to care for them, when they (mine included) never cared for their parents. This seems to be a phenomenon. I hope this trend changes again, having it be the norm that infirm/demented individuals be placed in AL, Memorycare or nursing homes. In most cases, the price the caregiver pays is just too high, risking physical and emotional health and possibly the destruction of their family.

We need not feel guilty to have our loved ones in facilities that have 3 shifts of trained caregivers, necessary equipment and accommodations that probably surpass anything in the home setting. Hopefully there will be more government intervention to assist us with our elders and also our children with us in the future.
We can start planning now for our old age (with its infirmities) and how we will not burden our children as our parents have burdened us.
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Bettina, that was one thing I noticed about many of the daughters in the 1800's in my Dad's family tree. Not unusual for many of those families to have a dozen or more children. I was so surprised how many daughters never went to school. They stayed home where their Mom taught them how to cook, sew, clean house, etc.

And the daughters that never married, or the ones who did marry but didn't have children, they were the ones who took care of their parents. Even back in the late 1700's and early 1800's, my Dad's relatives lived into their 80's and 90's. One maiden daughter lived to be 103.

I saw a daughter from the late 1800's who went to college, got a masters in chemistry, and her employment was school teacher. Unlike her brother who also had a degree in chemistry, worked for a large company, working his way up to Vice President. Imagine the pay differences those two had.

You are right families lived around the corner from each other. I saw that also in the family tree. Occasionally I would find someone who went many States away. My Dad was one of them. Dad had a passion and it wasn't available in the small tiny town he grew up in. Dad went to college, then onto a large corporation. Lived away from the family.
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Windyridge you and your wife sound like my husband and myself. We do not want quantity without quality. Everything is in writing, no one is going to deprive us of our wishes for the end of our lives. My dad actually told his sister that he was headed to a cruise and she (his mom) has been dying for 9 months, so no he would not be coming even though she was begging to see him. Now he is in need of care and expects me and my husband to let him live with us. Which is never going to happen, I would not live with a SS, narcissist who only cares that he gets what he wants and to h**l with everything and everyone else .

I believe that the parents that can not see or understand how hard it is to be a caregiver do so by choice, they don't care what we are going through, it is all about them, period. I bet if you look back you will see that this is not a new behavior, just way more blatant.

God bless all of you unappreciated, invisible care givers. Even if the one you are caring for doesn't appreciate you, know that we other caregivers do.
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