We have a new member on board here at AgingCare, who asked another member a question: Why will you not care for your parents in your home? I think that is an EXCELLENT topic for discussion.

If you are willing to take your folks into your home to provide care for them, why are you willing to do it? What are the pros of that situation?

If you are unwilling to take your folks into your home to provide care for them, what is the reason for that unwillingness? What are the cons of that situation?

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I fall into the unwilling category for various reasons. I want my privacy. I very much need my quiet time and my space. I don't want to be treated like a child as an adult in my own home. I don't want to see my parents every single day. I don't want to provide care to my parents every day. I don't want my house filled with people visiting my parents. I don't want to cook more than the meal I feel like eating. I don't want to be "ON" 24/7. I don't want to make concessions all the time because that is what it takes to live with a parent whose needs are only going to increase. I don't want to watch the decline from a front row seat. I need my sleep and am a grouch when it's interrupted. I'm selfish and I just don't want to!
Helpful Answer (29)
You’re so confident and smart! You know exactly who you are.

So many of us caved into guilt. Even against our own desires, our own better judgment, knowing deep down in our souls that it’s not a good idea. We still do it out of obligation. Hate to call it dumb, but what else is it? Confused maybe? VERY confused! Brainwashed from a child.
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I would not because I know my limitations. I am 77. But I will be so honest as to say I could not have cared for my brother in my home when I was 40, 50, 60, either. It simply is not in me. I can and I do the management of the finances to take the burden of that off him. I cannot do more.
So my reasons would be that I am simply not that good a person. That I have limitations I recognize. That I find/have found it very difficult to live with rational and healthy people I chose to marry or to bear as children, let alone to be in care 24/7 of someone who is a danger to self or others if I am not right there, basically attached at the hip.
So human inadequacy? Selfishness? Limitations? Failure at Sainthood and sacrifice? I can leave the labeling to others. I don't much worry about the opinions others have of me. I know myself and I know I do the best I am able with what I have.
In my case it is a brother. It would not have been different had it been a parent, and I had possibly the best parents in the world.
I don't feel that we should have to put ourselves before the judgement of the rest of the world, and I don't feel we have any right whatsoever to judge another, or the rest of the world. I am fine if people feel better/feel they need to judge me. And that's about all I can say about it. As to the pros and cons of caring for someone in the home? I think the forum is pretty clear on that from 100s of members.
Great discussion question.
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lealonnie1 Oct 2019
Love your honesty, Alva. And love you!!!
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UNWILLING: by the time my parents or IN LAWS need care that has to be provided by someone else, they will need more care than I can provide with a full time job (think out of the house by 7am return by 6pm) and a young son. Too many hours a day they would be left alone and I think the point of bringing them into my home would be that they can't be alone so long. [my quitting my job is not an option]

Also, personalities. My mom, and my INLAWS, when the only visit - expect that since they are the elders and we are still "children" in their eyes - that they call the shots. Major annoyances like how we raise our son. Minor annoyances like expecting us to clean up after them, cater to their meal times and preferences, their comments on how we dress, wear our hair, decorate our house, etc. After a few days we are counting the minutes until the visit is over - I cannot imagine coming home after a stressful day to more of this.

Not caring for them in my home is not pushing them out onto an ice floe. They are not comfortable using internet - I can and do help them fill out prescription forms online for RX mailing, understand bills, online bill pay. I will help them navigate finding care whether in home (theirs) or in assisted living.  But I will chose what I take on and not have it dumped on me. Things that can be brought in and paid for (housecleaning, meals) i'll not take on just because they don't want to pay. But I will help with what they find frightening - like navigating insurance and Medicare.

by the way - they birthed and cared for you - yes, means that you will care for them, but it doesn't require that you care for them in your home, to the detriment of your sanity and your marriage. Have your spouse be the heavy if you cannot say "no" but if you know a situation is going to be horrible - why on earthy would you put yourself into that position? There ARE alternatives!!!

Any thoughts?
Helpful Answer (20)
lealonnie1 Oct 2019
Beautifully stated, Kimber!!! There are MANY forms of 'care giving' that do NOT require in-home living arrangements!
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I'll answer too. I had a rough relationship with my mother growing up. We are like oil & water; we don't get along very well. The thought of taking her into my home and living together AGAIN is a total no-go for me, and has been since day 1. I grew up with grandma in my house, mother's mother, and they fought like cats & dogs, making my childhood unbearable, frankly. I would never put myself, or my husband, through such an ordeal! If that makes me a 'bad person', fine. I have chosen, instead, to do the caregiving for both of my folks from a distance. As an only child, I have taken on the responsibility of having my folks placed in Assisted Living back in 2014, and have been responsible for all the finances, the medical decisions, the 6 moves they've made since, the doctors, the specialists, the Emergency Room visits, the final arrangements for my dad's passing, ALL of it. I am the POA and all decisions rest with me, which I'm fine with.

There are many ways to 'care give'. The way I choose to do it is from my home, with mother living in her own place, with her own care givers, her own friends, her own entertainment, and her own staff of people to toilet her, shower her, change her soiled linens, do incontinence care and laundry.

As a result of that, I can maintain SOME level of a relationship with my mother as her daughter instead of her care giver, which wouldn't turn out well at ALL.
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My father has long had a rule of his own making, that he will neither live with any of his children, nor can any of them live with him. He says he’s seen it ruin too many relationships and he won’t have it.
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lealonnie1 Oct 2019
Wow, God bless your dad! What an intelligent man he is!!
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Where do I begin?

the main reason is that I refuse to move to their state. I have a husband and young children and it would be impossible and completely detrimental to our livelihoods if we packed up and moved to their state. They refuse to move back here too so....that is the main reason.

then there is again the fact that I have a husband and children. I honestly don’t believe that it is possible to take in elder parents who can no longer care for themselves without putting THEM before everyone else including yourself. I really don’t. And I am not willing to put my parents before my husband and children. Before myself? I don’t want to say I am willing to because I know in my heart I would. My husband and kids come before me, it’s just nAtural. But what I know I can’t and won’t do is put my parents before them. My kids play sports, have friends, we have friends. I won’t give up all of that so that my parents can live the rest of their days in my home or their home instead of a nursing home. We wouldn’t be able to balance it out if I was taking care of an elderly parent! They are both already at the point where physical activity is out of the question. We wouldn’t be able to bring them to very many places with us. And sorry not sorry but I’m not going to give up our hobbies and favorite family outings! We go hiking regularly, we all love it. My parents cannot hike, period. Moms breathing & overall physical health is too bad, she doesn’t have the strength. Neither does dad. There’s very few things we could do with them. I am not willing to give it all up. Nope. Alva, I know my limitations. I’m not the most patient person. There’s no way in heck I could wait on them hand and foot, answering every beck and call. Doing literally everything for them. Compared to their cousins, my kids are very independent and that is probably due to my lack of patience, I let them do a lot of things on their own because I don’t have the patience to do it for them! Then there is the fact that I am absolutely worthless during an emergency. I’m seriously. I am not the person you want by your side during a medical emergency because I panic. I’m useless. When my son was 2 and ran in to a corner wall & busted his forehead open I was completely useless! Thank God my husband had taken the night off work and was home. I couldn’t even go in to the room after we heard the sickening thud and my son crying! I KNEW it was bad and flipped out! Then after hubby brought him in the kitchen and said he needed to go the ER, I thought “ok we need to put clean PJs on him” and then proceeded to run down the hall to the linen closet to get the clean PJs! We don’t keep clothes there LOL! I literally yelled out OMG what do I when I didn’t find PJs in there! So if my parents fell or had another health crisis that elders face, I couldn’t handle it. No way.

And personal care? Nope. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. I can hardly handle my own kids when they puke! No way I could handle a grown adult. And dealing with incontinence, toileting, blow outs, soiled clothing & sheets? HELL NO. No way could I change my parents diaper and wipe them clean. Nope. That is way beyond my limit. Nope nope nope.

I could keep going but I think I made my point. Some of us are just not cut out for giving and have too many other responsibilities as well.
Helpful Answer (18)
I agree. This nonsense about you get used to it. Ha! Help yourself, I haven't gotten used to it and I have no intention of trying to. Besides, I don't ever want to see my dad naked, just shoot me now.
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As most everyone knows I did care for mom and dad in their home. Dad died and my mom wished to remain in her home so for several years I went back and forth to her house.

She did move in with me at a later date and stayed nearly 15 years. At first It wasn’t so bad and I am not sure exactly how I felt about it. I guess the major feeling was that I felt like I should do it. I wanted to be there completely for her. I think I accepted it as my fate and blocked out my own desires.

My mother is a perfectionist and that was hard as a kid to deal with and just as hard as an adult to deal with. Rarely can a perfectionist be pleased. So that alone would stop me now. We don’t have the power to change anyone. We don’t want anyone to try and change us. So if we aren’t compatible, it won’t be a harmonious relationship. I learned to despise ‘passive aggressive’ behavior also. I can handle a disagreement but just be open and honest please. I hate that she couldn’t do that. Just be direct.

On a practical level it is nearly impossible to meet all of the medical needs. It’s exhausting!

All privacy is lost. So it puts a strain on a marriage and children. When conflicts arise it effects everyone in the home.

Anyone can live with small changes.
Little things change, if a parent can’t have spicy food or salt in their diet, cooking has to be modified for them. Ramps built for walkers and so on.

I became resentful because as the ‘only daughter’ I was expected to be the primary caregiver and mom and siblings constantly criticized. Mom was also good at pitting us against each other. She hated if I set boundaries with her. That was her ‘payback’ to me.

It changes a relationship if someone is living with you. If you don’t live with them you can go back home and take a break in peace but if they live with you then you are stuck!

I remember years ago Dear Abby or Ann Landers asked a question if people would marry and have kids again. An astonishing amount of people said they would not, interesting huh? Same with caregiving. No one really knows how badly it can turn out until it happens to them. Just like how a marriage can lead to a divorce.

I haven’t been divorced so I don’t know first hand how painful that is. I can only imagine it is a horrendous disappointment and possibly long awaited relief of a failed relationship.

That is how I feel with my mom no longer living with me. My brother and SIL have her temporarily until she is placed somewhere. Am I coping? As best as I can? Painful memories? You bet. Relationship now? None. Will that change? Who knows? Doubt it. Relationship with siblings? None. Will that change? No, I tried for too long. I do not nor will I ever have the power to change anyone. I’m done. The kindest thing they could ever do is to just let me live in peace for the remaining years of my life. Do I hate anyone? Gosh, I don’t want to harbor hatred. So, no. I can be disappointed in past occurrences but life is too short to spend time hating and being miserable. Were there good times as well? Yes, good times too.

My birthday is coming up so maybe I am being a bit more sentimental.

Am I glad my caregiver days in my home are over. Indeed I am but I am also grieving for a painful ending. Don’t know if anyone understands how that feels but it’s where I am at the moment. Almost like a death without closure.

I am grateful to all who helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Helpful Answer (17)
lealonnie1 Oct 2019
I was hoping you'd respond with your story. I think you summed the experience up so poignantly.
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Never, Ever. I have no instinct to protect another and nothing I do is guilt driven, nor do I have any desire to become a martyr.

I will make certain that they are taken care of, safe and living in a nice facility.

It was up to my parents to plan for their senior years, not mine. Fortunately they both did a good job at that. In turn they expected me to do the same and I did.

Neither had any desire for me to live with them or to live with me.

The more I read here, I see that in many cases the child moves in with the parent because they cannot support themselves or they want to protect their inheritance. Unfortunately, these parents can live a very long time, and the child becomes a prisoner and at the end up with no inheritance anyway.
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AlvaDeer Oct 2019
Martyrs. Shot full of arrows and being prayed to to "fix everything". Not a good career move.
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My mother came to live with me after having badly broken her hip at age 89.

She and I had often laughed about the fact that we never could, or WOULD, be able to live with each previous to her fall, and darned if she wasn’t absolutely right.

After 9 months, 2 of which involved me sleeping on the floor next to her bed, she entered a fine local SNF, and her last 5 1/2 years were spent there in peace and comfort. She was doted upon by the staff, and I visited every single day and her sisters visited every afternoon.

She came to live in my house because I loved her and hoped she’d respond better there than anywhere else. I found that that was not the case.
She entered the facility when I realized that even with full time help, it wasn’t possible to give her all she needed in my home.
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This forum has helped me so much with all the feelings of guilt and anxiety I have with this issue. I was raised in a family culture that encouraged martyrdom and sacrifice and I have bucked the family trend by not taking her in. She's a sweetheart but it would never work. I am an only child of older parents. Raised in a very strictly religious home. Ran off with the first cute hippie boy I met when I was 16 and got pregnant. When he revealed himself to be a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic and addict I left him. My parents took my son and I in, encouraged me to finish my education and cared for my son while I did so. They were fantastic grandparents to my son. I met a decent guy finally and married him when my son was five . We moved to a town about an hour and a half away for my husband's job. My dad died unexpectedly in 1993. Mom is now 97. Back in the day she was a boss, she ran things, was a Rosie the Riveter in WWII. Worked into her 80's and volunteered until her early 90's. We got along but are very different. We started care taking from afar after my dad died, driving up to her town once or twice a month to help with things, take her to appointments, etc. She never learned to drive. But many of her friends would take her to church, shopping, etc. As she aged her needs escalated, friends died or moved away, the house went into disrepair. I work a very demanding job that at one point required a lot of travel and going there so often became impractical. She refused to have conversations with me about any future living situation or plans. Her plan was to "just die". A bad fall in 2012 and her refusal to do PT or seek any kind of help incapacitated her further. She told me to just find an apartment for her in my town. The cleaning of and selling of her home was a nightmare, she basically just threw it all in my lap. I didn't realize then that she was declining cognitively. I just thought I was supposed to take all this on as that is what good daughters do. It was a terrible stress on my marriage and health and my husband's health as well. She was in my town in independent living since 2013. Actually I have been her version of assisted living, running back and forth across town from my house to her apartment, doing her laundry, cooking and taking meals over, hauling her to the doctor, listening to her complain and tell the same old horrible stories over and over again. So when she fell again this summer, and went to skilled, I begged the staff there to help me persuade her to go to assisted living. They did, and made it seem like it was her idea! She's in a nice AL close to my home and is still adjusting but I think she likes it. I realize, she wouldn't be any happier in my home, she'd be bored silly and my house in not all that accessible. What she would love is to have what she had, her own place and me helping her stay there. But I am a wreck, my health has suffered, my relationships have as well. When my all my cousins, who took in their folks ask about her I have finally quit feeling the need to explain myself so much to these people- I have a job, husband that has health issues, etc. They kind of give me the stink eye like what makes you so special that you don't have to go through what we did. Well...nothing except I finally realized my limits. Only took me til I was fifty friggin nine but I better late than never.
Helpful Answer (15)
Good for you!! And just give them the stink eye right back!!!! Take care of you and your family FIRST!!
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