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Countless times when I'm weary, and at Me weakest I have asked Myself this question. As Caregiver to Mom Who is 86 years and suffers from Al/s I have learned so much, how Family & Friend's lurk in the shadows, it's as if while I'm sleeping a voice whispers in My ear THATS YOUR PROBLEM, YOU DEAL WITH IT. While Other's keep telling Me, Oh Your a mighty Man to take care of Your Mother like that, it can't be easy They say. And They are correct It can't be easy, but I'm wondering to Myself..HOW COULD THEY KNOW ? when They wouldn't be capable of looking after the Family cat. Yes We Caregiver's are made of stern stuff, and Our Caregiving is done out of Love, respect, for Those Who We Love.

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I agree that you may not feel like yourself until after caregiving has ended. Even then you will find that you have changed. You may want to read this article on rebuilding your life: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caregiving-ending-after-death-148071.htm and/or this one on how caregiving can change us: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caregiving-can-change-personality-161527.htm

Tarajane said that you will again enjoy yourself without guilt and I think that's true. When we step up to the plate and do all that we can, most of us can move on with a good feeling. It's often the adult children who stood back and did nothing who have the hardest time afterward.

You'll be okay, Johnjoe. It's hard, but you'll come out of it yourself but better.
Take care,
Carol
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JohnJoe; NO, you will never be the same person again. NEVER. And, if someone tells you otherwise---they have not been there. We, as caregivers, become stronger, more compassionate, kinder, value goodness and see the 'positive side' of life. Why? Because we must. There comes a time when we realize we are the 'rock', we must keep strong, we must always understand that every day will be different, every minute can be funny, sad, disheartening, worrisome and yes...frustrating. There is no one else that truly cares or wants to care. They have their own life and unless it is filled with roses, it is not for them. Don't expect support or understanding from professionals, friends, acquaintenances or even family members. What has gotten me through the past 10 years as a 24/7 caregiver for my husband, was prayer. Lots of prayers and appreciating the little things... a beautiful blue sky, the trees turning colors, a butterfly, a bright orange/red sunsets. I smile at strangers in the grocery line, little kids, parishioners that look at my husband and wonder why he appears so disleveled when I am dressed nice. In a way I am saying; "enjoy life, it is good for you now, but one never knows what card may be dealt in your future. Go ahead and judge me for none of you know what I am going through." The shuns and stares I get at church have no idea that an hour before I was running around the house with dripping wet hair looking for my husband's electric shaver that hubby had hidden under the bed, his dress trousers rolled up in a ball under the rocking chair pillow, a toothbrush that was never found and mismatched socks rolled around rolls of toilet paper found on the sewing machine. And, while I am frantically looking the same question...'where are we going?' And, the same answer...'church.' So, please understand depending on your circumstance, the emotional wounds are deeper for some than others. There is not a 'one answer fits all.' We cope the best we can. Some caregivers give up and walk away. Others stay to the very end. It all depends on what road we chose. But, no---you will never be the same again.
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Mmm. You know that old cliché that "what does not kill us makes us stronger"? I've always thought that was a half truth, often misapplied. Painful, challenging experiences can make us stronger, but they can also scar and maim. And right now, ohmygod nearly six months and I can't quite believe it since my mother's death, I am still bruised and dazed. It's not so much that I haven't got back to normal as that I no longer know what normal is. I don't know who I am or what I'm for.

I am working on the assumption that this too will pass, and trying - though as a lifelong depressive type it's quite an effort - to make a conscious decision to be happy and purposeful. As they say with slightly more truth "when you're going through hell, for God's sake keep going!"

So you too, you will be different. You won't ever be the same as before. Whether that's a good or a bad thing, though, is at least partly up to you. Be kind to yourself, and make the best choices you can.
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From experience, you will never be who you were. You will be a stronger, wiser human being with a greater perspective on life.
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I know Im a changed person. Will NEVER be the same. I have the SAME family. Offers ZERO help but judges and stirs the pot. Its not possible to be the person I was before. But maybe that's Okay, because I am DONE being the fixer of the this FAKE family. with this type of family who needs enemies ??? Blood means SQUAT when they throw you to the wolves and then run for the hills. So I know I will never be the same, life as I knew it before mom moved in is looooooooooong gone and so are most of my siblings . But its OKAY because im a firm believer in Karma. I give up on my family but Karma wont........
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No. In the years of helping dad caregive mom, and the years of us asking repeatedly for help among my siblings, I finally realize why dad was always a bitter old man. Now I understand why. I'm no longer idealistic. No longer gungho about family. I used to look forward to holidays - it meant associating with my siblings. Now, I just wish they start their own tradition and not come over.

I find myself wondering if this person or that have dementia. I can't help it. I saw it with mom, and seeing it with dad. My mental process is now geared toward analyzing an elderly person. I once attended a caregiver's monthly meeting, recognized the signs of my dad in this woman next to me. I made sure to smoothly leave my seat for another. There are other little things that I do that I never did before. Nope, we all change and will never really go back to our previous self.

I make it a point to read funnies. It helps me to find laughter on a daily basis. It's true that laughter is the best medicine. I may not go back to being me, but at least I still have a sense of humor!
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There WILL come a time when you will be you again. Sadly though it will be when your loved one passes on and is at peace. I'm no expert by any means, I am a newbie and I will try not to be harsh. There will be grief, sadness, guilt, then relief knowing you did your very best for them and the others can just kiss your a--. They are feeling guilt right now but still living their merry life. When it comes your time to be you again you enjoy yourself with no guilt or shame. Hang in there and stay close.
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I don't know what it's like at the end of the rainbow, I've only just begun the journey of losing myself. I know exactly when it happened too. I felt it - and I hated her for it. That sounds so harsh, but I'm being honest. I'm an only child, so there is no one else - no one to complain, no one to dish out unwanted advice...is that better than having those that complain but do nothing? That offer unsolicited advice, yet run from their responsibility? I'm not at all sure - either way it sucks!

I am not one who is embracing this caregiver stuff. I WANT my life back and I fight to get it back each and every day and at the same time, I'm getting sucked deeper and deeper into the caregiver hole. I'm not going willingly - but only obligatorily - and not out of love, but out of required respect. I do love her with my whole heart, and I will be devastated when she passes, but I resent the heck out of her for taking my life from me. Women in our family have a history of living extremely long lives...so I'm looking at possibly another 10-15 years of having no life of my own.

I know, I know - I'm being selfish beyond words. I can't help it. I heed the words that Senorita writes - what happens when one day it is me who requires the care. I had 2 children specifically because I hated being an only child. However, I too, hope I never place either of my children in the position that I find myself in today. My children have a life and I want them to lead their lives free of caregiver bondage. I hope that I'm a pleasant enough person for them to visit on occasion, but I do not wish them to be bound by the duty to the point my elder life overshadows and encompasses theirs.

I'm not at all sure how you all seemingly have freely accepted your caregiver roles and the changes it has and will have on your lives. Perhaps I'm naive to have never really thought of this time in my life and the affects an aging parent would have. I feel stuck. My husband is about to retire, but we can't travel, we really have nothing to look forward to in retirement except caregiving. In 10-15 years, one or both of us will likely not be fit enough to travel. And by that time, we likely will be caregivers to his mother!

A decade ago, she would be in a nursing home and I would still be living my life around occasional visits, but no more. The goal of keeping them living independently and with minimal assistance has meant the end to a lot of baby boomers living their own lives!
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I can relate to SallySad. There are two types of caregivers: the ones who embrace it lovingly and the ones who fight daily to maintain a semblance of normal life while meeting their obligations and desires to be a good child caregiver. I am in a similar situation but after almost one year of this recognize my boundaries of how much I can do. I largely take things day by day, because it is too scary and overwhelming to think about the years ahead and possible caregiving at age 65 or older!! I will do what I can for as long as I can. No one knows the future. We all do our best.
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Reading the pain that we caregivers go through makes me wonder what you are planning to do if you become the one needing care from your family. Personally I am planning on hoarding sleeping pills, because I will NEVER put my children through this h*ll. I would much rather die.
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