It's about Love....

by Susana
(New Jersey, USA)

Nobody owes anything, it's just a matter of love. If you had the good luck of having good, loving parents, you probably turned out to be a good, loving person yourself, in which case you would not abandon your parents at the time they need you the most.

What if we have to sacrifice a little? They didn't have to sacrifice for us and they did it. There are many parents that neglected their kids to live their lives. They could have done that too.

So, to those who are sacrificing for their parents like myself, God bless you, and keep it on. It's a great feeling to know you are helping someone in need, specially if that someone happens to be a loving parent.

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It is Still Hard
by: Anonymous

My mother is dying of cancer (with months left to live) and has home hospice (2 visits a week from a nurse and aid for vitals/baths. For over 2 months (with a few days relief from my sibling) I have cared for her 24/7.

I cannot leave the house, I cannot even go outside without a baby monitor, she is bedridden and 100% dependent on me for everything -- including wiping her butt. Last night I was awakened to put her on the bedpan at 12 a.m., 1:30 a.m., 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. for good.

I have 2 children so, yes, I know that mothers have done this for their babies but it's a lot different when you're in your 60's. There is no money for help so it's all on me. She was a good mother and I do love her, but it is hard to keep saying "it's about love" when one is completely exhausted! Sorry, but until you live like this, you shouldn't judge!

Re: It's about Love
by: Adrian, MN

Thanks, KS, for your thoughts. While Susana kind of touched on this, you gave it substance.

Susana, when I read your post I felt huge amounts of guilt. I know my parents sacrificed for us, I know that it is loving to care for them. However, I also deal with the very real and tangible issues that KS does, plus more! (beligerent moods, the whole family worn out, feelings of isolation, etc.)

This is hard work and it's okay to acknowledge our feelings because candy-coated little phrases like "it's about love" don't help us work through the real-life emotions and circumstances.

We need support, we need to acknowledge and face our feelings, thoughts and emotions and work through them so they don't consume us.

I tell myself and my husband that in my role as primary caregiver, I am the project manager. I coordinate and manage all aspects of our family project called "Caring for Mom". I travel 100% of the time. I have hard days and nights, but it is rewarding. I try to not dwell on the hard, front line, in the trenches stuff. That helps. I can detach emotionally on the hard stuff and I am able to speak up to my siblings, when necessary.

I felt closer to my siblings before we began caring for our Mom. Now, we are thrown onto each others lives constantly and it wears us down and causes wounds in our relationships. However, I am sure we are developing a new kind of bond now.

KS - Continued part 3 of 3
by: KS in WI

CONTINUED – part 3 of 3

Let's talk about sacrifice. It's not just the relationships and the money - it's about putting your WHOLE life on hold. So, Susana - it's not a "little" sacrifice - it's a BIG sacrifice. HUGE.

I do it because I choose to. Every person and family and situation is unique. None of us should judge another or even attempt to offer opinions on what should or shouldn't be done. We all need to support each other and respect each others decisions. Without throwing the word "love" or "sacrifice" or "owing back to our parents" into it.

It is not right to throw those feelings/emotions into the equation - used as a measurement or comparison of worthiness or depth of love we have for our parents. It divides families.

Every person needs to speak for themselves on what they can AND what they will contribute, in time and financial resources. No guilt. No judgements. No resentments. That includes having to stand up to your elderly parents as well.

I am not uncaring, unloving or cold-hearted. Looking at this situation in an emotionally-detached way frees me up to be the loving daughter with loving thoughts for my Mother as I care for her 24 hrs/day, 5 days per week. I know what I am talking about.

Resources: I will post a separate comment on this topic.

Initiate those difficult, emotionally charged, draining conversations with your siblings and parents. Don't allow anyone to manipulate you or make you feel guilty for wanting to take care of yourself, your family and your life. It is NOT love when they do that. People usually manipulate out of fear. Don't let their fear control you or become your fear.

Each person in the family needs the freedom to speak up for themselves on what they can and will do, and at the same time, give everyone else in the family the same courtesy.

And, by the way, I am a Christian. I have a very deep faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Guilt is not of God. Don't let anyone manipulate you with Christian-ease talk. That's not how God operates. He looks at our hearts, our intentions and our integrity -

KS - Continued Part 2 of 3
by: KS in WI

CONTINUED – part 2 of 3

My siblings avoid the tough conversations. I have been encouraging them that we need to have new contingency plans in place, since we are already living out our first contingency plan.

They get all hyper and start quizzing me like "Why? Are you going to bail on Mom? On us?" or "We all decided that this is the plan for the long haul." I reply "Actually, no we never decided that. We responded to a crisis and fell into this pattern and never discussed medium- to long-term plans."

Those siblings have a hard time emotionally with all of this. I can't fix them, I can't help them. I can pray for them and when they ask me, tell them how I cope and what helps me. The focus is on Mom.

Back to Susana's post: It's about love. Yes, it is. But at what point is it about the love that elderly parents have for their adult children? At what point is it selfish for the elderly parents to insist on remaining in their own homes? At what cost to their children? The cost of relationships? (Between grown siblings?

Between the elderly parents and their adult children or grandchildren? How about the pressure on the marriages of the adult children?) Let's talk about expense, shall we? What is the purpose of having a retirement fund for your golden years if you are not going to use it?

We all keep encouraging our Mother that your retirement fund is for NOW - you are 80+ years old! What about those of us who have given up employment? Yes, my husband and I barely able to do this because we live very humble lives and have almost no debt. My siblings are maxed out on credit cards, second mortgages, etc. They can't afford to care for my Mother because of THEIR lifestyle choices and poor financial planning choices.

I can afford it (right now) because of my wise financial choices. I say "right now", because this is the time of my life when I planned to work to contribute to my retirement and to also contribute to my children's college expenses and their weddings. So, because I can afford it, I’m supposed to be the one to make the largest sacrifices?

Because of my wise choices in my own life, I’m supposed to make sacrifices to help my siblings even though they made bad financial choices? (And, YES, whatever help and assistance we give our elderly parents, totally benefits all of our siblings!)

Yes, it's about Love - but don't use "Love" to Manipulate!
by: KS in WI

Yes, it's about love. Love for your parents, love for yourself and love for your own family.

I am the primary caregiver for my mother, with some of my siblings helping out on weekends. My father died almost two years ago. My mother took care of him in their home. He never wanted to leave their home. She doesn't either.

Two of my sisters are AWOL. One lives far away in MN and the other is a messed up addict - currently clean. None of us, including my mother, wants the recovering sister to help with the care - she needs to focus on healing herself and we all agree on that.

The other sister who lives far away claims that she has to work all the time. Very convenient. Rarely calls, rarely visits. There is a lot of anger from my other sister and brothers toward her. I don’t have anger. I figure, we all have to live with our own choices.

All of my siblings talk big. They all say "I will quit my job before I let Mom go to a nursing home." Well, Mom fell, injured herself due to seizures and we were thrust into a crisis. I was in between jobs at the time and all of my siblings agreed that I should be the one to care for Mom during the crisis.

Well, the crisis has long since passed and no one in the family wants to change the arrangement. Two have applied for floating FML - offering to take it ONLY when they deem that I have something important. I have no vacation, no days off. Of the two (and their spouses) who are helping on weekends, they claim that I always have "weekends off", and they don't, so I'm already getting more time than they are.

I am away from my home five days and nights per week. I have turned down a full-time job (it was offered right at the time of the injury), turned down a part-time work from home job and resigned from another part-time job. I have resigned from all volunteer activities, never see my friends and look forward to the weekends.

Yes, this is tough. I don't need or want sympathy. I have a strong network of support and encouragement from friends. No one really understands why I do this, but they don't criticize or try to fix everything by giving advice or talking against my siblings. This is my choice, although I was definitely pressured into it in the beginning.

My siblings and I don't agree on a lot of things, but we do all agree that we will work together to care for our mother. Everyone does what they can, when they can. I am NOT into "equitable" or "fair". I AM into every person doing what they can and being able to live with their decisions - now and in the future when someday Mom is gone. I have gotten much better about standing up for myself, not letting my siblings decide things for me...just as I won't make decisions for them.


It's not Always about Love
by: Anonymous

So are you saying that we children of abusive and neglectful parents probably did not turn out to be good, loving people ourselves because we did not have good, loving parents? And that because we did not have good, loving parents that it’s okay to abandon them in their time of need?

What advice do you have for those of us who have abusive, selfish, and demented parents that we are trying to care for and are getting nothing in return but pain and misery? What if we actually hate them but are doing it because it’s “the right” thing to do?

What is your suggestion for people that are dealing with parents and siblings that practice deception and manipulation to get by in life?

“There are many parents that neglected their kids to live their lives.” You are right about that. I have ruined my life in the process of dealing with a family plagued by drug abuse and alcoholism. Mind you, my parents are not poor people either; they have given themselves the best of everything and are very well provisioned, having inherited money from my father’s side of the family, which then soared in value thanks to the stock market boom.

They think nothing of paying all of my mentally unstable sister’s expenses and have enabled her for her entire adult life. They also expect me to be her unpaid caretaker. In the meantime, I have been struggling along, and since getting laid off almost 2 years ago, I have resigned myself to long term unemployment in order to deal with the care of my parents (age 87 and 90) and their increasingly tenuous situation (they refuse to leave their home).

I have worsening health problems and serious depression, and my efforts to get support from the vacuous elder care and caregiver support agencies have been a total waste of time and energy. I have become more and more isolated and care less and less about living. It’s certainly not out of love that I am trying to help my family.

They have ruined my life and think nothing of it. But I continue to try to do what I can for them, though I suppose I should have walked away a long time ago.

Not Always so Simple.
by: Anonymous

Of course I love my mother. But, that does not mean that I can give my life to her and abandon my family in doing so. You are right, good parents do sacrifice some things in order to be good parents, but they still have their lives, homes and freedom any good parent can expect to have.

However, how good would they have been as parents if they were missing in action to take care of elderly ill parents? Often when taking care of an elderly ill parent the sacrifice is all encompassing and the care-giver's family and home are actually where the sacrifice has the most impact. That is not fair to a lot of people.

Also, not all parents when they are elderly are nice or giving people. When we go into parenthood we don't look at our children and say 'you owe me'.

I took care of my mother 7 days a week, 4 to 5 hours a day without a day off for two months. It was not appreciated and my life revolved around her demanding routine....I was exhausted. Now, because she became so ill, she was hospitalized (almost died at home) and has since moved into long term care.

Now, I do her laundry, make sure she has all she needs, including doing her laundry and we visit and talk and we have our real daughter - mother relationship back.

Sometimes loving means doing what's right for all concerned even though it can be hard at the beginning. It doesn't mean I love her less, it just means I love myself too.

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