I finally figured out why we can never do enough for our aging parents. Because we can't give them everything they've lost in their lives and that's what they really want.
They want health, their spouse, old friends, spontaneity, freedom, independence. We can't give them any of these things because they are gone forever.
We have become the gatekeepers. We are their portal to the world. They live vicariously through us. Whether we like it or not, we are the ones who say, yes, I can take you shopping for shoes today or no, you have to wait until Friday.
Mom may not even want another pair of shoes. What she really wants is the ability to get in the car and drive to the store whenever she feels like it and buy whatever she wants without having to ask for it, and I can't give that to her.
Whatever we do for them is like sticking a square peg in a round hole. It's never going to be a satisfying fit. Everything she wants is now my responsibility and under my control. I don't want this job. She doesn't want this job to exist. But that's the way it is.
I have my list of losses in this situation and she has hers. It seems the more independence and freedom she loses, the more I lose too. The trick for us is trying to turn a lose-lose situation into a win-win situation.