What is Really in it for the Caregiver?

by Exhausted
(Fort Lauderdale, FL)

I am in my mid 50's taking care of two elderly parents. I clean their home daily, cook and take care of doctors appointments, etc. I have two brothers near by who haven't done a thing for my parents since they feel it is taken care of by me.

I have expressed my exhaustion but they have no conscience about the situation. Since I am not married and have no life but to take care of my parents, they feel it is my responsibility.

Besides, my mom has always done for them and they can't see any other way. I realize that unless you are a caregiver, you can never understand the physical, mental and emotional toll that is has on you.

It is useless to find emotional support from those who have not been in this role.

I realize that my parents were not caregivers to their parents. They have no idea what I am going through. They take my heart felt support for granted. I resent my health getting frail because of my daily laborious tasks I do for them - i.e., vacuum, lawn work, cleaning, etc. My mother refuses to get aide since she has me. She is suspicious of people in the house.

She also flippantly says she can do what I do. She has Parkinson's. She can't.

She still babies my brothers. They don't see her as needing help since it is done by me. I feel like I want to run off. I have a conscience.... work full time, and am totally exhausted from this role. I go to physical therapy weekly for my own health issues.

My parents show no gratitude but now expect me to take care of them. They can still do some of the light physical labor but are getting too dependent and expectant of me. My parents are so used to me cleaning that they don't bend to pick anything up or eat without making a mess.

My parents still give financial support to my brothers. They don't help me since they feel that I have a good job. My brothers are basically lazy and have always had my parents support.

Thank you for letting me vent. I take things day by day. There is no fulfillment for this role on any level except knowing that I was there for them in the end. I am trying to find the fine line of my own sanity and my conscious of helping them. As for role of caregiver, it must be a inner fulfillment.

I at one time, would never have thought of putting my parents in an assisted living facility but have changed my mind.

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The Givers of This World
by: Joyce

I read your story and if I could have reached through my computer I would have offered you a much needed hug. You are earning your wings and your story sounds eerily too familiar.

I was a late bloomer in life and married later than my siblings and had a family of my own.

Prior to that I was somehow the "one" always elected to help Mom and Dad as I had no one. You DO HAVE A LIFE! Don't ever think that you don't please. Your parents are seriously wrong for treating you somehow differently than your brothers whom they spend money on and dote on like they are still children.

I think the very fact that we are females, they somehow think we are "less than" the beloved sons! It chaps my hide when I see this happening to such good people like yourself. You are a saint to have tolerated this up until now.

I took a job elsewhere, met my now husband and began my life so they didn't have a choice in the matter any longer. They had to deal with things in their own way. My siblings that live close by have had to step up to the plate but frankly only one of them is the real support system for my folks now.

I still find time to come and visit although they are several hours away from us. Don't get me wrong, I still care about what happens to them and I make frequent visits to see how they are doing and make a genuine offer of help to my sibling in helping out with things that I can do to assist long distance.

You may need to take a step back and have a meeting with your brothers to discuss how your parents will be cared for. Its a hard conversation to have, but a necessary one. You cannot be expected to continue at this rate and my real concern is not your parents, but you dear.

Please have that conversation with your brothers and hire in some help for your folks and get your life back. You can still come and see them and help in areas where a caregiver cannot. But please don't forget about you in the process of living a full life. If they were thinking straight, they would want that for you okay.
Keep us posted on your progress.

by: Anonymous

The lack of help within families and the lack of support from society is an obvious parallel to what's happening overall in our society today.

People just don't care about anyone. It's Me first and you better not interrupt their karaoke night or manicure appointment.

Also, in general there is (overall) a rampant amount of total laziness in our society. People don't want to do anything at all except lie around on the beach, playing on their I-Phones or other gadgets, or lying on the couch watching daytime TV and eating junk food.

I know multiple adults like this. They don't work, they don't do anything remotely useful in society. Maybe they are doing drugs too, I don't know. People enjoy being useless, shiftless, and generally zonked.

They don't care about goals, responsibility, or effective time management. It's all about fun, socializing, playing the slots or the lotteries and reading trashy novels. I just think our society in general is getting worse and worse. There is no interest in helping anyone else, that's for sure.

Also, people refuse to do any manual labor at all even to help their parent. They won't cook for their own kids let alone a parent.

I made meat loaf in literally 5 minutes one day for my parent and this past weekend I whipped up mac and cheese. It takes literally a measly amount of time to do this but yet there are many people who refuse to do it.

They would rather buy Meals on Wheels for their parent or make them buy canned or prepared products, if the parent can even GO OUT to get it.

Sweeping a room with a broom? Forget it, these people today won't do that. I swept my parent's entire house in literally 1/2 hour one day, cleaned out the fridge in 1/2 hour, and swabbed down the kitchen floor in about 10 minutes.

I mow my parent's lawn in the warm weather. That takes about 20 minutes. People who complain about helping their parent are just plain lazy. And I don't buy the excuse of having kids. One woman I know used the excuse that she has a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER!!!

What amount of "care" does a 16 year old need? She gets driven around like a little princess, that's what. Meanwhile, the parent is neglected, no one will bring him a casserole or maybe pick up a DVD from the library for him to watch. SAD.

And the lack of support from society--Big time. That's the topic of another whole post.

by: Anonymous

Yes beautiful. Thank you.... Oh yes, 6 moods at least, before coffee!

So agree about society too. Very unsympathetic to caregivers. People at work can't understand why I need to take mom to the doctors. Very chilling society when dealing with the aging.

However, we all get there..... I do not know of anyone in my office taking care of their parents. They all left the responsibility to another relative or friend.

We are heroes and beautiful souls for the humility and devotion we have to take on such a challenging and difficult role. For certain, when my head hits the pillow, I can rest peaceful, at the very least.

Dear we are Unsung Heroes
by: mary frost

Dear We Are the unsung Heroes,
Right On, what a fantastic letter you wrote!

I had to laugh when you talked of 6 different moods in one day....same here. LOL!

Yes, yes heroes indeed.
May we all find moments to savor and create memories that will carry us through!!
on we go.....

We Are the Unsung Heroes
by: Anonymous

I come to this forum when I'm down and out about my situation and I always seem to find an entry that speaks to my heart and lifts my spirit.

The isolation of caring for a parent when you are the only one in the trenches, can be so exhausting. We don't get any recognition from family, friends, or society. We just seem to be the one that the job has fallen upon, because of who we are or how we live our lives.

A lot of times we are the single daughter, or the closest daughter or the oldest daughter. The job trickles down to us, and we completely rearrange our lives, and everyone smiles at us, like...good for you. But they have no idea whatsoever of what it entails on a day-to-day basis.

I can go through six different moods in a day. One moment I'm convinced I'm doing the right thing and the next I'm frustrated and angry that my years are slipping away without any plans for the future. I wrestle with myself everyday, just to keep the right attitude and keep my spirits up.

I seem to be living in some kind of esoteric spiritual realm because my life in the real world is on hold, but my inner life inside me is constantly going at a rapid pace and everyday I deal with something to figure out and forge ahead.

Sometimes I think the inner work is even more exhausting than the outer work because I'm not just trying to figure out my stuff, but I also have to deal with all my aging mom's thoughts, feelings, and actions and learn how to be compatible with her on a daily basis.

She, too, is going through major life changes and yet we are both in such different times in our lives. She is 92 and I'm 56. She is winding down and I'm grasping at the last best years of my life. It makes it so difficult for us to understand each other.

Caregivers, whether you are a mother to children or children mothering your parents, we are just not valued or recognized in this society.

It's sad that we have to come to our computers and type in stolen, quiet moments to find anonymous cyber friends to tell our stories.

At least we have each other. Today, know that you are a hero. You are brave and strong and loving and giving. You will never receive a plaque and no one will ever know what you did.

But, we see you and we congratulate you and we thank you for giving up your life for another. I believe in the military, that would be a Medal of Honor.

in the same place....
by: Anonymous

You sound like a Godsend to your parents. And a whole lot like me.
I, too, have no life for social frivolities. My mom says to have fun but am too tired! Every now and then I just wish my life would end.... (don't worry, I'm not suicidal! Just get very depressed).

I agree with the freedom that they have to choose. As much as my mood swings, I feel the same. In the race for the long haul till the end..... Thanks for sharing your post.

In the Same Place
by: Anonymous

You sound a lot like me. I am in the mid-50's and single. I work full time at my "regular" job and juggle caregiving, maintenance of 2 houses, all of the food shopping and laundry, etc.

EDITORS' NOTE - Great comment!
Please see this link that delves (briefly) with that subject.

It's not easy but I'm doing it and I've done it for over 8 years now. I have a little bit of free time here and there because I manage my time very effectively.

I do not waste time on non-essentials like certain social events or chit chatting on the phone for hours. By prioritizing my time like a drill sergeant, I've been able to free up time for myself here and there. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to keep myself in decent physical shape.

I have a pretty good outlook considering that I haven't had a vacation in about 8 years.

Sometimes my mood crashes but I work hard to keep myself going. This is a marathon and not a sprint. I am committed to my parent until the end. That's it in a nutshell.

Not easy, not something any of us really want to do, but it's the right thing to do and there are really no other options. My parent has no money for paid services, frills and frou frous, and she is very, very, very controlling and runs the ship. I help her but she's the one in control. I cannot MAKE her do anything!!

There are people on this board who constantly suggest assisted living but that's not always an option. If the parent is in their right mind and managing somewhat OK in their home then they have a right to stay there.

They're not cats and dogs that can be "forced" to go somewhere, like to a kennel. Also when an elderly person is in their 80's or 90's, it's too stressful to move them out of their home, so it's preferable to leave them in place.

It's a fact of life today that our society doesn't support caregivers and in fact seems to put them down. I get no support from any friends or coworkers about what I'm doing. Consequently I am fairly isolated, because it's not really their business to tell me how to "manage" my parent.

They forget that my parent has a right, yes, a RIGHT to make their own decisions, until the time that they can't. So it's up to me to either support the parent or not. I've chosen to support them. At some point the parent is going to die and this will end. It's not forever.

Assisted Living Facility
by: Anonymous

I am very happy you found the right spot for mom. That must take a weight off your shoulders. I have been to some very nice assisted living facilities that I would be comfortable for my mom and dad.

I would move to be close to them, most likely within five minutes. There is one around here but the fee is tremendous (5k monthly for each).

My mom would be insulted if I suggested it. She has fears of depending on others. She has seen and heard too many horror stories of nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities.

It seems like you have a real nice one. Thank you for sharing and I am happy it worked out for you. Blessings!

Assisted Living
by: Anonymous

Your exhaustion and frustration are felt by so many of us.

In my own life it didn't matter if I took a couple days off from the caregiving, I was just as exhausted when I started again.

Finally, it was very apparent that my brother and I had to find a place for mom to live with 24 hour care (one thing she did was, while standing naked in the her kitchen at 3 in the morning, she called the caregiver we had helping us instead of calling one of us-the point though is she was NAKED in her kitchen at 3 in the morning!)She does NOT have dementia.

Long story short..mom made the final call about moving and it took us 3 places to find the right fit (first place raised the rent by 3 thousand dollars a month after the first month, the second place was too big and she fell 3 times in 4 weeks! Now, she is at the 3rd place). Mom is like a bird finding just the right nest.

Your care giving will not stop once you find a place but it sure puts some sanity back into your own life!! I have to check up on a lot of things at the assisted care and so does my brother but after 2 months they are getting to know mom and mom know them.

Assisted living CAN work. My brother got a broker to help find a place. I'll be thinking of you and hope for the best.

P.S. My mom did not take care of her parents either, although she sure took care of our dad but I think taking care of parents is a different thing.

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