Mary Saville

Educator - STEM, ACTS Homeschool Teaching Support

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What will you do with your aging parents?

My parents are older but not old. My mom in particular is running into issues of needing minor surgeries and having a hard time keeping up with her home. I love her so much and want to find a balance of caretaking and maintaining my own life and boundaries. My upbringing was very difficult but I still feel a strong sense of responsibility to her. Anyone with current experience or challenging parents especially respond.

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      May 25 2011: Richard,

      I will confess to having to look this up Richard. What an absolutely fantastic idea. Thank you for enlightening me. Talk about changing the world - why is this not global?
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      May 26 2011: So what's Fureal Kippu?
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        May 28 2011: An elderly care system for credits in Japan. Socialist countries, like Canada, provide universal care.

        Wikipedia has a serviceable definition.
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      May 28 2011: Sometimes - I think a lot of times - what old people really crave is but the company of the people they love (sons, daughters, old friends).

      How you choose to respond to that need is a personal choice. Generalizing by talking about "systems" is a subtle - perhaps unconscious - way to refuse to assume the personal responsibility to make that choice.

      You cannot give love through a system whatever the name you give it and banks, `corporate media´ and other evil and insensitive capitalist monsters have nothing to do with it.
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        May 29 2011: Jose, not everyone is capable (for a host of reasons) to be able to personally care for their aging parents/relatives.

        Fortunately I am in a position to do this, and am doing this, but I will not pass judgement on those who cannot.

        Not everyone is fortunate.
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        May 30 2011: Mr. Batista,
        Your point is beautifully stated, pierces the heart of the matter and is very true.
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    May 22 2011: This is a hugely challenging issue. My 93 year old mother in law lives with us and taking on this caring role has changed all of our lives. I also have a teenage son and am very aware that balances of time and emotion have to be struck. Our family made a choice to change our lives in order that my mother in law did not have to go into residential care and although we don't regret our decision it has changed our family in ways I could not imagine. As a carer - whether you provide the full or part time - what you are dealing with is I think best described as emotional labour. I also think that it is important to have an ongoing reassessment of the situation. Today I am a carer but I am also acutely aware of my limitations so the future quite likely may require tough decision making. I admire people who take on caring responsibilities, but I also respect the decisions of those who feel that they are unable to provide the level of care required for a family member. The day I ask myself "am I the best person to be providing this care?" and I find myself answering no is the day things have to change, for the benefit of the person being cared for and also for me as a carer.
  • May 18 2011: We should do the same as parents did and doing with us
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    May 24 2011: I would do whatever they'd prefer. Knowing my parents, they wouldn't want to move in with me because they don't want to impose on my life. To be honest, I don't mind if they do. They mean the world to me and gave me life.

    If they don't want to move in with me, I'd probably either move closer to my parents so that I'm only a phone call away or help pay to have them moved closer. I'd probably move closer to them as I know they cherish their home and location (as do I).

    It's a very interesting question and I think you'll get very different answers. I think a lot of it is cultural.
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    May 23 2011: from your profile you are care taker and best care you should give your mom
    remember how much she cared about you when your young
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    May 19 2011: For the past week, my 86 year old mother has been living in our home. She has dementia and has just had a series of strokes and now needs emotional and physical care. She was highly agitated while in the hospital and they kept her comatose to make her easier to handle.

    It is and will be a huge undertaking but it is not a burden and she is calm and happy now that she is with family. I will also have the opportunity to again demonstrate to my grown children how all family members matter. I am fortunate that I do not need to work so I can devote as much time as is needed to her.

    Canadians are fortunate to have universal health care however family bonds outweigh matters of convenience.
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    May 18 2011: Mary.........I don't feel that my children owe me anything. I have a daughter who does things for me out of a sense of duty. And believe me that is repugnant to me. I don't worry whether they will do anything for me when I am in need. They have their own lives to live and I am not a hanger on. I release them all of any duty they might have towards me. I am not bitter though it may sound like it.
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      May 18 2011: What will you do when you need help? I do admire your sense of release of expectations of them, but what is your plan?
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    May 29 2011: Giving the 'obvious' answer - it really depends on your upbringing, your social situation, your culture / background, and how you've managed expectations between yourself and your parents prior to now.

    I have a similar situation with my mother. Age physical and mental capabilities (eyesights, memory, etc), with a large household (7 bedrooms!) and a garden with a number of responsibilities (dogs, chickens, plants, you name it)

    Personally, I would do my best to spend once a week being a sounding board. Ask them how they are going, what fires need warding off - and they do my best to handle them as the adult they brought me up to be. As health becomes an issue, ensure you understand the requirements for personal care - then discuss whether your parents would be ok if you got help, or if they preferred you by their side. If the latter, balance out your responsibilities and life and communicate your preferences.

    So, my top tip - Ensure an effective communication channel exists between you and your parents. Start talking, and it'll work itself out.
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    May 25 2011: Mary, this is one of the most important questions an adult child can ask. It's also an area where people with aging parents need to do the greatest amount of thinking, research, and planning.

    I do not want to denigrate the statements by people who say they want to take care of their parents just the way their parents took care of them, but the reality is that the challenges of care for elderly people with difficult chronic diseases or mental deterioration from Alzheimers or other dementia are great and become greater as time goes on.

    I recommend that children whose parents are approaching old age school themselves on what needs to be considered and begin making concrete plans them and other members of the family about what's likely to be needed. What are the physical and mental conditions the parents are likely to face? What financial resources do they have? If there are multiple children what are they going to contribute in terms of hands-on support or financial support? When the folks become unable to care for themselves who is going to take them in and do the real, hands-on care? What skills might be needed for such care? How much time could the care of parents take? How will caring for a parent with increasing needs affect others in a care-giving household? How will financial resources be allocated between elder-care and other needs a family has, especially with respect to children. Does the person(s) responsible for care have the emotional strength to deliver positive long-term support to a parent withoiut sacrificing their own physical and mental well-being? Finally, might it actually be better for the parent(s) to have them cared for by professionals in a well-equipped facility?

    I recommend children do a lot of research by talking with doctors, people who have already gone through elder care, and by reading the growing literature on the challenges of care-giving before making a sweep commitment.
  • May 24 2011: Parents are a important part of life. I would take care of them as we do when our kids are born. They have given us their precious years of life by taking care of us and now it's our turn to take care of them.
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    May 24 2011: My response is simple, I did care as much as possible because I owe my existance what I am today to them. Yes I faced challenging situation with all their natural old age ailments and my hyper busy professional life, but not sure whether I could do as much they did for me once.................... I only can say I tried ....... but eventually lost them..... so still think could I do a bit more ? Though they did not had that much expectation. Well my family, friends, colleagues, well wishers also helped me a lot in my effort, without them it was not possible whatever I did for them ...... deeply indebted to them I am
  • May 31 2011: Spend as much time as you can with your parents, and if needed in the future hire some help. I watched my mom and aunt take care of their mother refusing to put her in a nursing home. It tore them to shreds. I think if I were getting older and suffering and falling behind, I would want my children to hire some help, so all they have to do is be there for me emotionally. I do not want my children to have to carry me everywhere I go.
  • May 29 2011: Mother... We should remember till our Death...she show the world to me.. I miss her When i was 13, on that time i don't know the feeling.. but i realize some time it pain in my hearts some sessions. when i saw my friends mom take care about my friends. .. Don't give up Mary, She need your affection and love on this time.. to get cured. I wish god give her fast healing.. Remember you will be also one day a mother. Just spend the time with her and discuss about when your kid how she was managing.. Surely it will give her some boost.. and keep the word i am with you.. it will make her feeling good..
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    May 28 2011: This is a painful issue for any adult child to face. Cultural differences play a role in how we confront this issue but also available health care. A further significant influence is the sort of relationship you have had with your parents. I'm not going to weigh in on the bigger question but more specifically about the wonderful "universal health care" that Canada offers. I have considerable experience of both the Canadian and British systems, their supposed universal health care. To be fair I have to say that there have been some examples of exemplary care, particularly some individuals that have tried to overcome the immense limitations of a flawed system. But, and this is the crux of the matter, what Canada offers to it's elderly is not health "care" and more closely resembles systematic abuse. Prisoners receive more consideration, attention and support than our elderly. The system is underfunded, not fit for purpose and provides ghettos of death and decay for the elderly. They are understaffed, hugely undertrained and the wages are appalling. The same is true in the UK and probably in other countries too. Residents of care homes sit in their own waste for hours, sitting staring into their bleak future starved of real human contact, mocked and barely tolerated by many of the carers who are doing this work because it is all that they can do, the bottom of the employement ladder. ..
    The best thing you can do for your parents is to care for them yourself, nothwithstanding the substantial sacrifices this entails. Failing that, insulate yourself and them from needing to rely on their government to be compassionate by saving money for this time. Money allows you to get help, keep them at home perhaps or pay for potentialy better, private care.
  • May 28 2011: I guess what we do with our aging parents is partially decided by our culture. I come from Egypt, putting parents in homes is not an option, though it exists on a very small scale. We have a rather strong sense of responsibility toward our parents based on love and emotions rather than duty. I must also say that not only children help, but also other members of the family give a lot of support, cousins, etc. which makes a real difference. what a great feeling to believe that you are not at risk with aging, one positive aspect about being part of Middle East and its realm of unrest :)
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    May 28 2011: well if i got a good bank accont, ill send my parents to a peaceful, clean environment country like that case as time pass and age old they may have peace of mind. anyway not specifically singapore it depends on my parents taste of tranquil environment. well on the otherside i can visit them in singpore they have this almost 2 months mall sale and the cheeseburger in Mcdonalds are quite huge ( patty? or the price? cant tell ... ) hehe - peace!
  • May 28 2011: I was a caregiver to 5 relatives and two very close friends, one being my soulmate, she died at the age of 47 of breast cancer....I was her sole support the whole 7 years of her fight with the disease, her family could not handle it! My mother died of lung cancer in 1974, I moved in with she and my dad to care for her until the end. My husband and two children stayed at home, an Aunt came to help out for a couple of months, she was a Godsend. As the years passed, other Aunts and Uncles needed care, I loved them all so much, I just automatically took on overseeing their needs, on top of working full time and continuing to raise my children and keep up my home. Three died in my arms, the rest all passed away within my sight....I had a difficult time letting go. Since then I had to have my little Beagle dog put to sleep, I cared for her with her Hepatitis the last 5 years of her life. It has been 2 years I have grieved for her, so I finally gave in and adopted a little Chihuahua who won't leave my side, I love it! I still watch over my 76 year old brother and my husband and I take care of each other...we are now the OLD ones. I felt I needed to add my two cents worth after reading what some wrote.....we have spoken to our children and since they watched me care for so many over the years, we have decided to stay in our home of 40 years already, they will watch over us until they feel they can't any longer, then get in home care here...overseeing our care. We are fortunate that we saved over the years by living life frugally instead of overspending. Young people today should be saving their money for the unexpected future, this needs to be emphasized by parents with young children. I cared for so many out of love, that is the crux of what family is. If the love isn't there, plan for a future in a nursing home..and it won't be one of your choice, it will be someone else's choice!
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    May 25 2011: I've just put my mother in a 'residential care home'. As she tells everyone, i 'Just dumped her there'. She says this because she cant remember what she did half an hour ago, let alone the process that my sister and i went through with her to find the place she would be best cared for. As she had a serious fall, a stroke , and also now a form of dementia that I'd call galloping it's come on so quickly, we've had very little time to 'do the right thing' by our mother.
    i wanted to take care of her myself. I've been a carer for seriously dammaged children, and am still a carer for my 33 yr old downs daughter. I felt that at least i knew what i was letting myself in for. However, I don't own my own home and it's too small to add mum into. I don't have much of an income either (because I'm a carer!) and everyone told me NOT TO DO IT! My Mother being the frst to say firmly "i wont be a burden to any of you".
    Now she's in a building she loves (an ex architect; buildings , not people!) but with people all on the downward slope with very little conversation she wont have heard very often already. i grieve. I grieve for her as she used to be, for the caring i wanted to give her but also knew that I shouldn't if i wanted to have any life at all. I grieve also for the process by which she must now pass.she 's gone form being a stickler for cleanliness to not washing. Incontinence has begun. She cant hold an intellectual conversation with more than one person at a time. She cant understand the TV. cant see people's faces well, and cant make sense of print anymore . She already shouldn't be moved from this place because adapting to any new environment is so difficult. She said, before this got quite so bad "you should have me put down."
    I know how she feels. Whoever cares for you, suffering from dementia is a very undignified way to go.
    I grieve for my children who will have to go through something like this with me.
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      May 26 2011: Thanks for your post, Anna. I can relate to the grief you feel about what's happening to your mother. My dad had Alzheimer's and my mother took care of him at home until the last 90 days of his life. It took a toll on her health. She later had a severe stroke and that deteriorated into dementia. She lived in care facility in my sister's town a couple hundred miles from where I lived. The first two or three years when I visited her I could communicate with her in a limited way and take her out for trips and treats. It tore me up each time when I left, and on the long drives home I grieved. But, inevitably she deteriorated to where she no longer recognized me, and my presence held her attention for shorter and shorter times. Toward the end my presence had no impact on her at all, and she simply lived in her own small mental world; she tossed and turned in bed picking at her clothes and opening and closing her mouth wordlessly. My feelings had turned to anger and frustration at not being able to do anything at all to relieve her torment or to affect events. I became a spectator and no doctor or nurse could -- or would -- do anything either. When she finally died my grief had already been spent. An inevitable end had been reached, but it had been a journey too long and with too much suffering along the way.
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        May 26 2011: Hi david, it seems as if this loss of self is also part of the journey, as is our loss of who the parent is. In reality the parent lives on as we remeber them as children and young people I suppose.
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    May 24 2011: Old people's home.

    Or I'll by her a cottage and pay for a carer.

    But I'll probably be too broke so old peoples home.
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    May 18 2011: Mary...As long as I am ambulatory, I can hire help and depend on some wonderful neighbors. When I become totally disabled then I have Long Term Care Insurance and if that runs out then unless I am on the public dole I will die.