When our kids are growing up and consuming every last second of our time, not only do we get the payback of watching them explore, grow and learn about their environments, but we also get to claim them as a deduction on our taxes for the year! Even if they are born on the last day of that year, they are a deduction.
My son did not cooperate with that one, waiting instead to be born on January 2nd…. Oh well, I guess he still turned out to be a keeper…….
But later in life, we can find ourselves slaves to another ‘dependent’; one that does not necessarily come with ‘deduction’ status. That would be Mom.
Many people find themselves becoming slaves to their parent’s lives; getting over-wed to the obligations of caring for an aging parent and putting their own lives on hold.
And why is that so dang hard??? Why so exhausting?
If your mother and/or father are filling your days with demands, negativity and suspicion, it can leave you feeling totally drained and inadequate. When you can’t seem to get everything done, you are left feeling that you didn’t get anything done. Then, Mom may be angry or Dad may express disappointment which only make you feel more inadequate!
It can rapidly become a vicious cycle that feels like it is consuming your entire life.
Years ago, families could take care of an elderly loved one through the end of life. It usually lasted several weeks to months and then the difficult times were over. You could take your mother to live with you for that last month or two and cope with a situation that was not likely to last very long.
But with the advances in healthcare people are living much longer but also much frailer than they used to. The medical management of chronic conditions can take us well beyond a couple of months time. People are living at home with all kinds of medical intervention; it’s no longer just the occasional oxygen. It’s helping with trips to the doctor, climbing in and out of the car with the walker or wheelchair and learning to do things that the ‘nurse’ used to take care of.
And being frailer, there is an increased demand on the physical care needs as well. Help with the house, yard, grocery shopping and meal preparation. Mom or Dad may even start to need help with bathing and dressing.
Then there are all of the financial and legal matters that you may need to get on top of. Trying to find out if there is a Will, Power of Attorney, Advanced Directive; and if they exist, where are they and what do they say? If they don’t, you may find yourself trying to get your parents to get them done before it’s too late. You may need to discuss the financial situation and try to help your parents manage their assets as best you can. And doing this all with parents who really don’t want to talk about it and don’t want to be a ‘burden’!
It’s enough to make even those of us that know the industry inside and out, take a deep breath and just hang on for the ride; keep putting one foot in front of the other, figuring out the next best action and then doing it.
Most caregivers spend 8-10 years or more providing this care. That’s a long time to be exhausted!
To put some icing on that cake, you may also be dealing with communications from your parents that make you feel guilty and as though what you are doing is just not right or not enough. Many elderly people become very manipulative in their behaviors, which is a challenge in itself; it’s not you, it just is.
You may not get a tax break for all that you do, and you may not get the appreciation that you would like to have so I urge you to get some support! Find a place to unwind and a person to listen. Take some ‘me’ time if you can. Share with us here so that you will know that you are not alone and that it is OK to feel frustrated.
So, what do you find the hardest part? Are you ‘under suspicion’ (a very common problem with early dementia)? How do your parent’s depend on you and how are you coping?
On the journey with you…….Kathy