Daughter mother and grandmother are spending time together

Becoming a caregiver just happened

I was 23, had a five year old and a 2 month old. My mother was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and her “husband” decided he didn’t want to clean up crap, and I was already an “expert”. Sadly, she passed away 2 months later, and her “husband” left before her funeral. Look ahead 30 years later, and it was my turn at stage II colon cancer, and my two girls were thrust into being my caregivers. My oldest had three little ones under 10, including a newborn. My hope is that the pattern doesn’t continue. But … if it does, I know my grand daughters will pull their sleeves up and take care of their mom, too. – Joyce

It just happened, my sister asked if I wanted to quit my job to take care of mom and I said yes. I had 5 great years with her before she passed. ? – Terry

I went to visit my mother after I graduated high school and her caregiver said “oh thank god you’re here” and left and never came back!! So I got thrown into the role and did it for 10 years!! – Koren

It happened but i am thankful because no one would’ve took as good of care of them as me. God bless the staff at their nursing home. – Stacey

Just happened as my grandmother got financially destroyed by her youngest child/son! Her place was so in ruins & she was fallin fast in her health dementia/alzheimer’s! Its been a constant uphill battle not only with having to redo her home, but taking care of her & her health! Its 6am to midnight daily! I agree, we are so tired, my wife is now by my side through this journey! Never give up! ?☝???☝?❤️ – Duane

My 26 year old daughter requires 24/7 care now due to Muscular Dystrophy. She does have nurses, but I am also a care giver for her. I had to give up my career. I love her more than anything in the world – but I will be honest – I am tired. I am 63, went through breast cancer treatment two years ago. I can’t afford the medical coverage or the medications. I have about $8000 worth of dental work that needs to be done. I took care of both of my parents until they passed. I have taken care of everyone through the years and not having any brothers or sisters – I have no one to take care of me. Yep. I am tired. – Debi

I was 25 newly married and my mother was getting lost driving to the same job she had for 20 years. 3 years later I’m sitting here frustrated I can’t get the stupid railing together from her falling out of bed. She doesn’t even know I’m her daughter these days. – Shanna

It just happened for me, when my husband had an accident and lost his job and went into severe depression. Neither of us asked for it. We don’t really want it now, either, but we have learned to accept. We are some of the lucky ones, as we are doing things that we love. Hubby potters in his garden, and in his shed making things. I do some sewing, making things for family and others. But, oh my, the years have taken their toll. Hubby’s physical health has taken a battering, and my physical and mental health has too……after all the stress of having to make some very big decisions on my own, which was new to me. We are coming out the other side, not sure of what the future will be for us, yet. Hubby is nearly retiring age, but I do hope his mental health continues to improve. – June

It just happened, I was a friend and saw someone needed help. I think God puts people in our lives for many different reasons and this must be the reason I’m there. – Mary

In my case, it just happened. I’m blessed that I am able to stay full time with my dad which enables him to stay in his home. My mother is in a nursing home and we visit daily. – Marie

An old roommate suggested I try in home care and that was 3 years ago. Now I’m HCA certified working towards CNA. – Jean

My son was born with a rare genetic disease; and now he is 22 years old and he is living at home and I was awarded the privilege to be his full time caregiver. – Brenda

It just happened. My husband had 2 strokes one week apart. I wasn’t prepared. – Tanya

It just happened….although frustrating at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Blessed to still have all these moments with my mom. – Penny

At a early age I had to take care of my little brother ,then my great Grandma, just over the years I became a CNA and Caregiver. – Anna

My husband became a wounded veteran. Life happens. We don’t choose for illness, disability, or old age to remove ability to daily living activities. It just happened to all of us. – Mary

When I got married and spoke my vows “In sickness and in health for richer or poorer until death do us part”. It’s been 8 years since my Bill’s illness and 5.5 years since he passed away. I had no help and held down my full-time job in the process and I was his primary caregiver and I’d do it all over again if I had to. – Lucy

It just happened! I did work as a caregiver and companion for the elderly about 11 years ago. Here I am doing it for my husband, and soon my mother. – Donna

My daughter was fell ill five years and was undiagnosed two of the five years. We found she had a rare genetic syndrome. She was only 13-1/2 at the time. Normal child until then. Something came and took her in the night…it seems. Sad, we try all the time to help her come back to us. But it is as if she is missing and everyone called off looking for her because she is rare and in a league of her own. I must cry every single day. The amount of daily grief is almost unbearable. But even worse is knowing how much she has lost. How much she suffers. How very hopeless the future looks. We just keep moving forward and praying for answers. Praying for her to recover. Praying for her not to suffer. It’s not as if I can say she lead a long happy life…ugh. This is her story and she is my hero. I pray God gives me the strength to continue walking with her until we get back her life. – Faith

It just naturally happened and was such a blessing. It allowed me to have more time with my best friend. Even on the hardest days, it helped me grow. Then God chose him to go to heaven. This is much harder now not being one. – Christy

Just happened found out my son had muscular dystrophy at 5 but our lives changed most at 9 when he lost the ability to walk. And now he is 20 and full time care. But I wouldn’t change a thing. This world could not handle my boy on his feet the place would be on fire. His wheels keep him grounded. – Erika

Just happened when hubby got cancer and now terminal. Then Mom got sick, too, and lives with us. So I have two now. – Cathleen

It happened when my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimers 4 years ago. We don’t have any kids so I am the one who is here for him. – Lynne

It just happened when my husband’s dementia was diagnosed and got worse. I love him and would do anything for him “till death do us part”. – Jenny

Caregiving just happened. I was 12 when my mom had her first massive heart attack and open heart surgery. When I was 18 I became a live in caregiver for a lady and lived with her almost 7yrs. Afterwards I became a live in for another lady for almost 4yrs. I just went from one person to the next leaving no space between patients and began caring for another woman for 2 1/2 and am currently a live in since Jan for another lady. This just seems to be my life’s purpose. I’m not married and have no children just a long list of “lil old lady loves” and wouldn’t know what to do if my life didn’t revolve around caring for someone. – Cameo

Just happen this time, my mother-in-law had a stroke, we moved in with her to take care of her, she now is in stage 3-4 dementia. I have been a caregiver 3 other times in my life to family members. – Diane

It just happened slowly. My husband stated to decline and I was there. 20 years later I am still taking care of him and trying to work part time. Not how we pictured our “Golden Years”. – MaryBeth

It just happened, hubby had a stroke July 2015, I didn’t even think about it, it was a given that I would give up my career to care for him, no way was I putting him in a home, hospital. Staff and social worker said I was “MAD” but I married him in sickness and in health, till death do us part! It’s hard at times but love him with all my heart! – Pauline

Becoming a caregiver was a choice

My husband and I made the choice to take care of his mom. She passed this past Dec. We are now helping out with my mom. You just do what you know is the right thing to do! – Linda

I decided to care for my mom. It was a difficult process but it was the greatest gift I gave myself. – Leuqar

Both I chose to marry my husband in a wheelchair, I chose to be a foster mom to possible special needs child and is getting more complex days before his adoption where we commit to be his forever home. – Kirsten

I made the decision to marry my husband, my prince, my best friend. Knowing that I would have to take care of him. Never occurred to me how much work it would be. Some days I’m physically and mentally and spiritually drained. But I made my vow. – Stephanie

I decided! I gave up nursing school to be the voice and the grunt of the people! I am a helper and always will be! – Michelle

I was an only child, who cared for her parents as they aged, while working full time in a high stress career, managing three daughters and helping in their lives, and married to my hubby, who already had parkinson’s. my parents passed, 5 years apart, while my hubby’s health deteriorated. he had a triple bypass and ablation (MAZE) procedure; later, a deep brain stimulator, shoulder surgery, etc. i retired early, 3 1/2 years ago to care for him. he was no longer able to do his own meds (things kept getting missed or screwed up), and getting his own meals (even after i prepped them) was too much for him. since then, he’s been diagnosed with “mild to moderate” dementia, probably from his parkinson’s disease. that explains much of the losses we’ve seen in his abilities. so, it “just happened”, but this part was anticipated. some days i think his disease is killing me faster than it is him, but we just keep marching on. – Marilyn

I was blessed 21 years ago with the very house next door to the one I grew up in. My Dad, Mom,& Grandmother still lived there. My grandmother then needed round the clock care and I stepped in because I knew it was hard on my mom with her own health problems but she helped where she could. I took care of her to the day she died. I took on a job caring for a woman who was a bit difficult for anyone else but she took up to me real quick, she was 103 at the time and was my dearest friend, I adopted her as my grandma and we were 2 peas in a pod, she passed away right before Christmas last year at the age of 105, I miss her. Then my parents and sister needed more and more care as their health deteriorated, my sister passed away last year on 2/18/2016 which was my other sisters birthday and my dad passed away days later on 3/1/2016 which is my mom’s birthday, we were robbed by our neighbors while we were standing in the room with my dad as he passed, then my mother’s health had gotten so bad this last year I am on 24 hour care at her house, as hard as it is to watch her struggle with her copd among other respiratory issues, I know the end isn’t far, I wouldn’t leave her for the world, for in fact besides my husband and 4 kids, she is my world❤ – Genie

I’ve been a hospice nurse for 7 years in SC/NC. I relocated last summer to be near my parents in Connecticut. They are both in their 80’s in great health. With the work I’ve done for years, I understand too well that one event can change everything. I am positioning myself to be available as their needs progress. Although not officially yet, I am choosing to be a caregiver. ❤️ – Kristie

Something happened and I made a choice

Mom was in the beginning stages of dementia for nearly a year when dad got sick and died last year. I am one of 5 kids, but the only one who didn’t own a home – so I was “free” to move in with mom (if by “free” you mean able to break my lease, move further from my kids and fiancee, and arrange a transfer to another job!). But, once the house is sold, mom will be moving in with one of my sisters, so I will be free to resume my life…but close enough to help sis with mom. – Judi

My brother and sisters had spouses and children, I didn’t want them to have to go through worrying as much keeping as much normally as possible, it’s the best thing I could do for my family and I know as much heartache we share they appreciate my decision. – Sophia

It just happened, but I made the choice to take care of my Mom. I could have put her in assisted living years ago but decided to take care of her in our home instead. – Kathy

I was out of work and my neighbor needed help with all types of things. So I would go there and help her. I also helped her with her dog Snowy. Well she had passed away that’s when I decided to become a care giver and I also took her dog so he would still be loved. She wanted me to take care of her baby. Before she pasted I told her that I loved her and I was taking Snowy home. I still miss her so much and so does Snowy we have a new person next store he still cries. – Peggy

I decided to be my mom’s caregiver, but my husband developed pulmonary fibrosis and later had a lung transplant, so no decision there. – Lucy

For me it was something I never thought I would be able to do. But I got a job at a care home and found something that gives me so much fulfillment and purpose. Side benefits are lots of smiles hugs and love. – Lesley

My husband was a incomplete c5-6 quadriplegic when we met. It was something I accepted from the start. About 6 years into our relationship he fell and broke both of his legs losing most of his independence. With this came a lot of health issues. Then in 2015 I decided to be his mothers caregiver too, she had Colon Cancer. Sadly we lost her in Dec 2015. My husband passed away last month. Now I have to learn to care for myself. – Staci

My husband became ill, my wedding vows said in sickness and health till death do us part.. I had been an EMT and an MA so I chose to do it myself, I have no regrets he passed at home March 18, 2016. – Linda

I decided to be a Nurse as a career, and then my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so that both just happened and I made the choice to move from MA to FL to help care for her and my Dad and continue working. – Stacey

I cared for my grandmother, mother and part-time invalid husband (deceased). Later on, when I couldn’t find an office job, it was suggested I become a private caregiver. God made me for this, and I never looked back! Then disability took my career, and now my husband is my caregiver. I am blessed with a caring hubby, but I miss my job. – Sylvia


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Written by Cori Carl
As Director, Cori is an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for people providing care.

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82 Comments

  1. No, but I’ve said that I wouldn’t have NOT taken care of my Dad. I just didn’t know that I’d be doing it for 18 years for him, Mom, a brother, mother in law and now my husband of 51 years.

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  2. Is it a choice? HHMMM I wouldn’t have chosen my grandmother to suffer dementia and blindness in her latter years. I wouldn’t choose for my son to suffer from a progressive neurological condition. I, like many people feel blessed to be able to provide the loving attention and care that I do. At 23, I would have felt differently but looking back I can’t say I did anything more rewarding than what I do now. It’s all about perspective. It is often times far more difficult to be the one dependent on others for every need. Support from other care providers and the ability to be supported financially, making it possible is a critical function of a compassionate society. I am grateful for that. Those that take advantage or are abusive should be routed out and punished severely, each and every time! God is with us! There is infinite opportunity for self immolation and growth when caring for another person for long periods of time.

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  3. No choice. It’s my responsibility to bear.

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  4. I was my Moms caregiver for almost 7 years. For me, I think its just something I just started and did. I didn’t really think about it. She was my Mom and I loved her to the moon. I walked with her until the very end. Honestly, it almost killed me mentally and physically. I was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half before she passed. II had my own health to worry about, but I still put hers first. My choice but I did. I realized this only after she passed. How much time in a day I spent helping, doing, listening, etc. As I look back, I would do it again for her in a minute if I had the chance. Caregiving is something than not everyone can and should actually do. It takes a special/different type of person to do this job.

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  5. I was told it’s my responsibility

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  6. No choice these are my kids now dependant adults

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  7. I a, a nurse and I love it but being an under appreciated servant to aa sick selfish non compliant person for many years not my choice

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  8. Only if you are getting paid for it. Most of us just take on the job by default.

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  9. I’d rather answer this as an only child begging my parents to accept outside help (they refuse) and begging doctors and agencies to please help me as it’s more than I can handle alone, I will never put my child into taking away his choice

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  10. You as a caretaker and the loved one you are caring for do not make the choices to be cared for or the caregiver. It is what you do for who you love. Love does what it does.

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  11. It’s an interesting question. Though life circumstances beckoned me in, I suppose at some level there was an engagement of my will to choose to give care. I could have chosen not to care. For me however, it was not in my conceptual frame of reference not to care. The need was my calling, I could not turn away. Answering that need is my continual “yes” to the silent question.

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  12. It was a choice easily made, my parents needed me and I was there – no choice to make ❤️

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  13. It was at the time, but I would never do it again.

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  14. I am my adult son’s full time caregiver (with my husband to take over occasionally). When I think of something being a ‘choice’, I think that means you would consider whether to do it or not. So no, I didn’t ‘choose’ to be a caregiver. My son was 26, and very critically injured in a car crash, when his friend fell asleep at the wheel. After numerous hospital stays, with some very questionable ‘care’, it became very apparent that the best place for him was at home with us. Now, 10 years later, we know we were right! Amazing progress, much strength and awesome determination!!!

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  15. Generally, I don’t feel it is always a choice. As wives and mother’s we choose to care through vows and our own natural choice to have children. But life steps in sometimes and caregiving may be the only choice for so many different circumstances. Many times we face not having a choice, out of obligation, but not necessarily without love for those we love. We try to adapt to this new normal all the time …no one realizes in the beginning how lonely and isolating it can be sometimes. Plus, as caregivers, we do what needs to be done, never really knowing it’s physical, mental, and emotional impacts or exhaustion on our own health.

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  16. Yes! No question about it. I may not have always showed it but I truly loved caring for my adult daughter after an accident left her a quadriplegic. I’m no longer able to be her 24/7 caregiver due to health reasons , but I oversee her care & do what I can when I can. I really miss being able to care for her in the manor I used to! She’s definitely my hero!!!

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  17. It’s not a choice if it’s your child who’s disabled

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  18. I made that choice the day we said our vows: In sickness and in health !!!

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  19. I was diagnosed by biopsy with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in Jan. 2006. My Doctor prescribed actimmune after my 3rd pulmonary embolism in 2006, I read that people usually die within 5 years. My specialist had me on blood thinners, prednisone and other steroids that I inhale daily. My blood/oxygen is 95% and my main symptom is shortness of breath if I push myself too hard, when this occurs, I just rest.nothing was really working to help my condition.I went off the steroids (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started on Pulmonary Fibrosis herbal formula i ordered from Health Herbal Clinic, my symptoms totally declined over a 5 weeks use of the IPF natural herbal formula. i am now doing very well,Somehow, they managed to keep me alive for 10 years Vi

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  20. I am a professional, independent caregiver, specializing in dementia. I have chosen this as my field, and am trying to start a collective of others in my area, so that we can have a sense of co-workers, can share clients, ideas, books and articles, resources, etc. There is SUCH NEED in every community. I turn down work every week, and do not know anyone to refer people to. Agencies and respite care are always short-staffed. Caregivers at home need help in order to keep balance in their lives and families. This is a tough path on so many levels.

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  21. Yes I think it’s a choice only because some people just run for the hills and don’t bother. They only come back when the person dies and they want something from their property. I am SO lucky that’s not the case with my family. But I have been hearing horror stories about it. I chose to become both of my parents’ power of attorneys for financial and medical decisions. I chose to accept it because really I was the only one who was able to do it. And I chose to stay and take care of them. It almost killed me and now that they are both gone my I’m realizing how much my health suffered. BUT I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have no regrets, I know I did everything possible to keep them comfortable and healthy as long as possible. I know they both know that now. Would I do it again for someone else? No. I couldn’t do it again, it sucks the life right out of you. For them, yes but no one else. I’m not married and I don’t have kids. So now it’s time to take care of me.

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  22. Yes I believe I had a choice . My son who is now 33 has Cerebral Palsy. He had 20 surgeries and many hospitalizations. He is my son and lives with my husband and I. I love him and will continue to care for him.

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  23. I believe that it is a choice. We choose to take care of our loved ones, instead of placing them in a care facility.

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  24. It kinda gets shoved up your ass, then you handle it as best you can.

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  25. It was the choice I made when He & I exchanged vows 07/04/85!!!

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  26. For me, it is and was a choice to care for my mom in my home. It is challenging and stressful but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. She’s 91 now and I’m so grateful to share these sunset years with her. I’ll never regret it.

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  27. not in my case. one minute i was a newlywed and within a second of his doctor diagnosing parkinson’s, i became a caregiver.

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  28. When you love someone you just do it. In a way it wasn’t a choice I made, it was just something I automatically did. When my husband was sick I just did what he couldn’t. Sure you sacrifice part of yourself along the way but think of what they are giving up. There was so much more he had planned for us. So for me it was never a choice it was an honor to make his last years memorable.

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  29. Not a choice for me. I did it back to back for both parents. I understand that my brother lived out of state at the time, but he was never an emotional support for me either and we no longer speak. I was abandoned & isolated by family and (former) friends and I am suffering the consequences of that, and the loss of my parents. I will until the day I die. However, it was an honor to take care of my parents and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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  30. I think it can be both. For me it is not and I am not my mother’s primary caregiver. It’s very hard to let go of the anger and hurt we suffered at her hands as children. Some times when she’s still trying to be that person I don’t let her, but other times when she is like a child it is easier. I think there are a lot of caregivers who are now taking care of parents who were abusive.

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  31. Yes. There is always a choice. If we don’t acknowledge that it is our choice then we are denying our right to claim all the benefits we derive from truly being there for someone else. It’s a hard choice at times but if we’re honest we know it is a choice. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  32. Caregiving sucks you in! You by NO means will leave your loved one(s), but it comes with imprisonment, extreme debt, lose of huge amounts of time, your life is totally lost, lose of friends, family, etc! Its not planned, its consumption!

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  33. Not always a choice. Husband had two strokes back to back. We live ‘too far’ for family and friends, so it all fell on me. I’m able-bodied, and must stop being me, and put every dream on indefinite hold. It sucks. But I don’t get to choose.

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  34. some believe i had a choice but if it happened to them they’d see there was no choice – abandonment is not an option.

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  35. Its a choice to give up youre life for someone else. You choose to live, or give up the one and only life you have.

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  36. It’s not a choice and it was hard, harder than I ever thought it would be – but I would do it all again ❤️

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  37. It didn’t feel like it at the time. I truly felt that I had no choice. All of the other options available to me were unacceptable. I wish that everyone could be caregivers, but with the support they need to do that without huge emotional, financial and physical cost all falling to one person.

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  38. No, but my vows said, “for better or worse,” and in “sickness & health.”

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  39. It’s a choice. Most r confusing it with commitment. I chose to honor my vows

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  40. It’s always a choice. But then one must make a decision.

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    • There is always an alternative, true. But, for many people, the only alternative would be abandonment, which isn’t really a choice at all.

      Reply
    • Kapok Multicultural Caregiving true it shouldn’t be, but that’s exactly what my sons wife did…abandon him. We had to get legal guardianship of him before he became a ward of the state.

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  41. No it’s not. I never asked to be a caregiver nor did I want to do it. It look up every minute of my free time and every last ounce of my energy for the last 9 years of my life. I completely lost touch of who I was as a person. Literally forgot things like my favorite thing to do or favorite food because it didn’t matter. I kept my full-time job (had to because I’m single) plus took care of mom on the side (thankfully, we had a caregiver Mon-Fri almost full-time plus there was my dad),
    and took over the family business in the end. Even though I had other caregivers, there is so much that only a daughter can do plus the sheer emotional weight of it all and sleepless nights. The worst part was the criticism from half-ass friends of hers-ignorant, old, simple-minded ladies who had no idea what was going on yet would talk bad about me IN OUR HOME. Unbelievable. I don’t have kids and I used to judge my friends who would have babies and disappear off the face of the earth for several years but now I know. There is no time, you are drained, and if you somehow get an hour of freedom you just want to be alone or sleep. Caregiving is the hardest job anyone will ever do. And it is an obligation, not a choice.

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    • Susan Steed, I understand what you are saying because I was in the same situation. I moved away from home at age 17 and, for the next 50 years, I was a single working woman living alone; totally independent and enjoying life. Eventually, I returned to my family’s home and purchased a home site at the edge of their property. Had a job, my own place, and parents 150 feet away who became my best friends. Mom died unexpectedly and it soon became evident that Dad’s dementia was progressing rapidly. My brother lived on their property in a mobile home until Dad had to go to rehab for 3 months while mending a broken hip. Before Dad’s discharge, my brother had moved into Dad’s house and told me to “put him in a nursing home where he needs to be”. I took early retirement, obtained a loan to add an appropriate bedroom/bath onto my home, and asked Dad if he wanted to come live with me. He eagerly accepted and I provided 24/7 care for him almost 5 years until he quietly passed away December, 2016 at the age of 96. My brother & his wife own nothing except clear title to a 6-years old vehicle, still lives in Dad’s house, hasn’t spoken to me for years and filed false reports charging me with elder abuse while Dad was in my home. Anyway, you are right, it’s an obligation that always seems to fall on the shoulders of one person while other family members get on with ‘things to do and places to go’ as my brother told me. I loved Dad and miss him terribly but, now that he’s gone, I need to focus on getting back to being me. I know both he and Mom would approve.

      Reply
  42. It’s not a choice by any stretch of the imagination. For me, it was four years of watching my mother, who was my soul mate and best friend, degenerate from a smart, witty, determined woman who loved me with every fiber of her being consumed by dementia, turning her into an incoherent, irrational stranger who frequently resented me because she had to depend on me.

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  43. Not for a person who truly cares about their loved one.

    At least that is my humble opinion

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  44. No, its just something you end up doing its never a planned thing.

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  45. Both times for me it wasn’t. I loved my Gran and she always took care of me. I had to do the same for her. And with my husband.. Again, I love him. Of course I’ll take care of him.

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  46. No it is not a choice by any means. Just like what the people have said, it just happens. I would never wish on anyone to be a caregiver or be dependent on one because of the complex involvement. However I’m not deserting my parents in their time of need either.

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    • So Well Said not only about leaving your loved one, but absolutely agree i wouldnt wish, want, & anything about a caregiver its really imprisonment. ❤️

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    • Thank you Duane! I live by the mantra, accept the things you can not change. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I don’t heed my advice because I’m irritated with my siblings not helping or just my mood at the moment. When I get in those moods I have to tell myself, “A negative attitude makes the situation worse. Keep your head held high and your middle finger higher. Do the best damn job you can!”

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      • Way to go, Tonya! Do the best you can, sleep with a clear conscience and utilize that finger with anyone who tries to change you.

  47. I suppose it is but for me it was not, vows, ……….in sickness and in health.

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    • But you still had the choice to keep those vows or to break them. You chose to honor them. God bless you!

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    • Breaking “vows” is not an option! I couldn’t survive the feeling of guilt!

      Reply

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