I've lived on west coast for nearly 40 years-my family lives on the east coast. Over the years my parents have developed health issues; now my mom has CHF and her prognosis is not good, My dad suffers from Parkinson's & is wheelchair bound but healthwise he's in better shape than her. My brother, their POA, retired to become their PCA and he has some but not nearly enough help. I'm still working and want to retire within the next year. I've held off because I need a knee replacement operation & I want to have it done while I have full medical coverage (which I won't have upon retirement). I'm in my early 60's, so I'm not eligible for Medicare yet.

My mom has been in/out the hospital several times within the past 8 months & I've traveled back east several times this year to spend time with her. I was just with her two weeks ago (she was hospitalized at the time). I called to check on her today only to get a tongue lashing from my aunt about how I should be there helping out, how my mother traveled to see me when I had medical issues, now it's my turn, you've only got one mother, other words the essential guilt trip. While I'm not hands on care, I do take care of my parent's account finances but I am aware that my brother has the difficult job because he's on call 24 hours.

Now I really feel guilty, torn, indecisive....... should I take a LOA for a couple of months or should I move up my surgery date (from Jan to Nov). I want to be there to support my family yet take care of my responsibilities as well. My orthopedic surgeon, back in April, told me to get the replacement done sooner than later-I should've had it done over the summer, but I waited in case my mom's health condition changed for the worse.

thanks for letting me exhale a bit............

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I guess your Aunt views being an adult child as being a relationship that is reciprocal with being a parent.

It's not. She is wrong.

Your parents did their job caring for you and launching you into adulthood. You pay that forward, to the next generation, not backwards.
Helpful Answer (18)

Don't ever let a guilt trip be your impetus for doing something! Your aunt was way out of line with what she did and it's too bad you didn't hang up on her. What is SHE doing for her sister?? Are YOU calling HER with a guilt trip, by the way, for what she's 'not doing but should be'? Ridiculous.

Call and ask your BROTHER what he needs from you. That's what I'd do. Let him know you need a knee replacement first, and then you're free to help out once you've recovered. Leave auntie out of the convo entirely, and keep it between you and your folks' primary caregiver, your brother.

It's also a good idea, imo, to speak to your brother about hiring help inside the home for mom & dad now. Giving HIM a break and respite from all this caregiving he's doing. And/or looking into Assisted Living for both of them, if they're not too far gone for that lifestyle. It's good to have all the options lined up before a crisis hits or he's burned out to a crisp and ready to collapse.

Wishing you the best of luck getting your knee done SOON and moving forward from there.
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The first thing you should do is pick up a phone and give your aunt who clearly doesn't know the whole situation (the ones who make calls like that usually don't), a call and tell her to go pound sand.
Then explain to your sibling that you have to have knee-replacement surgery and cannot become a caregiver to your parents right now because you are literally physically unable to.
Really your parents with their conditions belong in assisted living with private aides hired to help them additionally.
It's certainly not fair that your brother has to become a nurse to them both. There are actual nurses and caregivers who do that work for a living. Please talk to him and your parents about the possibility of them going to assisted living.
Then go and have your knee replacement. The longer you wait the worse it is.
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woe8myte, please note that a senior citizen should NOT be a caregiver to an older senior citizen. I was helping my folks [not hands-on] and it was exhausting at my age. Plus my parents kept viewing me as their "kid" like I was still 25 years old with a ton of energy.... bet that is what your Aunt was doing to you.

When it comes to retiring from a career, work for as long as you can. I retired at 75 and I was so grateful for those extra years. My boss was 85, and he could run circles around anyone much younger. The business closed when my boss passed from covid.

I've been retired for 2 years and I hate it. My mind is slowly going to mush. I know I am not as sharp as I was when I was working. Oh how I miss the office meetings, chatting with co-workers, the research, I would have worked for free just to keep my mind active.

I assume your brother is a senior himself, or close to that age. Note that up to 40% of family caregivers die leaving behind the parents they were caring. Not good odds. Time for you and your brother to figure out the next step. My Dad went into senior living and he enjoyed his time there, loved being around people of his own generation and all the new ears to hear his stories :) Dad used the equity in his house to pay for senior living.
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A tongue lashing from your aunt. Lol. You are in your sixties. Old enough to tell your aunt to f--k off and to mind her own damn business.

Let's face it at their ages your parents health crises are just going to keep coming.

It is impossible for you to keep traveling to see them for every single one and for every crisis. Plus you are no spring chicken yourself to be their caregiver and keep putting your own health and medical needs last. Your well being matters too.

Shame that your also elderly brother is being burdened to help out when he probably has his own issues. But such is the case with fear, obligation and guilt.

You all should have a conversation about parents needs vs expectations and what their plan is as their health fails and their ability to take care of themselves degrades. Elderly children shouldnt be their backup plan.

Good luck.
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TNtechie Sep 2022
Lay off the FOG with every person that WANTS to care for a parent. I agree the aunt gave her a guilt treatment but everyone who WANTS to help their patents is not motivated by guilt. I LOVED my parents and was grateful for the life they launched me toward and at times assisted me with. I did not want to see them struggling in their old age any more than their declining health imposed, so I spent my time and affection visiting and taking care of stuff for them even as vascular dementia and spinal stenosis degraded their lives. Guilt was not a motivator in my case. Guilt is a motivator is MANY cases (to some degee) but not in EVERY case!
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If you are not in a PT program, I highly recommend you get in one soon. My mom was in water walking before her knee replacements and sailed through the rehab because "she didn't need to build strength and endurance, just focused on truly rehabilitating the knee".

I would also recommend getting the surgery in Nov. You're going to need a walker or cane for 2-4 months so unless you are able to stay in the house or you live in an area that doesn't get snow, that is more complicated in winter months. If you are like my mom, not living with constant pain and swelling in the knee will give you so much more energy.

As far as visiting with your parents, you can probably travel comfortably 4-6 weeks after surgery. You may be able to assist with light housekeeping and cooking chores too, but don't overdo.

When I was taking care of my parents, I had one brother who didn't do a lot of the hands on caregiving, but he did listen and help with caregiving decisions and did just about anything I asked that he could, like take my car to get new tires or pick up mom's medicine or help me get mom in the car for a trip or take some papers to the attorney. Having his support in what he could do was invaluable to me.
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notgoodenough Sep 2022
PT prior to surgery like knee replacement or hip replacement makes recovery so much easier!
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I, too, am a long distance caregiver. My sister never married, no children, lives in FL, I am in SC, a nine hour drive. I share DPOA and MPOA with my sister’s long time friend, she has become primary caregiver. We started this journey back in 2018 when I got a call from a hospital in FL, stating sister was there but she needed someone at home with her. I had just begun Chemo for Ovarian cancer. Husband and I went to FL and got her settled back in her house till other POA was able to return to FL. That was the beginning of her horrible journey. Sister is now in MC and in Hospice care. I do handle all finances and paperwork. I do what I can to help with care, but I also beat myself up because I cannot do more. She is 81, I am 74. My husband and I are there as often as we can and now my husband has developed issues that forced us to limit our trips.
Don’t let another relative make you feel guilty. Have they walked a mile in your shoes? Do they who complain even know the complexities of being a caregiver? Thoughts and prayers for you and your family.🙏🏻💜
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I’d encourage you to never listen to another tongue lashing again, no one needs or deserves that. If you don’t want to hang up, “accidentally” drop the phone until she’s run out of steam and have a nice dessert, then say goodbye, but I’d just hang up and give her someone to gossip about.
Truth is, we’re not much good to others when we haven’t properly cared for ourselves and there are no gold medals for self neglect. Ask your brother for other ways you can help long distance, maybe you can arrange grocery delivery or something else useful
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bianca12 Sep 2022
Love the “there are no gold medals for self neglect”
Aunty is stressed. Let her rant, let her get angry, however hear what she has to say and take it out of the "blame" context. Thank her for her time and concern and let her go.

Exchange your "guilt" feeling for a "concerned" feeling. Talk to your brother. See what he recommends. Come up with a plan for your parents, together. If available, offer to help from afar. For instance, my sister can do research, set up appointments, etc from a different state. She is there when I need to vent. However, remember, don't make day-to-day decisions unless he agrees to them first.

Yes, move up your surgery. No time is a better time. There will always be a reason for delay. Before you know it, the excuse will be that "I want to enjoy the holiday season."

Plan and organize for the future. Don't think too much about the what ifs. Plan for the 50% possibility. I notice that as I got older, it got harder to make decisions primarily because I was overthinking everything. Sometimes you just "got to cut bait and go".

And last, have faith and confidence in yourself, that you can handle whatever life throws in your way. Don't feel guilty, just acknowledge the error in your thinking and move forward.
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I was on a different coast than my parents with a family and job. I did help financially, phone direction of caretakers, and visiting as often as possible as they weakened .Thankfully, no intrusive relatives like your aunt. Parents were not guilt inducing. I had suggested they move closer to me, my father refused until mom was too sick to care for him! Too late sadly.My regret is not spending more time with my mother previously, estranged from my Dad, often. Do what you can, take care of that knee. There will be more to do down the line. Do help your brother as much as possible and reasonable at this time. Next time hang up politely on your aunt. Times and circumstances are different than in the past. We build lives farther apart. This has it’s good and bad effects.
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