General Question

BeckyKytty's avatar

When your parent gets old enough to need assisted care, is it the responsibility of the child to give up their life and move back home and take care of them?

Asked by BeckyKytty (430points) June 8th, 2011
27 responses
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snowberry's avatar

It depends. If you want to, yes. If you do it out of duty, and resent them because you are doing it, no.

If you have to put them in care, it’s best to keep them in the same city where you are. The reason is that way you can see them often (minimum of once a week), and you want to make sure they are being cared for properly. I have worked in assisted living centers, and the biggest thing for the residents is loneliness because so many of their children set them up and see to all their “comfort” and physical needs and then disappear.

chyna's avatar

I’ve just been through this with my mom. The answer is no, you can’t give up your life. But you can do as much as you can to get the best caregivers you can find. And in doing that, you are going to have to check on them often. It is much easier to do if you live near your parents. If you don’t, that still doesn’t mean you have to give up everything. There are a lot of other options. You can have them find an assisted living place near you, or near where they live now. This is also depending on the kind of money they can afford to spend on their caregivers.

WestRiverrat's avatar

No. The parents are usually easier to move, especially if there are small kids involved. Move them near you, but not in with you unless you want to.

Coloma's avatar

There are many options, and no, you do not HAVE to give up your life. I don’t believe our kids ‘owe’ us anything, but, it is nice when they care enough to pay it backwards a little. lol

I have a good friend, single guy, 55 who cares for his 90 & 91 year old folks who still live independently in their very nice home.

I am very impressed with his caring and gratitude for all they did for him, their only child.

He is remodeling their pool/guest house right now in the event he needs to hire a live-in caregiver.

They are the greatest people, still have their ‘Ancient Age’ on the rocks every night, go to the local ‘Golden Tee’ golf club steakhouse every week. Those 60’s country clubbers know how to party! lol

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

No, especially if the parents didn’t really live up to their responsibilities when raising the children.

bkcunningham's avatar

We are buying my 74-year old father-in-law a house so he can be near us in Florida. His health has been failing and he expressed fear to us when he visited in March. He isn’t an invalid, but he’s afraid of not being able to make it on his own. I think it is the right thing to do. We’d do the same thing for my father if need be. The situation isn’t anywhere near the same with my father though. But, yes, for us personally, it is the right thing to do. Everyone and every situation is different though. Because it is right for us, doesn’t make it right for everyone.

marinelife's avatar

You do not have to give up your life, but you do need to sacrifice a good bit of your time and attention.

augustlan's avatar

Responsibility? I don’t think so. I admire those who do it, but I wouldn’t be able to handle it. It definitely won’t be happening in my family anyway, as my mother and I haven’t spoken in years. As a mother, myself, I really hope my kids don’t do it for me, either. I’d much rather have a professional caregiver (or be in a care home), while my children continue to live their lives with love and passion. Don’t get me wrong, I’d want them to visit me, but not give up their lives for me. I want to continue to be their mother, not their albatross.

creative1's avatar

I would say its the childrens responsibilty to do all they can to provide help for their parents whether it’s in the form of outside help coming in like a nurse or nurse’s aide to care for your parent and help them do what they are unable to do for themselves. I would also say its the childrens responsibility to make sure their parent isn’t being taken advantage of.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I agree with @WestRiverrat exactly! Bring them to you and take care of them in a way that accomodates your lifestyle.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Sometimes parents expect children to move near them and take care of them, when in reality, the parents sometimes need to move into more manageable space. Assets are there to enable independent living for as long as possible. Sometimes parents end up needing care that their children cannot provide without neglecting their own children. Sometimes they end up without assets to provide for their old age.

Often, a visit to either the local Office on Aging (in the US) or a social worker who specializes in elder care can pull together resources that are best for all.

Cruiser's avatar

I am mentally prepared to carry my folks and in-laws to their graves on my back. Least I could do for what they have done for me.

Haleth's avatar

“When your parent gets old enough to need assisted care, is it the responsibility of the child to give up their life and move back home and take care of them?”

Your wording in the question implies that you’ve already made up your mind, or that if you move back home you will resent your parents. I believe that the best way to handle these situations is to strike a compromise. You may want to have your parents move to you so that you can care for them. There are also some options for care which partially take the burden off the caretaking relatives.

About a year ago, I moved back home to live with relatives who have trouble getting around. It worked for both of us because I needed a cheap place to live and they needed help around the house, with errands, etc. There are certain things I can’t handle, but medicare covers home visits from nurses for my grandmother, who needs the help the most. They gently prod her into doing age-appropriate exercises, help her bathe, things like that.

If there are other relatives who might be able to help, you should talk to them about sharing the responsibility. Sometimes I feel unable to keep up with the demands, and I don’t want to be in a position where I resent my relatives. There is a saying, “many hands make light work.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I figure one way or another my parents and other elderly people of my family gave up some of their life for me and it is my duty (even if I don’t relish it) to take care of them in their old age. I know what assisted living facilities can be like and am against them, especially for people who come from cultures where the concept is foreign.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I had always told my parents that they could move in with us if they got to where they needed help.I offered that because I loved them.
Sadly,they both died before I got that chance.

Jellie's avatar

If you have a good relationship with your parents then I think you should do as much as you can for them up to the point where you don’t start resenting them. If this means moving in then do so. It could also mean moving them in with you into an annexe or spare portion along with a care giver.
The reason I say you should is not because you owe it to them but because when they are no more it will kill you that you didn’t do more. I say this from the personal experience of losing a grandfather whom I loved very much but took for granted. I never visited him enough, even when I did I didn’t take the time to sit and talk with him. Now that he’s no more I think every day of how he loved me and cared for me when I was young.

meiosis's avatar

My mother (who has Alzheimer’s) moved into a care home two weeks ago. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make and face, but it was the right one for a number of reasons, chiefly being that her care needs are specialised and I am unable to meet them anywhere near as effectively as the staff in the care home. In moving, she relocated from her old home 100 miles away to the same town that I live in, and is subsequently able to see a lot more of me and her grandchildren than she used to.

She seems to have settled in very well, and is coming round to my house today for tea. Which will be lovely

laureth's avatar

Before the industrial revolution, when people began to live in nuclear families in town rather than on multi-generational farmsteads, this wasn’t an issue. Grandma lived with you and did chores as well as child care when the younger adults were out on the farm doing work, and when she got too old, other people living there took care of her. It wasn’t something you “gave up your life” to do, it was your life, just like farm work.

After the need for workers made it more profitable to work in town than it was to stay on the farm, Grandma became an albatross. But now that the “captains of industry” have decided (in general) that it’s cheaper to outsource all the jobs that paid a profitable enough wage to get off the farm, we’re left living in town and needing to take care of family members on lesser incomes, which isn’t always do-able.

I wonder if the collision between the need of the older generation for care, and the working generation making less money than they need to live independently, will combine – and we’ll go back to some version of multi-generational homes again.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I agree with @MyNewtBoobs . If the parents have not met their responsibilities to their children, i.e. raising them without abuse etc, they abdicate the right to be cared for by the children later. Obviously, it’s never a cut and dried situation, the children need to make their choices on a case by case basis.

snowberry's avatar

Excellent point, @laureth. I would add that you model for your children how you want to be treated. Sometimes they don’t “get it” unless they see it lived out in their own lives. In my case, I told my father that we didn’t have the money to purchase a house, let alone one big enough for all of us and him, but if he bought the home, we’d share our meals with him, love him, and in general, take care of him until he died. We did exactly that. At one point my oldest daughter, her husband, and 2 kids moved in with us because it was that or be homeless. That made 10 people and 4 generations in one home. It was crowded, even for a large house, and they lived with us for 12 months! There was a basket of keys beside the front door to change out the cars in the driveway, a washer schedule, a shower schedule and a kitchen schedule.

During that time we experienced many major life stresses, including surgeries, birth, job changes, major injuries, and my father’s dementia. There was a mess and a problem in every corner, but what inspired me was the commitment and love necessary to make it all happen. In our current home we are already looking at remodeling with an eye to having my in-laws move in with us.

squirbel's avatar

In proper [and civilized] societies, yes, it is the child’s responsibility to care for their elders.

meiosis's avatar

So am I uncivilised, @squirbel?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@squirbel : How convenient for you that you live in such a black and white world. Mine is filled with shades of gray.

krdalton1's avatar

If you’re married and have your own family NO. They had the chance to live their life and you didn’t sign up to be a baby sitter. If I live long enough to be cared for, i will NOT allow my children to take care of me.

Gabby101's avatar

I don’t think anyone should have to give up their life for anyone else, but I think there is a morale obligation to help your parents as much as you can. My mom is, financially, very close to the edge so I have been thinking about this a lot. There are things I am willing to do and things I’m not. I think if you looked back on my childhood, the same could be said for her or my father. They tried to give me what I needed, but they certainly made choices based on what they wanted for themselves. I know other parents who seemed to live their entire lives just to please their children – I always feel those kids owe their parents more, but maybe I am just rationalizing my own choices.

I would also add that if your parents were in any way abusive that I don’t think you have any obligation at all.

BeckyKytty's avatar

Thanx for all your input peeps!
Playing it by ear…



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