‘I Put My Own Life on Hold’: Adult Children on the Pain, and Joy, of Caring for Elderly Parents

We continued to work, to raise our two sons and to try to have our normal family routine while going through this difficult journey of seeing the best parents in the world slowly die.

I had to resign in 2016 to take care of mom. Lost income was hard, but losing yourself is worse.

I failed the depression screening in February of 2017 and was told by my doctor I needed to commit myself. I couldn’t because not one family member could commit to taking time off from their jobs to help my mom.

— Martha White, Rogers, Ark.

While keeping mom at home would have been nice, in reality, as her dementia advanced, the benefits for her of being at home decreased as she became less able to recognize her own home and get out.

We placed her in a nursing facility after a fall, and she actually seems to be “living her best life” now, enjoying activities and interacting with the other staff and patients. There are limits to what even the most dedicated family members can do in a home setting.

— Amy Raffensperger, Elizabethtown, Pa.

I was unable to carry out their final wishes to live out their lives at home. After 18 months, the care team was burning out and I was having to rely on agencies, which charged $50 per hour.

I moved my parents from their home near Yosemite to a group home around the corner from my house.

Dad died seven days later, and mom eight months to the day after that.

I carry some guilt for moving them, but remind myself that for their last Christmas, my parents were surrounded by family.

— Doug van Aman, Reno, Nev.

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