Time goes by

My very first post on TMF was in April of 1997, when I was a month or so short of 60 years old. I had given up working a few years before that, as I gradually became the chief caregiver of my parents, my husband’s parents, and my aunt and her husband. My MIL and FIL lived forty minutes or so from us here on Long Island, my own parents lived in upstate NY, and my aunt and uncle lived near Los Angeles. It gradually became more or less a full time job, as one or another of them was always having a medical problem or facing some other sort of crisis.

We’d go upstate on weekends so I could help my father diaper and feed my mother, who had dementia. I’d pay their bills, do their grocery shopping, cook a few meals to supplement my father’s simple cooking, take them to doctors, clean the house, and hire one part time helper after another to aid them between my visits.

During the week, I’d go over to my in-laws to do whatever I could. She was a semi-invalid, mostly in a wheelchair. He was a cantankerous #@*&%! who made things difficult at every turn - a hoarder who made it impossible clean the house, controlling and uncooperative, newspapers and stuff piled high all over, but his emphysema was so bad that he was tethered to an oxygen tank, so I really had to help as best I could. MIL was a sweetie, but really incapacitated.

As for the aunt and uncle in California, I’d fly out there for 5 or 6 days every three months. They had enough money that they always paid for my expenses when I visited. Soon after I started going out there, I helped my aunt place my uncle in a nursing home, where he died three months later. I continued to take care of my aunt for the next nine years(!) as she gradually became more and more senile. For a couple of years I hired helpers for her, but as she became too demented to live alone, I placed her in a board and care home, continuing to visit, take her to doctors and dentist, buy he her few necessities, and manage her finances. Before her husband went downhill, they wrote a trust, with me as successor trustee. After his death, I became trustee, and in fact I still am! The trust won’t dissolve till my death.

So now the tables have turned. It’s thirty years since I became a caregiver. The six of them died, one by one, each presenting me with such a variety of problems and tasks. Don’t get me wrong - a lot of it wasn’t always difficult. And I loved them all, in one way and another.

Now the tide has turned. Suddenly I’m 85, and I’m beginning to feel my age. Now I’m the parent who’s being cared for! One of my three kids, the middle one, lives a block away from me. They eat at my house every day. She does 80% or so of the cooking, half or so of my housecleaning. She drives my car when we go anywhere (I’m still a good driver!) SIL is always doing things I used to do, like shoveling snow, changing lightbulbs, keeping my electronics going. Little by little I’ll be going downhill, although I’m not senile yet. Nothing much wrong with me except old age. And I still have my sense of humor.

Let’s see what comes next.



Trini ~

I cared for my dad and my husband over many years. I just turned 68 and have thought a lot about how I will be cared for. I don’t expect any of my 5 children to give up 6 years of their life to care for me so I live frugally and have a couple of LTC policies that should help me in my home for several years unless I need to go into a nursing home. For nursing home care I figure my policies cover about 4 years.

We do what we can do.

Good luck on this time in your life and may you experience many things that bring you joy!



What an incredibly moving recounting of where you are and the route you’ve traveled. And it resonates personally as well. I turned 80 at the end of July, and I was 57 when I joined TMF in the fall of 1999. At that point I was helping out with FIL/MIL (who lived 10 minutes away) and my parents (who lived in Queens—I live in Manhattan). And my mother was an unappreciative, selfish hoarder who rarely missed a chance to make things worse than they could have been. We were raising 2 kids during this, and I was a freelance science writer working from home. At this point, although I certainly don’t feel 80, I don’t have the energy I’d like to have. I’ve been living with the demands and fallout of my husband’s metastatic cancer diagnosis 11 years ago (now in his 4th year of remission—completely not expected by his oncologist), including some significant treatment side effects and limitations. Also some cognitive loss that doesn’t fit any diagnostic pattern. But he’s still working, which is great. I have a badly deteriorated ankle—no cartilage left, plus bony protrusions—that is scheduled to be replaced Dec 5. Hoping hoping hoping I make a strong functional recovery. And now I’m having a corneal problem after my 2nd cataract surgery (1st one was a breeze). The cells that pump excess water out of the cornea (susceptible to stress because of an inherited weakness) were impaired by the surgical stress from an unanticipated problem during the first procedure, then amplified by the surgery 3 weeks ago to redo the lens placement. My vision is ENORMOUSLY improved compared to where it was 3 weeks ago. But don’t know how much better it will get. Am seeing a highly respected cornea specialist end of next month. And our 2 kids (neither with a partner or kids) live very very distantly, one in Paris and one in Reno. Our daughter is coming in before my ankle surgery and will stay for 6 weeks. And no nearby extended family. And we’re still in the final stages of putting our downstairs back together after hurricane Ida’s flood damage. Stressful year!

So here I was, caretaker of parents and inlaws and then cofounder of this board — and now I’m needing some of that support. Hoping for fully restored vision that remains viable, for a great recovery from my ankle replacement surgery…and then I’ll feel physically competent again and can thumb my nose at 80!



I am just posting here now to help me learn the new format. It helps me tremendously hearing about everybody’s caregiving stories. When I am ready I will share mine.
Thank you.