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Wow, there are so many things to refer to when thinking of this question...I think the first thing that anyone should be sure about is that they actually know what they are getting themselves into. I do not mean this in a negative way.
My mom is 80 years old and has vascular dementia; COPD; right sided heart failure and a bad right lung. She fell in her apartment about a year and 2 months ago and laid on her bedroom floor for almost 3 days before she was found. Prior to her fall I would visit her twice a week (Monday & Thursday) and oddly enough she fell on a monday night after I came and went, the following thursday was Thanksgiving and she was supposed to go to my sister's house so I didn't go to visit her, and we couldn't get ahold of her. She was found on the floor and her body had started to break down. She was delusional and it took quite a bit of care to bring her back to (almost) being herself.
I have 5 brothers & 3 sisters and when the doctor said that mom couldn't live on her own anymore, all 8 of them said that we should just put her in a nursing home. My husband and I immediately thought that we could bring her to our home and she could live with us and that it would be easy to handle....two of my brothers kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to do that to myself...but we were talking about my mom....
I wish that someone would have told me that mom was never going to be mom anymore and that she wouldn't be able to do hardly anything for herself. We could try to let her do some things but she usually can't remember simple things like how to use a remote control or dial a telephone. I have to shower her because she can't even figure out how to adjust her shower water. My delusion in the whole thing was thinking that she could move in with us, we would make sure she took her medicines and ate well and that she could "retire" in the comfort of our home and she would be happy, healthy and enjoy the rest of her life....
Mom is miserable. No one hardly comes to visit her and she gets mad at me & my husband because we don't spent most/all of our time with her. She wants to join us in all of our travels and gets mad, especially when it comes to going to the store because she wants to go and can't walk more than about 20 feet without having to sit for awhile, so we have to tell her she cannot go (unless we are able to push her in a wheel chair, which I cannot do along with pushing a cart). My husband and I work two different shift so we are very limited on our time together and now with mom, even more so.
She doesn't want to use her oxygen, finds ways to dump her medicine out of her nebulizer, drops pills on the floor so she doesn't have to take them....complains about 95% of the food that we bring to her to eat, things that she LOVED previously she hates now....except sugary foods...
On days when I think I can't take it anymore my husband reminds me that if we put her in a nursing home she won't get the personal care that we can give her. On days when my husband gets upset that she dumps her breathing treatment or gets nasty with him, I have to remind him that he cannot take it personal. She is not the person we knew while growing up (my husband & I have been married 30 years, so my mom was practically his mom). He thinks that when all is said and done, he is going to feel guilty for not trying harder to make her take her medicines or do what she needs to do to stay healthy.
I've read other posts here and can relate to people who feel depressed. I get that way because I'm tired. I don't want to have to shower my mom, I don't want to have to wash her bottom a few times a day, and I find it hard not to get a little angry over losing some/most/all of my freedom. BUT, I won't be the one who feels guilty in the end because even if eventually I have to put mom in a nursing home (because we cannot give her the care she may need) at least I can look at my mom and know that I tried very hard to do what I feel is right and didn't just push her aside as if she didn't matter....because she does. I truly think my mom knows that too because every once in awhile she has a good day and tells me "thank you for taking care of me".
So if any of you can take anything away from my post, it should be that you should be proud of yourself for at least trying to do what's right for whoever it is that you are kind hearted and loving enough to take in and care for to the best of your ability. I think you should know that if you went into this caregiving situation with the love that you have, then really, that's all you need to know and remember.
I hope on my "bad days" I can read this post and remind myself of the same.