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Viewer Responses

Thank You for Your Thoughts

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The following viewer messages were written after the premiere of Caring for Your Parents. To share your thoughts, please visit the Feedback page.

If you want to communicate with caregivers who are in similar situations, the AARP Web site has online forums where you can ask and answer questions, share your caregiving experiences, and learn from others. There's even an online group dedicated to discussing Caring for Your Parents.

 

Many Similarities

I watched this program, thinking that it would pour salt in a wound. I am currently, along with my brother and our families, caring for my 89-year-old mother. My father, who had dementia, died in October of 2007 at the age of 90. We cared for him in their home with the help of a hospice organization.

In the five different family's stories, I saw many similarities to our own situation. Dad couldn't understand why he could no longer drive. My daughter, who was 14 at the time, was helping feed and clean my father. There was a strain on my own family life because of the time I had to spend with my parents.

Watching the program was almost like going to a support group. We all feel very alone in these situations. Very often we don't have time to take care of ourselves, let alone attend support groups. I found it helpful. There are millions of us. Thank you for addressing our situation honestly.

Thank you

Dorothea M.

Three Observations

This was an excellent presentation of a painful subject. Having been mostly in charge of the care of my mother, who suffered from dementia and died in Sept. 2006 at the age of 99, and also of my husband, who died three months later of cancer, I can say "been there, done that."

I know that the show's producers could not cover every aspect of this most complex subject, but should there be any follow-up to this show--and I certainly hope there will be--I'd like to make a few observations . . .

First, an aging parent behaves differently when a child who lives at a distance comes for a visit. When my brother would come to see our mother, she would rise to the occasion, and it would be hard for him to see that she was mentally impaired. Other caregiving children whom I talked to noticed the same situation, and this can cause disagreements among siblings about parental care. "Mom seems fine; why have you put her in an assisted-living facility" etc.

In the section about Charlotte and Lorraine, I think we had the situation where the daughter could not let her mother go, could not accept that her mother was not going to get better and was dying. Lorraine's intense focus on her mother's rehabilitation and disagreements with the nursing home staff would wear anyone out, including Charlotte. This is a sad situation, and I hope Charlotte's physician or a social worker was able to intervene and help strike a balance between rehabilitation and making Charlotte's last years comfortable.

There is another situation that can take a great toll on caregiving children: breaking up the parental home. One of the greatest gifts aging parents can give to their children is moving to smaller quarters, distributing much of their possessions, and discarding the junk. The need to promptly sell a house to raise money for long-term care puts a great strain on all involved and can be a cause of disagreements.

Thus, three thoughts. Thank you again for this fine presentation.

Catharine

Help from Unexpected Sources

I want to thank you VERY much for the 4-2-08 program on caregiving. At present my husband has had Dementia for about 3 years. I have had 27 years of nurse aide work so that has helped some. Sense I have told people of my husband’s illness there has been help coming from unexpected sources. I am gathering all the information I can as I want to keep him home as long as I can. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Mary Anne G.

Exit, Stage Right

I'm buying a gun. No, seriously, I won't go though the trauma that was described on last night's program. I'm 67 and have told my kids that under no circumstances will I be a burden to them. If I get to the point where my mind and body have deteriorated to the extent that I have to be entombed in a nursing home, then I will exit this earth as soon as I get that diagnosis. We can put animals "to sleep" when they get old and are suffering. We HAVE to address this problem. Us old coots are going to bleed this country dry!!! And I will NOT be part of that. Your next program should be how be can END our lives willingly, when the prognosis is simply custodial care. I see expensive operations given to old people--after 80, we should have to live with whatever parts we have or don't have! Life is for the LIVING...not us half-dead old goats. Sign me, "Exit, stage right."

Catherine O.

We Do It Out of Love

I watched this show last night and thought it was fantastic! I was my mother’s caregiver for 6 years up until a month ago when she passed away. I could relate to something from each one the person's story's, it was an incredible feeling. I think it's important for people to understand what we go through and that we do it out of love. Yes there were times where it was hard but there were more times where we would laugh. I wouldn't have traded it for anything. My mother and I were close before she needed my help but we grew even closer as I cared for her. This closeness that we had is easing the pain I now feel. I know that I did everything I could to help her and was able to keep her at home out and of a nursing home. I miss her dearly.

Mary D.

Nursing Homes Do a Good Job

I thought "Caring for Your Parents" was well done and it gave me a lot of food for thought. A couple things about it bothered me. One was that it focused mostly on adult children who were intensely involved in their parents' care and I think that gives the impression that that's what we all should do. I'm my mom's main "caregiver", though she lives in an assisted living place and they really provide most of the care person power. We don't all have the mental, physical, emotional, and financial reserves that the show's characters had, and I think that's just reality, not that we're bad people. Another thing, the show seemed to portray that it was much, much more desirable for these very frail parents to live at home, as if nursing homes are the last resort. I think nowadays many AL and nursing home places do a good job and they offer us adult children an important service of knowing our loved ones are in a safe place with skilled medical staff and some fun activities, and we children can still lead a somewhat normal life and not worry that our parent is home alone and perhaps has fallen or the private aid hasn't shown up. I sometimes have had issues with where my mom lives and with some of the hospitals and rehab nursing homes she's been in, but mostly I'm really grateful that we have these kind of places.

Adele C.

The Benefits of Adult Daycare

I'm a geriatric social worker, and I am sorry to see that you missed a great opportunity to let the public know about the benefits of adult daycare, especially for those caring for their parents at home. The lady who could not leave her mother home for 3 hours--her mom could go to adult daycare. The couple where the mother is frail and the father is confused--the father could benefit from the stimulation of adult daycare (instead of sitting in front of the TV) and that would help his wife. The show communicates that the caregivers have to do everything at home OR stick their parent in a nursing home. Adult daycare is a wonderful option that the program ignored. I have seen seniors thrive when they get into the social environment of a day program. These programs offer so much more individual attention than nursing homes and so much more stimulation than the average caregiver's home!

Joan G.

Our Transformative Moments

Thank you for your enlightening program on a very pertinent subject, Caring for Your parents. Our Dad is 87 this month, recovered from a stroke last year. He is wheelchair bound, in diapers, with partial sight. He is very astute with all his mental faculties. My sister quit her job as a waitress to care for him full time. My brother cares for him at night. (they are single and share the 2 family home with Dad) I left my 6-figure job in New York to be in Ma. full time and help my sister on my days off from my low paying job here. My brother and I support my sister financially in a very meager amount.

Our "transformative moments" have been rich and many and we are glad he is able to be in his home as difficult and life altering as this has been for all of us. My sister is a saint.

Thank you for letting us know we are not alone in our process.

Mary-Ellen S.

How Disappointed I Am

I cried after watching Caring For Parents. I am a 55, almost 56-year-old single black female. I cared for my mother without help until her death in 2006 and now I am alone again caring for my father who was diagnosed with lung cancer. Nowhere in this presentation did I feel that I had a voice, my pain remains unspoken and therefore unheard.

On a daily basis I get up at 6am to begin my caregiving responsibilities before I go to work, calling home every few hours just to make sure that my father is not mistreated by the state paid home attendants .I rush home every evening to resume my caregiving responsibilities before I fall into bed making sure I don't sleep too soundly just in case I'm needed during the night.

I waited all week to watch this segment with the hope that finally someone would tell my story, I cannot begin to express how disappointed I am with the results.

Brenda D.

Please Do More

I watched the Program last night "Caring for your Parents” I am the caregiver of my husband who has Alzheimer's for the past 5 years. I was very pleased to see the different families each having different problems and how stressful it is to all family members, our children and grandchildren and all the other immediate family members it effects. You did a really remarkable job on the program and with no commercials. I liked the panel after the stories and their take on our family life. Thank you for a job well done. Please do more if possible. Thank you AARP also.

Gaynell B.