My first post here...I guess I'm just venting.
I am the caregiver for my cousin. This was an unexpected turn of events after having moved in with her ten years ago after my divorce. I had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a list of other heart-related ailments and I was hesitant to live alone. When we discussed me moving in with her, she shared her home was in need of help and she was overwhelmed by it. Still feeling the pinch of a divorce I didn't see coming, I jumped at this opportunity...my need to be needed was a strong factor. She wasn't kidding. The house I'd never seen before was in deplorable condition with a fair amount of hoarding going on. I fancied myself as the solver of all her problems and invested most of my available cash into home improvement...thus creating my own trap. I thought I knew my cousin, her personality traits and what made her tick, but I was so wrong. Even before dementia, I discovered she was head-strong and single-minded and very used to doing things her way, having never married. Fast forward ten years and we are dealing with her dementia. As you might expect she asks the same questions repetitively but when I provide her with an answer, she argues with me that I'm wrong. I find I have to justify every answer, providing proof to support what I'm saying. Finally, I convince her and then ten minutes later we're having the same argument. The hoarding has gotten worse, much worse; though it's mostly confined to her areas of the house. It still bothers me, though. There's no way I can invite someone here socially. Her driving is terrible, but she refuses to give it up. She doesn't think she has a problem. She's had three minor accidents when I haven't been with her, so I try not to let her drive alone...but I'm scared to death to be in the car with her. So many people describe the behavior they deal with as a toddler having a temper tantrum. That's exactly what she is like. She seems to wake up in a bad mood and just get progressively more miserable as the day progresses. To make matters worse, I'm too sensitive for my own good. Even though I've heard thousands of times not to take it personally, I often do. I try to get time to myself but that proves difficult. If I go to a friend's house for a visit, she's on the phone numerous times, angry because I'm not there. I have a little craft area in the basement and I truly am happy there...but reality follows me down. She's down the steps often telling me she can't find the milk, can't turn the computer on, etc, etc. Or comes down to read me a newspaper article...any excuse not to be alone upstairs. She can't live alone as she can't manage the simplest of things like using the microwave, the phone, the TV remote, etc. She is also financially dependent on me, we are both on fixed incomes and are not well off financially. So here I am in a trap of my own making. I can't leave her and live with that guilt as I think back to the days when she invited me to move in with her thinking she would be my caregiver. But living with her is taking a real toll on my health...avoid stress my doctors say...little do they know! I don't have that same connection you have with a spouse or a parent...I'm not linked by that kind of love. I don't know if that makes it better or worse, but it feels worse. This is my first post here. I've been lurking for a while now. I haven't even asked a question...I guess I'm just setting the scene and venting.