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I'm newly 26, single, an only child and have been watching over my mom since January of '08. She's diabetic and due to complications with medicines she went into kidney and lung failure (considered a multi-organ failure patient). She was in 3 different hospitals around my area for close to 5 months. We've been living together since after I got out of college. Broke college graduates need a little help sometimes. I had plans to move out and get my own place by 25. Obviously...that hasn't happened with all the medical issues. So now we're living together and I love my mom dearly...I just...I don't know how much more I can take without any support whats-so-ever.

I really just have no clue what I'm doing. Most times I feel like I'm drowning and people know but aren't throwing me a rope.

Most of the people I thought were friends bailed at the first sign that my mom wouldn't be getting better in a week, so I've truly been doing this on my own. No friends. No family. Just typing this makes me feel like crying.

I understand that there are people in this world living off of a $1 a day and that Im in a much better situation than them, but it doesn't make my situation any less than. Does that make sense?

There are depression issues (both with my mother and myself - from this situation not a lifetime battle or anything). There are issues with her wanting to go back to work and me not knowing if she ever will (there's a deadline for that too...two more months and her job will officially let her go since it will have been a year since her last being there, so that = a TON of stress). There is the HUGE issue of the fact that I'm 26 and feel 50. It's hard to be this young, with this much stress and pressure, living with my mom to help her with everything, no friends and definitely no love life.

Half the time I feel as if my mom has given up on trying to get better. Her kidneys are doing well and her lungs are back in working order. She still has a trach in her throat and has no muscle in her body from being in a hospital bed for so long.

So to recap there are HUGE financial issues (don't know how I'm going to manage to pay any of the bills on top of my own bills and her pre-existing bills). I honestly don't know how I've lasted this long. There are EXTREME emotional issues (I find that I'm not the huggy person I used to be...besides other things and of course my mom has her own emotional stuff she's dealing with). Now things are also physical - meaning...I can't sleep, I'm overeating, my shoulders feel as if they're in a vice, etc.

I'm just very lonely. Very sad. Very frustrated. Stressed. Scared. Etc. I'm no fun anymore. I don't have the money or the friends to go out and do fun things. I just want to be "me" again. I want my life back.

Please help. Any feedback would be appreciated.

PS- If you know of any groups for younger caregivers, such as myself (in the Seattle area) that'd be very helpful too.

Thank you.

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I truly truly feel your pain. I was stressed like you a little more than a year ago, as I was taking care of my 77 year-old mom. I'm a 44 years-old single, only child and I have been seeing to my mom's needs for nearly 5 years. My mom is also a diabetic and began having strokes nearly 5 years ago. I'm a nurse and I couldn't get any doctor to really take interest and order the right test or do the right thing for her. That's because her strokes were affecting the way her mind works. Early on, she didn't have weakness or paralysis so doctors kept saying that she was developing Alzheimers dementia. They didn't even put her on the right medicines at first! I'm a nurse, but I'm a baby nurse, so what do I know about adult medications and conditions! Any way, I brought her from FL to GA to live with me because she had had a few falls and was found on the floor. I would take her to doctor's and therapy appointments, cook/prepare three meals before I'd go to work in the mornings. Some mornings when I'd go to give her her medicines, her bed would be absolutely soaked and I'd have to change and wash sheets on the way out the door. Needless to say, I've been late getting to work --a lot! I'd come home and help her get a bath, fix her plate and try to spend some "quality time" with her. We'd watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and try to guess the answers to the puzzles. I did this for an entire year and during that time, her mind actually got a lot better. Not perfect but much better.
Soon, she wanted to go back home to her house in FL. She did fine with Meals on Wheels and the neighbor and other her sisters looking in on her until she had a doozy of a stroke this past February. Now I pay for caregivers to be with her around the clock because she'd rather be there than here. I've bled my savings and have taken out a home equity line of credit on the home that we own together just to pay the girls to be with her. I'm up to my eyeballs in debt and am looking for a way out. Honey, I could go on and on with this story but my fingers are getting a little tired with all this typing and you're probably getting tired of all this reading. I just want you to know that you are not truly alone. At least you have one person a few thousand miles away who's pulling for you both. I understand the weight gain, depression, the social isolation (I haven't been on a date in years!) and financial stress and strain. I make decent money but I think I'd just be breaking even if I had a six figure income.
If you haven't already done so, ask your mom's doctors for a referral to a social worker. Her primary and/or her specialists should be able to refer you to one. If not, contact the hospital where she normally gets admitted. As for assistance with your most pressing needs. There are usually government agencies at all levels that offer programs to help. You should be getting in-home caregiving assistance if you're not already getting it. You should even qualify for respite so that you can get a break from time to time. Check with local churches for help even if you don't belong to one. Have you and your mom talked about her going to assisted living? It's something to explore even if you've previously dismissed it.
I don't know of any caregiver forums for young caregivers but I'm sure they're out there. I consider myself a young caregiver and would also love the support. The internet is a wonderful thing. In your "spare time" continue to look. If I come across anything, I'll be sure to let you know. Good luck, my dear... you've got shoulder to cry on here in Atlanta because I truly understand. Be blessed.

Valerie
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