My girlfriend has burned out helping me with my mom.

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After a year, she says it's either my mom or her. I can't abandon my mom, and my other half is a good person, but she has burned out, even before I have. This really stinks. I am not going to put my mom into a home until it reaches a point where I can't handle it anymore, but it means giving up my own life. And she has given me a choice. My mom or her.

15 Comments

Wow. I have no advice, but I want to express how sorry I am that you are in that situation. Hugs to you. (Sorry they are just the virtual kind.)

Do you have in-home help with your mother? Or are you trying to do everything yourself?
I know how you feel Dunwoody101. I am in a similar position with my Mom, however, I don't have a husband/mate/partner.
This is a tough choice. Do you live with your Mom? How long has your Mom been ill? How long have you been in a relationship with your girlfriend?
I have been involved with my girlfriend for six years. I moved down to Atlanta a little over two years ago to care for my mom. My girlfriend moved down 9 months ago to be with me. I live with my mom. She thought she would "rescue" me. Instead, she burned out from the situation. I warned her before she moved how insidious it was, but she was unable to understand it, until she lived it.
I am slowly drinking myself to death. And I don't care.
I think it is OK to drink yourself to death, slowly, but please set a time limit on it, like 2 days, maybe, or a day and a half. Or maybe just tonight.

If you want to take care of your mother so badly that you are losing a relationship that is important to you, then you'd better stick around and take care of your mother. Right?

Besides, even if you don't care right this minute, lots of other people do. Me, for instance. And certainly your mother. And probably plenty of people who might not remember your name but thought you were a swell guy when they met you in a restaurant or bar and would care if they knew what was going on.

Some observations:

Your mother is very young. She could continue to need care for 20 or 30 or even 40 years!

It is extremely difficult for one person to care for someone with dementia 24/7/365. Respite is essential. Help becomes essential, too.

Care centers provide 24/7/365 but no one person does more than 5 - 8 shifts a week. They are fresh when they start their shifts, and then they leave and go back to their other life, and sleep without interruption and spend time with their sweethearts and spouses and children and dogs and pet boa constrictors. They relax. They have days off each week and they take vacations.

Admitting that one person alone, or one person with a friend, can't do everything that needs to be done 24/7/365 is not a failure!

Between doing everything yourself and turning everything over to a care center is an intermediate step of turning some things over people who come into the home to help. Dementia often (but not always) progresses to a stage where even this is not sufficient, but most people find it worth trying and for some it succeeds very well.

You are a good guy, Dunwoody101. I hope you find some ways to improve your situation (that don't involve vodka). You certainly deserve your share of happiness and fulfillment. Hang in there!
I've taken care of 3 special needs siblings & my Mom 89 for a long time, it does get to me every once in a while but just taking an hour alone to myself helps me I guess because that's how I grew up. When you walk into a situation such as yours especially if you've never been a caregiver before it changes your whole life. I don't think your girlfriend really realized that & I would imagine you either, don't be hard on yourself or her, I can only imagine that caring for someone with dementia is very difficult and no doubt your Moms illness is going to get worse. Home health nurses are a big help it gives you somewhat of a break a couple times a week.Just remember if its hard on ya'll now its going to get a lot harder the worse Mom's dementia gets. Only you can decide what's best not just for Mom but for you also and one thing I do know no matter what you decide, drinking won't help at all it just makes it harder. TouchedbyAngel
I, along with TouchedByAngel took care of my mom for a few years because my sister had chosen to put her in a rest home, which isn't my place to judge. I just couldn't sit still and let that stand, that lady helped me all my life. I'm not saying it was easy, it wasn't, and I am sure you feel torn between your love for her and being exhausted much of the time. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. After it is all said and done it took a lot out of my wife and I and I commend you for what you are doing. I don't want this to sound judgemental but drinking will only make it harder. Eventually, after 7 years in dialysis my mom began thinking about stopping a couple of times and I didn't want that. But one morning she called me into her room and said I'm not going to dialysis. I said "we'll go Friday". She said "no son, I'm not going anymore, I'm going home". If I had not seen the kind of faith she showed to me, it would have been much harder. But that was my mom. Thankfully, my wife was a lot of help but we'd be lying if we said it was easy. The experience wasn't pleasant, but we grew together, if I had hidden in a bottle my wife probably would have grown weary too, but I also have a lot faith. When things get at their worst try this. Relax somewhere, understand God knows what he's doing and recite this verse to yourself " I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day". It helped give me the strength I needed. Good luck, TouchedbyAngel's Lucky Husband
Thanks for all your support and concern. If Satan were to create the 'perfect disease' to torture mankind, it would be Alzheimer's. And the sad thing is that for all the pain and suffering we go through as caregivers, in the end it doesn't matter. Our parents either die or go into a nursing home and then we look back on the years we bled for them and probably say to ourselves, "what was the point.?" In the end, it didn't really matter -- to them.
Dunwoody - you're so right in the sense that it eventually winds up that it didn't matter "to them" because they will soon forget/not care/whatever - but you have to be able to live with yourself and your decisions. If your mother is coming between you and your girlfriend, then MAYBE it's time to think of assisted living for Alz/dementia care? We had to do that with my mother-in-law because it was getting to that point you described - she didn't really care that we were practically killing ourselves to give her a good life and no other siblings would help out. So we had to think of ourselves, and moved her to an assisted living center. Yes, it's expensive - but so is our sanity! And yes, she would rather be living with us, but we know she's being taken care of - and that's what was important. So now we can go see her once a week and put up with her craziness without going crazy ourselves. Trust me, I tried the bottle too just to deal with it all. It numbs it for a while, but then just winds up adding to my guilt. Give other living arrangements a thought. And if your mother was in her right mind, she wouldn't want you suffering this way. You're worth it - girlfriend or not.
You are right, Dunwoody. No matter what we do, our loved ones are going to die. Whether they go into a care center first or not, they are going to die. And we are going to die. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent eventual death.

But I think you are wrong to assume that nothing we do while they are alive matters. Even if they don't remember our kindness, they experience it while it is happening. And it matters to us. Obviously your mother's care matters very much to you.

What is the point of being nice to anyone, ever? They are all going to die. And we are too. What we do while we are living matters, in my belief system at least.

You are right that Alzheimer's (and every other form of dementia) is a fiendish disease and it is as full of torment for loved ones as it is for the person who has it.

Thanks for staying in touch. We care.

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