Coping with caregiving, I've gained 30 pounds!

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I'm not sure which category to put this in. One year ago my Dr. put me on Lexipro because of trying to deal with my new life change of moving in with my mom. (husband came too, but he's Never a problem ). Well on came the weight, I felt hopeless but well enough to eat and not care about it. I stopped the med in January and started to see a counselor. He really helped me to navigate through some issues and supported me on some future plans. Such as boundaries and asking siblings for a break. My mom can be sweet or a royal pain. I can't seem to get a better handle on the boundary issue. She has a separate 2 room addition. She just won't keep that darn door shut! And she is safe to be alone. She is constantly coming in to my house for bogus excuses just to see what I'm doing. She asked me yesterday if she was in jail because I keep the door shut. I find myself hiding on her with a bag of chips , cookies whatever is around. Then I feel even worse and blame her, then vow to not get sucked into her trap. But why do I keep putting my finger in the socket?? She is active at the senior center a few days a week, I drop her off and she takes the bus home. One day a week they even pick her up to go grocery shopping. It's like if she doesn't go out every single day she's in my face wanting to know what my plans are for the day. And I do take her out a few times a week, sometimes I just want to be alone.

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CarolEllen:
Soothing oneself with yummy goodies will tend to put on those unhealthy pounds! As I understand it, some medications can compound that. I try to avoid medication whenever possible. Years ago, unrelated to any care-giving, I had put on some weight (but it was not really excessive or noticeable to others, just me.) I had not had a physical in about 5 years (just too busy being a mom and working full time.) When I did go, I was told my cholesterol was very high and I would have to take meds. NO NO NO!! At that time the recommendations they had for tackling this with or without medication was of no help and I had to figure it out myself. Processed foods. Frozen dinners. Basically anything with a shelf life (includes so-called healthy foods like granola bars. Even worse, suspect anything that boasts LOW OR FAT-FREE; these have to replace the fat with something to make it tasty, so they use some form of SUGAR!)

Anyway, one of the things I did was join a gym at work that they had recently opened at that time. I did NOT do any weights or classes, just the treadmill. Personally if I had the option to walk during the day, I would have preferred walking outside (and it is FREE!) I started out with just a normal, good pace, not a stroll. Maybe like 2 miles, about 20 minutes. About every two weeks I would not break a sweat so I would up the pace and the incline each time. The goal was to reduce cholesterol (which about 4-5 weeks of eliminating the crap, making my own meals, salad with chicken for work, making my own granola reduced it by a lot.) The bonus? In addition to getting the cholesterol ratios to a good place, I also lost about 20 pounds, which had been gained by eating those frozen dinners for lunch and those so-called healthy snacks.

Since your mom is at the senior center several days/week and goes grocery shopping with them, THAT can be your time to get out and WALK! It does not hurt to treat yourself with some goodies now and then, especially when you start making progress, but if you can walk a brisk pace outside or go to a gym and use the treadmill, you get several perks: burn off excess energy (for others who are stressed with care-giving, think STRESS RELEASE!), get fresh air, have time away from mom (ME time) and over time the weight loss (of course you will have to try to ditch the cookies and chips, except for special occasions!) Time it and every few weeks up the pace to try to beat your time! Raw baby carrots make a good cookie substitute (for the crunch, not so much the taste.) Other veggies raw, think veggie platters, maybe with a decent not-so-fat dip sometimes, are a better option. I never bothered with calorie counting. Eat healthy foods (keep as close to nature as possible) and MOVE usually works (unless there is an underlying medical issue - you should get a check up before starting any exercise regimen!) Actually, now that I think about it, your mom does not need you to be there all the time even when she is home - when you need to get away, put on a sweater or coat and take a walk outside instead of hibernating in your room with the naughty snacks! Extra calorie burning!

I need to get back to this myself. Although I do not provide hands-on care giving for mom, I do (try) to handle all the rest of it (bills, juggling money to be sure everything is covered, tons of paperwork to get SS, pension, IRS so that I get the paperwork, and apply for VA benefits, visiting mom, responding to issues that come up including falls or needed supplies, in addition to trying to coordinate my brothers to help clean out and fix her condo so we can rent it and have more money for her memory care!) Just that alone is stressful, when trying to get my own tasks, house repairs, snow removal, etc done. When do I get to enjoy MY retirement??? When is MY me time? Since money is tight for me, I do not get out often enough to get fresh veggies (frozen for some), so the healthier eating is still trying to get worked out. I may check into a local gym in 2018, as my medicare advantage plan says it covers this... I cannot do a lot because of vertebrae that slip out of place in my lower back, but perhaps just that treadmill again (my street is too much up/down to try that... yet. Plus, if I get into a bind, I might not be able to walk back home, whereas the treadmill I just have to get off it and back to my car!)

RayLin - agreed snacking is better than boozing or smoking, however excess weight can lead to health crises for you, including your premature demise, just like those other nasty habits can lead to - where does that leave hubby? You really should try to do something - I understand your difficulty leaving the home, and I certainly do know it is harder to get motivated when at home (too many distractions) but as others have said in other threads, put that oxygen mask on yourself first so that you can help others!
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Hey Lassie, congratulations on stopping smoking. That's a huge deal and great thing to do for yourself.

I'm no expert, but, when I started to focus on my nutrition, I actually looked up what each thing had that I ate and logged my calories. I was shocked. It enabled me to see just what I was consuming and why I had gained weight. Also, check with your doctor on thyroid. That and some other conditions and medications can cause weight gain. 
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I gained I-don't-know-how-many pounds in the last few years. The backbreaking caregiving - I would have thought that alone would have turned me into a skeleton (one good thing coming out of it?? HA!) - I was run ragged, I hardly ate ANYTHING - and I GAINED weight. I don't know how, because I was tired and hungry all the time. That was a couple years ago, and I got her into a nursing home and eventually she died, and it was like I never recovered from all that caregiving. I never got my life back. It almost killed me, I almost had a nervous breakdown...Now I am retired, so I didn't have to go to work or do anything, I could just kick back, sleep in, watch old movies. But still, my old life is just gone, and I'm fat fat fat. Is it 'cortisol' in reaction to stress that puts on that huge stomach? (I will admit 5 years ago I stopped smoking, and that, my friends, is something they really don't warn you about - gaining 20 lbs. within a year is not unknown to happen. With that, I may still be doomed to lung cancer in the future, but I am saving $400 a month myself, for not smoking any more. :-) so....)
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To everyone that responded to my initial weight gain issue, I sincerely thank you. I have read all and learned and little from each of you. God Bless!
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Aging, what gave you the impression that I don’t trust them? Was it because I answer the phone when I’m away from home? I’m always going to do that for fear something serious like death, (God forbid) or sickness has happened. I have no way of knowing who is calling my mom or the sitter. I leave my mom with others when the need arises. The only I’d like to happen is for the one who keeps her prohibits her from needlessly calling me so that I can enjoy myself. 

Now I’ve started unplugging the house phone when leaving. The sitter calls only as needed from their cell.

My daughter and baby brother are very trustworthy. It’s my oldest brother I don’t trust.
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Living with someone else who suffers with depression and/or anxiety can be rough. I know. I think what helps me the most is to set boundaries and to draw the line. Pitying the person or catering to them in order to feed their illness, doesn't serve them well or help the caregiver, imo. I think getting respite time works well too. You need time to get away and be carefree, live it up a little, have a cocktail, if you drink. It's important to be around people who aren't sick and maintain your own friends.

I also think that weight is something that can sneak up on you. I'd get a complete physical and have blood sugar and thyroid checked. If it's okay, I'd discuss weight loss options with your doctor. To me, it's mainly a mind thing. If your mind is ready to work on healthy eating, the behavior will follow. If you aren't ready, it's almost impossible to sustain it. Once, I got my mind ready. It wasn't difficult. I just counted calories, ate lots of nutritious food, planned and prepared my own meals and snacks, had treats on certain days, and lost about 46 pounds so far. Slow and steady was my motto. Some people join groups to lose weight, but, I didn't do that. I think that works for some people though. Weight Watchers has an online program, but, I'm not familiar with it.

I'd also add that caregiving can be so overwhelming. If you need help, I'd explore options to get some.
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My father follows me around when I visit him at his place. He lives alone and calls me several times a day - doesn't remember any of them. He wants to know where I am and what I am doing because he can't figure out what to do with himself and he is looking for ideas. He has moderate dementia. I have someone coming in for a few hours every day. I have tried to get him interested in hobbies. They have activities where he lives but he doesn't want to join in because he is unsure of himself. It's just something that I had to get used to but the shadowing is probably the most annoying thing he does. It's not his fault.
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Darol, I'm sorry if I give the wrong impression. I'm just wondering why you don't trust anyone to help you. Maybe that includes me!
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Aging...you’ve got it all wrong. Wow...superiority complex? You do sound hateful.
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Please get examined by your doctor. It is possible that your thyroid levels are out of wack.
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