Caregiver looking for coping mechanisms to deal with stress and guilt.

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Hi. I feel like i'm at a breaking point and after googling support groups I came across this board. It seems to be the most friendly of the bunch so I thought i'd give it a shot. I appreciate you taking the time to read this..

I'm a 29 yr old female and took care of my grandmother in her home for over a year before she passed away in August 2011. She was bedridden (We had a hospital bed in the den) which meant she needed complete and total care... feeding, bathing, turning every 2 hrs to prevent bed sores, diaper changes, etc. After she passed away we noticed a sudden change in my 93 yr old grandpa (as i understand is common) I moved two houses down from him in order to be closer and to be able to help out more (my parents also live nearby) Last week he fell and sustained two large gashes on his forehead but thankfully no broken bones. Since then he just has not been himself. Medically, everything has checked out just fine. He's just much slower, confused much more often and is needing assistance for everyday tasks such as brushing his teeth or taking his (presorted) pills. I've been spending my days and nights here every since the fall and I find myself feeling overwhelmed thinking of what lies ahead. I bounce back and forth between the extreme sadness of seeing him decline so rapidly and the guilt I feel when I start to get discouraged about going through this again. As challenging as this is, an assisted living facility just isn't an option. I'd never have the heart to take him from the home he shared with my grandma for 64 years unless it was absolutely medically necessary. However, given his current condition, I may need to give up my apt. and move in with him. I suppose i'm looking for suggestions on coping mechanisms you all might use? Ways to deal with the guilt when I start to feel like "why me"? Again, thanks for taking the time to read this.. i'd appreciate any feedback

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it is the toughest job i have ever done i am fifty with a husband and two teenage boys mom is bedridden its hard at first i tried it one my own dont wear yourself out every little bit helps remember you have do get food prepare meals medicine house cleaning dr. appointments they will talk to you bad even though they dont mean it i gave up after a year and got respite and a day off for church her sons dont even call or send a christmas card with help and support it can be done i hope i promised as long as i could crawl i would keep her out of a nursing homebut i admit why me iwatch her wasting away and have to do medical care also i comend you for your courage and trying to do the right thing prayer and church groups can sommtime help you are young just dtake time to take care of yourself and catch a break or you will resent it i sometime think god is trying to teach me a lesson its not for me to have to do it as a chore its more of doing it for love even id you do most of it it becomes expensive and keep every record of monies good luck i comend your love hes getting up in age i have people say but its just a short time to me it feels forever but once its all over the time will seem short goodluck goodfriends because they kinda move on there is help senior centers meal delivery nurses to give a bath one hour can make a difference you have to set boundries dont totaly spoil him they loose there independants they take it out on the one they love
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Bella, you are not alone. I am 25 and I moved in with my grandfather 3 years ago to help take care of him. They are right when they say find support/respite. They are right when they say you will feel guilty no matter what you do.
I carve out a specific day/time every week just for me. I every week to keep one thing I love to do and I refuse to give it up. I keep a running list of all the things I love about my grandpa, either from his past or currently.
Some days I just accept the fact that I feel so guilty that I am making mistakes and I'm not enough and I'm being selfish. But we're human and couldn't be perfect even if we tried. We just try our damn best!
My prayers are with you.
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My father-in-law is 91 and my father is 94. They are both veterans. They fought in World War II and they are entitled to veterans benefits. I am assuming that your grandfather is a veteran. Neither of them can care for themselves due to physical problems and memory problems. You can go on-line to a website of an organization that helps veterans like veterans.org. Print out the application form for Aid and Attendance. The veteran is supposed to fill it out but neither my father-in-law nor my father could do it themselves. Someone else filled it out and they signed it. The spouse of a veteran can get the Aid and Attendance benefit too even if the veteran has passed away. My parents receive $2000 a month for a caregiver. They have a live in caregiver so my sister can go to her full time job, do shopping, errands and have a life.
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Bella,

Your statement that you don't have the energy to find out about getting help or taking time for yourself is something you have to work on - and your doctor didn't mean you're supposed to live life like a POW - you're not a prisoner unless you choose to be. Unless you are literally handcuffed to the house, you can go out, you can make calls and find out about getting some help. It's worth the energy it would take. Your life has value - and it wasn't given to you so you could throw it on the fire for someone else. Helping your husband by making sure his basic needs for food, a safe, clean home - those are fine and part of the whole "for better or for worse" promise you made as his wife. There was nothing in the vows about throwing your own life away in the process, however. If you choose not to get help and/or take advantage of any chances to get out of the house and spend time with friends or just off by yourself so you can take a breath, that is your choice. If you don't, you're imprisoning yourself - or helping your husband to imprison you. Don't feel guilty about preserving some time for yourself and doing whatever you can to make your life better!
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Wow that's a hard one that only you can answer. But if the job for you is too overwhelming..remember you cannot take care of anyone if you cannot take care of yourself. Check with some Gov agencies. Aging and Disabilities in your area should have respit available to you and they go by income level of the person your caring for. You might be able to get someone to stay with him for several hours a day. Please don't feel guilty if you cannot do it, especially after you just came away from being a caregiver. It's a selfless job and sometimes we need to be a little selfish. Be blessed..because no matter what..Caregivers care.
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I agree. He's 93. He deserves to be safe, clean, and well-fed, and if he can get all that in the home he loves and feel content in his remaining years, that's great. But all of that need not come at the expense of your life and well-being. It shouldn't undermine your job and any pursuit of a career or financial stability, it shouldn't keep you from building/finding/maintaining a love-life or significant relationship, and it shouldn't keep you from spending time with friends and/or doing things you enjoy. You deserve to have a life of your own, and with help, that IS possible while looking after the needs of your grandfather. All-or-nothing thinking is something we can all fall prey to, but it's especially dangerous for caretakers. I say this as someone who tends to this kind of thinking, and it's something I have to work on for myself.
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To all who have posted here, I thank you so much! I have quietly been dealing with tremendous guilt at so many levels and coming to the conclusion that I must be the worst caretaker because if I was doing it 'right' I wouldn't have all this guilt. It helps to know that guilt just comes with the 'job'. I admit to being frustrated by another common theme that the caretaker must have time away, time for themselves, respite etc. The job is so exhausting, I do not have the energy required to even think about trying to get someone who could come in and help, much less the energy to go somewhere for myself IF I could get away. I had a rare doctor's appointment not long ago and he was saying I needed to get away, etc and before the appointment was over, he observed that I had the same kind of survival thinking that prisoners of war have! I asked what he meant and he said that they survive by just living in that hour, within those four walls and never, never looking beyond the four walls because if they did, they could not survive the prison they were in. An anticipated hope or escape that never comes would destroy a POW the doctor went on to say and he added people who come out of our prison systems have that same mentality of survival. I so identify. I am a POW taking care of a husband who has always been incredibly selfish, demanding, manipulative and who brought all those traits 'on steriods' to his current condition and he controls the 'prison' doors or so it seems.
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Krissy, could you tell us a little more about yourself beyond your age. You are at an age when you need to be building for the rest of your life. I'm more concerned about you than I am about your gf, to tell the truth.
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I think it's important to remember that while many people look upon caregivers as angels, we're all just people. And sometimes the people we're caring for are not nice, are uncooperative, fight us at every turn, resist getting outside help (which would make it easier on us, but hey, what the heck, right?), etc... and many of us didn't choose the role. So feeling like running away or like it's all too much is par for the course.

Don't beat yourself up for not always liking the job or liking the person you're caring for. People with Alzheimer's can change a lot - or their personality traits become magnified, so someone who could be a bit sarcastic before is downright nasty now. Or someone who was prone to being a little vain and selfish at times is now like a big spoiled toddler. It's not a fun job, and those who have someone sweet and cooperative to care for are very fortunate. Not that caring for someone sweet and cooperative isn't hard work, too - it's just less emotionally draining, I think.

I don't know if your Grandfather is a pleasant person or not Krissy, and I hope he is. He's lucky to have you and I hope you can get some help - from family, from an agency, from the state, whomever. Just don't turn down help, because you need time for yourself. You deserve it! :-D
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Krissy, I am a new caregiver and it happened so fast I didn't know what hit me. Because I already shared a home with my Mother, I was the obvious choice to care for her. I always knew this would happen and I suppose deep down I didn't mind looking after her when she needed me most. However, I was not prepared for all that goes into caring for someone who cannot do anything for themselves. I understand about your guilt as I sometimes feel like I don't want to do this, why me? I sometimes feel angry at her for asking so much of me, I get frustrated at my family because I think they don't really know just how much it takes to care for her. Sometimes I feel like I just want to get out and forget about the whole thing, etc. Basically, I think it's important to accept that having these feelings are normal for those in our situation. I agree that you should research respite care in your area... I am in Florida and looking into this myself as I need to care for myself otherwise I won't be able to care for her anymore.

You are a wonderful person for doing this... as well as all the others caregivers on this site. You are all Angels. I know this period is supposed to be a happy one and Christmas is my favorite time of year. Although, this year is a sad one, my Mommy is still with us and I need to make it a happy one for her, for me, for all of us.

Be blessed everyone.
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