Working full time and taking care of mom = exhaustion.

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Three years ago I went through a divorce after 28 yrs of marriage. About the same time I began caring for both parents. Although they do not live with me, it meant doctor appts, shopping, errands, calls went household problems arose etc. My father passed away last November, but I still care for my mother. I work a full time job which means 8-9 hous a day and sometimes weekends. I am exhausted!. My mother who always appreared to be s trong woman has suddenly become helpless. Every day there is something she needs done. She is unable to or is unwilling to take care of anything. She has begun makingnotes for everything and seems to sit all day looking at catalogs that come in the mail. We have visited several Assisted iving places, but she cannot make up her mind. Yesterday I was called out of meetings because she had plumbing issues. I went by her house after work and tried to talk to her about how tired I am and that we needed to think of a way to get some help because I was exhausted and having difficulty keeping up with her needs, her home, her dog, my job much less my home and dogs. It did nto go well. She took a "poor me" atttitude and said "OK..if you want me to go into the stupid assisted living I will and I will be miserable." Mind you, my brother (who lives in Calif.) and I have purposley not told her that is what she should do beause we know the reprecussions of that. Well, one thing led to another and we had a pretty ugly argument.She left the room and I came home. I don't know what to do. we have aldy come in once a week to clean her home and then she comes back another day just to sit and visit for a couple ofhours. She is from a home care company. I asked mom to let her take her for some blood tests last week which is 5 minutes from her house, and she wouldn't. She seems to only want me to do thes things and frankly I just can't continue to take time off work not to mention how tired I am. I really don't know what to do . She won't discuss any options. I am open to any and all suggestions because I can't go on this way. Thanks for listening.


I really feel for you and relate to what you described with you Mom. My Mom and Dad live with me and I also have a very demanding job. She always has long list of small and tasks for me to do. Most are not urgent. The important things I make time for but ordering things from a catalog or other things like that don't get done because frankly I need some time for myself. Time to unwind from my job, time to run my own errands, etc. I feel a little selfish saying this but I've also given up alot of things in my life by having my parents living with me at this stage in their lives. They don't hear well and just can't do alot of things for themselves anymore and with my Mom now so helpless it means doing alot of small things that actually take alot of time have become really important (to her). And, then we start arguing. She says I'm selfish and don't do anything for her. And, I say I do the best I can but don't see why everything needs to be done right away. She likes things done right away and I hate having to drop whatever I'm doing to take care of something that could be done later that night or even next weekend. I wish I could find a way to get her to relax a little bit and be more considerate of my time. I feel like I've made a sacrifice to help them and no one appreciates that. My brother lives about an hour away but has his own family so can't really help out. He visits about once a month but other than that it's all me. I once called him to talk about what I was going through and all he said was, "you guys are just going to have to figure out how to get along" So, no support there! I feel like no one understands and I have no one to talk to but at least reading the story above let me know that others are going through same thing. And, writing this comment let me release a little bit.
Kaseyc, can you set some ground rules about when you may be called at work? The plumbing problem waited until you came home so it must not have been an emergency. Remind your mother that you need to support yourself, you need to keep this job, and it is not good to be getting frequent personal calls. Be clear about what is an emergency. Being out of dog food is something you need to know about, but it is not an emergency. She should not call you at work about it. You need to know about a light fixture that doesn't work, but not at work. And so on.

Could the lady who comes in twice a week come in daily, and do many of the things on Mom's lists? If you were clear that you could not continue to do certain things, then Mom would either have to agree to pay someone else to do them (like this lady) or perhaps consider AL.

She may "insist" that you do it all, but if you politely but firmly refuse to do it all, and instead outline the things you can/will do or tell her the number of hours a week you can devote or in some other ways set boundaries, then she will have to accept it.

I see that this thread was from five years ago, but I needed some reassurance that I'm not being completely selfish. I really don't know how people cope with care giving in the home. I didn't last two weeks when Dad was living with me. I was constantly worried about him falling down the stairs (he refused to take my master bedroom downstairs), my electric bill was horrendous because he insisted on having a space heater blowing on him FULL BLAST which took my bill up... and his sleeping habits are non existent. My nights were spent barely sleeping worrying that he would hurt himself or wander out of the house late at night when he was normally awake. I HAD to do something.

Then, I felt so guilty about not being able to care for him myself that I was spending a ridiculous amount of money on rent at an independent living facility and having a caregiver to spend overnights with him there.

I've since put him in a full ALF, but there's still spill over. I MUST work two jobs to support myself and cover what his funds don't, and I find myself constantly struggling with balancing the two lives.

Employers don't take too kindly to me missing work to take Dad to the doctor, so I try to schedule them all on one day so that I only have to miss a day of work. I have no help, so I am the only one that can take him. The ALF has transportation services, but between Dad's COPD and dementia, he's not competent enough to go alone.

I secretly feel relief on the days that he goes to Adult Day Care because I know he's occupied. Otherwise, I get calls about how anxious he is or how he's not doing well which wreaks havoc on my concentration. As we speak, I am neglecting a work project because I can't concentrate because I just got one of THOSE calls.

So, what do I do? Drive 45 minutes to pick him up and take him to the ER so they can run a battery of unnecessary tests only to tell me that he has had a panic attack (again)? I called his psychiatrist at the VA, but it could take the better part of a week for her to respond.

I feel angry that my productive day has been ruined... that the lunch I was enjoying with my coworkers was brought to a screeching halt due to Dad's health... that leaving work will mean me not making yet another deadline at work... that taking him to the doctor or the ER will mean that I will have to cancel a much awaited hair appointment...

Then I feel guilty. I'm sure he would much rather feel better. I'm sure he's scared. So what do I do? I'm worthless at work right now and taking any action would mean missing a hair appointment or more work for something neither of us can control.

Is it bad for me to PREFER to work? I'm 39 years old.
You take back your life. You decide what you can and cannot do and stick to those boundaries. I used to take my father to all his appointments. Then they just got too ridiculous for me to handle. Often he would expect me to leave work TWICE in one day to run back to the doctor and not for an emergency. I worked less than a mile from him and had alot of accumulated time off. However that still did not mean it was ok for me to drop work at a moments' notice for him. Then I lost my job. He thought I could come more often but I told him unemployment ran out and I could not afford to put gas in the car to drive the 25 miles to him. He got all offended as if I was demanding gas money from him. I wasn't, I was using that excuse not to have to run him all over creation.

Then I got a new job and I could no longer take off to take him to the doctor. He figured out senior transport and taxis. Don't get me wrong he had alot of 'last minute' doctor visit he desperately tried to get me to leave work for but I refused. He didn't want to use the taxi because he wanted someone to sit in the waiting room with him. I don't have the luxury of that kind of free time. Even things I did have to attend to I put off until it was convenient for ME. Can't tell you how many "the end is near" phone calls I got saying he wanted to see me "One last time". Despite the fact I saw him a few days earlier. I didn't fall for it.

Figure out what you can do and that is all you do.
If your parent is still of reasonably sound mind - this is for THEM to figure out. Offer suggestions of senior transport, meals on wheels, house cleaners, etc. but don't get into the trap of doing it all because THEY don't want to figure out their own lives. Decide what you are willing to do because you love them, the rest is theirs to figure out and pay for. They can take your suggestions or not, but they are responsible for themselves. Set boundaries. Read the stories on this site - people constantly give up their lives, their sanity, their income because mom is too stubborn to use the help that is available.
One thing I didn't realize was that I was enabling my parents to keep living their lifestyle while I had to change mind.

Tinyblu, I totally understand.... all those sleepless nights worrying my phone would ring that someone had fallen. But I bet my parents were sleeping soundly with no worries. Then the next day at work I was lucky not to fall asleep at my desk. My brain was worthless half the time.

So, back to the enabling. I was afraid to say "no" as one doesn't do that with ones parents. I didn't realize I could say "no" until I found this forum a couple years back. Oh how I wish I could get into a time machine [move over Sheldon] and do things differently.
Its so hard for us women to know where the boundaries are. I can identify with so much of what is being said on this thread. I know its not easy but try to find the right balance for yourself. Me, too, freqflyer, I wish I could get into that time machine as well. I was in the same boat, I never said no to anyone till I was at the boiling point of anger and resentment. It was a terrible mistake.

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