Help me get my life back! What do you do to make caregiving easier or get more time for yourself?

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Please share your tips for making things easier and/or creating more time for yourself. I need to find more time for myself to get my life back! Don't we all. :-) Here are some of my tips to get the ball rolling:

1. Groceries ordered on-line and delivered to the house. It costs $10, but gives me 1.5-2 hours to spend with a friend, maybe more, since they carry everything into the kitchen. I do this once week for a big shop. There's also a local pharmacy that deliveries that I need to look into.

2. Therapist who does home visits. She comes to the house to see mom, and she takes medicare!!! Time saved: about 2 hours, since I don't have driving and waiting duties. Zero cost.

3. Planning meals a week or two at a time. Getting mom to eat is a huge problem and big stressor. I think that advance planning and fixed meal times will help, but I;m still adjusting to this.





Can mom go to a day program perhaps even a couple of half days a week? We started my mom a year ago with a half day a week, she is now attending Monday through Friday for about 6 hours and loves the program. I don't know what I did without them for the first 15 months.
I strongly endorse gladimhere's suggestion. Adult Day Health programs are absolutely awesome respite!

Reduce the amount of cooking, by sometimes ordering restaurant meals. Here there is a service that delivers for a wide range of restaurants. Planning and ordering ahead is very helpful.

Reduce the amount of cooking by exploring the expanding world of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals. (Tonight I served my mother and me a wonderful Greek chicken and potato dish, with a side of fresh tomato slices. We both thought it was a treat. I am an excellent cook and I love that activity, but it is also nice to have time off from that duty occasionally.)

Use all of the in-home care that your loved-one is eligible for. For example, my husband was entitled to homemaking services. I'm perfectly able to clean my own house, but letting someone else do it saved me several hours each week. For a period of time after being hospitalized he could have a bath aid. I didn't mind helping him with a bath, but was glad to have a little extra time while someone else did it.

Online shopping is great for things in addition to groceries. Buying wedding and baby gifts and having them delivered is wonderful. After much trial-and-error I've found good sources for my own clothing. I order household items from Amazon.

A few times I involved my husband (dementia) in on-line shopping. We went through the Smithsonian online catalog together. I showed him several pre-selected items and asked which one he'd like for Christmas. Then I showed him some other items and asked if he'd like to get one of them for me for Christmas. He was eager for them to arrive and thrilled to open them. The whole experience not only took less time than going out shopping but avoided the anxiety and stress, gave him something to look forward to, and really made him happy!

Lower your standards. Not your standards for caregivng -- that you want to give your best effort. But maybe the grass could grow a little longer between mowings, and perhaps the dust could build up a little between cleanings, and maybe you could eat on disposable plates once in while. Settling for "good enough" instead of striving for perfection in selected areas can be a time saver!
Regarding the day programs - Mom is relatively healthy (a cancer diagnosis and treatment is started the caregiving), but is extremely, extremely depressed. Day programs that I'm aware of would not be appropriate for her.

She and I did tour the local senior center last week, and we also attended a senior social right near the house. She met a new walking buddy at the social!!! Woo hooo! She will be going back to the social this week but has too many medical appointments to go back to the senior center. We will review the schedule next weekend and make plans for the upcoming week then.

Tuesday this week we are meeting with a social worker who manages a local "HELP" group, partially subsidized by my town. I'm looking for someone 1-2 times a week who can be a companion and do some meal prep and cooking. It's $14-15/hour, and the scheduling is much more flexible than home health care workers typically. More white lies. I told my mom that the services was free, otherwise she would say that she doesn't need it. This is a constant battle.

I have done the same many, many, times telling mom service do not cost anything. I do not feel the least bit guilty in this because if I were not here she would need to be in a nursing home. She is one of those that would become so combative in memory care she would not be appropriate for that living arrangement. My services to her at this point have been free providing tremendous benefit to sibs that done nothing to assist, but have caused alot of unnecessary stress for me.
Most important tip, maybe? No more choices!!!!

My new favorite phrase, said with a Mr. Rogers tone, "You don't have to like it, but we are (fill in the blank)." As in:

You don't have to like it, but we are visiting the senior center.
You don't have to like it, but we are going to have someone come in and cook.

Hold your ground, modernbird!
I should try that line with my mom....."Now mom, you don't have to like it, but we are visiting the senior center." Oh, wait, I did try that line, mom just refused to get out of the the parking the senior center! Meanwhile, my mom is social when she wants to hair appointments, doctor appointments, etc. but her excuse is "I don't want to meet people." No, she'd rather be at home.....24/7.....watching TV 12-14 hours a day! She never wants to do anything or go anywhere. I want to try a different maybe have the workers meet me in the parking lot and encourage mom to go in with them? Sigh, I know in my heart it will never work!

Mom's 75 with mild to moderate dementia but can still get around.....slowly....I say slowly because she sits in a chair all day long and then she walks a whole 8-10 feet and gets into bed each evening and sleeps for 10-12 hours a day.....

I'm beginning to think assisted living/nursing home might be better than this current living arrangement? She is seriously going to lose it if she doesn't use it! If my mom were in a home maybe she would make friends and try out some activities, etc.? I could visit for frequently and maybe I'd feel more like we had a "Mother/Daughter" relationship again? The real kicker is that she says "I'm 75, what do I care?" She has so much to live for.....she's a cancer survivor, has grandkids, is healthy for now, but it seems that the television is what's most important to her and if she never stepped outside again she would be fine with that! So, my feeling is that she could "not care" somewhere other than with me so I don't have to watch this behavior on a daily basis. I'm tired of going around and around about the same subjects over and over, hearing her complain about hair appointments and doctors' appointments, etc.

I'm sure this sounds selfish but if mom moves to a place where I know she will be taken care of and be around others her age where there is socialization (she will have no choice) I can get my life back.....this has been going on for almost two years! I'm only 46 and want to live my life and not feel tied down to attitude, arguing about shower days, medications three times a day, making sure mom eats "real" food (not just candy), etc. I only have one sibling to count on every now and then....the other two aren't available to's all me, me, me!

Wow, the guilt I feel when I type this out is something else but in the end I think it will be best for both of us........I refuse to be pulled down by mom's "downer" attitude......can anyone relate? Also, mom has the financial means to pay for her care......and she has absolutely no debt..........I think her monies should go to her care......And I could care less about "my inheritance" ....I want my freedom! I guess I'm just not cut out for this caretaking role even though I've been doing an excellent job at's the negative attitude mom has that has slowly numbed me to want to make a change.........I think my husband and teenage kids deserve more than hearing me complain about's not all the time.....but they know how mom/grandma is.......
Care, assisted living might be the way to go. I agree, the arguing and the negativity does suck, big time. I am praying that mom will like the therapist who's coming today. Or at least tolerate her! Mom's negativity is an endless pit of despair. I'm hoping that the therapist can help with depression, life stage transitions, and the quality of life issues post cancer treatment. so glad that the appointment is here at the house.

Most of what I'm trying now is stuff to help ME, that doesn't require endless negotiations with mom. I am carefully choosing those battles, then marshaling lots of energy to make it happen. I really have to psych myself up; it's a complete failure if I'm tired frustrated or exhausted. Lots of white lies seem to help too.

Good luck. none of us have to or need to give up our lives and happiness to be successful care givers. It's hard to dig put once you have.
Since my mother cannot get to the beauty salon anymore, I cut her hair. I cut it very short, and therefore I hardly ever have to wash it, and it is too short now to set, so that saves time also. Although I am far from a professional hair stylist, her hair looks passable very short. In addition, when it was warm outside (we are going into the colder weather now), I cut her fingernails and toenails outside, (while she is in the wheelchair), that way there is no clean up in the house of nail clippings. In addition, I buy chewable toothpaste tablets, which she chews in her mouth (but does not swallow) to brush her teeth. It is easier than having her fumbling with a tube of toothpaste.
Toothpaste tablets - awesome! And clipping nails outside just makes so much sense for everyone when it's warm. Thank you.

The therapist visit went ok, although mom doesn't see the need. Can you sense my eyes rolling over the internet? She's convinced mom to go to a cancer support group, so she will be coming back next week.

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