How do you wonderful caregivers deal with your own impatience?

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I'm mad at myself once again today, after an afternoon of shopping with my 80-year-old Mom (recently diagnosed and being treated for mild dementia). She was having a bad day herself, because she also suffers from aphasia (the inability to find the words you need to communicate) and was having a horrible time trying to explain to the saleslady what she was looking for. I usually take a step back, because I've been told that being supportive is better than taking over, which is my nature. I should probably also mention that I am not a shopper myself, I've never understood the need to try oodles of things on and compare every last detail of a garment before deciding on something. But my Mom has always loved shopping, so it's something we do often now at her request. After three hours of trying on dozens of items in several stores, I noticed that my Mom was simply unable to make a decision. This might be a new symptom of her dementia, or it might just be her nature - since I became her full-time caregiver, I have to keep reminding myself that I am dealing both with a person who is changing, and with a parent that I am getting to know all over again. Mom and I never shopped together before this! In any case, my impatience spilled over a few times, with my voice getting edgy (if it's not comfortable, Mom, just put it aside and try the next one!), which ended in her feeling rushed, which was not at all what I intended. I apologized immediately and said - Let's take all the time you need! But the damage was done and she insisted on going home at that point. I feel like a horrible person. And I know that these moments come and go, and that our love is unconditional, and that I can't be too hard on myself. I know all these things! I just wish that I could learn a way to be more compassionate and more patient.... any tips from other Type A caregivers??


Don't be too hard on yourself - you're only human & I'm sure that there were times in your life before caregiving that you two became impatient with each other! My Mom & I were at odds from the time I hit

When I find my frustration and stress rising, have a couple of methods to decompress: I will excuse myself for 5 minutes (my "smoke break" I call it)...go to more private area and take a couple of deep breaths to help me relax & clear the stress thoughts. Then I go back to it with a smile on my face. It sounds ineffectual, but it does work.

The other thing I do is look at my parent and put a picture in my mind of a happy time with them....Mama in the backyard on a fall day hanging clothes on the clothesline while I chased a frog when I was 4,,,,Papa walking through the door after work, his long chain of keys jingling on his belt - I would run to the door to meet him.....I feel an overwhelming sense of the love & comfort I felt for/with them as their little girl. That feeling helps me to let go of the stress and relax with compassion and a "whatever it takes for you" attitude and then I just go with the flow.

This is a hard phase of life for our parents and for us as the caregiving children. Kind of a role reversal. Give yourself credit for the good things you do for your Mom and forgive yourself for the moments when you were less than perfect.

Hang in there, sweetie!
I wouldn't be so hard on yourself. Look at what you are doing for goodness sake. No one is perfect. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself a big hug for being a great daughter.

I would reexamine the time limit for shopping. The dementia certainly limits mom's time to focus and not get overly tired. I might set the deadline for one hour and then see how that goes. Better to end up well rested and wanting more than over staying and getting worn out. It's the quality that counts, not how long you spend shopping.
I'd rather take a severe beating than go shopping for 3 hours, much less with an old lady with dementia. My Mom doesn't have dementia but the few times I have taken her shopping (she's 84 and doesn't understand that we're just not going to find the same bras that were around in 1948) it is an ordeal for me. Lorrie, you are far more patient than most of us. Don't be so hard on yourself and I would try to divert moms shopping into some other activity. I can only imagine the sales clerks joy in dealing with you guys. The one store I take my mom to they all run and hide when we come in the door. Mom is very sweet but takes forever and a day to decide. Lord give me strength!
I think this is something nearly every caregiver faces. Sometimes it takes longer to decide, especially when we've allotted a certain amount of time for what excursion requires decision making and I want to get the other tasks done before I head home, trying to beat the traffic or a potential snow storm heading our way.

The only time I've seen this NOT happen is in man caves. Buying something goes really quickly; I'm the one trying to figure out the best choice! Jeez, all those screws...all those nails...which do I really need?

I too have lost patient and become short, then become angry with myself. I try now to mentally move first into reality check mode, remembering that older minds don't think as quickly, that there are probably a myriad of considerations to consider, and that if the wrong choice is made, nothing much can be done until I'm back available to take the stuff back to the store.

I can easily run back to the store for an exchange; not so my parent, who waits on my pumpkin to turn into his chariot so he can get out of the house.

If I get too impatient, I wander away to other aisles. Moving from a closet supply aisle to the plumbing aisle tends to numb my brain as I look at all the fixtures, then I realize how much time it takes me to decide when I don't know what I'm going.
Last sentence should be "when I don't know what I'm doing", not going, although sometimes I really don't know where I'm going either.
Looks like I'm having one of THOSE DAYS.

I think perhaps your mother's shopping trips might be (a) pleasurable because it's a chance to get out of her environment (b) see what's new in the world and (c) and make decisions. For her it might be respite, like we might go to a museum or library.

So it's more than just a trip - it's a real excursion.

Sometimes if I see that shopping or whatever isn't going well, I suggest a detour to one of our favorite places - the Dairy Queen. A DQ blizzard or peanut buster parfait always seems to make the world right again.

So the next time either of you get frustrated, maybe you can suggest stopping for coffee, lemonade, or whatever will allow you both to just sit down and concentrate on eating....a change of pace. Or do something that doesn't require any decision making. When the holidays coming up, driving around to look at decorations is always relaxing.
Lorrie, what you wrote about going shopping often now caught my eye. Taking whole afternoons to go shopping too often is guaranteed to even try the patience of Job. You're doing much better than I ever could!
Lorrie, do you need to be as involved in it as you are? Do you need to help your mom try on the clothes, or keep her from getting lost, or supervise her every second? I hate shopping, and when I take my Mom shopping I usually wait in the car and read books or newspapers on my iPhone, or text with friends, or surf the web, whatever. If I had to stand over my Mom while she deliberates over every item I think I'd jump out a window! As others have said, you're doing much better than I ever would!
Fellow caregivers, I came home last night exhausted and discouraged. I read through your wonderful responses and felt SO MUCH BETTER. Thanks for making me laugh and cry at the same time; thanks for taking a moment out of your own busy days to help out. And thanks for the suggestions! I suspect, in trying to be more patient, that I'm being more patient than I need to be. So I will set some realistic time limits and take breaks (for me or both of us) as you suggested. As I get wiser and better at this, I hope to be able to "pay it forward" when someone else needs support. Thanks again, everyone, truly appreciative...
Windyridge is too funny! And oh, how true. LorrieB, the same thing happened with my FIL when I took him to buy new clothes that fit. "But I don't wear that size" (anymore, ya mean?). It's not you, it's not mom, it's the dementia. Order her clothes from a catalog. Let mom try on clothes all DAY at home. Whatever doesn't fit, send back. I give FIL a pile of his shorts and shirts to "try on" and pick the ones that fit

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