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I feel like no one in my life understands how hard this is. I am a middle aged mom of three teenagers, a full time job, married and take care of my elderly parents who are 84 and 87. My father has moderate Alzheimer's and very limited mobility due to spinal issues. My mother has heart issues and is also limited with movement due to hip issues. Its emergency hospital trips/ stays, doctor visits, coordinating care, picking up medications, etc. etc. never mind just being with them. The sadness of watching them slowly get worse day after day. I get very little support from my siblings (surprise, surprise) and no sympathy/empathy from my friends. I feel like no one understands how incredibly hard this is. It is super lonely. Anyone else feel like this and how do you deal with it?

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My stepmom (wonderful woman!!) took care of my stubborn, mean dad at home for five years after his stroke. During that time, he weakened to the point that he could not be left alone in the house. The county provided 4 hours respite per week - she used that time for grocery shopping and other errands.

meanwhile -at their age, their few friends started to die. They live in a small rural town, so not many new friends to make.

My step mom (internet shy) advertised for other house-bound caregivers in their county to meet on a conference call twice a week to chat and vent and help each other. It was a God-send for her and the others. My dad would get crabby that she was on the phone - so she took the call in the garage :). Now that my dad is in the nursing home - she and a couple of other women on the caregiving call have gone to the casino together.

I think only people who have been through what you are dealing with can understand and empathize. If you can find a support group here, by phone, or through a church etc.

Also, there might be a time where you need to place your parents in a nursing home. It is OK - you didn't cause their illness. Your kids might need you also.
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I read constantly. I am planning for a life of traveling. I am going to see most of North America.

I bought an old RV. I started renovating it a couple months ago (very slow because I get very little time to work on it). I suppose it will take me a couple years to finish it. Good, I'm not going anywhere for a while.

I spend my evenings reading about every aspect of this renovation. I am almost an expert on RV construction! I plan my travel, and research every area of the continent for places that I want to see and enjoy,

This keeps me sane.

Find something that you have a consuming interest in...and research it to the best of your time and ability.
It pays to be curious ... take up a field of study.
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Dear didntknow,

I hear you. It is hard being a caregiver. You loved your dad and did so much for him. I am in the same situation. My dad passed last year. I made caring for him my whole life. The last three years were the hardest. I do sympathize and empathize with how are you feeling. My siblings were not as involved as I was, so it has been much harder on me.

I feel lost without my dad. I don't know what to do with myself since my whole day was wrapped up in taking care of my dad. I know it will take some time for my mind to accept this new phase in my life. I have tried different things to help my mind settle a bit. Everyone is so different. What works for one person doesn't work for another. But if you are interested consider counseling, joining a support group or reading different bereavement books.

Take care of yourself the best you can. Thinking of you.
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I find the isolation lingers even though Dad has passed. I'm not even sure what I used to do to occupy my time before I moved back home. No doubt, the deep depression I find myself in, is a factor, but I can't seem to reenter my life.
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I’ve written a guest post about this caregiving issue just recently and I suggested these ways that can help caregivers avoid loneliness and isolation:

1. Respite care
2. Let your family and friends help you
3. Find caregiver support groups or ask help from communities
4. Get treatment

Loneliness and isolation is deeply rooted to withdrawal from past habits and lifestyle of caregivers. They are left to fulfill their caregiving duties while their friends go on with their lives. Since they are dominated by the responsibility of taking care of their loved ones, they isolate themselves from their social circle.
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My connection to God helps me deal with the loneliness of caring for my husband and part time for one son and my parents. Everyone seems to think my husband is such a nice guy but he's not so nice when they aren't around. He makes time to be friendly because he neglects his family. I'm left with more chores and tend to rush around to do the chores and get to the appointments and not have time to chat with the neighbors. He's abusive verbally and emotionally and also manipulative when others aren't around, yet no one would believe it. So my loneliness is compounded by hearing how he's such a nice guy and it's a shame he's got cancer. I am disabled with many diseases and disorders but you can't usually see them so no one really knows or understands the pain or sacrifices I make. It's all so frustrating to have to hear my husband's praises sung and just quietly kind of nod in agreement because there's not much else to do.

I thank God for his constant presence and strength that reinforces mine. I also have family and some friends that aren't very close. It's God that's the close friend and the one I can count on. Caregiving and health problems have isolated me quite a bit for years now. I look forward to being more active and starting to know more people and making more friends in the future when my husband is no longer here. It may take time, but it'll happen.
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I right there with you guys, we have had my FIL for 11 years in our home, and beigh somewhat tied to the house does get lonely sometimes. I'm especially sad for my husband, who doesn't have any relationship with his siblings nor ever maintained friendships throughout his life. He made his life about me and our four kids, and my family too, so he does have options, but caring for his Dad, does keep him home alot, and I can see his resentment growing, especially during the winter time, when he can't work in the yard or on his car projects, which are his passion. We do alright together, but again, its hard having to constantly be there day in and day out, caring for an elderly, who never really was outwardly loving towards him growing up, and with whom I'm not close to at all. We do the best we can with the hands that we're dealt! Those darn Promises that we make, sometimes bite us in the butt!
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I took my parents in a year and a half ago. My mom just passed away on January 10th. I had many times I was overwhelmed and stressed out...living day to day. Now, I miss her and wouldn't have changed one second of my time with her. My dad and I are managing, but its lonely without her.
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redleaf, I noticed on your profile you mention that your Dad lives in independent living, I assume your Mom is living there, also. Some independent facilities offer "options" for the next level of care. Or do you mean they are still living in their single family home?

My parents did the single family home stuff up into their 90's, which was ridiculous in my opinion. I was always running there and there. And waiting for the telephone to ring with the next emergency.... [sigh]. The only people who understood what I was going through were those who had or were going through the same thing, like my boss understands 100% as his wife had Alzheimer's. Even my sig other was clueless to my exhaustion, he figured it was just woman's work.

Now if your parents are living in an Independent Living building, some such complexes offer another level of care for a fee. Such as pill management, the facility does all the work. Same with ER visits, they call the ambulance. Some facilities also drive the elder to and from doctor appointments, and a Staff members goes in with the elder to see the doctor.
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I'm divorced and really alone in my own world -- or should I say my mother's own world. I spend my time looking for things to buy and sell so I can keep a little money coming in. Mostly I feel like I'm waiting for God to come set me free from this. This evening I've been looking at houses that are for sale, thinking about where I want to move to and how long my money will hold up. This is not much of a life and I am very tired of living this way. I don't really cope. I endure. I am so grateful for this group. I come here to check things while I'm working on the computer. Sometimes someone says just the right thing that makes it all better.

I don't have any answers. Really this seems like sheer craziness after a while.
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I think a lot of caregivers deal with these issues - social isolation, increased time spent on driving for medical issues, and of course the pain of seeing our parents grow older, more frail, and more limited.

I'm still searching for coping mechanisms; probably always will be as the journey changes routes along the way. The paths are not straight but rather are curvy, sometimes too narrow and sometimes too wide, and sometimes frightening.

Listening to music helps me a lot, especially to and from medical trips and errands. I've also learned not to cram too much into one trip. In the past I tried to consolidate medical trips with one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but now that's too much, especially in the colder weather.

I just got so tired of the driving, even though my father doesn't live that far away. Part of the issue is the hassle of metropolitan area driving, with so many poor and irresponsible drivers on the road.

So what I do instead is limit any "work" to one medical trip, then plan an outing such as lunch or dinner to relax after our "work day". It helps both of us unwind and relax, although it often means spending another day driving around.

Housecleaning, especially deep cleaning, sorting and downsizing also helps redirect my focus.

Gardening is the best therapy for me though, so in the winter when I can't garden, I read gardening magazines, design new beds, draw up elaborate plans for the next gardening season.

I also read a lot; fiction novels are especially good for redirecting weary minds.
I used to draw and work with colored pencils, but haven't done that lately and miss it. Same applies to needlework; I haven't crocheted, knitted or sewed in years, but it was always relaxing, especially something like crochet or knitting which I can pick up and work on for a while every night.

To the extent you can, plan for any emergencies; I keep lots of blankets in the car, my father's medical history generally with me when I take him anywhere, buy lots of extra food that can be frozen in case I can't get through in inclement weather.

I'm trying to eliminate the last minute issues, so that I can use my time better.
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