Lost in caregiving land.

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My 90 year old mom moved in with us 8 months ago. She suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and it manifests by her getting very short of breath. It is so difficult to deal with and having never really dealt with someone with such severe anxiety my tendency is to want her to "snap out of it." From what I read, it really is out of her control. But sometimes, honestly, I feel that she uses it to get attention, pity, whatever she wants at that time. I finally had it set up that she would stay with my sister for a whole week. I was ecstatic and felt that I would be "free" for 7 whole days. Well, that was a disaster. She lasted two nights and her anxiety was so over the top that my sister had to ask to send her back here. I have not felt the same since, just lost and frustrated and overwhelmed and feeling trapped. I know my own health is suffering. I guess I am just needing to vent. Thank you for "listening." Anyone else ever feel this way?

9 Comments

Justme456, time for you to find a detour out of the caregiving land.

Could your Mom afford to hire someone from a caregiver agency to help here out, to give you a breather? If she can't afford someone, see if your Mom can qualify for Medicaid... that way Medicaid could send someone out for a few hours each week to give you a rest. Otherwise, before you know it, you will need a caregiver for yourself !!
Why not contact her doctor. It sounds like she needs to be on medication for this anxiety disorder. It would not only help her but it would also help you if her illness was better controlled. You're lucky you had a sister willing to take her in for a week. Sorry it didn't work out. If she isn't on medication, see if she can't be, and give it a try again.
It sounds like you've done some research on your mother's condition -- good for you! Perhaps further delving into the condition would also help. For example, can you find a caregivers support group? Can you have a consultation with her doctor? If she is going to live with you, knowing all you can about her condition can only help.

Is she on medication? When was it last evaluated? Perhaps an adjustment is needed. Does she know some techniques for helping herself? Breathing techniques or self-talk or anything she can use to calm herself down? If not, I wonder if she is seeing the right kind of specialist.

But no matter what you know about her condition, and no matter what tools she has at her disposal, this really does not sound like a one-person job! You need regular breaks. As freqflyer says, if she cannot afford additional help, your next task might be to find out what kind of financial aid she is eligible for.

Does she have other disabilities in addition to the anxiety? Can she perform all activities of daily living on her own? Does she help with the housework? Is she pleasant to have around? If she could get a better handle on the anxiety and you had some time off, would the arrangement of her living with you work out?

If not, if you have gotten into something that really is not what you expected and that you do not wish to continue in, then your focus needs to be on finding her a suitable care center.

I have only had a panic attack once, as a med side-effect. I was told in advance it might happen so I recognized what was going on and I got through it. But, oh my goodness!, did that give me a whole new appreciation of what people go through who have generalized anxiety disorder and/or frequent panic attacks. I have nothing but sympathy for your poor mother! That does not mean you need to sacrifice your own sanity in caring for her. I just sincerely hope that you can find ways to help your mother, whether she continues to stay with you or you find another residence for her.

Keep us posted on how this works out for you. We care. And we learn from each other.
Has your mom been seen by a geriatric psychiatrist? Meds recommended? These can be a Godsend.
My Mom goes through the same thing. I totally understand what you are saying by a natural response being to say .. snap out of it!! (without the Cher slap of course) When my Mom is going thru one of those spirals, I try to talk her down. It sometimes works, I'll just keep repeating to her that she needs to calm down. That of course doesn't always work. She always was a worrier and a bit anxious before the dementia and it seems that dementia enhances those anxious feelings. Sometimes she gets to crying. I've told our Doc about all of this and most docs will not prescribe anti-depressant meds to elderly/alzheimers/dementia. He did prescribe Depacote sprinkles and we are trying that to see if it helps. If anyone out there has more advice on meds, that would be great to hear.
Francis: May I suggest that you get a second opinion on meds for your Mom if you haven't already. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds are often used in the elderly/alzheimers/dementia pts. My Dad had Alzheimers and he was on Prozac from the day he was diagnosed till his death. It really helped him.
Thank you Nojoy, I will investigate and hope we can find something that will help her to be more stable. It's amazing that she was able to get thru most of life without anti anxiety drugs, and I remember a brief time where the doc prescribed her anti-depressants (long before her dementia onset) and I noticed a positive difference in her, but she stopped taking them. Thank you again :)
Thank you all for your helpful comments. I am taking her to a geriatric therapist this week to see if that will help with her anxiety. She is not very happy with me about this. I feel as if I need to insist that she go though. She is on meds for this condition but she feels that her nebulizer (for asthma) with the albuterol mist is the only thing that helps her "breathing". We just sold her home of 60+ years and she is having a very difficult time with this. She says that now she "has no home" and she "doesn't know where she belongs". While I am sympathetic to her feelings and how difficult this must be for her, I am encouraging her to be more positive about the fact that she now is in our home and that we welcome her here and are really trying to do our best. However, with my mom the glass is always half empty. It is a difficult attitude to be immersed in everyday. Maybe I'm the one who needs the therapist. lol.
Thanks, again, for hearing my comments. This is a lonely road at times.
It is a lonely road sometimes. Shower her with love... home is where the heart is :) and you have a good one. Let us know how things work out.

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