I really miss my old life!!!

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A VERY long time ago, I once had a life. I was always academically advanced, and dedicated to education. I graduated magna-cum-laude with a master's degree in special education, and taught for 16 years. Health problems forced me to retire sooner than I would have liked. After a few years I began volunteering with kids at summer camp and later elementary school. It was so much fun!!! Then last year it all came to a SCREECHING halt when dear old Aunty had her second stroke and it was determined that she couldn't be left alone. She refused outside caregivers so I was forced to give up everything and stay home with her. Now the only time I get to work with kids is in Sunday school. I am hoping things improve to the point where I can go back to working with kids at camp this summer (another regular job I've had for many years).And a social life is out of the question! ! I am reduced to social networking, phone calls, occasional visits by buddies, and MAYBE a chance to go to a church function if I can get a relief caregiver. I just feel that all the time I spent preparing for my "future" was a complete waste.


are you Aunties only relative?
You say, "She refused outside caregivers so I was forced to give up everything and stay home with her."

You are well educated and smart besides. I expect that if you examine that statement you will know it isn't quite accurate -- at least not literally. Who "forced" you? At gunpoint? Using blackmail? What, exactly, "forced" you to think this was the only possible option for your life? Did you make this decision based on lack of information, or what?

Auntie doesn't want outside caregivers. You don't want to give up the life you worked so hard to build. You don't want to stop your interactions with children.

Auntie may be an absolutely sterling individual. You may love her deeply. But what makes what she wants so much more compelling than what you want? Why is she entitled to have her demands met, even if they are not in her own best interest, let alone in yours?

You are letting someone with dementia call the shots? How smart is that?

You are hoping things will improve by this summer. How are you expecting this to happen? Dementia very definitely doesn't get better. Persons with dementia who don't have good judgment don't suddenly develop it. If things are better for you it will be because you took some steps to make them better, even if those steps don't meet with Auntie's approval.

You are obviously a very caring person, in your career and in your interests. That is awesome and my hat's off to you. Please don't let completely override logic as you make decisions about your own future.
Gospel girl, I'm assuming that your master's degree with honors didn't happen by magic, by hoping or wishing. It happened through planning, working hard and deferring other stuff that you might have done instead.

in this situation, you need to employ some of those same elements. If you are going to continue to live with Aunt Shirley and do SOME of the caregiving, you need also to have an outside life. NO ONE PERSON CAN CARE FOR AN ELDER ALONE. It's not good for the care, nor for the person in care. Both need outside social outlets, as well as a break from each other. Especially in cases of dedementia mentis. The illogical of the demented mind will make you crazy.

so. You cannot do this without outside caregivers. Can you pay them from Aunt's funds, ie do you have poa? You could introduce someone as a friend who is coming to give you a break. You could say you're hiring a laundress. If you are uncomfortable with "therapeutic fibbing" talk to your pastor about it.
But you need a plan. What activities do you value most? Life has changed and you need to change with it. Keep posting!

Hi, GospelGirl :) My great-aunt lives with her son, her daughter-in-law, and her 14 yr. old granddaughter. They've been caring for her for about ... five years, I think? When I moved back into the area and needed a job, they hired me to stay with her during the day, usually from about 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. when her son gets off of work; this gave her daughter-in-law (who did most of the hands-on care) to get a job and now they are all able to go out and do things on the weekends if they want to. It works all around because I'm able to make money (they pay me from my great-aunt's money) and they are able to do things they hadn't been able to do.
If you have a family member of your aunt's who is unemployed, then perhaps you can hire them. Here's what I do: I make her breakfast and lunch, wash the dishes, bathe her three times a week, give her her medicine, check her blood sugar, as well as numerous little things. When I'm not 'doing something' I'm able to use my computer, knit, or read while keeping an eye on her. It makes it so much easier on her family. And, as Babalou says, you may want to sort of carefully integrate the new helper into the daily routine until she doesn't even remember that she didn't want someone other than you helping her.
Try to give your aunt something to do, as well. Preferably something not messy, lol. Maybe you can put a TV in her room and turn it to a channel she likes, or let her choose the movie she wants to watch. Put a radio in the room and turn on calming music or an audiobook. Make sure she has notebooks and pens. If her eyesight is fine, give her some interesting books; maybe nature books with large, full color photos (just make sure they are some you don't value highly, in case she decides to write in them or cut them up). If the weather is nice, have the sitter take her outside and let her sit in the sunshine; the sitter can stay nearby and keep an eye on her.
I would definitely encourage you to get out and do things you like to do when you can; caregiving can make you feel like your life is at a dead-end, and you really need time for yourself.
Auntie didn't force you. It is a very hard thing for anyone to accept a choice they now regret because they don't like the consequences. We've all been there at some point. You need a plan to get your life back on the track you want it on. I've found this forum very encouraging - you are not alone! And there are elder care services everywhere. Best of luck.
I think most if not all of us feel that way at times. It's important to have outside help to give you a break, while you do something for yourself. Otherwise you just become more resentful and miserable.
It's not that I was forced. ..she and everyone else felt that I was the most logical one to do it because I already live here and everyone else has full time jobs and kids to take care of. Hmm hmm
Disregard that last word. ..spellchecker went a little bit haywire.
Gospelgirl, I am baffled why other family members pointed to you to be the caregiver when you had to retire early from your paid position because of health issues. One would think if you are unable to work full-time, how on earth would you be able to care for an elder which is harder and more physical work, plus being seven days a week with no weekends or holidays off.

And who decided that your volunteer work with children was less important than their own outside work? In my book, your volunteer work is actually more important because you are doing the work from your heart without any monetary value.

Sometimes our elders don't get a vote when it come to outside help. Start bringing in people to help you, you never know your Aunt could bond with one of the caregivers, thus giving you time to do what makes you happy.
It really was not logical to nominate you for caregiver because you are on disability, but people who have not beencaregivers think it is way easier than it really is. so it seemed logical to them. GospelGirl, you have to ask yourself what you really WANT to do. If you think being the one to care for Auntie is your true calling, and a noble calling, and you want to live up to that, then find wahtever help you can to do it and do it well and hold your head up high. If you think that agreeing to care for Auntie was a huge mistake and an inappropriate responsibility for your abilities to perfom it with the resources and support you have (and don't have) then you serve notice, pack up, and prepare to go elsewhere. What you DON'T do is accept the responsibility, then complain about how miserable you are mulitple different ways on different posts onhere and get sympathy that helps you avoid confronting the realities of your previous dreams and life slipping away.

Look. Let's say I was a jet-setter world traveler type of gal - but I decided I wanted to help needy children in Appalachia. I go to Appalachia and I hate it. Every minute of it. I plan to go do something else when my contract is up if I have one. Maybe I go back to jet-setting, or maybe I go join City Year and tutor children in a city elemenrtary school. Or, maybe I love the kids and sometimes miss having boeuf bourgninon at that little cafe on the Seine, but I look into their eyes and decide its worth the sacrifice. Make the sacrifice and find joy in it if it is the right thing for you to do. DO SOMETHING ELSE if it isn't!! Old dreams can be given up for new realities - happens to most all of us, and new dreams take their place. The years you had fulfilling the old dreams were destined to be finite in any event - they were not wasted; anyone who teaches touches the future. And if it does turn out they were the best years of your life, that does not make the rest of your life totally bad.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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