So stressed out.

Started by

I've been taking care of my mother for 1 1/2 years now. My sister was taking care of her before that for 4 years in another state. Then, my sister called me and my siblings when she ( my sister) couldn't take it anymore and became suicidal and demanded that we come get my mother. At the time I just didn't get it. Now, I'm beyond exhausted and even though she's in assisted living, I feel as if I do all the assisting. My mother has dementia, which I understand and try to be compassionate about. However she has always been and continues to be mean spirited, verbally abusive, manipulative, cruel and hurtful. I'm trying so hard and usually I'm o.k. But I'm so exhausted now and all my siblings live in other states. I don't know how much more I can take. I thought I made peace with her as a person and parent, but it's all coming back up. I'm trying to remember she is my mother and deep down she is a good person, but I'm so exhausted and stressed out. I've used up a lot of vacation time at work taking her from doctor to doctor and despite her claiming she's in extreme pain, none of them find anything wrong with her. Also the pain seems to manifest itself whenever or wherever it benefits her.


Crackerjacks (the name makes me smile -- sorry you are stressed), you certainly have taken a step in the right direction. Mom should be in a care center, and she is. So far so good.

Dealing with her is bringing up issues from your past. You deserve some help in dealing with that. Please see an objective third party -- a counselor -- to help you sort this all out. If the first one isn't seeming to help, try another one. You need to "click" with a counselor for best results. Please don't say you can't afford this or you don't have time. You really deserve help!

"Assisted living" covers a pretty wide range of services. It may be that if you have to keep coming in that mom is now needing more than she is getting in the present setting. Or it may be that she could get more care if you didn't intervene. If she knew that the center staff would deal with her pain and that you aren't going to take off work to take her in, maybe she wouldn't have pain quite so often.

I think you might want to have a frank discussion with the ALF director and with the caregivers assigned to her. Is she in the right level of care? What can you work out to minimize the contact you have with Mother? You should not feel as if you do all the assisting. And I'll bet that if you detached a bit and let the staff do their jobs, you would feel less stressed.

Good luck to you.
crackerjacks, there is nothing like caregiving to revive feelings of the past. When someone has dementia, often the bad things about them become worse. It can be a reminder of things we once had to endure. If you are anything like me, the unkindness can make me very angry and create a lot of extra stress. The stress can really take it out of us. Sometimes I don't know how we keep going.

What Jeanne said makes so much sense. We can forget how important we are when everything becomes too much about our parents. I live with my mother, so everything is about her. And yes, I'm crazy now... :) The things I've found that help me most is to set limits on what I'll do. Since your mother is in AL, you can tell her you'll do things on one day and only on that day. I don't know how bad her dementia is, but she may understand. On days she is abusive or mean, you can walk away and tell her you'll come back when she's feeling better. It is so hard to say these things to our parents, but sometimes we have to.

My mother is a hypochondriac. For two years I felt like a hamster in a wheel, chasing diagnoses that didn't exist. With her, it mainly came from fixating on a symptom that was fairly normal until it became life threatening. She also has a habit of creating her own ailments by doing things to "treat" herself. I had to get out of the hamster wheel because it was consuming my life. Now I listen to her and figure out when I think she really does need to see someone. This can be tricky, because when someone cries wolf so much it can be hard to know what is real.

My only real advice for you is to take care of yourself. You are as important as your mother. Make sure you are getting the self care that you need to keep the stress at a minimum. (And now that I said that to you, I should say it to myself! I know it is easy to say, but much more difficult to do.)

Talk to the ALF about increasing her level of care and what the additional cost would be. They can do case management and when they do, the various symptoms may clear up. It sounds like she is just manipulating you.
Thank you guys soooo much! I'm going to see my therapist today, because I feel like I can't cope anymore and am not effective at work, in my relationship with my boyfriend, I've gained a lot of weight and I have this perfectionist thing going on and I try to be superwoman. Trying to accept help, but wish the people who "get/understand" the situation best (my siblings) lived here. They are very helpful, but only so much they can do. And thanks Jeanne, I picked this screen name because my mother always gave me and my siblings these when we were kids and I wanted to think of something positive :) ---crackerjacks70.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support