Tired and feeling unappreciated.

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My mother and I have served as caregivers for her mother/my grandmother for the past 2 years. We provide her with around the clock care, especially now that she is in home hospice. We are tired, but we work out of love. I understand that confusion comes with dementia, but we never receive any thanks for what we do (which is everything, often including feeding and toilet duties, as well as the regular house work, cooking, cleaning, and changing of sheets.) We keep trying to take a few days off for respite care, but we hesitate to be out of town in case she passes. Recently, her health has really taken a turn for the worse. I am a college student in nursing school, and while I don't mind caring for her, I consistantly feel overwhelmed and burned out. I worry about my mom, because while I am only 20 and can handle the sleepless nights and long days, she is nearing 70 and cannot. How do we find relief while still being there for our loved one? Once a week, we have someone come in during the day so we can get out for a few hours, but it never feels like enough.


With later stage dementia, I doubt the person you are caring for even realizes all the work you are doing for her.... thus, please don't expect a thank you... her mind won't register to do that. Make this a learning experience for your nursing career. Study up on all you can about Alzheimer's/Dementia, especially if you decide to work in a hospital, it will help you with elder patients.

With your Mom being close to 70, she herself is going through her own age related decline, I know, it is happening to me. We have lost half of our energy that we had back when we were in our 40's or 50's. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and burned out, imagine how your Mom feels.

It's probably too late now to place your Grandmother into a continuing care facility as per your other posting of today, as your Grandmother sounds like she's near the end of her final stage. Has your mother contacted Hospice to come in to help? They are paid through Medicare which your Grandmother probably has as her primary insurance.
Ask the respite program what kind of extended respite is available. I believe I was offered a week, but I declined. After caring for him at home for 10 years I could go a few more months. Like you I didn't want to be away at the very end. Hubby died in our bedroom, holding my hand. For that privilege I could certainly pass up a respite week. Your needs may be different. Do ask hospice.

It is especially hard to continue to give and give without any show of appreciation -- in fact, with sometimes being accused of stealing or abuse! That is part of the confusion of dementia. I know it feels very personal, but it is not really about you -- it is about what the damage in her brain is doing to your grandma's perceptions. You and Mom will have to be each other's cheering squad. You can't expect that from demented Grandma.

Hang in there! This particular journey is almost over.
Only a few hours a week is not enough for you to survive being a full-time caregiver. Even in the airplane they have you put oxygen on yourself first. How can you truly help if you are burned out. It doesn't matter if you are 20 or 70 everyone needs a break. I have been a caregiver for 7 years in private home health care and assisted living. Now I am taking care of my mom who has Dementia for as long as I can. I pray for your respite soon to give you time to regroup.
Marisa, if it's any consolation, your feelings of exhaustion, being overwhelmed and unappreciated are quite common. Some of the people we care for not only don't have the mental acuity to provide the social necessities we might expect, but they're confused, probably in some level of panic as life and their own minds change around them. I sometimes think of them as people who've fallen through the ice, struggling just to stay above water, panicky and floundering.

Don't take it personally; it's the way things often are.

Since you're a nursing student, something you can do is as FF suggests. Think of how much experience you're gaining, and how much more valuable you'll be as a nurse because of this insight.

And be practical as well as career conscious; when you have a chance, jot down the various aspects of care you're providing so you can include them in your resume.

Hang in there, but do take as much time as you can for yourself, even if it's only a few minutes here and there. Do something relaxing to refresh yourself. Even just sitting with your eyes closed dreaming of something that calms you is worth it.

There's a thread titled "These are a few of my favorite things", at

It's tremendously inspiring and relaxing, so much so that I'm copying and saving the messages, printing them out and adding them to my medical records that I take when I go to doctor visits and ERs. For me, just thinking about this topic is relaxing.
marisainmich, this Aging Care website is a storehouse of information. Go up to the blue bar near the top of this page.... click on SENIOR LIVING.... and see the drop down menu.... click on ALZHEIMER'S CARE.... lot of excellent articles on all aspects of Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Also click on the other items on the blue bar for information. There's even one on CAREGIVER BURNOUT under CAREGIVER SUPPORT.
I know this may sound cold, but you being there or away will not change anything when she passes. I know you dont want to be away when it happens, but you are putting too much on yourself. Her time will come when it comes and there is nothing you or anyone can do about it. I would venture to guess that when that time comes, whether you are there or not will not make a difference to her in her state.

I do not mean to sound harsh or cold. I think you just need to realize that you are going to need your own health mentally as well as physically for many years yet. You need to recognize this so you can be okay with taking a respite to gather your sanity and strength. If she passes while you are away, it will not be your fault because you werent there. It will simply be her time. You need your respites and there should not be any feelings of guilt for it. You are human and IMO, you are amazing for what you are doing. Most people in this world would not do as much as you are. But you need your mind to stay sound and that means you need a break now and then.

And FreqFlyer is correct. Do not feel down that you get no thankyous. Likely she doesnt even fully understand what you are doing. But God sees it and that you can be assured of. :o)
I too am concerned for your Mom. You are very young and have vitality unmatched by your elders.The pressure you are feeling now is not the worst you will ever experience and of course its hard to deal with the burden set before you. Until your care is not longer needed, take a few hours a week too pamper yourself, learn yoga, and breathing exercises. I wish you all the best.
We will be your cheering squad and say thank you for all that you do to help your mom and helping her with her own mother. It is a lot to take on at your age in addition to your own nursing studies. My daughter is a nurse, so I understand a little what you are going through there. It is intense!

if your grandmother could, if her brain could formulate the words and the thoughts, she would appreciate what you are doing for her. And I'm pretty sure she would hug you and say thank you herself.

I second the motion that you could sort of specialize in elder care and diseases. As the baby boomers age, we are going to need caring, loving people like yourself to help us navigate the end of life.
I am so sick of being tethered to my old fragile sick miserable mother. No help from anyone. 5 siblings. The house ( mothers house is falling apart) . Every day something else is not working, ants in the kitchen, power outages, etc. I just want to get in the car and go. I am miserable. Help please!
I want to be gone. Who needs this crap at 64 years old. My family history is one of abuse( sexual) my father. My mother was oblivious. I resent and hate her for her denial and lack of help. And now here I am having to care for her. She is child like, de compensated in a heartbeat and I have to pick up the slack at this time in my life. I am angry resentful and just want her to go away.

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