Trying not to be resentful but...

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I posted this as a comment to an article, but decided to post it here in the forum instead. So, apologies for the double-post.

I've recently relocated to take care of my mother after my father's death last year. She's not ill other than what appears to be some type of approaching dementia. Really it's a continuation of a pattern of dependence she's had for about 40 years. I feel so resentful and so guilty for being resentful I am not even fifty years old and this was the time I was supposed to be rebuilding my life. There is a small window of time to put my own life together, to build a career and find a significant other, but I am stuck in this town taking care of her. Ostensibly due to finances, because she was left with no money (mostly just bad choices) and now I am living with her to help support her. I cannot leave because she will not be able to support herself. I am rebuilding after medical issues myself and so I do not have the money to buy her a place. Maybe at some point I will have the money to move out and still support her.

But she is also showing signs of dementia and so even then I would not be able to move out of state because she needs to be looked in on. I am an only child and have no other family. I have compassion for her that she has been left in this condition, and would not abandon her, but she is needy and emotionally dependent and often like a child and I feel only resentment. This is a lifelong pattern that I would call emotional blackmail, except that she appears to have some real problems handling things.

I was hoping to move two hours away to a larger city where business might be better (my hometown) but she insists that she must follow me to any city that I move to because she does not want to be alone "in case she gets sick." Even though I could come up a few times a week and check on her.

I have moved into my father's old room and now have to take over his role of driving her to the grocery store and doing basic tasks and listening to her go on incessantly about mundane household things and childlike comments about the squirrels. This should be delightful but really it gets on my last nerve. She was agoraphobic for many years and very rarely leaves the house; when she does, it is usually accompanied by an anxiety attack and I have to go with her.

She worked on me for about a year before I came down here and living with her was out of the question, but after I got down here, it was clear that it was the right thing to do. Apparently I have always been her retirement plan - she thought that she would live with me, just like they lived with her grandmother growing up. No one told me. This is a retirement town and a number of her friends have been living with their mother into their 90s. This is horrifying to me although it appears I have been assimilated.

I had only a few years ahead to build a career and find a significant other and that is probably gone now. I am trapped here and will probably be released from this just when I am old enough to get a few cats and look back on a life that didn't happen. That said, I am trying to cultivate gratitude for this time with her, compassion for her situation (I do have that), and am trying to be the best steward possible of the time we have together, and trying to zip my mouth and not let my anger come out at her because she is really not capable of coping right now, try as I might to get her to carry in her own grocery bag.. That said, I resent this but do not want to look back and be someone who did not step up. But it sucks, it really does. Reality is that it's about her and it probably will be for the rest of her life (and the rest of my productive years). I always did like cats so maybe I can rescue some from the shelter before I die.

Selfish attitude? You bet. It's ugly. I'm trying to be a better person around this but so far have only a small bit of success. I wish I could be one of those saintly types who loves taking care of the elderly but it's just not there. I did not have children for this reason and now I have been given a special needs "child" to care for. I wish I could simply say, my home is your home (except I don't own a home, but you get the idea) - that is how it should be. I always thought I was a good person until now and I am bitterly disappointed with this selfish response. She's like an open would laid out, and if you resent it you're kicking the victim - this is the dynamic but now it's worse because she really is missing a few marbles.

My life is over but I should be honored and grateful to be able to be there for her. So far, no joy on that one but I'm working on it.

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Guess this thread ended... anyway thank you all so much for your comments! Oh, one more thing - regarding the apartment suggestions - very good suggestions - she is on Social Security and doesn't like her options here in this area - they are run down and depressing although that might be less the case in another area. But maybe I'll check out an expanded area. Thanks again for all your responses!
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Oh, one more comment. Sorry. Just to clarify - I didn't mean to minimize being a caregiver to a spouse, or being a caregiver who was on in years - both situations would present their own unique and painful experiences. Just different. Although surely in many respects, the same. So i hope the earlier comments were taken in the way in which they were intended.
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Also, added comment - I'm stuck in a town that's not very, well, progressive, let's say. So the pickins might not be that great, but I'm obligated to stay here. I would actually prefer to be living in the bigger city (It's not a huge city like New York or something, but it's a major metro area) to at least be able to continue a more interesting life and meet more interesting people. It's always possible to commute though, it's not that far away. I'd much rather be living there and commute here a few times a week to help mom out but that's not the reality right now.
There are some benefits to being in this sleepy town though - it's quiet, the cost of living is lower, and it's seductively easy to breath a little and not have to fight the world - but from a business perspective, letting the world pass you by is deadly. It's very easy to get lulled into laziness. And the opportunities here are fewer as well.
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Hi everyone, checking back in - been away for a few days. Wow, great responses.
Regarding the health effects on caregivers, one can only imagine. Cortisol? You bet. I've been swallowing that cortisol with bowls of ice cream and trying not to engage. (Thankfully for the most part, it's peaceful). I went to bed angry after a confrontation last night - tried to back out as quickly as possible but it wasn't soon enough), journaled to release some of the adrenaline, but could feel the toxic cocktail still in my system this morning upon awakening, well mostly just the tiredness and after-effects of it.
I wonder if it would be different caring for a spouse because of the diffferent dynamic? Not saying it would be, but just asking the question out of curiosity. Because you choose to be with a spouse (unless this person was an abusive jerk who kept you there under threat or who you don't love and just marrried for the money). But I've been in love, and had to see this person through some rough medical times, but it was very different. It seems in the case of a person who is younger, caring for a parent, you didn't choose the parent, you didn't ask to not have siblings, and perhaps this parent was a saint and the one you looked up to, but often some parents were abusive, toxic, rude or needy and use emotional manipulation and guilt to get you in their claws. Now my mom's not that bad thankfully, just difficult, and most of the time we get along, but It's easy to see where some people would be tangled up with toxic family they would otherwise not want to be involved with. Do you think it's different with a spouse, when one has elected to be there and promised such? Not to minimize the frustration and resentment that some people may have experienced at a particular situation. Also, the above point that they are probably a similar age - if two people are in their 80s, at least they have lived their life. Whereas if you become a caregiver at 35 - whole different story.

Regarding the relationship aspect of things referred to earlier. Yes, I don't plan on dragging partners home to mom's for an all-night romp. LOL However that is a part of it, there is a privacy aspect of just being able to live your life that disappears when you are a grown adult in someone else's home. But it's more about the bigger parts of that - why would someone want to get bound up with me where I"m trapped in a caregiving situation? What are they going to do, move in with me and mummy? I want my own life, a partner, a home, maybe even a cat. *grin* It's about autonomy, living your own life, being able to build something on your own. If your life is captive to caregiving, you are not truly free and available to build a life with someone. That said, of course mom comes first, but really?
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I've not read the original studies, so don't know what to think of the results. One thing that occurred to me was that many caregivers take care of their spouses, who are about the same age. It wouldn't be surprising if a lot of these caregivers died before their spouses. I knew one woman who was around 80 who was caregiver to her husband with Alz. She died of a heart attack one night. Was it because she was a caregiver, or was it because she was older and had a bad heart? It's impossible to say how caregiving might have contributed.
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Mary, in rereading my response to you about the statistical probabilities of a caregiver dying before a patient with Alzheimer's, I think I may have sounded a bit too bossy. It wasn't my intention to just suggest you look it up, but rather that to do so would help interpret whatever results you might find.

I think also that one of the problems with studies with those kinds of conclusions is that so many situations are different. One of the women I know who cared for her husband with AZ did for for something like 10 years if not more. He remained in their home, was bedridden and noncommunicative for the last 3, but she managed with the help of in-home care.

Another was a man who cared for his wife at home until she became combative and physically violent, at which time he sought institutional placement.

Both of these people wanted to care for their spouse, and I think saw it as an opportunity to share their last days and make something better of them than might otherwise exist under the circumstances. They also had strong support from friends in their religious circle.

I think so much of it depends on attitude. Those who feel trapped and resentful are probably going to be more stressed and more likely to suffer physical ailments. Those who see it as a challenge or duty will probably not be as affected.

Another interest aspect to explore is the effect of cortisol on caregivers. Sometimes what I find scares me, but at least I have some idea what might be on the horizon and how I can avoid it.

Again, I hope I didn't offend you with my less than tactful suggestion.
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Mary, whether that may or may not be true, you'll feel more comfortable doing your own research. If that statistic was based on a study, locate the study and determine whether in fact it was a scientifically done study, just one study, or whether there are other studies that support that conclusion.

I have personal experience with only a few people who've cared for someone with Alzheimer's, and they've both outlived their partner.

There are some interesting facts about the effects of caregiving though. Years ago I did some research, which was unsettling. It addressed a higher level of IL-6 in caregivers, equivalent to what the level would be in persons much older. It's a complicated issue so I won't go into a lot of detail on the effect of IL-6 on health.

If you're interested, check out this symopsis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16960028. Read the first paragraph. If the Admins delete the link, Google "IL-6, caregiving."

Here's another study synopsis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20808097. This one also addresses the ability of the caregiver's "self-efficacy", apparently a medical term for various aspects of coping skills. This was a very limited study, however.

I and I'm sure many others here can tell you from experience though that caregiving of anyone is going to lead to changes in health and challenge coping skills. But we have forums, which our parents and grandparents didn't. They just did what they considered was right, probably without much support and certainly not an online community of people in similar conditions.

But I think it's good that you're concerned about this so you can take preventative measures.
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Someone told me that the caretaker of an Alzheimer loved one has a 75% chance of dying before the patient!!! Can anyone give me any feedback? I am 78 yrs old...marymember
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Trapped, not having siblings I never learned at an early age how to deal with people living under the same roof 24/7 [parents don't count as I consider them a different dynamic]. And not having children, I never learned how to reason with someone who could be stubborn at the age of 2 or 13. Those are all learning experiences that people bring forward to use not only in family matters but in the work force. You and I missed out on that.

I know I feel resentment, big time. When my parents were my age, Dad had already been retired and the last time Mom worked outside the home was in 1946.... once retired they were traveling the world, eating out, going to the movies, taking the subway into Washington DC to visit each and every historical site. Neither of my parents had hands-on care of their own aging parents because they lived out-of-state and had siblings who became the caregivers.

Last year my Dad said it was time for me to quit my job to spend more time with them. So, I asked my Dad if he resigned from HIS job to care for his parents. I knew what his answer was... it was *no*.

With my major health issues that popped up since dealing with my parents [even though they still live independent] I will never enjoy a retirement like my parents had. In fact, there are times when I actually believe that my parents will out live me. I should be enjoying my parents company, not trying to avoid it.
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I don't think many of us are cut out for caregiving, but here we are. I just nodded when I read the posts here. There's nothing anybody is feeling that I'm not feeling. Sometimes I feel like the one who is aging in place. I try not to worry about tomorrow, but I worry anyway. I've been here 4.5 years now -- first with my mother and father, and now just my mother. If I could have gotten them into assisted living (AL) I would have. I couldn't get them out of the house with a shoehorn, though. So time ticks on.

If you can get your mother into a retirement community, it would be great. Some communities are subsidized by the state or federal governments in the US, so you can get a nice apartment for a cost your mother can afford. I hope you can find one. My hubby and I used to live in one that had some subsidized 1-BR apartments in TX. They were nice -- perfect for seniors -- and provided social outlets.

About social things for us. I'm 62 and I'm surprised there are still men out there interested. I always heard that no one wants a woman after a certain age. Apparently these people were only asking younger men. There are many older men looking for companionship, and they are not looking at the younger women. Well, actually they are, but only 5-10 years younger. There are a lot more men 60+ now, many who are divorced or widowed. They're out there, so that is no worry. What "they say" about older women finding someone has not caught up to the reality of change in the number of seniors without partners. (I ran into one that seemed near perfect the other day until I learned he loved to dance. I have four left feet -- terrible dancer. And he doesn't like animals. I'm an animal person, so we were doomed. But it was fun imagining he could be Mr. Right.)
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