How do you keep your sanity when caring for both of your parents?

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Okay, this is such an insane way to live! i feel invisible and isolated trying to "break through" but i can't ever seem to catch my breath...life feels so out of control...it's been over a year now and My doctor just wants to prescribe meds for my depression, but it is so much more than that....I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. My poor dear parents, sob sob...what a heartbreak.

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Top Answer
I'm sorry to hear of your situation. It sounds like you're suffering from burnout which encompasses not only depression but anxiety, withdrawal, irritability, etc.
Do you have siblings? A husband? How long have you been taking care of them? Do they have the finances to afford a part time caregiver from an agency to give you respite?
I took care of both my parents as well for over 4 years and there were days where I thought i was going crazy. I have no siblings to help. You're probably dealing with their dysfunction which complicates things and increases the stress that's already there! Please keep posting and sharing what you're experiencing. That's what we're here for.

Take care of yourself the best you can and know we're all here for YOU.

Hugs,

Smitty
Yeah, hi, I'm in the same boat. Well, uh, the answer to your question, is,uh, you don't basically. LOL :-) Wayne Just kidding, in order to keep your sanity, you must develop a very thick skin, have a sense of humor about things ( this comes in handy especially when things get real tough. Keep a level head. And having a beer or two.............................................or three helps to keep the edge off when caregiving in order to make it a less stressful experience. Hope this helps. And even if it doesn't, it will give people reading it a very good laugh. LOL :-) Wayne
I agree with Wayne ... you need to develop a sense of humor ... and take lots of deep breaths. Preserving your own health and sanity is important as a caregiver. Have you looked into services that can decrease the amount of time that you spend caring for them? Meals On Wheels? Senior Center? Senior DayCare? Call your county's Office on Aging ... I've found them to be very helpful. Depending on where you live, there are volunteer organizations that will visit your elderly parents, just to give you a break. The more you search for services, the more you'll find. I care for my aunt and mother, who both are in Independent housing ... same building thankfully and my husband now has health/cognition issues, so I understand how overwhelming it can be. And expensive. I finally broke down and hired someone to spend 2 hours a week with my aunt. It's not a lot but enough to save me 2 hours worth of cleaning/washing clothes. You need to make a plan because you can't go on indefinitely, it's not good for your health. And the number one rule is to take care of the caregiver first!!
Gilboa - you don't get to keep your sanity. Sorry,I'm on year 3 of caring for BOTH my parents with no help from my two siblings, not even moral support, and a self medicating mother that constantly defends them. I am officially insane. I do it all and am stuck in this hell hole. If you want to write on my wall we can chat. Bet we have a lot in common.

xo
-SS
I took care of both of my parents and it is very emotionally painful and it just drains you of your energy. I unfortunately didn't have any support from siblings and my friends who had young parents didn't understand, they just avoided me. This forum helps a lot. If you have an Area Agency on Aging, they have information on help you might be able to receive.
It's a roller coaster ride, hang in there!
I don't have both parents, but I have one who seems like about three. I know exactly what you mean, Gilboa, about being ready to go off the deep end. What helps me is this forum, a support group for caregivers - except I can hardly ever go (Lol), my husband's offers of respite, and knowing that it can't possibly last forever. Mom is very demanding, depressed, narcissistic, etc., so it doesn't matter what I do or have done, it won't make anything better. My sister had her for 4 years with me being respite for her a week once a month, then two weeks, and then all the time here. My sister has all but disappeared from the equation, but I understand now, why. This is an impossible situation but my sister also doesn't want me to spend any of Mom's money for outside help. That's too bad, because I need it and I will do it, anyway. I have lined up a caregiving agency, although I haven't used it yet. I was waiting to hear from an outpatient day program that is paid for by private insurance and Medicare, but it is for people who have depression and things like that. I am hoping that will help, but it means a 45 minute ride in the van both ways each time. I have found these things in the community, and I agree with the more you look the more you find. My Mom had a break down in front of her doctor so she got admitted into Senior Care which is a geriatric psych program. This was the beginning of some help. Your parents may not need the psych thing, but it did help with her depression to a certain extent and got her off of narcotic pain medicine.

Just remember there are many of us out there, and you just have to do what you can with what you've got as far as resouces go, and know we are all pulling for you! My sister has agreed to take Mom for a week next week and I am so excited I can't stand it!!!!!!! There are places you can take your parents to for respite, but in MS, where I currently reside, you have to be poverty stricken or rich to get those services. I don't know which state you're in but you may have better options than we do here. I probably need counselling too, but so far I haven't gotten any. This has only been going on full time (part time for 4.5 years) for me since the new year, so I can't imagine what you are going through. Hugs to you and prayers, good thoughts.
How do you keep your sanity? One minute at a time, one decision at a time. Yes, decisions, because you are making decisions. Every time you hear yourself say "I have to" do such-and-such, catch it. Stop and realize that you are making choices. If you hear yourself think "I have no choice" translate that into "Well, I'm doing this, so that must mean it's the best choice I could see right now." That will activate the problem-solving part of your brain that will go, "Wait, really?" and look for more alternatives. Not just big-picture alternatives like digging deeper into what public services are available, but even teensy alternatives to small things, that add up. Meanwhile you'll be practicing being in touch with that part of you that is making choices -- that's a good thing, because the surest route to real insanity, a real breakdown of your health, is thinking that you're totally helpless and out of control. You're not.The situation may be wild, but there you are in the middle of it, making a millions decisions a day.
Try some emotional blackmail on your sibs. Assuming you're employed outside the home, tell them you're thinking of moving out. (Considering your physical & mental health is going downhill fast, the idea of renting a room somewhere seems ... dreamy.)

Now, if completely rely on your parents for room, board, and other perks, then caring for them is your job. In that case I suggest developing some sort of support network -- e.g., inviting the extended family over every now and then, developing mutually-beneficial relationships in your neighborhood, visiting senior citizen centers for tips, and dropping by churches to identify good samaritans that do reach out to others if only to spread the Word.

Time management is of the essence, so try to get yourself and your parents on some sort of steady schedule. That should save you brain cells and the occasional trip to the shrink. Good luck.
Re; As a caregiver you have to take care of yourself FIRST.
I concur. In order to be effective, you have to be in reasonably good mental and physical condition.
However, taking care of YOURSELF is easier SAID than DONE.
It is extremely difficult, in my experience, to juggle taking care of one's own healthg while taking care of the health and well-being of two octagenarians who are in your care. Right now, my life is not my own. It belongs to THEM. But one day, I will be free, but it will be at a great loss since someday they will not be around anymore. Best. :-) Wayne
Can I join the insane club? I have been housebound so long that when I occasionally get out now I have anxiety driving. Not good! The dr put me on meds and they do nothing. In fact I had to hire someone so my hubby could go with me there on a saturday. Its not a good situation and we do keep a sense of humor and sing a lot. Moms such a sweet peach and its not her fault, its just so hard and been 5 years now. I wish she could walk or talk to me or see the TV, its sad but I spoil her well. I just hired a cna privately for $12 an hour and am training her on the weekend. Its the only salvation to keeping your sanity. If you know you have a weekend or a day off it helps. I still do the morning bathing, etc but then she can feed her (2 hours) and hoyer her into her recliner and I can get out. I use my mothers money for help and supplies but we pay the bulk of things like food and oil heat. Do hire someone like every Saturday for $100 or more, its worth it. I figure, I have to try and live my life so I dont die first, and this could go on 5 more years, we never know. Good luck to you.

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