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I know I'm not the only one who is dealing with this. I have a fulltime job. Work for a man who says he understands and SAYS my job is flexible, but if I try to leave early, I get dirty looks. I have BOTH parents at home PLUS my kids. I am in my mid 40's. This is not easy.
Both my parents went downhill within 2 month's of each other.
I do not know how to handle this. I also have kids who are active in school. That was hard enough. Then my parens went downhill. The only time I have is wehn everyone goes to sleep. But then I cant sleep because my brain won't shut off and I am so tired at work. I just dont know how to do all of this an dwonder how the rest of you do.

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Leslie---Inasmuch as your Mom has a dementia--Please contact the Alzheimer's Association in your area-----they are chalk full of programs that may be of help to you.They have a help line Number which is (800) 272-3900
Best,
Hap
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Thank all of you. Thank you. How nice to come here and see all this.
I wasn't real clear. The dirty looks aren't from my boss, but he sometimes forgot what we arranged after my mom's alzhiemers got bad and my dad had his stroke. They are from my coworkers who don't see me coming in at 7:20. Even though I respond to emails right away and get to work immeditley. I do not leave my desk at lunch. I leave at 3:20. They come in at 8:30 and get their lunch breaks and go home at 5:30. So they are the ones giving me the dirty looks. Some will stay stuff about me having banker hours. Shouldn't bother me but it does. Stupid right? I know.
Sometimes my boss will ask me to stay later but I can't. If I have to be in a meeting, I ask they schedule in the morning and not in the afternoon but some people aregue that they shouldn't have to juggle around me. Some of my work friends say that they are jealous of my schedule! HA! If only they KNEW what I'm dealing with at home!
And we are only 38 people big so we don't get FMLA. But that is a good idea.
I have peple who come in early from our church so I can drop off my kids 2ndgrade twins and one is autistic and go to work. My teacher friend at school keeps them in her room after so I pick them up and go home on days they don't do anything after school.
My husband and me are divorced. Well I actually don't know where he is, but he left long enough ago that i was able to get a divorce on abandonmant. He left when we realzed one of our twins was diffrent and got the autistim diagnosis. His exscuce to leave. I know I am better off without him. I am an only child. No siblings. My parents are only children too.
I do have church friends who are helping but think I need granny nannies. But my parents don't have a lot of money and I was barely making it with my paycheck anyway. I do have my mom's debit card number but I know I need to talk to someone on how to get this done the legal way.
So thank you all.
What a nice group of people you all are. Sad and nice that we are not alone.
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Are your kids old enough to help out? It may be required of them to step down from extra curricular events for the time being. You cannot rundown yourself too thin otherwise you will get sick and be of no use to anyone soon. So with your boss..can you get flex time and make up time on weekends. I work as well and have to hire a caregiver for during the week days to watch over my mom and then have to drive over there after work 3 days a week for a just a couple of hours and then full time on the weekends..my time is gone...I only have tues/thurs nights after work to myself....Good Luck!!!!
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more information Leslie:
Respite time: how to reduce caregiver stress and avoid burnout
Every caregiver needs respite time if she is to last. It may be hard to think of yourself and your needs at this time, but if you don't, your life will be consumed by your duties and you will burn out. Respite (a temporary break from responsibility) is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

Your friend or relative's level of disability determines whether he can be left alone and for how long. Care options include:

asking a family member or friend to stay with the patient for an hour or two
taking him to adult daycare (if ambulatory)
employing a professional sitter or healthcare aide for a few hours a week or month
hiring a college student (if skilled care is not needed) to stay with him
enrolling the person in your care in a support group
Check with your local Area Agency on Aging for respite-care programs in your area. Larger churches often have outreach programs that include respite care.

However you are able to arrange for some help -- and it will take some effort on your part, it won't happen by itself -- commit to taking some time at least once a week to do something for yourself.

NOTE: To make this happen you will have to defend this time because other things will demand to be made a priority. If you do not defend your respite time, you will not get it or the renewal it generates. Remember, caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint -- respite time helps you finish the race.


Other ways for caregivers to reduce stress:

Learn to say no. Good boundaries improve relationships.

Control your attitude: Don't dwell on what you lack or what you can't change.

Appreciate what you have and can do.

Go on a TV diet. Find simple ways to have fun: Play a board game, organize family photos, listen to music you enjoy, read the biography of an inspiring person.

Learn a time-management tool, like making a to-do list (specifically include items that you enjoy).

Knowledge is empowering; get information about your survivor's condition.

Limit coffee and caffeine.

Find a support system and nurture it.

Share your feelings with someone who wants to listen.

Keep a gratitude journal -- record three new things you are grateful for every day.

Memorize an inspiring poem.

NOTE: The #1 thing you can do to improve your situation is to acknowledge your role. A survey of family caregivers by the National Family Caregivers Association showed that spouse caregivers often refuse to accept that caregiving is a separate role from their role as spouse. The survey found that shifting this attitude -- accepting that caregiving is a separate role -- had a profound impact on their situation.

The job of long-term caregiving is too big for one person -- no matter how much love the caregiver has for the care receiver. Ask for and accept help from as many sources as you can find.


How caregivers can create their own respite zone
A respite zone is an area within your home set aside just for you, the caregiver. The idea is that this is your space. It can be your bedroom, the spare room, an office, or even a bench outside in the garden or on a porch. This is a place for you to take a break while the person in your care rests or is taken care of by someone else.

In creating your respite zone:

Keep in mind what you want to do there. Reading? Painting? Writing? Gardening? Bubble bath?
Identify the time you can get respite and how you will use it. Is it during the care receiver's nap time, when someone spells you? If you can only get a break at night after the person you're caring for is in bed, gardening probably won't be your respite.
Identify free space in your home. Porches are good candidates, a spare room is perfect, maybe a corner of your bedroom. A screen can give you privacy if you can't close the door.
Modify the space according to your needs. A reading chair with a lamp or a stereo headset. Keep whatever is necessary for your respite activity.
The goal is to give you a place of your own where you can find enjoyment in your own home and life. If searching the Internet is fun for you, your zone will be different from someone who wants to take a bubble bath and listen to soft music. Creative projects such as painting, sewing, writing, baking, gardening, and photography are excellent ways to absorb your attention and take your mind off your responsibilities.

Your respite zone should be just for you. You need to feel secure that your things are safe and will not be disturbed or discarded. It is important for your care receiver to understand that this space is yours.


Taking care of a debilitated family member or friend who may not recover completely can be an all-consuming job. However, if you allow it to consume all of you, what will happen to the person in your care when you collapse?

Respite care is not a luxury. It is necessary for the well-being of the person in your care and for you.
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II also am facing your problem. Sounds like an echo. I think thats why I chose to find people going through the same thing. Mom will be moving in with us soon, eye almost gone and she has a colostomy bag. I know I am taking on alot, but I think I will find comfort in others knowing I am not alone. Hang in there I pray we both fine the strenght to make it throught these tuff times.
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I feel for you and frankly don't know how you do it. That said, the way you phrase it, it sounds like you're angry with your boss for not being delighted to find himself in an arrangement where he is paying you a full-sized check in exchange for partial work done in a state of exhaustion. I doubt that was the arrangement mutually agreed to when you were hired.

Perhaps you can seek help from volunteers (through a church or synagogue) to help out so you can fully earn that paycheck. Or better yet, this would be an excellent opportunity to show your kids that the world doesn't revolve around them and their sports games by enlisting their help taking care of their ailing grandparents. They'll get far more benefits from doing for others like their grandparents than they'll get on any ball field.
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Such a good suggestion above about involving children whenever possible. I think women miss the boat when we try to do it all. We send a message to others that our lives are expendable and we are not worthy of consideration and respect. Children pick up on this as well. If we shield them from the realties of aging, they will not have the opportunity to become good caregivers in the future.
I have been on both ends of the employment issue. As a young 20-something working woman, I often resented having to pick up the slack for co-workers with children or aging parents who had to be away from work often. It isn't fair but so is trying to be a caregiver AND raise a family.
I just think it requires a big dose of empathy on all sides. Talk to your co-workers and see if there are some adjustments and compromises that you can make. Perhaps many of them do not know what kind of commitment it takes to take care of an elderly person. I certainly did not know this in my 20s or 30s.
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We're in the same boat with you - with 90/85 year old parents who insist on staying independent and teenagers on the run.
Please take some time each day to pat yourself on the back. There is no more noble thing than caring for one's parents. Remind your children of the honor of this responsibility and involve them in the care of their grandparents. Your children will grow up to be wonderful helpers and will be taking a load off you in no time. If you are honest with them and try not to be superwoman, they will not be bitter if you miss some of their activities. One thing about this stage of your life - it will keep changing and someday you can look back and be proud of all you do. In the meantime, take your vitamins and keep praying!
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I agree with all of the above. Something that helped me releave SOME of the stress when my mother suddenly became an invalid and we're trying to keep her home was to go on FMLA protection at work. That came in handy when having to leave early or come in a little later at work. Is your employer large enough (# employees) that you would be able to apply for Family Medical Leave Act protection? It provides protection for just that; leaving early or coming in a little later. Food for thought...
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I am so sorry to hear about what you are going through. I was fortunate enough to have taken care of my elderly parents before becoming a mother - I sort of did things backwards I guess - but I was born when my parents where in their mid-40's and I had known since I was 7 that I would be a young caregiver. I am now in my early 40's taking care of my 3 1/2 year old.

My employer was good to me for the most part, but that is because my supervisor was understanding and tried to go to bat for me. My mother was terminal and what was expected to be less than 6 months ended up being 2 1/2 years. I cherished all of this time and would not change the opportunity to take care of her or my dad. I did end up resigning and going back to work a couple years later - 6 weeks after my mom died. Everything seemed to fall into place for me to go back to work and I had been out 22 months and had served the company 23 months so I lost no seniority or vestment in the pension. Yet I have seen other women struggle and not be treated fairly at work. I also ended up leaving a few years later to be a stay-at-home mom partly because I knew how hard it could be.

I think you and your family need to have a meeting and talk about the needs of everyone and find some solutions. If your children are older, then what can they do to help out? Whether it is chores or keeping the grandparents entertained while you get some downtime, that could help out. Do you have other relatives, friends, or church/temple members in the area who could help with various tasks. Even if someone could bring some meals over or sit with the parents. You may need to consider hiring help or putting your parents in a daycare or assisted living arrangement. It all depends on your situation and if you need to work full-time to take care of your nuclear family first. If you do not need to work full-time you might consider cutting back your hours or even take a leave of absence - whether it is just a few weeks to get things in order or a more extended leave if you want to be the primary caregiver of your parents. The last idea is an unknown - you have no idea how long your parents may need you - and it can jeopardize your career and future financial security. On the other hand, it can be very rewarding to spend these last few years with your parents. If your parents have not already done so, you will also need to talk with them about who they want as Medical/Health Care Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney as well as if you will get some compensation for taking care of them.

Depending on your boss, you may need to talk with him again about his meaning of flexibility and reassure him you are loyal and are not trying to take advantage of him. If you have worked for him for a while, you probably have some idea of how flexible he is based on other employees' experiences.

As for not being able to settle down at night after everyone else has gone to bed - I think that is a woman thing. :) We think more deeply about everything and anytime we have something negative happen like an argument with our spouse it takes us so much longer to process it and get over it - whereas men can just shrug it off and go to sleep. Your mind just cannot stop thinking about everything you have to do and instead of getting the sleep you need for the next day, you keep going over and over everything - brooding. Sleep deprivation does not help your situation. (even postpartum depression is thought to be more about sleep deprivation than hormones.) I think it is that your body is pumping so much adrenaline to keep up with taking care of everyone else it does not know when to stop. Your situation sounds "new" too so your body is perceiving that you are in a "flight/fight" situation as you try to navigate all of this and you have not quite gotten everything sorted out.

I will tell you that if something happens at this point to really upset you, then you might start to experience an increased heart rate and chest pains and you might start feeling like you might be having a heart attack. You can also experience other symptoms and are more likely to catch viruses and whatever else is going around. It is your body telling you that you need to slow down and that you cannot do all of this by yourself.

You probably should also try talking to your doctor. I am not one for taking medications, but I did need just a little anti-anxiety medication to help my body calm down in the beginning. I really only took it once or twice so I could get some rest and slow down my body. You also might want to try going on walks, warm baths, meditation, reading, watching a funny movie or other relaxing things to help get your mind off of it all so you can go to sleep.

You are going through a lot right now and you are also grieving. You are grieving loosing your life as you knew it with healthy parents. You are grieving the future loss of your parents and how all of this affects your children. It is also a time of adjustment and trying to figure out how you are going to do it all. Just like when you had your first child but especially once that second one came along and you are full-time working mom - I have not been there and done that - but I see what a bigger adjustment a second child can be. Adding your parents is overwhelming. Know that you cannot do it all and that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of everyone else.

Best of luck and wishes,
Kitty
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LESLIE:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the phrase "I'm trying to work" indicates caregiving is seriously affecting your productivity. The man does understand, but he has a business to run and it's difficult to accept someone who isn't 100% or completely there.

Although caregivers are quite adept at multi-tasking and sometimes believe we can do it all, the bottom line is that you can't serve two masters at the same time to the best of your abilities. Unless you do it part-time. I believe that's what he's suggesting when he says your job is "flexible." He doesn't want to let you go, but sooner or later he'll have to make a decision. ... And so will you.

Hapfra and Ligia made wonderful suggestions to keep from burning out any further: ASKING FOR HELP and TIME MANAGEMENT. A tall order; especially when there's no one who'd like to be in your shoes even for five minutes. And when you have elderly whose needs increase as their condition worsens.

Remember Hillary Clinton's "It takes a village to raise a child?" Instead of clicking your heels, pick up the phone and call someone. No one's going to know what you're going through and what YOU need until you take the time to advocate for yourself.

Good luck my friend, and keep us posted.

-- ED
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Yep that's me! Upon reading your question here, I can truly sense the nervousness, tiredness, anger boiling, frustration about the whole situation, it's like these emotions are all peeking in between the words while you're typing it. I'm 40 exactly this year. I am an only child sandwiched between a 79 yr old mom and my 11 yr old daughter. You're right that the only peaceful time you get is when all are asleep but then your brain won't let you sleep! OMG! You said it so clearly. That's me too. In this very difficult economic times, it's almost a sin to even entertain the thought of quitting your job so u can focus on your parents & your kids. I really don't have any answer. I was also working, and because of political changes at the mayor's office of my city hall, I was sacked out of my job too and struggling being a jobless single parent caregiver mom daughter to my own mom & daughter. It has been like this for close to 7 months. I wonder if I will have the strength and inspiration to go back to "normal work" knowing I will also be just like you either often late for work, or leaving work early. Don't worry, relax a bit, shrug off your shoulders and don't try to be a supermom to all of your family members. I just want you to know that sometimes the only difference that you can do to protect your own sanity is to step back away and admit to your self what u can and cannot do. The negoatiables and the non-negotiables. Do it today! God bless you and God bless us all caregivers around the world.
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Leslie,

I understand your feelings of being overwhelmed. This is a situation many of my clients have. I also take care of my 91 year old mother and it can be challenging at times to balance all of our activities. I think what HAP answered to you is helpful. It also helps to pay attention to how you feel and what your thoughts are. This can be done keeping a journal where you can write. Also, manage your time with a planner and leave time for you (10 mnts) when you can also integrate some meditation. This you could do when you try to go to sleep. Integrate breathing exercises and maybe that would be the time to write how you feel. Sometimes we cannot change an event but we can pay attention to how we are responding to it.

I wish you a beautiful day,
Ligia
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Leslie---can you have a meeting of your family members, and point blank---tell them you need HELP? Perhaps someone is waiting to hear this? There is no need to feel guilty, as you have quite a challenge.
Best,
Hap
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