I don't want to be a caregiver anymore. Am I selfish if I leave?

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I was in a pickle with my own life when my best friend from childhood, who is like a sister to me, asked me to come stay with her and help with her mom (who, for several years, was a better mom to me than my own) who has Alzheimer's. After discussing the care taking schedule between her boyfriend, her and myself, I agreed. We also agreed that I would be able to use her car in the morning to work, I would get room and board and a small bit of cash. After I moved in, the boyfriend got really ugly with me. I told my friend I would rather live on the street than be treated like that. She asked him to leave (he was not good for mom anyhow ~ looked at her like a science experiment) and he moved out a few weeks later. His leaving left my day off to one, Saturday. Due to doc appointments, and other scheduling conflicts, I am not able to get a job in the morning even if I could find one (we live in the middle of nowhere) as I no longer have reliable transportation. Since January 3, 2012, I have had 4 full days off. I have no one to talk to, no friends, no life. I try to do my art work, but it is difficult to focus when I am responsible for someone who is clinically depressed, has dementia and requires 24/7 care. My friends comments, on a regular basis is: "My first priorities are my sobriety and mom", which I understand.

Now, I am feeling so incredibly guilty because I do have burnout and it has not even been 3 months! I can't do this 5.5 days a week, 24 hours a day (I do get a bit of a break on Fridays). My friend has had the flu for the last several days because the boyfriend came by when he was sick and shared his germs (JERK!). I just want to scream! My sanity and joy are diminishing at a rapid pace and I am afraid I may never come back from it. I still suffer from "chemo-brain" from "terminal" cancer I had a decade ago. I have since been offered a live-in caretaker position in another state that includes a small monthly allowance on top of the r/b and it does not require 24/7 care.

I don't want to be a caretaker anymore. I have come to realize how terribly depressed "mom" has always been, my sister, too. I am so exasperated! My "sister" can't afford to hire someone for mom (she is already dipping into her savings). I am in my mid 40's. I am afraid I will be here for another several months and never be able to leave with any sanity left. Am I selfish if I leave? I feel so incredibly trapped. I AM grateful for her taking me in when I needed a place to stay, but I don't think I can pay this price.

Any advice?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
I feel sorry for your friend, especially since she's going to go broke eventually taking care of her mom. You, on the other hand, even though you might feel guilty, can leave this life, but she's trapped. I think you both need to put your heads together and find a solution for BOTH of your problems, her mom. Tell her you love her like a sister, but you can't do this anymore and you're afraid that she's going to down the toilet eventually if she keeps it up. Help her, other than becoming a caregiver yourself, but find a way to help her regardless. Neither one of you can keep this up.
Sabine, you have no reason to feel guilty. You all agreed to an arrangment that sounded reasonable (especially to people who had never done 24/7 care). You gave it your best shot. It isn't working out. First of all, the 3-way split of care duties became a 2-way split, and a little extra cash become a very very little cash and the reliable car became unavailable. I'd say this plan has come apart at the seams and you have nothing to feel guilty about as you extract yourself from it.

But don't leave your sister/friend high and dry. This isn't her fault either and she really needs your support right now. I think the best way to help her is to get on the Internet, get on the phone, and research what is available for her mom. She is not responsible for her mother's financial well-being. There are programs to help low-income elders. Medicaid comes to mind immediately, and there are other state and county programs that can at least ensure your friend doesn't drown in debt on her mother's behalf. One way to start your research is to contact the Social Services department in your county. Ask for an assessment of "Mom's" situation. Another avenue to go down is the Alzehiemer's Association in your state. They know lots about community resources.

Some people think that financial assistance for the elderly is only available if they are in long term care facilities. That is not true. There are programs specifically for keeping elders in the community, and Medicaid will transition from home care to institutional care if that becomes necessary. I think it would be a great service to help your friend find out about these things.

And while you are in research mode, look into what you can do to get on your own feet and live independently. You deserve it.
Sabine, sometimes people here see things through a lens of experience which makes them write things which are unkind and unhelpful. It is hard to be a caregiver, for any duration, for any person, and even harder as the ground rules for the caregiving shift. As you read the comments here, don't take them all personally. Sometime people judge someone as a way to make themselves feel better. It has nothing to do with you, and don't let it.
I think the advice you are getting about getting together with your friend to find the next solution is spot on. As dangerous as that talk may sound to you, it is more dangerous to not change anything, or to split the scene and run. Good luck to you!
Ok, I am sorry, was bad day for me and yes I am burned out and also going through menopause so life is really stessful right now, my mom was just diagnosed with dementia and before that has many diseasses, I have to care for her 24 hours a day, sometimes I don't come off right in what I say and am sorry for that, I have good bedside manners as this is my mom, I am doing the best I can with a bad situation, please accept my apolgies and will keep you in my prayers, hugs
I am appalled at the judgmental comments toward Sabine who is a cancer survivor. My SIL has been a cancer survivor from uterine cancer since 2001 and she does not have the energy to care for anyone else full time for any amount of time. So, no, Sabine, you are not selfish. Take care of yourself and the health that you have. You have been through enough.
Don't feel gility, cause the word ""CARE" is a gift from ""GOD" no gilt or shame.. every one do not recieve that gilft,however , it's ok !!! It do not mean u don't love them,, it just means u don't have it in you... Some people r caregivers and heartless, some care for money and some care just to tell others what they did ""THIS TO ME IS SELFISH"..You can not please people Just try to please """GOD"" cause he knows yur heart and your concerns.;.also, every one can't do what u do best and every one cannot be a "NURSE' it is a calling from ""GOD" ....Sis Jackie ps If you really want that gift, you can pray for it and I know ""GOD" will grant it to you,
, R just be Blessed.
Whow there ejbunicom.... I think you "lack" in tactfullness, what you "have" in caregiving! Shall we put a bright shines diamond in your crown of gold? Sabine was helping "friends, like family". She owes them nothing. She has given of herself to the best of her ability, she has sacrificed and is knowing when to say when. This does not make her selfish and should not make guilt ridden. I would think that the friend should thank her from the bottom of her heart and wish only the best for a future. If there is a way to contain the friendship and decide a better arrangement for all involved then God bless them!
Ej... I sure hope you have a better "bedside" manner then you have shown this at odds caregiver Sabine!
In most cases hospice only comes in if the person is terminal and in the last 6 months... Home care can be paid by medicare in some cases( like any other government thing lots of regulation). It might be worth trying... Sabrine don't feel quilty if you can't you can't! I cared for my Grandmother the last few months of her life, she lived with us(husband and two sons) I loved her she wanted to be with us. However she had other granddaughters and a son. What I am saying is in this life you do what you can... There is help available. If her she is in the later stages, of Alzheimer's disease she may qualify for hospice. take care and please don't beat yourself up!
Sabine, you have already done a great job! I part take in my mom's caregiving, although I do not live in her home. Don't ever let anyone, not even on this forum tell you that you are selfish, as this person not being your relative, you've really put yourself out there, and as Austin195 said, the work load changed once the boyfriend moved out. My sister lives w/mom-ALZ also, but she has about four paid caregivers. Even so, my sister stresses too when she's in charge of our mother. Anyway, don't allow other people's bitter attitudes to make you feel guilty, because it serves no purpose to YOU, nor your current situation. I send you hugs! Margeaux
Let's not emphasize the negative - Sabine, you are so sweet and forgiving - I have no doubt that you will make the 'right' decision. Since you are primarily 'lead' by your heart listen to your head now and again. And as for EJ's statement - it reminds me of another thread where everyone chimed in (B-out) when one of "US" was just having a bad day - and this site brought them back into 'check'.

Are reasons for connecting on this site is to be who we are in the moment and know - at some point we will make it through the rain. xoxox to all.

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