How do I cope with being tired and losing weight from looking after my parents?

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Dear cam.... you sound very stressed. Tell us about your living arrangements. Do you live with your parents? Do you have help with them? Any family support system? Why are you loosing weight?
Are you not sleeping?
You've certainly come to the right place for help.
Hi Cam~ Yes, you may be stressed, and perhaps need some YOU TIME. If your parents are residing at home, have you considered they partake at a senior center near their residence? Not only will it give you some peace of mind, there could be all types of activites your parents could partake in; there may be a nurse on duty; and some of the senior centers even offer meals. Like many, they may reisist this suggestion, but it may be worth a trial run. Yes it sounds to me like you are in 'the sandwich' generation-trying to cope between work, family, and your parents. My suggestion would be to try to get as much help as possible-in whatever way it works for you and your family. Last, and VERY IMPORTANT-Do Not forget about your own health-it may be easy to do. Perhaps a support group in your area would be benefical to you as well I was alone in my caregiving, and it can be very overwhelming. Good Luck and hang in there.
Give us a little more information!
-Do your parents live with you?
-Are there other family in your or their home or in the vicinity?
-Are they ambulatory
-Are they withdrawn/senile
-Are they eligible for Home Health services (ask their doctor)
-Are they eligible for hospice services (bathing, visiting, nursing are all available through hospice & clients do not have to be at death's door to qualify)
-Are you/they financially strapped

There is an adult day-care service available in my town.
For more alert, motivated seniors, there is a senior center which
offers meals, games, computers, some adult ed classes, parties,
and senior trips. There is also a bus service, although it is not always as easy & convenient to reserve a seat as it should be.
Good questions, mariannette. Please tell us more, cammurlor3621.
Hi Cam,

I was the same way when I started taking care of my m-i-l, 78 yr. old with Alzheimer's Disease. I was losing weight and I couldn't figure out why (not bad weight, but I wasn't doing my regular exercises & I was losing weight). I had the other sisters come over and spend time with her, but since she had only been living with us since Sept. 2008 and this was the fall and winter of 2008/2009. Some weren't really ready to cope with how she had gone downhill. So, yes, (even tho I didn't realize it at the time) I was stressed. I tried not to use the nursing agency that much. In April, 2009, she was signed up to start a senior day care facility whenever I wanted to start. I had reservations, because I was starting to use the N.A. more. She started a month later. At first, she was scared to go--but then got used to it. I think it was the best decision. Just recently, I wanted to see what it cost per day to go to the day care facility (one of my s-i-l's takes care of the financial, so I wasn't sure of the cost). I knew what the N.A. charged per hour to have a HHA come out and figured out it to be cheaper to send her to the day care facility (as long as I needed them during the weekdays and 1st shift). She gets transport to and from. She gets meals also. There is a nurse there as well.

Reminds me of when I was teaching Special Ed. Anyway, I have three suggestions:

(1) If you cannot meet one in person, find one of those sites where Registered Nurses commiserate with one another (e.g., Ask questions about time management, developing organization skills, tips to avoid burnout, etc..

(2) TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY! It's your temple, so you must worship it. To this end, look for an affordable gym close to home and develop a low-impact workout schedule. Even if you do just aerobics or yoga enough endorphins will be released to give you energy and keep you relatively happy. But this isn't going to work if you don't put enough fuel in your tank and don't sleep right. Make a habit of carrying what I call "food on the go": granola bars, trailmix, multi-vitamins, bottled water, and crisp, clear juices for those times when you can't sit down to eat in peace. Choose a bedtime and stick to it. Your body repairs and regenerates itself while you sleep, otherwise it breaks down and you'll be in a grumpy mood all the time. In a nutshell, do whatever it takes to achieve BALANCE.

(3) We're here to help, so keep us posted.

Ate logo, ED.
Top Answer
You sure are in the right place, cammurlor. Lots of caregivers who can easily identify with your exhaustion, including me. Without knowing anything more about your situation as others have asked for clarifying information, I would say that you are needing to somehow strike a better balance in your life between caring, working, resting, nutrition, and carving out even a little time for yourself. Your body and mind will only go so far if you are that exhausted, before you simply collapse from sheer exhaustion. There is a whole lot we can do as caring caregivers. Realistically, though, there are real limits to what all we can do and how much we can give while juggling so many roles. Sometimes using my lunch hour at work to take a 30-minute nap does wonders for me. Other times, setting my alarm an hour early to enjoy moments of peace and quiet, a cup of tea by myself, or even just cuddle into a warm blanket on my sofa and fall asleep for 20 minutes more is enough to give me my second wind. We each have those little moments if we look hard enough and figure out when we can rest and renew. There are always Visiting Angels type agency staff that you can contract with to provide you with even one day or 4 hours of respite, if nothing more. Please start somewhere. Every journey begins with a single step. If you choose to answer some of the clarifying questions asked by others, I'll bet there is a whole lot more support you will find right here among those of us who understand that what we do is not humanly possible sometimes. We just do what we do for various reasons, most of which are very good reasons. Exhaustion will make anyone want to give up and let go. First thing is that you need to get yourself some rest. How soon can you do that for yourself? Hugs.

Thank you for that star-studded comment. That's what caregiving is all about: support -- for everyone.

-- ED
Hi again

I've just been reading over all the suggestions and I don't think that any of us suggested you go to your family doctor for a physical check-up. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner - I should have. My experience about 20 years ago was similar. I felt very stressed and was losing weight and I just happened to have an appointment with my doctor for something else at that time. She noticed I had lost a lot of weight and was very concerned. After talking with me she said that I was severely depressed and she really didn't know how I had kept going to work every day (you gotta do what you gotta do - right?) Anyway, with antidepressants and some counselling, I finally started to feel less stressed and I regained the lost weight. I hope you are as fortunate.
Thank you, ED. Where would we all be without support, including for each other? I just can't imagine. Hugs.

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