What do you do to take care of yourself while caring for your loved ones?

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I feel like I am not doing the things I enjoy doing because I hate to see my mom alone. I come home from work and sit with her. It seems like all she does lately is sit on her chair and watch the news. She does make every effort to garden but her arthristis doesn't let her do much. It just breaks my heart to see her look lonely that I try to take her out. I find myself getting angry though because I have three brothers that could easily come by to take her out but they call every now and then but do not offer to take her out. They wait for us to call and tell them instead of them offering. I do have one sister that lives with me and her 24 year old son as well. My sister has mentioned how she too wishes they would step up and help out. She is to the point where she wants to move out and get her own place. I too would like to do this but the guilt kicks in. I have tried talking to my siblings about this but nothing gets then. I am tired of talking. I feel like I am not doing enough to take care of myself. Just recently I have been getting sick. I feel it has to do with feeling overwhelmed, tired, spent, guilty and angry at family members for not offering to take her shopping or out to enjoy a movie or a restaurant.

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Just a comment on her love of gardening but inability to do so b/c of arthritis....switch to effortless gardening by (a) growing plants indoors, and/or (b) gardening with artificial flowers. They're so realistic these days that they appear real, and they can be used in a variety of arrangements.

When I have time, I always change the indoor arrangements for the seasons. Generally I keep some green foliage, add white or silver for Jan., red for February, green for March, yellow or mauve for April, pinks or purples for May switching to patriotic colors by Memorial Day. June is often a combination of greens, July is patriotic again, August is whatever strikes my fancy. September, Oct. and Nov. are autumn hues, ending in a burst of golds, rusts, and browns. And of course Dec. is either red and green, navy and white, navy and silver, or green and silver.

It's a lot easier than outdoor gardening, and helps cheer up the soul b/c of the beautiful colors and arrangements that can be created, such as centerpieces, wreaths, swags and more.


On the issue of nonparticipating family members, that seems to be a common complaint here. I try not to become annoyed or angry, b/c it only upsets me. I doubt if the uninvolved members are bothered by their lack of participation to the point of being upset. So why should I be, and add to caregiving frustration?

It's unfair, and a burden as well as shirking of responsibility by the nonparticipating family members. But they're also depriving themselves of the companionship of someone who may die w/o their really having gotten to know their parent during a critical period of her/his life. And that's their loss for not being willing to participate.


One thing you can try to do is relax with your mother. When either you or she are getting frustrated, take a time out, put on some music, have a cup of tea, arrange some artificial flowers, discuss the weather or something non controversial, and just "chill out" with her and enjoy her company while she has the opportunity to enjoy yours.

You can do it alone, but you might get more benefit by sharing it with her. She probably gets frustrated too.
I see that your avatar is a beautiful fall scene. If your mother can get into a car w/o problem, this is a great time to drive around and see the Fall color.
I think we all want to enjoy life. Dementia/Alzheimer's has definitely interfered with this pursuit. I know I never ever expected this. Never thought my extremely competent mother would be what she is now. Guess I was naive. I think for me at least, it's the feeling of hopelessness,nothing I do can make her better. I feel trapped and I imagine my mother does but not really. She's fine as things are. It's slowly making me seek anti depressants but it's a nightmare. Just knowing it's the same tomorrow as it was today. When the parent / spouse / sibling is with you 24 hours a day, It's really hard. Knowing I'm not alone because of this site and the friends I've made here, helps more than words can say
Dear Peace4Soul,

I hear you. It is so hard when siblings are not stepping in to help out. Its always hard having all the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent. I cared for my dad till he passed last year. I never realized how angry or resentful I was about my day to day life caring for him after the stroke.

In hindsight, I did not seek out the supports I needed for myself and him. I know you work and are trying to do your best for your mom. I wonder do you think your mom would do better in a nursing home? Are there any resources in the community or through church that could give your mom more company?

You have right to a life too. Try to take the time and do some things you enjoy too. I know its hard. I did exactly what you did, go to work and spend all my free time at home or running errands for my dad. Since he passed the grief has been more than I can bear. I hardly know what to do with all my time now. I wish so badly I had found a better balance before he passed.


Personally I would call each sibling and tell them you need help and that they need to be thinking about a day they can do something with Mom. Say you'll call back in a few days to ask what day it'll be. Ideally it would be the same day each month. I'm sorry, but none of us are too busy to put in one day per month to help out with family caregiving (note the picture is different if there's a history of abuse or similar.)

I'm in mildly the same boat - one of my *five* (sigh) aunts in their 80s who's disabled calls me pretty often to talk about the weather, the neighbors next door loud TV, what the squirrels in the yard are doing... it's tough b/c I'm pretty busy and it's not always easy to find time to sit and chat for an hour and a half about, well, not much. I know she doesn't have much in her life and try to be patient, but she's both hard of hearing and has a bad habit of interrupting virtually everything I try to say (which is beyond frustrating), so it's more me sitting and listening than anything. At least I can put her on speaker while I do other things... but I do wish more of my cousins would step up to help.
You are experiencing a common problem that many caregivers feel. Wise people have said that if you don't take care of yourself, you have nothing left to give another. I hope you can take that to heart and focus on meeting your own needs with self-kindness before trying to help your mother. By tending to yourself, you will have the reserves to discover the best solutions for her.
You are experiencing a common problem that many caregivers feel. Wise people have said that if you don't take care of yourself, you have nothing left to give another. I hope you can take that to heart and focus on meeting your own needs with self-kindness before trying to help your mother. By tending to yourself, you will have the reserves to discover the best solutions for her.
You are experiencing a common problem that many caregivers feel. Wise people have said that if you don't take care of yourself, you have nothing left to give another. I hope you can take that to heart and focus on meeting your own needs with self-kindness before trying to help your mother. By tending to yourself, you will have the reserves to discover the best solutions for her.
You are experiencing a common problem that many caregivers feel. Wise people have said that if you don't take care of yourself, you have nothing left to give another. I hope you can take that to heart and focus on meeting your own needs with self-kindness before trying to help your mother. By tending to yourself, you will have the reserves to discover the best solutions for her.
You are experiencing a common problem that many caregivers feel. Wise people have said that if you don't take care of yourself, you have nothing left to give another. I hope you can take that to heart and focus on meeting your own needs with self-kindness before trying to help your mother. By tending to yourself, you will have the reserves to discover the best solutions for her.

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