She is almost 88; a kind, loving person; and beyond her issues of self-neglect and passivity due to a lifetime of her own trauma and difficulty (70 of her years were devoted to caring for ill and aging — usually unappreciative — family members), she is a delight and has always treated me with kindness.
At the same time, I am an only child, 58, male (no children of my own) and have been her primary caregiver for the past 7 1/2 years. I moved her into my home when her (emotionally abusive and unkind) sister, who she had been caring for, passed away.
My mother has, in these 7 1/2 years, fallen a half-dozen times, had three surgeries, several ER visits/hospitalizations, and a number of additional health challenges, including kidney disease (no need for dialysis at this point). She has also become more and more passive, withdrawn, sedentary, and is often depressed and/or anxious (which she does take medication for which has only a mild effect). She also has very little appetite and has been living on nutritional liquid shakes and an occasional cup of soup for the past 4 years. In spite of repeated doctor’s instructions and her kidney issues, she also refuses to drink water and is chronically dehydrated. She is frail (at least partially because of being so sedentary and only drinks her nutritional shakes when I constantly remind her) and often depressed. She has begged me not to put her in a ‘home’, and I have committed to keeping her here in my home as long as possible, unless she should decline to the degree that 24/7 care is required.
I am struggling personally because in recent months, I have been waking up most mornings with the wish that she pass away soon. When I anticipate her passing, I feel that 80% of my feelings will be relief and only 20% will be grief.
I have zero regrets in terms of how I have cared for her to date — even in the face of the significant personal and financial sacrifices — I have treated her with kindness, dignity, respect, compassion. And, I am so tired of the constant feeling that this is now my life and I wonder how much longer I can go on without paying a price with my own emotional, psychological, and/or physical health.
She rarely leaves the house anymore except for doctor visits — and in those now-rare occasions when I am alone in the house, I feel a sense of tremendous freedom, expansion and relief. The same when I go out of town (my girlfriend and I get away one weekend a month; I also travel for work about 3-4 days per month — during that time hiring an elder care person to stay with mother).
As I read many of the posts on this forum, I am struck by the depth of suffering and abuse other caregivers experience. I am very fortunate — I don’t experience any of this, and I have long ago worked through (with the help of counselors, ministers, and loving friends) my ‘mother issues’. So I realize I am better off than many who are dealing with abusive, bitter, mean, narcissistic parents.
At the same time, appreciating that it’s not as bad as it could be doesn’t take away this feeling. I am simply tired of caregiving and all the sacrifices it entails.
My greatest fear is that by the time she does pass, I will be so burned out, exhausted and depleted that my own life will be practically over.
Thanks for listening and for any reflections you might have.
God bless you all. This is hard stuff.