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I have noticed that I do not feel as "sharp" or "smart" as I used to before I became a caregiver. I can only compare this to the mommy brain that I had when my children were both infants. When I am in a social situation lately I am at a loss for conversation. This is distressing to me because I look so forward to getting out and being around non-demented people and then when I am there I have nothing to say and feel out of place. I feel that people avoid me because of my situation. I may be sensitive but there are others out there who have a great amount of guilt about not taking care of their elderly parents and I think they feel awkward around me also. Being in the situation of having a low level stress at all times makes my mind simple. I read crappy magazines and watch dumbed down TV just like my Mom. I know there are gifts that go along with the difficult task of taking care of our elders and I appreciate those. I just do not want to become an empty shell with no personality.

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Dmanbro, you've hit on one of the key mental issues of caregiving - under stimulation, at least of positive issues and challenges.

I was thinking of that this morning, specifically the differences between the challenges of working vs. the challenges of caregiving. In a work environment, generally staff are working toward common goals. Even though there can typically be some who aren't team players or have their own agendas, there's a higher level of corporate or firm/company commitment and mission to help guide the stragglers back into compliance.

With caregiving, there's a similar approach of commitment and mission, but there are many more levels of participation, some of which are cast in concrete (like the governmental regulations).

Sometimes I think of health care as comparable to dog competitions in which dogs race through hoops, speed up and down dog runs, and slither through slalom type courses. That's how I often see the medical field - one of challenges and adherence to rules made by unknowns somewhere, someplace...and sometimes akin to a nonphysical and nonmilitary equivalent of obstacle courses.

Goals, while set by medical staff, family and patients, are often as much adherence to sometimes silly regs than the welfare of the patient.

I do recognize though that administration of Medicare and health care is a lot more complex than the fields I've worked in, so perhaps I am prejudiced.

For several years I worked in government contracting, bound by federal regs for procurement. There were so many levels of issues, of compliance, and after awhile that compliance seemed to supercede the goals of the projects.

It wasn't a question of the best method of doing something, but that consideration as well as how it can be accomplished within the onerous constraints of regulations.

When I went back to the private sector afterward, it was so much different - decisions made after careful consideration based on statutes, legal precedents and good business principles, but the governmental involvement was minimal and cooperative. I vowed I would never again work in any field that was so dominated by regulations as the previous contract admin position.

Caregiving has so many of the characteristics of government work - strangled by regulation at so many levels. After a while jumping through hoops seems to be the goal to even get to the real goal of patient care.

One thing you can do to keep brain cells from atrophying is read while you're waiting, and there is a LOT of waiting. Read something stimulating. I always have gardening magazines and a sketch pad with me so I can create different formal garden configurations. It's very invigorating mentally, for me at least because I'm designing. I may never get the beds planted, but at least the brain cells aren't being stifled by the omnipresent sitting and waiting aspect of caregiving.
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Yup, I know exactly what you mean. In my case I can't say I feel stupider or anything but my brain is definitely dulled, no question. And I feel really boring too, like I'm under-stimulated.
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I am FRIED @52!!!!!!
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Too many times lately I have been thinking I am starting to get Alzheimer's/Dementia myself and plan to talk that over with my primary doctor this coming Monday to see what she suggests.

I am hoping it is just stress related and the fact I hadn't had a good night sleep in two months since my fall where I got injured and sleeping is a bear. Or that I am over-thinking because I now know too much about memory issues :P
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Ah ha, some of my brain cells have return since this past Monday when my parents finally signed an updated Will, Power of Attorney, yada, yada, yada.

I've been after my parents for several years to update all this paperwork and they kept dragging their feet.... lot of sleepless nights thinking that I might have to deal with their old Will which was a landmine.
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Yes. I need intellectual stimulation. Feels like I am getting "dumber." Feels like the rest of the world has been living life & I have been "waiting" for my turn. In the meantime, I have been stagnating. So, I'm making some changes so I will be learning, & growing & really living. I figured, it's my life-- I choose to live it & live it up as much as I can from now on. o far, so good. blou
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SusanA43, oh my gosh, I was embarrassed last year when I was at the Hallmark store and instead of handing the cashier my credit card, I handed her my grocery store saving card :P
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SusanA43 I have done that also and whem i realized what the problem was i just started laughing. Always laugh at things like that because laughter is good for the soul. God Bless
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Definitely losing some brain cells today....went to the grocery store and when my debit card was declined as being invalid, I stood and stared at the machine like an idiot until I realized I had swiped a library card and not my debit card....
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Ekkkkk... today I was having chit-chat with a new co-worker and I found myself stumbling over words because I was over-thinking how jumbled my brain feels... the co-worker must be thinking what is wrong with that woman :P

I am obsessing too much thinking I have lost some brain cells, that I might have dementia already. I have to stop and think of the more current times this week with another co-worker where I was helping her learn a software program where I find I still feel smart :) The program was distracting me and I was able to concentrate.
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Oh!!!!!! I know Im losing it..been out of the working world way too long. I lost my full time job and was doing homemakers and companions while looking for work.. then Mom became ill. Never thought Id be doing it for my life !Im hoping when Im able to IF!!! someone will hire me ? with my lack of skills. I spoke with a social worker who said Id be great working for her agency as I have worked on both sides of the caregiver fence along with the paper work , renting walkers, trips to ER ,the emotional , angry parts,,,blah blah blah
working on keeping in touch with her.... maybe become a care coordinator?? ( See I just had to look up how to spell that) lol !!! I said great! just don't send me to someones house...
I try to keep in touch with friends but.. its hard as they can come and go places and I cant cant leave mom along for more than an hour or so. Im resentful as hell !!! Im so out of touch with everything. I cant even hold a normal conversation about anything of importance .. it seems.
I seem to keep going back to " well My mother....."
Im out of touch with the new music forgetting how to spell....but, Im getting a little better at Jeopardy and wheel of fortune

Id go to a friends house just across town ( well used to ) I started becoming jealous of her clean,organized house, nice patio. and surround sound house of music. Sounds childish I I know but she can play it as loud as she wants..
Its boring at my house. quiet all the time..not a fun place hard to invite people over just for a glass of wine after mom goes to bed.. they aren't comfortable.
I tried alittle last summer with a few people but, Id get called away by mom for the commode,, Id hear them laughing on the deck. and feel left out when I came back.. It wasn't fun for me.. I had to stop . just found my self getting jealous and angry. I even tried dating !.. he was very understanding about Mom even brought her donuts ,, but it wasn't fun to sit on couch and mom in the wheel chair watching jeopardy every night....so that come to and end... when my friend started inviting him over to help fix something then she'd ask him to stay.. he always said it was fun going to her house ( which began making me jealous and insecure,
He still comes by to help me remove snow or bring mom a donut but the days of him coming over every weekend for dinner are over... I really enjoyed cooking( something I love to do ) for someone other than mom food..
again I feel left out and alone.......
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I have been feeling this way since my mother began to have dementia and go downhill. I couldn't finish sentences, just like her! You begin to worry it is catching. Does anyone think it is because of our empathy that we begin to identify a bit too much with our parent, and unconsciously act like them? I am a journalist, radio host, highly skilled verbally, and to have that slipping is making me think I have alzheimers, and it's scary. Maybe just distraction and worry? Reading these comments, though, I almost don't feel qualified to complain, as so many have it so much worse. I feel for this predicament, and I just try to draw my boundaries as best I can while trying to remain compassionate and not lose my temper.
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I take care of my husband who is a quadriplegic at 46 years old, i have been doing this since the accident 3years ago. Being a wife, mother of 8, becoming a nurse to him, a transporter being his psychiatric doing everything for him, yes i get burned out as do others i haven't been on a vacation in 3yrs and i feel like i need a vacation without him but i can't witout a someone to stay 24hr with him. So the burn out will continue, but i pray and stay focused on God and so should you all. God Bless
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Hello I agree about the comment Being a caregiver the stress does take a toll on your mind and body And you feel like your don't know how to talk to people anymore I used to be in jobs I around people all the time I guess we do the best we can
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I find myself forgetting things all of the time. I think stress takes such a toll, both physical and mental. The dumb feeling is our body's way of telling us to run and don't look back. I find myself longing for my old life, and am at the same time afraid I could not cut it if I went back to work. I feel like I am in a constant fog of pillow arranging, zipper pulling, toilet paper pants stuffing hell on earth with only one way out. I prey to the universe and anyone up there listening to just let it end. I am not sure how your mill stone acts, but mine is so demanding if I even try to watch tv or do anything for myself she butts in demanding I take her to the bathroom, even though she can still handle that, she just says she can't find it. She has lived here for 5 years and the damn thing has not moved. I have tried to cross stitch to pass the time, but as you can imagine the minute I try, she wants me to come with her to look at some earth shattering object like the bed which she makes and I makes 50 times a day. Hadenuf, I'm glad to be an only, there are so many with b and sis that are no help, I'm sure I'd do something that would leave flaming bridges behind me.
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Hello im glad there is place we can vent I'm not the only one that feel like all my social skills are gone i used to be a people person But now that I'm caregiver to dementia patient I feel like i have no social life And it hard for me to talk to people too I feel the same other do on here I would like to find a part time job I beleive that might help me to open up But it has been stressful Thank you Carolyn
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eguillot, being employed doesn't help with the spelling, I still might myself stalled out at the light. What I find interesting is that my boss will one finger type an email and sent it out without doing any proofreading... oh my gosh, if someone graded that email he would have failed... but he doesn't care, he figures the reader will figure it out :P
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Hahahaha hahahaha mudiver. I thought I was crazy thinking that!!! And I'm thinking if I were in jail my brain wouldn't be melting because I repeat the same thing 50 times a day, every day. I have a very nice car that goes really fast & I could just drive 110 miles an hour when I'm on the highway, having fun driving fast & maybe as a bonus end up in jail away from stress!
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How refreshing to hear how others are going through the same thing that I am. I've been a caregiver for my 97 yr old mother for almost 3 yrs 24/7 w/out getting out that much. I do get resentful feeling my life is passing me by (just turned 72) and that I'll be the one to be a caregiver until she's 150...she & I never got along & still don't; but, I continue to give her the best of care in spite of that. No siblings..my brother died in 2001; but, I have 8 beautiful children...I do feel alone, just like hadenough does. I look out the window of my 2nd floor apt & feel like a prisoner that's taking care of the warden. Very little to no conversation passes between us day after day after day. Thank God for God and my children calling otherwise I'd be put in the funny farm.
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freqflyer - it's nice to know someone else is having the same issues I am! I think part of my problem is sleep apnea, part is fibro, part caregiver stress/depression, and part is being unemployed for 4+ yrs and not using my brain enough. I figure if I do this another 10 yrs I'll be a drooling idiot!
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eguillot, oh my gosh, I have the same issues with spelling.... I also get stuck after the first two letters of a word. Here I am thinking that spell check would help but it doesn't, and I keep forgetting I have on my desk the small "The Word Book of 40,000 Words" at my finger tips :P

And how I wish this website would let us edit our post after we had posted it. I will read one of my postings long after the fact and think what in the world was I thinking as my grammar was way off. If only I could sneak back into the post to fix it.
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I used to be an expert speller. Now I sit and stare at the screen wondering how to spell the simplest words. Today I was on facebook talking about my upcoming cruise, and the whale watching excursion we're going on, and I sat blankly looking at the screen after I got to excu.... I absolutely couldn't figure out how to spell it. I finally got on "my ncl" to where they'd email'd me confirmation of the shore excursions just so I could figure out how to spell it. I couldn't even come close enough for spell check to figure it out. I just got stuck. The other day I went to the doctor to talk to her about my concerns. She figures I'm fine smh.
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Part of me thinks we are losing brain cells because we have so much more to remember. Before helping my parents, I would go to the doctors for myself maybe 6 times a year.... now I have Mom going 6+ times... and Dad 6+ times, which means I am dealing with 18+ doctor appointments a year !! Then I need to remember my boss' doctor appointments... [sigh]

My brain is screaming enough already, can't handle any more stuff.
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Excess stress releases cortisol in our bodies. Which in turn can cause an inflammatory response to the systems in the body. Especially in Fibromyalgia. Perhaps they base their information on something like that. Everyone deals with stress differently. But to much can certainly affect your health.
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Yes, I think I am loosing brain cells. :(
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vegaslady: Tried getting Mom to use some of those headphones that amplify the TV but she didn't like them. But they were worth the try. Tried some noise blocking ones for me, they worked but I couldn't hear Mom when she was talking to me. Oh well, it's the cross I must bare. The day will come when I'll get my revenge on that noise producing beast and how I look forward to it!!
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I recently heard of a device that the LO could use to hear the tv louder than the others in the house. This is something like a receiver on the table and earphones for the LO. I missed the name, but thought it was something like table ears. So maybe you could jeep the ambient sound low for you. But now as much fun as a truck!
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No fooling! The brain cells are fading fast! Before my folks moved in with me about 71/2 years ago I did not have TV in my home. I was a reader and enjoyed a quiet, peaceful home. Now I'm homebound and stuck with a loud TV that's on from the time we're up in the morning until we go to bed. I've seen enough old reruns and commercials to last me a lifetime. Mom can't follow a story on TV anymore but she says she likes the noise and somehow nice music on the radio doesn't cut it for her. I absolutely HATE it !! The day Mom goes so goes the TV. I will say one of my daily pleasures is thinking about how I will destroy the TV. So far I've come up with shooting it up, blowing it up or maybe even running over it with my truck. It all sounds like great fun!
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Anyone felt like they lost more brain cells with all this crazy snow we had this winter? I hope new brain cells will pop up with the crocuses :)
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What brain cells? I started surfing through news channels, leaving the TV on so I could it then discussing the highlights of news stories with my mother ( who doesn't understand a word I say, or with my dogs who sit quietly listening humoring me with their pretended interest.
I also find I talk to back to commentators on TV on the pretense of having an intelligent conversation.
The insanity worries me a bit but if they put me away I'll have a wide range of topics to discuss with "my caregivers".
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