Measuring caregiver stress- I'd like to share this recent experience...

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I'd like to share this recent experience with the caregivers who feel guilty when they put their parents in assisting living or another type of care facility, or bring in help to their homes. My mother, 97, is very easy to take care of. No trouble yet with her personal ADLs, no need to lift her, she moves around with a walker. But after a few years of "being on" all the time, you get exhausted without even realizing it. And you feel guilty when you just long to stay in bed in the morning as long as you want to...or you dread her next doctor appointment because you have to get her in and out of the car twice, up and down the ramp twice, probably to the ladies' room at the doctor's office once or twice... I have felt generally pretty bad for at least a year. Then in November I had a health emergency involving two surgeries, a week in intensive care and three weeks in rehab. My mother went into assisted living, as her doctors and mine agreed that I would no longer be able to care for her. I lay there in the nursing facility letting the nurses take care of me and started feeling better and better. Incision and surgery-related pains aside, I felt as if the IVs were pumping me full of something called "good health." Physical rehab went so fast that the rehab staff later referred to me as a miracle cure. All these good things are the measures of how terrible the stress had become before my surgery. And I didn't even realize it. And my situation was much easier than that of many caregivers. So watch yourself. Pay attention to the folks who tell you to take care of yourself. And start looking at local care facilities before your parent needs one, so that you have a plan if the need arises unexpectedly. Good luck and warm hugs to all of you.

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Scared, any hope of having them both go to AL? The one we have here takes couples, and it's not as expensive as in home caregivers, I don't think (depends on where you live, I'm sure). Sounds as if you're near burn out, and that would be horrible for all of you!
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Cleaning my e-mail out and see that I had made 2 brief comments back in January! Lord help me. 🙏🏻🙏🏻
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Tell me about it. I've never had more stomachaches and headaches and been more sick than I have in the last two years… Besides caregivers that I have Monday through Friday I'm the main caregiver of me and my sister (she lives out of town) for my parents. My mother is 89 with Alzheimer's and my father is 94 for the most part ok but getting forgetful and testy. She won't use her walker and they start fighting. This is day two of bickering so I know what the rest of my week or be like.
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Dear realtime,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think we all need this gentle reminder. Your mother is so lucky to have you, but at the same time I'm glad you are focusing on your health now.

Dear Eileene,

I am so sorry, I know its hard when you are feeling like there are no options. When you mentioned the resentment that really resonated with me. Please listen to the others here and know you do have a choice. I've always been the dutiful one in my family but now after losing my father and grandmother, I, too realized how resentful I was about my daily responsibilities and feeling stuck. I hope you can find some options that might alleviate some of this stress.
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24/7 assistance is a loosing road.

Loosing your temper, loosing your health, loosing your mind, loosing your marriage.

Don't go there.
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Eileen: You absolutely NEED to join a club or a church group or a painting/wine group and that's it. Your husband can learn to use a wheelchair when you aren't there to get around. Or a walker (maybe?) or hire somebody for $20 per hour once a week (can you come up with $40?)  Otherwise if you have low income there are options out there for assistance.  . He needs to be independent and so do you. Otherwise there will be a big explosion someday that can be avoided by making time for yourselves.
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Eileene, there most certainly IS at least one way out.

Go back to your third sentence. You explain that because of your husband's medical history he is unable to walk without assistance. But then you follow that with "my presence is required 24/7."

Well, *somebody's* presence is required, sure, to keep your husband safe and assist his activities of daily living. But why yours, specifically?

There is respite care in facilities. There are hired caregivers. There are family, friends, support groups. Other than perhaps that your husband turns his nose up at these options, is there any reason why you can't take occasional or even regular breaks to do things that are important to you?
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Most of the posts have been related to caring for elderly parents. I'm 65 and my husband 66. He has a significant orthopedic history and is unable to walk without assistance because of imbalance and my presence is required 24/7. He is unable to do anything independently. He is a type A personality and had always been a very difficult person to live with. We both worked long hours so could enjoy the little time we actually spent together. It seems that he does things to actually make my life more difficult. He is healthy and comes from a family who live long lives; I do not. I'm healthy but cannot go on vacations, visit our two new grandchildren, spend time at the beach. I am so resentful. I've always lived being around people and he has not....no friends, etc. I see no way out.
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BlackHole: " BattleAxe was richer than God and could SO afford the AL’s laundry upcharge and could SO hop on the AL’s daily shuttle to Walgreen’s, Target, Whole Foods, doctor/dentist, etc. But preferred having a personal servant." I suspect this would be my mother if she ever moved into an ALF. I think she would suspect she is actually slower and more compromised (even though she can only see out of one eye and can't hear well) than many of the other residents. She wouldn't want her deficiencies showcased on these shuttle runs, and would expect me, her Dummy Driver Daughter, to take her places. This is something that would be discussed before she moved into the ALF. Transportation is part of the ALF fee, so she can't be paying THEM and expecting ME to do transportation. I imagine there would be an epic crying/shaking fit and I would be told how horrible I am.

As my friend said, since I'm not even allowed back into the medical examining rooms anymore, it would strictly be all about transportation, and the ALF provides that, so there is no reason for my involvement in transportation.
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I'm learning that there's a whole supportive world out there. It's astounding how many people standing next to you in line at the grocery store, seated next to you on the plane, etc., are going through something similar. Recently three casual conversations with strangers turned into deep discussions of these issues, and especially caregiver stress. If they're new to it I always recommend this forum as a resource.
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