Reached burnout, and easy to see in hindsight, but how to know when approaching it?

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I just need to talk it out. After nightmares for a week, and eating lots of sugars for 2 nights, and then crying before sleeping for both nights, I realized I was burnt out. I haven't had to race with someone to the ER (or follow ambulance in a snowstorm) since late Feb., so I though I was doing better, eating well, getting to my own appointments, handling details and making decisions. I really thought I was improving, catching up on my stuff, not just the triage effect of doing the next right thing to keep us all alive. I think what happened was I had time to relax and feel how really tired I was. With more sleep and a few spring walks, sitting in the sun, I began to realize just how long my life has been difficult. How many can relate? Some background - I have had my aunt in home for 6 1/2 years. At first I enjoyed it. Besides the time to set up POA, move accounts in state, sell her home, get a sitter/companion, we had time to go sight-seeing up through the mountains where she and my uncle used to vacation. Aging progresses to where she can no longer move around without a walker, can't remember what was just said, and can't be reasoned with. She won't go out, even to sit in the sun on the porch. Getting her to any appointment is a chore, and sometimes acting like a stern parent on my part. She can't get any food for herself except donuts and coffee, sleeps a lot. Meanwhile my husband has been ill for a year, gradually getting worse. I have gone from the two of us taking care of one person, to one of me doing all driving and watching out for two. They can't be left alone due to dizziness. Aunt falls only in mornings, though not at all for 6 weeks (and a whole year before that), but hubby could fall at any time. He hasn't for nearly a year, but has come close. Yes, I increased companion times, and one can drive my husband to important appointments if I can't. All his tests are negative, and he's now in limbo as to cause. Doc is on it, but I am no longer patient. He does take care of self, talks with visiting nurse, makes calls, etc., but some home chores I have taken over. No, no nearby relatives. I used to go away for one week a year to stay with a son or a brother and his wife, but not last year. They flew here to visit us. I get out for my own appts. and to buy groceries. I am going to bed early, and calling again tomorrow for aunt's meds, and for respite care. How are you doing? And how did you know before you burnt out?

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I burned out a couple of months ago. I saw it coming, but had no options for planning any sort of respite.

Respite came regardless. I'm still dealing with consequences.

I knew I was getting burned out when I sought out this forum, started obsessing over finding support, tried to [micro] manage aspects of caregiving that were completely out of my control.

Then nightmares, insomnia, overscheduling myself to accommodate and try to control caregiving. Lost 12 pounds.

Then, on my way to take mom to doctor's appointment, narrowly missed an SUV that lost control and flipped in front of me. Two weeks later, I rear ended a car and lost my spare keys the same day. A week later a speeding ticket. (Clean driving record for 20 years prior.)

Two and a half months later:
Can't manage my bills with the sudden influx of financial obligations to keep my license. Unmanageable guilt from being unable to keep any commitments or any communication with my parents. Missed Mother's Day, Fathers Day, Stepdad's birthday, my mom broke her foot- couldn't even get my stepfather to get a haircut. It's been quite the spiral...

If you think you are burned out- you are. Take a respite before it takes you.

❤️💕🙏🏻😞
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linina2 - I didn't say when, but her hospital stay was over a year ago, and she was out for a week, then in-home rehab. She gets around with a walker. A few months ago it was the ER because she passed out. You are right, I could hurt my back, so I don't try. Glad for 911! I am trying to get her in-house visiting nurse for blood tests and health checks, but that will be discussed at the well-ness check-up.
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Grannie Annie, you have an opportunity right now. The thing that caught my attention is that you couldn't lift her. You are risking your back plus your aunt needs more than you alone can provide. Your aunt is in hospital? Time to speak with a social worker about her condition and your inability to continue to care for her. Three days or more in hospital, you then send her to rehab/nursing home (try to pick a good one that is close by) so that if she clinically qualifies to stay after rehab ends, she stays. Then, you can focus on your husband and yourself. To be sure, you will remain quite busy because you will regularly visit and advocate for your aunt, but some of the pressure will go away.
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Thank you for all you replies. Tears ran down my face, too, as I read them. First as relief, for being heard and understood without having to spell out all the details, or without being judged. And then for concern for you, too.

I'd already decided where my line was with my aunt. When she fell and injured her back, I didn't know till the next morning, when she couldn't lift herself to get up for the bathroom. She was soaking wet, and I couldn't even roll her over to get her into dry clothes before the ambulance arrived. She is taller than me, and I cannot lift her. If she gets that way again, and it is not temporary, I cannot keep her here.

My husband is another story. his bad health has sneaked up on him and me too. I need time away to be able to think clearly. MaryKathleen was right about not being able to think rationally in a crisis mode!
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What would happen to them if you died? Someone would take up the slack. Please, please, all of you take care of yourselves first. Feelingtired, your husband probably isn't working 7 days a week. on his day off, get out of the house. It is his father, just stand in the door with your keys in your hand and when he walks in, run out. I literally did this with my ex-husband when the kids got too much for me.

GrannieAnnie, When you are in a crisis mode you can't think rationally. it may be time for your aunt to move to a care facility. Maybe even your husband. What will happen to them if you die? Don't they say 30% of caregivers die before the one they are caring for? I am so concerned for everyone here who feels trapped. My heart goes out to all of you. (((HUGS))). Tears are running down my face and my heart aches for all of you.
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What would happen to them if you died? Someone would take up the slack. Please, please, all of you take care of yourselves first. Feelingtired, your husband probably isn't working 7 days a week. on his day off, get out of the house. It is his father, just stand in the door with your keys in your hand and when he walks in, run out. I literally did this with my ex-husband when the kids got too much for me.
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You only need one person to care for. Is your mind and heart fighting against what is rational and good for you too? If you exhaust youself you could really suffer. Sometimes we just can't see the answer because we are torn and pulled. I hope you can find a goal and solution for a more reasonable plan. Its ok to say I cannot do this anymore.
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I totally understand and sympathize with you. I moved my fil in 4 years ago and have been doing everything myself. My husband works and really isn't much help. My fil has a colostomy bagand all kinds of other health conditions and dementia. We finally got hospice in Sept and I was just told Friday that they have to release him this week because he is not declining fast enough. So now I will have to go bhai to doing out myself. Thereare times I don't leave my house for 2 months. My husband does all shopping on his way home. I'm tired and need help but have no-one to help me.
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If you think you're burned out then you are. Many of our loved ones have become burdens. In the beginning, being a caregiver feels like a privilege; however, as their needs (not to mention wants) increase, they drain themselves and others of all sorts of resources. Add depression or worse, dementia, on top of caregiving, and it's like pouring gasoline on a fire; it consumes things quickly. All that said, recognizing that burnout is real is the first step in making changes and taking care of yourself.
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So...is it worth it? What are other options? Are their lives more important than ours. Are you willing to allow other caregivers to do imperfect jobs? Are you really the only one that can do this? Maybe so. I’m not sure about it all but I am sure I am not willing to sacrifice my life for theirs. They lived their life. They did it all. What about me?
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