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I am the caregiver of my 81 year old mother since my father passed away 2 years ago... I am honored to have the responsibility of being charged with her care but at times, I just feel so irritable over it... I know I need to talk to someone but my time is consumed with work and being a member of the sandwich generation. I read many of the posts some of which are helpful but others are not helpful at all with all the judgement and accusations thrown around by people that are virtual strangers...

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I couldn't agree with your more Jeanne. It just really pisses me off. After a while you just feel like cattle getting their antibiotic shots. Hey, we're not cattle. We're people who have valuable talents and character and could be doing other things that are important too. Yes, we are care givers, but please don't put us in the category of a robot that needs to take time to get a battery recharge. There is more to me than that. Lots more. Love to you and 3Pink. Cattails
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Right on, Cat my friend! That is one of my pet peeves. In my first therapy session the therapist told me that I have to take care of myself so that I can take good care of my husband. I blew up! I was worthy of care before my husband got ill, thank you very much, and I'm still worthy of care, and I'll be worthy of care after my husband dies. Grrrrrrrr. What I need from you is help in giving myself that care, not a lecture that I need it, and certainly not a lecture that I need to do it as part of my already overflowing list of caregiving tasks. Grrrrr.

Oh yeah, that is a real hot button for me.
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Cattails, great post - I am right there with you and think you are right on with your post. One of your lines stating "its in the now for us too" really struck me. We will do the best we can, but not be defined by it; live our lives in happiness as well. Thank you for the wonderful insight and sharing it with us. Bless you.
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I'm going to out on a limb here and mention something that sticks in my throat. I understand that it is important to take care of ourselves so we can be there for our loved ones and take care of them. Here's what always flashes in my mind when I hear that............"We need to take care of ourselves because we have a right to be cared for. We don't have to do it so we can sustain our ability to be care givers. We are ourselves and care givers second. We are just as important as anyone else, actually more so. We need to live beyond the needs of others and also make time for us to enjoy what life offers. We can't wait until the fat lady sings. It's in the now for us too." Sorry for the rant, but we deserve to live a life too. Do whatever you can do to make that possible. Don't do it for someone else. Do it for yourself. Your life is just a precious as any other life.

I hope you all understand what I am saying. Sending you all the best possible todays and tomorrows. Love Cattails.
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Stress among caregivers is a huge problem... Ive seen it professionally and now I know it first hand... I guess it basically comes down to as the previous posters have said, we have to take care of ourselves so we can be there for our loved ones... professional help both in the forms of therapy with and without meds may be necessary. We all have to figure that out for ourselves --- some of us get strength from religion, others from medication, physical activity or whatever... it's not going to be the same answers for everyone...

You also bring up another valid issue that at this point, Im not there yet... when does the person requiring care need the medication vs when the caregiver does... very complex answer..
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teebee - I understand about the xanex, I know nothing of that drug - just trying to be supportive. My husband and I took a much less potent anti anxiety med. I highly recommend any anti-anxiety medication for those of us taking care of narcississtic, demanding and controlling elderly - the stress some of them cause can lead to serious health issues for some of us. My husband was on the verge of a heart attack - high blood pressure due to the stress. Meds calmed him down tremendously.
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Teebee: My 3 sibs are two states away. On a couple of occasions, they all took a little vacation time and instead of coming up here, my dad went to visit them. That was heaven for me, because I was totally free. Plus it was great for the sibs and grand kids because they all got to see dad without the expense of flying up here.

Any chance your mom would consider doing something similar. I found my dad was always glad to get back here and my sister, who he often stayed with, was always happy to see him go. (Not that she doesn't love him, but he has his own way of doing things as you know.)

Cattails
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golfgirl07, hugs to you. You probably won't "forget" the incident for a long while, but I hope you are past the worst of the reactions.

I have been having severe sleep problems. My dear husband offered to share his seroquel. Even with his dementia he knows that is what enables him to sleep through the night. I opted to get evaluated at a sleep clinic and get my own treatment plan. You and I do know better, golfgirl, but I know how tempting it is when there are pills in the house! Glad your one-time use worked out OK for you.

Hugs again,
Jeanne
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Thank you teebee! I'm really not going to do that again - I do have better sense that to even take someone's meds. I was just desperate! I may as well tell you that I even mixed it with a bourbon and sprite! Talk about relaxed - girlfriend! I cryed all day on Monday and got the entire mess out of my system. When you come so close to killing a child - it's scary - very scary!
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golfgirl... I hear you... and believe me Xanax is a great drug ... I dont me to put it down totally in my previous post. It's great for more situational anxiety, short term use... it worked great for my mother to get her through my Dad's funeral... what you described with Sunday's mental breakdown I can totally understand. As far as treatment of longer term anxiety/depression, there are better classes of drugs to use that are not so addictive. Obviously there are many situations that are not so easy to treat so individual treatment needs to be managed by a doctor or nurse practitioner!
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I must add here while we are talking about taking Xanax! After last Sunday's mental breakdown (broken garage door, lost handbag and almost hitting a child with my car) I did take one of my mom's xanax pills! Then at bedtime I took another one! I slept most of the day yesterday and honestly I must have needed it. I feel so good this morning. I hate the drug thing but it just may have to help me through this once in a while! My husband, a great provider, is absolutely no help emotionally. I talk to him about whatever concerns me and he tells me about his golf game! I fell alone with Peter Pan and Cinderells stepmother!
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OMG... you dont know how much I appreciate all 3 of you and your comments.... I tend to be the guilty Catholic girl raised in the 60s so when I hear some of the comments "guilting" me into this is what I am supposed to be doing without resentment, it hits a raw nerve on that is exposed right on the surface... Worse yet my mother who is a Lebanese woman who was always raised to serve the men and elders has a lifetime of preconceived notions of how things are supposed to go... Yes, I am the nurse, I am the one who lived closest to my parents... they were always there for me... certainly when I was a child and even when my kids were litttle, getting them off the school bus, feeding them, taking care of them whenever needed and they did it without ever a complaint and with all the love there is.

Fast forward to now.... I gladly took my mother into my home as I knew she would not be able to succeed well on her own.... we have many wonderful times where i am very happy to have her in my home but then are the not so wonderful times and I know this is just the beginning because as her health declines, the dependency and committments increase... I am a nurse so my mind is fertile with all the different scenarios that could end up with long drawn out suffering... my wish for her is no suffering and when it is time for her to go, she will go (just like my Dad did when he suffered a massive heart attack) but I know that is not in anybody's control.

When moments crop up where we are in a disagreement or when I am constantly cleaning up after her, I get resentful, I get resentful because my siblings are able to go on with their lives without missing a beat while my life is surrounded by my mom's schedule of needs.. they are all far away and they will occasionally come to visit... perhaps once a month or whatever holiday comes up... then they get to go home! Then my mother will describe them as "doing everything for me"... I want to cry! In caring for her I try at every turn to encourage her to remain as mobile as possible but I think she secretly thinks I should be doing everything for her. Eg. getting the morning newspaper... I want her to walk to get it... she will call me in from another room and ask me to get her something but I tell her, with her spinal stenosis, the most important thing is for her to move.... so I insist on it... she doesnt know it but there is a curse to having a nurse as her caregiver! But I ramble....

Pinkroses, I am not a Xanax person, in fact as a nurse practitioner I work on getting people unaddicted to those kind of meds (there are far superior antidepressant and antianxiety meds) I merely mentioned 4 mg Xanax in jest to another poster that I did not agree with .. Jeanne, you are spot-on... Cattails, you know me well! The gambling brother has laid low... lately... but I know that can erupt at any time and I spoke to her lawyer about it... so I guess at this time it just takes vigilance because I know she doesnt have the strength to tell him "no"... she describes him as her "prodigal son" only he keeps coming back but never has asked for forgiveness... thanks for letting me vent! This has really been helpful to me!

Best wishes to you all in your journey!
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Jeanne had some great suggestions; especially the one about talking to some form of a therapist. Believe me, when this all started for me years ago and I was taking care of 3 elderly at the same time; I didn't have time to go and talk to someone; but somehow "found" the time and "made myself go". There is also that element of who to talk to. Well, ElderServices in your town will be able to refer to someone in-house who you can talk to and these people are simply wonderful. They've heard it all before and truly have a great insight as to what we caregivers go through. If you don't want one on one, they also have group sessions. One other thought if you have a religious affiliation would be to talk to a priest or minister, etc. My husband did talk to our parish priest and he was wonderfully understanding and even said he would help us get my MIL in a local nursing home as he was on the board of directors there. We didn't end up doing that, but it was nice to have his support.

I can relate as well to being part of the "sandwich" generation. I was raising teen-agers while the bulk of my care-giving was going on and it is tremendously challenging to balance the two. I was in a position to take breaks occasionly and go to our summer home for a couple of days. I was blessed to have this as I would take my teen-ager with me for some special time together. I kept the conversation going with my daughters as how they were feeling and how they were affected by these challanges. This open-ended conversation was so valuable for communicating and just plain old venting. I wanted my children to always know they came first with me, but their Grandmother needed me to.

As Jeanne said - if the Xanax helps; keep it up as it will calm your anxiety. Both my husband and I had to resort to anti-anxiety meds and they helped tremendously. Also, as Jeanne said - you will find some posts from people who are just not sympathic or don't really understand what you are going through. Just skip those posts - they are few and far between and the bulk of the responses are comforting and reassuring.

I was in denial that anyone could help me, such as a therapist; but they did and it made me feel not so alone in it all and they had great suggestions.

Good luck and take care.
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Teebee: No, you need something better than drugs. I've read some of your other posts and I want to make sure I have some things correct. You are a nurse and you are still working in that field? Or you were in nursing for many years and working in a different field now.

I've known many wonderful nurses and often find that they are wonderful at taking care of others, but sometimes not so good at taking care of themselves. Of course, that can be also be said of many of us who are not nurses.

In a previous post you mentioned that you have a brother with a gambling problem who has been causing problems since your mother's home sold. He has come out of the wood work to see if he can manipulate your mom and that has created friction between you and your mom.

You have two other siblings that are supportive of you. Are they in your area or is their support from a distance?

Please correct any mistakes I have made, I just think it's easier to address what someone is going through when more info in available.

Teebee: You are a wonderful daughter and your mom is blessed to be in your care. I can understand why you feel honored to be in this role, but frustrated with certain aspects of it. It's not a reflection on you and it's not your fault.

You do need some time to yourself and it would be awesome if you could talk to a therapist. It's hard to deal with parents. We can do everything right with their care, but we can't always have them see things our way. If your mom is making the situation more stressful in response to your brother's meddling, it just layers on a whole extra layer of stress.

I think most of the people on AC are good people. Respond to the good responses and ignore the ones you don't like. I absolutely agree with you that taking care of a loved one is in no way like raising a child.

Best wishes, Cattails
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Well, here is my judgment, as a stranger: it is an honor to have responsibility for your mother. It is a privilege to have your mother still with you and to also have childen to raise. Many people are not so fortunate.

It is also an overwhelmingly difficult balancing act to be the filling in the middle of the care sandwich. It is frustrating and irritating and just plain exhausting. It is impossible to always do the right thing because there are too many contradictory right things to do! That is hard on conscientious folks who seriously want to always do the right thing.

That is my judgment. Are you ready now for the accusation?

You are not trying hard enough to take good care of you. And, hooboy, do I know how hard that one is! But, put your own oxygen mask on first, lady, then help the passenger next to you! If you think that you "should be talking to someone," then figure out a way to make it happen. This doesn't have to be a 5-year psychoanalysis program. Several sessions to talk about what is giving you the most stress and ways to cope with that can be very worthwhile. The stress probably isn't going to go away while your mother is living, and we hope that is a long time. So learning ways to deal with it sooner rather than later makes sense. Don't wait until you have time! And, by the way, if carefully monitored Xanax is part of how you cope, don't be ashamed of that.

Take a few hours off of work each week for several weeks. Bring in some respite care for your mother. Drop your kids off at the movies down the block from your therapist's office. Do SOMETHING to enable you to get some personal help that you so richly deserve. The pressure of adding one more thing to your to-do list will be offset by the benefits of getting a little insight into your situation.

And, of course, you can come and talk here, without making an appointment. I hope you will find that mostly supportive, although you are sure to hear from people who know your life would be fine if you just shared their religous views, and people who accuse you of being wimpy if you want to complain once in a while, etc. but mostly you'll hear from people who have been there (or in similar places) and sincerely wish you the best. It is not a substitute for therapy, though. Let it be a supplement.

Good luck, and stay in touch!
Jeanne
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