I am the sole caregiver for my wife (aged 63), since for a variety of reasons her other family members are neither willing nor able to help at all. She's had a variety of health problems, both physical and mental, for most of our married life, and for about the past 6 years has been pretty much an invalid. In general, our marriage has not been ideal, but we’ve both been determined to make the best of it.
I'm still working full-time, mostly for the break it gives me from taking care of her. She keeps urging (i.e., nagging) me to retire, so I can be home to look after her all the time. I, and most everyone I talk to, know this would be disastrous for my health and well-being, and so ultimately for hers. But she just doesn't seem to understand that.
Most of her communication consists of whimpering and crying, moaning and groaning, complaining and criticizing. And occasional verbal abuse of me and others. She is extremely negative and critical about almost everyone and everything; she’s a black hole who absorbs most of whatever energy I have. I catch almost all of her flak because I’m almost the only “target” she has. She has done almost nothing to help improve her health; rather, she blames other people and expects them to fix it for her. She is also very intelligent, although in recent years both other people and I have noticed significant cognitive problems in her behavior, possibly the delayed results of a long ago brain injury.
The bottom line is that I just don’t want to be her caregiver any longer. I am tired of having my life dominated by her problems, a good portion of which are her own fault (COPD from 40+ years of smoking and diabetes from eating--i.e., demanding to eat--mostly junk.) I would like the chance to enjoy a few years of my life before my own inevitable health problems set in; I’m 66 and in decent health--at the moment. I have noticed myself gradually becoming more and more angry and resentful about this situation, especially since some, though certainly not all, of her health problems are the direct results of her own behavior:
So, what am I to do? Last summer, we tried having her stay in a well-regarded local nursing home so I could have a couple of weeks of respite to go visit friends and relatives. She couldn’t stand it, couldn’t stand not being in control of her environment (e.g., the nursing home took away her cigarettes and medications), with the result that she pitched a fit and convinced several people to help her move back home and stay with her while I was away. So, some kind of assisted living/nursing home situation seems to be out of the question.
Respite care for me is not really the solution either. Whenever I’ve been able to get away, the thought and action of having to come back “home” again is just so overwhelmingly depressing that it wipes out much of the benefit of the respite. Being away is like climbing up out of a cesspool or toxic waste pit and breathing fresh air and drinking clean water; coming back is like slipping down into the muck again. I am just worn down, depleted, burned out from dealing with this situation. I don’t know what to do. I have no family of my own to turn to, and don't want to unduly burden my friends with my woes. I just know I need to do SOMETHING and will welcome advice and suggestions from this online community. From reading other postings here, I know my situation is not nearly as bad as what a lot of other folks have to deal with, but it's bad enough all the same.