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I ask because as a child, my mother always ‘bailed out‘ when I was sick. Before getting asthma under control as an adult, I suffered from severe attacks during my childhood and all through my teens. My mother just could not handle it, going as far as ridiculing me and implying that I was putting on an act. This is just one example of how her caregiving skills were not great when I was a kid, which has haunted me my entire life. Despite not really sharing a warm & fuzzy relationship in the past, she wasn’t an awful mom; I do love her & want her to be happy and cared for now that she is 89 and extremely frail.
My dad passed last year at 91 after a slow decline (he was in & out of the hospital more times than I can count), and they were married for approx. 65 yrs. My only sibling - an older brother - has also passed from prostate cancer 4 yrs ago, and I lost my beloved husband to pancreatic cancer almost 20 yrs ago when I was barely 42. So I am very much alone right now, trying to do the right thing for my mom and also dealing with several of my own health issues without any family support.
I now live with Mom because after dad passed, it became painfully clear she could not manage everything on her own. I can’t help feeling annoyed at times & disappointed that this isn’t somehow easier for me to handle, plus I still feel very much robbed of so many good years of marriage with my amazing husband. I had to raise our daughters from a very young age completely on my own, and now that they have grown into 2 busy, beautiful young women I would like to take a breath and concentrate on myself. However, that hasn’t happened because between caring for both my parents for the last decade or so (while my dad was still alive neither parent could drive or do any errands) and now having my mom completely dependent on me, I am the one stuck doing everything, as usual.
I know this must sound petty and I wish I could be more happy for the remaining time I now share with Mom - but I don’t. I often feel angry and negative about this situation. Sometimes I think by the time I finally get my freedom, I’ll probably be too old to enjoy it. Due to severe arthritis and nerve damage, I am practically ready for a walker now at age 60 - Mom gets around better than I do!
Finally, my mom has always had a very contrary and pessimistic personality which adds another layer of stress to the mix. There are times she is so melodramatic and needy, it’s almost more work looking after her than it was taking care of 2 small children by myself!
I recognize I need to make sure my own needs are met in order to relieve the tension I’m carrying, because there are times I just don’t want to be her cheerleader & I feel like I might blow my top over nothing. I’m sorry this sounds like a big pitty party, but at least it feels good to unload to others who may be in the same position.
My mom does want me to be happy, but I cannot tell her what would really make me happy is if I could move out & go back to my regular life - which is quickly slipping away. I’m so conflicted because I sincerely care about her, but I also want to be selfish at times and care more about my own well being before it’s too late. My mom cannot relate to any of this because her parents died before I was even born, & my dad’s parents also died young. It’s such an odd situation to be in right now - at my age - and I don’t know how to fix it. Thanks for listening -
KF

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My mom was always of dismissive of my ails, ills and anxieties. As she aged and had these totally illogical anxieties, I got her to a geriatric psych who medicated her, appropriately.

Yes, I wished she had understood me better as a teenager. But, like CM, thanks to the lovely folks here, I didn't lose my sanity.
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
TY, I’ve got to check into this chat forum more often. I wish I had discovered this years ago because it’s fantastic to know I’m not alone in the way I feel. Thanks again -K Finn
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This sentence jumped out at me:

"I recognize I need to make sure my own needs are met in order to relieve the tension I’m carrying, because there are times I just don’t want to be her cheerleader & I feel like I might blow my top over nothing."

The way you phrased it makes it sound as if your needs matter only in the context of making sure you can continue to be a good cheerleader/caregiver. I don't think this is true. You are just as important as your mom. Her anger at the prospect of having hired caregivers is NOT more important than your life, your goals, your needs, your health, your pain.
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
Thank you for saying that ... I’ve never thought about it that way but you’re right. I’m not sure why I consider needing to relieve stress only so I’ll be a better caregiver, but I’ve got to work on changing to a healthier mindset. It’s ok for me to want a good life, no matter what the circumstances are (my God, what a concept!). TY again for allowing me to ponder this; I’m very glad I checked in with the AC chat forum. Thank God I did & God Bless you~ K Finn
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Your question; "Am I the only one who feels caregiver resentment toward an elderly parent...?"

No, you are not. In fact, most of us here on this AC forum feel burned out from having to take care of aging parents for years and years with little to no help. My mother has Alzheimer's. When she was living with me, I felt so stressed out all the time. No breaks, no vacations, no rest, and barely any life. She sucked the life out of me and my family. Yes, I resented that very much. Finally, I had to move my mother out of my house and get more help to come in, so that I could have a life with my husband and two kids.

For me that is self preservation. If I continued on that path, I would destroy my own health and that of my family. My younger daughter cried each time she had to deal with 'crazy' grandma. That was not how I want her to grow up or remember grandma (who was very nice and kind to her before she got Alz.)

You are not selfish at all for wanting to take care of yourself and enjoy your life. There are other options besides you taking care of your mom 24/7 which is a very bad one. If you continue on this path, you will put yourself into an early grave. So, stop it. Pretend you are too sick too take care of her, what would happen to her? Who would take care of her? Those are the options you should explore.
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Dear "KFinn59,"

I'm so sorry you are finding yourself in this situation especially having your own health issues and no family support.

Also, I'm so sorry you lost your wonderful husband when you were barely 42 to Pancreatic Cancer. I lost my dad when I was almost 42 from Pancreatic Cancer as well. He was 82.

Although I didn't have the same type of relationship with my mom that you had with yours, I do understand watching your life quickly slipping away. I've been taking care of my parents since 2004 because they were 40 years older than myself so I felt like my caregiving began sooner than a lot of others. I feel exactly the same way - that as I approach 58 next month, I've lost a lot of time not going on vacations etc. and now with the pandemic, I'm not sure things will ever be the same as far as having the freedom to do things like my husband and I used to do.

I can feel your pain - you've had a lot of losses early in life, had to raise your two daughters alone and now you're taking care of your mom alone. I'm sorry your mom wasn't able to take care of you in the manner she should have growing up and that now she just seems to bring her pessimism into the picture which doesn't help your current mindset. I would suspect you may have some PTSD or even more so C-PTSD from all the things you've endured.

Often the elderly are needy, can be melodramatic and have the me, me, me attitude which is extremely common.

Also how you feel is normal as well, so I hope you will go easy on yourself especially when you don't have the support you need. The last thing you should do is be hard on yourself. There's an old saying "sometimes you have to give to yourself what you can't get from someone else." All the emotions you expressed - anger, disappointment, resentment - all normal. It's part of caregiving just like there are stages of grief. It happens to those of us caregivers who do have good relationships with our parents. We're human and it's only natural to feel a whole array of negative emotions including frustration and impatience.

Both my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather had died before I was born and my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather died when I was one or two years old and my parents didn't take care of either of them.

We all want to be selfish at various times in our lives and we all end up making great sacrifices and compromises when taking care of those we love. The good thing is that in spite of your relationship with your mom being what it is - you still love her, want her to be happy and cared for which can only help you in the long run. Just remember though we can't "make" another person happy. They are responsible for their own happiness. You can't live their lives for them and most of all you can't "change" them.

You have to look at how you can change your own perceptions for your own sake. The pandemic has made all those things much more difficult so it will take a lot of creativity but, start by doing small things for yourself that will help and that you enjoy doing. Sometimes it's the jumpstart that we need and then more things start to fall into place.

You'll be in my thoughts and prayers as you learn ways to cope and handle your current situation taking care of mom and "you!"
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
Oh my gosh, everything you have said is right on pointe with what I’m experiencing. TY very much for understanding my dilemma. I’m glad to hear you shared a better relationship with your mom than I did; at the same time, you can relate to my feelings of life slipping away (mine) and enduring many losses. Believe it or not, I still miss my husband now as much as I did when he passed almost 20 yrs ago. Everything that happened after that was one more grief-filled event after another.
I always loved my mother for all the good things she’s done, but never in a thousand years did I think I’d be living out these precious years of MY life with my mom instead of my husband. You are probably right about the PTSD, it’s not the first time I’ve been told that.
Frankly, I’ve always been somewhat embarrassed by the way I feel - like I should have a bigger heart & be more understanding toward Mom. Who hasn’t longed for that Hallmark Card type of life?? Anyway, so many points you made were dead on and I very much appreciate your taking the time to reply. I feel stronger after reading all the kind replies, and it goes a long way toward easing the numerous burdens of resentment, guilt, etc. TY again & God Bless You! Stay healthy - K Finn
*I just wanted to add that you are so right that we ‘can’t make someone be happy’ & we ‘can’t change people.’ I tell myself that often. It’s also true that you cannot help someone who won’t help themselves, yet somehow we seem to continue trying anyway. TY again for your kind thoughts!
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I know exactly how you feel although I knew better than to ever let my father live with me. He wasn't a bad father, just everyone else's feelings were more important than mine. He'd beg me to do something with him, I'd rearrange my plans (work) for him then he'd bail on me as soon as something better came along. Then he could never understand why I was so distant.

You need to go back to being a daughter...not a caregiver. Those are two entirely different things. I am sure you mom thinks they are one in the same but they are not. Make sure your mom is well cared for but it doesn't have to be by you. Go and live your life while you still have the chance.
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
I appreciate your suggestion and will do the best I can to have other means of caregiving. Part of the problem is she has slowed down significantly & is super frail, yet she is not to the point where outside assistance is required.
I know for the most part I need to be patient; however, hearing from you and others has reassured me that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Thanks again for your kind advice -K Finn
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Are you the only one?

Are you kidding me???

I will cut my very long story short, and hope (against hope, because I think we all have to walk our own road) to save you at least some of the regrets. As the youngest child of a woman who was a hopeless wife and a useless mother, it took me near-lunacy (survived thanks to this forum) to come just in time to the realisation not only that I did love my mother, but also, crucially, that she loved all of us. She loved us all right. She was just no good at the business of nurturing.

You are NOT being petty. The right decisions now about where to put your own personal boundaries - which let NOBODY dictate to you - will save your sanity and give you nothing to regret. Be the opposite of your mother, and be purely practical. Figure out what amount and type of caregiving fits into how much time that you genuinely have available, and delegate everything else.

[Escaping the negativity is a big subject on its own. Try "Understanding the Borderline Mother" by Christine Ann Lawson. You don't have to have a mother with a diagnosed personality disorder for this book to be extremely helpful in humane boundary-building].
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
TY soo much for all your valuable input. I recognize that there must be others who share my feelings, but it’s tough to discuss with family members. It’s like we all know she has been/can be difficult but no one wants to put it out there - it’s not a good look to admit you’d rather have somebody else care for mom because she’s a PIA. I do need to be stronger about setting boundaries, and I will look into reading up on Christine Ann Lawson’s experience with the mom issues. Printed material works best for me, plus sharing with others who ‘get it’. Thanks again for taking the time to reply CountryMouse! You are very kind. -KFinn
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KFinn, I totally empathize with your situation. Please understand it is perfectly reasonable for you to want a life of your own. You are burnt out, like many of us on this forum, and really need a break from all this hands on caring. You mentioned moving out. Can you do this whilst arranging some kind of third party care for your mum? If this isn't an option, is it instead time for her to move into a residential home? Neither of these options will necessarily be easy but you do need to put your own health first, and stay firm about this. My mother lives with us, and I too have not had a brilliant past relationship with her. Her extra neediness flares up from time to time, most often when I am having a crisis or problem of my own. This happened last week, when I was suffering a bout of bad joint pain, linked to the menopause, and could barely walk. I really had nothing left to give, and told her that I couldn't give her any more care than I was already giving. She went very quiet and thoughtful for the next few days, but the neediness has stopped for now and I have effectively introduced the "care" word with the implication that she will have to move elsewhere if she needs any more care than she is already getting. I hope this helps you to see your own situation more clearly.
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
Thank you so much, this helps tremendously. Turning to this chat forum for people in the same boat has already gone a long way to boost my mood. It can be very isolating at times; I used to have a very full and active life, which I am not ready to see disappear forever.
TY for your understanding & advice. I suggested the residential home years ago but she insists it’s not what she wants (too much work for her to make new friends at this age). I’ll keep all your suggestions in mind & God Bless, Stay Healthy! -KFinn
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" Due to severe arthritis and nerve damage, I am practically ready for a walker now at age 60"

You shouldn't be your mother's caregiver. Don't you want to be around for your daughters? There are other options, you know.
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
I cannot contract stranger-HCA’s to help out with Mom until she is no longer able to fight me on it. It’s her house, and although I am suffering from tremendous physical pain I’m still able to function enough to help both of us get by. It sucks; I just wish I did not hold resentment toward her.
min going to look into therapy, which literally saved me when I lost my husband.
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TY so much for the very valuable advice, clearly you know exactly how I feel and have endured far more ‘time in the trenches’ than I have. I will definitely take your words to heart before I feel like I’ve got nothing left to give (to anyone, including me).
I haven’t visited this chat forum before - that I can remember - and it has certainly opened up a lot of doors for me. I’ll keep in touch and I am very sorry for all the time you have spent caring for a parent with Alz, which must be one of the most difficult and crushing things to experience with a family member. God Bless you, I will keep you in my prayers - K Finn
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It’s ok to say that you can’t do it anymore when you get to that point. There are people who get paid to be caregivers who can give you relief so that you can have a relationship with her.
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KFinn59 Sep 8, 2020
TY for your advice. I don’t know how much longer I can wait before having extra help here, and I appreciate your positive support.
God Bless, stay healthy! K Finn
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