Any advice for my own stomach/gastro issues due to the stress of caring for FIL?


Hi, I'm sure someone here must have gone through this, so I'm just asking for advice on how to deal with this issue. I've been prone to stomach ulcers and gastro issues for years, but recently had it well under control until my FIL moved in with us. Now, I'm having all kinds of tummy issues due to the stress. I am on several OTC medications for it, but I don't like to be on these long term - it's just not good for you. We have no health insurance (again, thanks to Obamacare), so I can't really afford to go to a specialist and have a bunch of tests done, and I pretty much know what the issue is, anyway. So, the question becomes, how does everyone else deal with this? I'm trying to control my stress, but I work from home, and I'm also an introvert, but my FIL makes comments EVERY TIME HE SEES ME! He thinks he's funny, but I feel like I'm being watched, observed, and commented on every second of my life, and it's driving me INSANE! ("Well, look, your hair is wet!" Yes Dad, I just took a shower. "Oh, are you going to drink that?" No Dad, I'm just lighting a candle. "What was that noise?!?!" I'm just getting ice from the fridge, Dad. "Wow, you're moving so fast!" I'm just walking to the laundry room, Dad. These comments NEVER STOP. And it's even more fun at night, when he sundowns and get cranky and starts yelling at me, or when he wakes up confused at 1:00 AM, and 2:00 AM, and 4:00 AM...) You can't tell him to stop, because he has dementia and forgets. Then I feel guilty for trying to avoid him, which causes further stress, so it's just a never-ending circle. How do people deal with this?? I'm open to suggestions. Thank you!

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Hugemom - thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate that!
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GardenArtist - awesome, thank you!
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WT, I know that somewhere this morning I posted with a reference to VA caregiving support. I can only find one such post now, but I thought you also might be interested in learning what the VA might offer to you:
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I understand your dilemma as far as the constant rambling and nowhere to get away. My DH suffered a stroke in ‘03 and a debilitating heart infection in ‘13. He is now bedridden and I am his sole caregiver. He was never very affectionate. Now, he is grateful for my caregiving and he realizes this isn’t the way we planned to spend our twilight years and it’s because of him. He shows this, like your FIL does by constant babble. “What are you doing?” “Where are you going?” Or whenever I come into the room, “Hi!” Even if all I did was use the facilities. Since he’s been home from a 4 month stay in rehab, his aphasia from his stroke has gotten worse and sometimes I can’t decipher what he’s trying to tell me. It’s constant and it’s irritating. . I escape to my bedroom at night just for the peace of silence.

Have you considered yoga or learning how to meditate? Behavior modification therapy can help too. And please know that in our eyes, you are a hero. Even though you dont feel well, your post was about helping Dad. Kudos!
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WhirledTravel, I'm glad I could help. It makes me feel useful and helps counteract the frustration of my own situation.

As to places with day care, are there any Jewish Family Services in your area? In ours, they have a day care program; I don't believe it's restricted to Jewish members though as they have typically provided outreach generally to people in need.

The Alzheimers' Assn. is a good source of information, better than the Area Agency on Aging in my area. The AA e-mails requested information w/I 1/2 hour. The AAA generally responds within a week, usually with a request for donation.

Would he be able to go to breakfast, lunch or other social gathering of Veterans? In my area one of the American Legion posts is holding a holiday dinner for WWII Vets. He probably wouldn't need to interact, but on the other hand he might feel out of place as he did at the Senior Center. However, that might also have been due just to the change in setting. New and/or different surroundings can be unsettling.

There are large piece puzzles with pieces about 2" x 2" (+/-) . I found some at baby stores, to be used when my father was intubated and medicated (against my preference) with psychotropics.

Dominoes are another game; even if the dots don't match, it might give him a chance just to put together some pieces and see what the design turns out to be. Triangular dominoes offer different perspectives on design creation.

Years ago I found an excellent site with suggestions for dementia activities. That site eventually disappeared, but, lo and behold, I just found another. Search "games for dementia". If you use Microsoft's Bing, you'll get hits first; Google provides ads first.

The Alz. site ( also has a 101 activities section.

Does he like music? Strauss waltzes are relaxing. If you have a collection of CDs, let him go through and choose one. It will keep him busy and occupied. And giving him a chance to make a selection of something on his own may make him feel important.
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Snoopy, I'll try the DGL, thank you!!

SendHelp - Well, I don't drink much coffee anyway, some mornings I don't have any at all, but I already drink 1/2 caf Americanos - yum! ;) As for slowing down, again I will! But, it's a nice thought.

CountryMouse - good thoughts, all. I do try to exercise, but it seems the most stressful weeks are also the ones where it's tough to get out. Ugh. I'm going to try for a bike ride today, though! The breathing exercise is a good thought, too. Yes, I hold my breath a lot. And I laughed hard at this:

"Because the effect of someone doing this is, I hope, probably as close as we'll get to the auditory hallucinations of schizophrenia and IT DRIVES ONE NUTS!!!"

Yep!!! Thanks for all the help and understanding, everyone!
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Also, breathing. I don't know if this is true for you too, but from time to time I noticed that I was literally holding my breath from sheer tension. Going into the utility room, closing the door, and doing the slowly in through the nose and then blowing out through pursed lips (like blowing out a candle) exercise did honestly help.

And do you get any physical activity? - apart from the endless domestic round, I mean. Working up a bit of a sweat and getting out of breath - ten minutes' speed walking round the block, e.g. - is good for the system in general. I had 'Liberty Bell' on my iPod for the purpose.

I feel for you on the constant scrutiny + running commentary aspect. Gosh what a bind it is. Elderly person asking innocent questions, harmless remarks on "the bleedin' obvious": why should it be so difficult just to nod and smile and rejoin "'deed I am busy!" or "yes, I expect I do look tired"? Because the effect of someone doing this is, I hope, probably as close as we'll get to the auditory hallucinations of schizophrenia and IT DRIVES ONE NUTS!!!
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For your stomach, if you aren't already using it you might want to try deglycyrrhizinated licorice extract (DGL). It's probably my favorite of all the "alternative"-type OTC things I've used over the years for my sensitive stomach. I find it very effective to help heal acute issues that I've caused by ill-advised eating and drinking, and soothing to the stomach in the moment as you're taking it. It's at all health food stores, Whole Foods, grocery stores with a natural supplements section, etc. And I think in your place I would also consider if any part of the stomach woes could be a result not just of stress, but of the resentment, anger, even rage that a person might naturally feel in your situation, and then of course feel terribly guilty about, resulting in the stomach problems. Dr. John Sarno did a lot of great work in this area that I personally resonate with. Just a thought in case helpful.
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1) Work smarter not harder:
a) stop lifting, carrying, and bending.
b) stop hurrying, walking fast, slow down.
2) Remove tight fitting clothes.
a) remove your bra, or wear a sports bra, two sizes larger for comfort.
b) very loose fitting pants, or a house dress.
c) larger underwear at the waist.
d) stop hurrying to get dressed, it is very strenuous!

3.Control foods:
   a.  Coffee is contraindicated, but you can still have it, drink less.
   b. Cafe Americano has 1/2 coffee with 1/2 hot water added.
  c.  1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular. Limit to mornings.
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Grammy and GardenArtist - thank you SO much for your ideas! Garden, I like the one about scheduled coffee time, that's brilliant! This is why I come to these forums, seems so simple, yet I never thought of that. He does love his coffee, so we can add that to this "schedule". :) Thank you!

We did look into Adult Day Care, and are still looking, actually. The weird thing is, I couldn't find one near us with "memory care" that would accept him on a day by day basis, he had to be inpatient. I'm going to keep looking, though. I keep hearing that they're out there, I just haven't found one! I'm going to call the Area Agency on Aging again; they're the ones who gave us the day centers to look into, but each one was a bust. ?? Oh, and there's no Gilda's Club near us, unfortunately, but thank you for the idea!

We do have a Senior Center near us, but it's pretty much above his level - they're very active and their cognitive level is pretty normal. (We checked it out with Dad; he seemed a bit overwhelmed with it.) But, they also have some days where they do music programs; I think we could plug him into that for an hour or so! I don't know if we can leave him by himself, so I do like the idea of hiring someone to stay with him while he's there. I guess I always think of caregivers just coming to the house, but that's a good idea to have them stay with him somewhere!

Grammy - I'm sorry that your mom rambles! That would be hard to listen to. So far, Dad only mumbles at night, occasionally, in his sleep. I'm thankful for that!

I didn't know about the sugar making sundowning worse, thanks for the tip! He does like his sugar, lol!

I'll try some puzzles, too. He's never been that into puzzles or games, but if I can find just one thing that he likes, maybe he'll do them! We did try that Lumosity online brain games website that you can do on your computer, but that was a bust. He's never been great with a computer anyway, and the Lumosity was almost kind of comical for him! (Sorry, you have to joke where you can! Poor guy. He tried, though!) I thought about maybe getting him some really simple crosswords, or Sudoku. He's good with numbers, so if they're easy enough Sudoku, maybe he'll do them.

Anyway, guess I'm rambling now. Thanks again, all!
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