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What seems to make the difference between a frustrated, worn out, feeling beat up caregiver and a happy caregiver? Is there anyone who deals with the "abuse" often heaped upon those who care in such a way that it does not created distress?

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Happy is more temporal than not, in my opinion.
Content might describe me. I am the primary caregiver for my mother in law and I am mostly content in taking care of her. That being said, I can be a bit of a control freak and with her various needs regarding diet I get bent easily when my husbands siblings don't take the time to care to find out what is beneficial for my mother in law.
Happy. Today yes. Yesterday, no. Content with having her here with me so I know what the quality of care is for her? Yes.
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Emphatically YES for my dad and now... NO for my mother! I feel sorry for her at times but then she gets demanding as always which creates stress on me for what's coming next. This is hell on earth and I want to run away! But then I come to my senses and know that I am stronger than that and I will get through this gracefully. Caregiving for my father was totally opposite, he was a gem of a dad and I loved spending every moment I could with him. So YES, it definitely depends on the relationship prior to this!
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Woops, my last comment went up too soon. I wouldn't say I was a "happy caregiver" overall. My first posts here were a lot of crying: worry and grief. When he's sick and weak and always needing things, I'm too tired and busy to post. When he's off his meds or BG is low and he's ranting, I'm very upset. When he has a good couple of weeks, like now, all that seems like a bad dream. But good days/weeks for the last couple of years have been in the minority.

What I haven't seen mentioned in this thread, is the fear of making a mistake, not calling 911 when I should, or not using the emergency glucose release hypo, etc. I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I am out of my depth. I'm always watching for danger signs, which I wouldn't know how to deal with if I saw them. I've kept my cell phone with me constantly, 24/7, since 2002.

I know others have it much worse. I wish I could delete my own posts.
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Is the question "Are you happy because of your caregiving?"

Or is it "Are you happy in spite of your caregiving?"

A little of both. Of course I'm sad/worried/grieved that he needs it. But since he needs it, I'd rather do it myself than some stranger. There are a lot of good, close, peaceful times. Closer and more peaceful than when we were both healthy and busy with outside things.
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NO im not a happy caregiver and would be if I was an only child! cargiving is hard, siblings are impossible to deal with if my mum goes into a NH it will be because of my siblings not helping and not my choice. Really bad few days so NO NO NO not a happy anything.
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I guess I am happy at times. My mom is 98 and I care for her alone. My partner of 28 years moved out, I have to call my sisters and beg for help just to go to the store. I am happy that I can care for her as I promised my dad many years ago but I am mentally and physically exhausted.
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I started this thread not with the thought of having fun kind of happiness, but the thought of not overly stressed with sense of satisfaction kind of happiness, a contentedness with manageable anxiety. Some caregivers seem to have that. And it seems the difference seems to be in the what the relationship was previously. If the relationship was healthy, even difficult behavior seems more easily tolerated. If the elder, is not contrary, it seems caregivers do not have such a hard time with things like "accidents" or other care issues. But If the past relationship was not healthy, the difficult behavior seems to push all the right buttons to send the caregiver into high anxiety. I hope all of us on this forum "remember" to go with the flow when our time comes and never forget to say please and thank you. May that part of our brains never die until the rest of us does also.
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Jinx is right. There are an amazing number of variables in the formula for caregiver happiness, and they change. I'm pretty close to the bottom of the list. My father is manic/depressive and now has dementia. He is a chronic liar and put my mother in an early grave. We've never had a close relationship. He was close to impossible when he was young and now he's intolerable even though he can still toilet, dress, and feed himself. The minute that stops, off to a nursing home he goes. I only wish I knew how long he'll live versus his assets. If the books balanced, I'd take him there tomorrow.
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Thank you, care75104 for the suggestions. They are very good ones. I did the Senior Daycare until my mom needed more assistance. She has VA benefits which help a little.
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Everyone strives for "happiness". Since I am a caregiver for grandpa who has dementia, I am most productive when he attends adult daycare and I can get respite. I catch up on my sleep, watch tv (love the alfred hitchcock episodes), and eat a good meal. I do recommend caregivers everywhere take your loved one to adult daycare so you can get respite for yourself and so your loved one can be watched and fed and be around other people. Check with your loved one's insurance like medicaid and other insurances they have if they cover adult daycare and other respite programs.
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Debralee, I am sure that you must be a decent person. But having your frail, 90-yr.-old mother molested at an ALF is NOT OK. Mom is wonderful. But, she cannot fight off a brawny guy with intentional or not aims to feel her up. That is just gross. The corporation will answer for this. They are trying to make nice to me but that will not work. I have an elder abuse investigator on the case. I will post when I get results. Don't think you are the head poo-bah. It has been a really bad week here. Just don't go there, please. Maybe we will accomplish something positive. Let's hope.
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Debralee, Also their parents don't have dementia or incontinence, and have the good grace to die in a year or two after becoming impossible to care for!

Please don't blast me - I'm half joking, and generalizing. But it's easier by far to care for someone nice for two years than to care for someone nasty for 15 years.
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Sure there are. They get paid for what they do and usually work in that chosen field. The unhappy ones become caregivers by default, having an elderly parent.
Those few that happily are caring for an aging parent must have had very loving and caring parents growing up.
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Jinx, the ONLY thing they did was fix her defective, not keyed to the master lock, door lock so that only "authorized" key holders could access her room. The new Director, who just started, is only covering her a**. My mom has been there 1 and a half years, very happy. Loves the activities, social time, and the good food. When turnover started happening, the place went down. Stolen clothes, nice sheets (we supply) and just stupid stuff. I am unable to sleep and if I do drift off, I have horrible nightmares. This most recent episode makes me want to just buy a condo and take care of her. (Bye, hubby!) It is ridiculous that our state and country just does not care about elders. I loved my grandparents and their children took care of them. I was so sad when they passed, but I knew that my uncle did everything he could. My husband's parents are gone. My mom has a great-granddaughter and another on the way. She is delighted. So I do not know what to do. Please excuse my grammatical errors earlier. I was upset. Both my mom and I were high school English teachers with Masters degrees. We are not stupid, but we are feeling like the world is. She has little money but I did get her well-deserved VA benefits after 2 years of hard work. I just do not know what to do. I will be broke or dead before she is from all the stress. Good morning and have a good day. I will be waiting for the investigator... Thanks for your kindness.
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I love wat I do, I have done the kind of work for 23yrs, I know I have made a difference in many people's lives, but most of all I know I'm making a truly special difference in my father's life. Everything I learned at a young age I learned from my mother (the nurse) true meaning of compassion. I am blessed god gave me success a special gift, its not just something anybody can do. God bless everyone
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I'm glad this question was asked. I am not happy about my parents at this difficult age of their life at all. We are 'fighting' their desire to be independent and drive. They've been in accidents and are supposed to be taking a DMV test, but they keep going at the wrong time. (2nd wrong time last week). My dad and mom have been so angry at me for different issues besides just the driving. There are a few happy moments, but today I'm more depressed and anxious. Tomorrow I get to 'discover' their financial 'bad spending' habits. Am I happy to know about their financial disaster? Absolutely no! I do not like this time of my life knowing their poor choices from the past. I'm much more anxious than happy about them. Sorry about expressing my anxiety.
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Tomatilla,
It's awful what happened to your Mom. Has the ALF done anything to keep it from happening again?
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For-profit assisted living facilities just care about $$$, not your loved one. My 90-year-old frail mom with memories issues and not much strength had an unexpected big, brawny guy crawl inti bed with her and touch her in inappropriate places. I found out 11 hours later. The situation is not resolved. I filed an Elder Abuse report. If you think that a big man touching your mother's t & a, actively is a great way to spend time, you need psychotherapy. I am so angry. I have told her grand kids and my husband. He does not think she can come back to my house, and is will admit that I am no spring chicken to do all she needs. So, what do you think? I expect a heart attack (my own) any moment. My mom is a sweet, kind person. I love her so much. We are both helpless...
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Nooooo!!!!!!!!! Impossible.
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It's funny how Mom's behavior has gotten SOOOOOOO much better.......since I've been on the Zoloft. (wink)
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I'll expand on my previous answer: "No"
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I am happy most of the time. There are some challenging days, but the good times together more than make up for them....like when my parents tell me they liked the dinner I just cooked. When Dad smiles because one of the cats sat still long enough to be petted. When my mom tells me she loves me.

I think being happy as a caregiver is dependent on how difficult one's circumstances are and whether or not one is willing to work though day-to-day challenges to find solutions that are optimal, not just acceptable.

What amazes me though, is the number of people on this site who care for a parent who is abusive. And the number of people who care for an in-law. And those who care for an older person while also caring for their young children and/or while they work full time. You folks are amazing.

I often come to this site looking for a practical solution to one problem or another. But sometimes I come simply for the support that only a fellow caregiver can give. Too often I read a story by someone whose heart is breaking. Almost always I leave, feeling more grateful and blessed. Thank you all. And God bless.
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Happiness is like beauty... its all in the eyes of the beholder. What makes you happy might make me sad and vice versa. Overall today is a happier day than yesterday and that's about all I can ask for right now. :)
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I'm happy with taking care of my mom, but unhappy with not getting help from my siblings.
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BoniChak. Thanks for the laugh
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BonniChak---Oh I love when Mom does that too! I took her for a long wheelchair ride for a mile to my sons. He gave me a caramel apple pop and I held it while Mom licked it. (she cant talk) She kept saying MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM and we laughed which made her laugh and she would do it again, priceless!
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Mom never has much of an appetite and eats very little.I just made her a sandwich of leftover chicken and cranberry sauce on white toast. She moaned and made noises like it was Filet and lobster. She said it was the best sandwich she ever had, tieing only with the one my Brother brought to the hospital, thanksgiving night in 2001. Yes! I am happy!
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Oldcodger youre not being pessimistic youre being honest! I will take great care of my mum until I can no longer cope with no family around to help me so far so good shes just quite calm at the moment and still has excellent memory but this will get worse no matter how much we can expect to happen when it starts to happen then will i know just how much I can handle on my own!
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The difference comes from whether or not the care giver gets adequate support and respite.

No matter how much you LOVE someone or CARE for someone - not matter how NOBLE the cause - without regular respite and support - without having a life outside care giving - it is not possible to sustain happiness. The care giver WILL eventually crash and burn - it is just a matter of time. Sorry for the pessimism.

Some charges will retain their sense of humors, their mutual love for their care giver and their appreciation - but for many, their charges become self centered, consumed by pain and sorrow or just unable to 'think' clearly anymore and they end up doing things that would make most people cringe.

So, without help from other family members - if you find yourself the SOLE care giver for years and years - you will struggle with this fleeting concept of happiness. Sorry to be so pessimistic.
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All good answers above that emphasize the point my friends keep reminding me: there is no right or wrong on this journey....it is the patient's journey. But the word roller coaster resonated with me b/c I often describe myself as being on a roller coaster due to my mom's cancer journey (I'm an only child) and we never know what's around the corner. I just try to find something to be grateful for or happy about each day (silver linings) and can ALWAYS find something. Right now I'm so happy that her refrigerator makes ice on it's own and I don't have to fill ice trays. It's the little things. We have to fight to keep the depression away you guys! Fight for yourself. Caregiving should not take us down with them....they would not want that. Shore up your support networks, whoever they may be.
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