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Caring for Mom is wearing me down. Over the last 10 years I got on a good exercise program, changed my eating habits and lost 40 lbs. Two years ago I further altered my diet, cutting out sugar and most carbs. I lost another 10 lbs. I felt great, had more strength and energy than I had in years.


Now I have been tag teaming with my sister, caring for our Mom. Sis lives in the same town as Mom; I live 900 miles away. As Mom continued to decline mentally and physically, I made more frequent and longer trips to be with her. While she has not been diagnosed with dementia (is very good at "show timing" at the doctor's office), she is VERY particular, is angry that I won't move my family to be with her, insists on controlling every aspect of her life, even though her cognitive abilities are rapidly declining. She can't figure out how to balance her checkbook, but refuses to let us do it because she was a bookkeeper. Also has virtually no short term memory and thus believes we are keeping things from her, even though we repeat things over and over. Her food has to be prepared just so or she makes a face or says something disparaging - very passive/aggressive. Her latest obsession is being convinced there are bugs in her food, as we did recently have some fruit flies. Those are all gone now, but her eyes are bad and she now inspects all her food and any dark crumb, seed or flake of parsley she sees as moving and therefore is a bug. Convincing her there are no bugs is just the latest exhausting aspect of her care.


So, not only am I not able to exercise like I used to (Mom cannot be left alone for any length of time), now I find myself eating comfort food, because it it the only thing in my day that makes me feel good. Potatoes, bread, cookies, candy, pasta - all the things I had eliminated from my diet. I am gaining weight, getting depressed and angry with myself for not having more discipline. Is anyone else experiencing this? How can I regain that discipline and positive outlook I used to have?

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nursemaid, the only help i have is from the Lord. I will keep you in my prayers. Lots of prayer, is my help. You are not alone, there are many of us who feel like you do and who are going it alone. Best wishes, you have friends here.
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I gained about 10 pounds. Went through menapause. Have a mother here 24/7 with dementia. A stray German Shepherd/Husky landed here. Down 5. Have to walk her an hour a day. Trying to get 10000 steps a day. Thanks to the dog
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Got remarried, 11 yrs. ago. At first it was great for the first 4 yrs. Then husband had a bad stroke. All responsibilities landed up in my lap. He is still limited in vision, speaking, short term memory, affected his right side of body, it's numb, but he still can use his hand and can walk with walker. Has had 7 yrs of physical therapy off and on since. I got no help from his daughter, who lived down the street. Only some help from church member's. But then we moved, so I could be closer to my son's and sister, niece. etc. I have heard that "you can't do it all, you need to ask for help". But from who? One time I did hire 'comfort keepers', but it isn't for free, it cost me $200.00 for them to look in on him for a week, while I got away and visited my sister. He was not happy about that, he wanted me to go have fun, but also he thinks he doesn't need any help what so ever. (His other self, before he had the stroke). He has also fallen down quite a bit during this last 7 years. I take him with me most of the time, and I can leave for short periods of time, if I go grocery shopping, as long as he is fed, and sitting in his chair watching tv. But I never feel quite at ease, feel like I have to get back quick. And squeezing all the paper work, appointments, fixing lunches, dinners, cleaning, washing, it never seems to end. It takes me weeks to get things done, cause I run out of energy or time. I also has gained weight since this has happened. I am also older, but I never was in this shape before ever! I used to work out more and looked fairly well for my age. Now I DO look my age! and feel it.They say 'not to do this alone', but I can't afford the prices they want to take a break. Good thing I love the guy and he is a good spirited fellow to boot. He is 83 now and is in pretty good shape other wise, Dr.s always give him a good report. I am 75. We are still adjusting to our move, too. trying to make new friends is almost impossible when you can't get out much. Just telling some of my story, wishing you all the best. I don't have any magical answers, if I think of something, I will let you know.
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ohm the mint ones are delicious, be careful
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Yup right now I’m going Girl Scout cookie crazy ,,and I love it
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Thank you cdn. I too like my bread and sweet. I also am trying to commit to something, as it seems lately I have done horrible at it.
Best wishes to you, hope you get a good start this day. I hope to do better also.
Let me know how its going. Maybe we can hold each other accountable.:)
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Dear smeshque,

My colleague is on the Keto Diet which is no carb, but high in fats and protein. She has done extremely well and lost 40 pounds. I do love my bread and sweets so that is that is the hard part for me.

They say any diet will work as long as we follow through. I know for myself I need to work on portion control and eating out less.

Most of the diets I review basically have veggies and a protein for lunch and dinner. Maybe an egg and some yoghurt for breakfast. A handful of nuts or apple for snacks.

Monday already so I'm going try and see what I can do. I am so embarrassed I have hit my highest weight again. I know I can do better, I just have to make a commitment to it.
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SuzeeQ- I am so trying to turn things around too. Its horrible isn't it? If you figure something out let me know. Best wishes!
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Good grief, yes. Yes, all the time. Eating and watching netflix have become the highlights of my days. I've gone from being svelte to pudgy. I hate it. I'm trying to turn things around though. I'm enjoying reading your responses.
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The most effective diet starts at the grocery store, when you are away from your triggers you should be able to have enough willpower to keep yourself from loading the cart with the foods that you normally reach for. No muffins. No chips. No ding dongs, cookies, ice cream, chocolate bars, sugary drinks etc. Plan in advance some substitutes that you can reach for and buy those instead, something that will actually satisfy but isn't quite as awful as your normal - for example popcorn instead of chips.
Well, it works in theory anyway. Good luck!
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Anyone come across any effective diets, to get one back on track?
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I lose weight sometimes with stress, and gain in back with the next bout. We are swimming in food lately trying to get mom to eat,, and the fridge is always full.. so I eat it. Add in the beer,, its not pretty but I have managed to hold the line ( although at a higher limit then before..) The new puppy is making me walk more.. so that's good, and once the weather improves I hope to rejoin the local Planet $$tness.. at least I will be able to use two of their machines and the TVs make it tolerable!
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I'm with u on this I'm 19 and taking care of my grate gm
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Dear Sister45,

I am right there with all of you. I had lost 30 pounds but after my dad's stroke, I started to eat unchecked and put it all back. I know that I need to move more or eat less, but I like my comfort foods too much. Carbs seem to be my enemy. Like Cwillie I tried to put on my pants only to find they don't fit anymore.

Be gentle with yourself. Take baby steps. One day at a time. That's what I try to tell myself. I know its not easy but I'm trying to make it a goal to take care of my own health and for my vanity to get back into those pants!
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The emotional eating is the hardest for me. Some days I just never get full. I joined Weight Watchers last January and lost a total of 3 lbs in one year...my point? I can only imagine how much I would have gained if I did not have the WW support. My fitness pal free mobile app is great. If I can't do formal exercise, I listen to music and dance around, and I try to see how many flights of steps I can do in a short period....move move move and get out of my head. Still down the 50 lbs I lost in 2016, hanging on by a thread. Good luck.
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All. The. Time.

Food has always been my crisis go-to and my happy go-to. The decline of my stepdad and mom sent that into overdrive.

Once the caregiving started, the only way I could participate in my home life like someone who actually lives there was to cancel my gym time and running time.

I couldn’t cancel my full-time+ job. Couldn’t cancel the hideous commute that goes with it. Couldn’t cancel being an only child while my parents became increasingly dependent on my assistance.

But I could cancel taking care of myself.

I didn’t gain a ton of weight. But I’m heavier than I was 5 years ago. For sure.

And SO out of shape. Went from excellent physical condition to soft and weak. Need to fix that — regarded of a number on the scale.

It’s all behind me now. No excuse for the inertia. But I have become super-selfish about “me time.” And I freely admit, a bit of it employs my knack for sitting slack-jawed as I stare into space.

Funny. The past several years have illustrated how important it is to have physical vigor. And how much life sucks when someone no longer has that.

At the same time, I cringe at the thought of resuming my old Forrest Gump routine. Did I really run half-marathons in my 40s? Was that me?? Oh yes it was.

How about flogging a machine at the gym? Something I once had a gift for. Meh.

Trying to find my way. And not eat too much!
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I also go through periods of "comfort" eating and I'm not Mom's caregiver....yet.

After talking with Mom and using past conversations to provide a scale so as to determine her mental state, depression etc that my sister could give a flying rat's____ about; I become depressed, angry with my sister which then I start eating everything I have taken away from my diet.

It's bad enough that I went from size 4 to size 12 once I had to go on meds for fibromyalgia; every pound counts and makes me over joyed.

Your Mother has Sundowner's syndrome as does mine. My sister plays on this so as to convince the doctors she is doing the greatest caregiver in the world award.

People with dementia are able to cope, answer questions etc in the AM and after eating breakfast.

When you make the doctor appointments, make them for various times of the day. This way, what you're expressing to the Dr will be demonstrated. He/she should know this and instruct nurses to have her appointments staggered so as to evaluate.

Mom was in hospital entire month of December 2016. She could not do basic math equations, names of family members, president etc. The Psych Dr would not discharge until she was admitted to rehab facility.

My sister
1) refused to accept the diagnosis by the doctors regarding the reason for hospitalization
2) had brother fly in from out of town to help take away my Medical POA authority (fraudulently by State Law)
3) DEMANDED that all mental testing be done in AM immediately after breakfast
4) REASON: Mom's mental abilities are sharper in AM which was witnessed by 2-3 medical doctors, so as to show Mom had the understanding to sign the legal paperwork needed to replace my POA (mysteriously went missing along with the Will and other legal docs)

The issue about the "bugs". People with dementia as well as Alzheimer's become paranoid. It is very important that they take their meds as close to the same time everyday.

If your Mother attends Church, ask the ladies committee if they could provide a day or 2 during the week with someone your Mother knows so you can take your walks, go to the Y or just to get away.

Call A Place For Mom. They will provide a list of in-home CNA personnel to help YOU. Request that the same caregiver comes each time you set a schedule with. It may take a few visits while you're present so your Mother becomes comfortable with this person in her home.

Convince your Mom that you need to take a walk and you would really like her company and have a wheelchair for her. Tell her that this way, she gets out of the house, you will be able to converse about the change of weather, gossip about neighbors or that neighbors have asked about her so if they're outside you can stop to talk with them.

Do what YOU can to keep her from controlling YOUR life for the time you're there. It's not good for you.

I would also suggest, for your sake, find a therapist to talk with. I have been talking with 1 for almost 10 yrs now. Depression, my issues with what my siblings are trying to do and most of all now.....having to face the fact that I don't know how much longer I'll have Mom and the guilt of not being there for her.
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Sister, you can regain your confidence. You seem to know what is healthy and works for you to stay fit. I can relate to your situation. Initially, I lost a bunch a weight when my LO was diagnosed with dementia, but, then, I gained it back, after she was placed. BUT, THEN, I got my head in the right place and lost almost 50 pounds. Still more to go.

I know you have a lot on your plate, but, I would just work on reading material, meditating, listening to music, and getting your head ready. (A physical with your doctor would be a good idea too, just to make sure you are healthy.) If you are ready mentally, it's much easier. You'll know when you're ready and don't let others bother you. Can you get help caring for your mother? I'd be careful to sacrifice your own health for her care.

I would try to keep clean and nutritious food in the house. If your choice for a snack is yogurt or almonds, then you'll have to make a good choice. If mom wants other types of food, like chips, candy, etc. keep them separate, labeled for her and out of sight.

I pick one day per week to have a treat meal or desert. I don't deprive myself. So, I don't need that much willpower. I eat foods that I love and enjoy everyday, so, I don't feel that I'm missing anything. (Weigh the portions and try to pick whole grains, lean protein, and lots of veggies.) I eyeball my calories now.  I suppose it's like WW, but, I don't count points. It's slow going, but, my doctor said that was best. It's more sustainable and to me that's important.  I wish you all the best.  I know this can be so stressful to deal with. 

Skinny Girl popcorn is pretty low in calories and carbs.  There are also lots of new cauliflower dishes like rice and mashed with flavor, veggie tots, Diet Cranberry juice-low calorie and tasty.  There are a lot of options now.  
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Hubs and I both put on a lot of weight due to having my mom live with us for 4 years. She is very difficult like your mom. Finally about this time last year her dementia delusions got her angry enough that she wanted to move out. Her primary and neuropsychologist both said to do it. They could see the amount of stress I was under and knew that we could care for her physically but the emotional manipulation, fear and obligation was causing us to comfort eat. We had her assessed for Memory Care AL and her LTC ins approved the move. It took about 6 mos before we felt like our heads were above water. In Nov we decided to get serious on a Keto/low carb diet. NO sugar, root veggies, grains but lots of healthy fats, above ground veggies, meats, avocados and berries. He has lost 35 and I have lost 15. We are "walking" our house on a timer for 20 min at a time and hitting the stairs as a beginning exercise regimen. We are feeling better and are back in our usual clothes. It is so hard to lose weight but we actually are doing it. It has taken us getting to our heaviest weights ever to do it but his HBP and my Insulin resistance put us at risk for a stroke or diabetes. He was able to cut back on BP meds and I see my primary this week for labs to see if my A1C is lower. I wish you well Sister45. You can do it!
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I'm in a similar boat and struggling to figure out how to carve time out for myself to exercise.

I lost 80 lbs 15 years ago doing low carb. I successfully maintained that loss until 2 years ago, when the caregiving/cancer/dementia circus rolled into town. I've put back on 25 lbs, and it's due to my lack of discipline with food and lack of time to exercise. Being home only 2.5 weeks a month is its own stressor and the time suck dealing with everyone has killed any motivation to exercise or prepare proper meals. This perimenopause stuff isn't helping.

I'm mostly back on plan for eating, and have lost 3 lbs, but I have to figure out a way to do better when I'm at my mother in law's or my father's place, and get exercise back into the picture. It helps with stress. The eating is hard at both parents' places, but I could make better choices. I could acknowledge the depression, as well.

I don't have any answer for myself or others, but I feel your struggle and I'm sending you good thoughts as you find a way to get back to taking care of you.

Best wishes...
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Right now there’s no way you can get a healthy routine going again because your mother runs the show. Perhaps you should just concentrate on doing the least damage to yourself as possible. Even isometric exercises can help, keep your muscles toned. Be aware of your cravings and hunger and postpone eating a goody ‘until later’ and that will minimize calories. This works for me. I am disabled and so exercise is very limited for me and so I use my postpone method to actually lose weight while being unable to walk more than 10-15 steps without resting.

My parents both have dementia but being around them makes my stomach hurt and sometimes I vomit after just a telephone call. I can’t sleep when I’m with them and from being forced to wait on them I’m in agony (severe back problems) so that moderates my weight. My dad’s the worst, he tries to run me and my daughter like sled dogs.

Yes, I live 160 miles away from them and it’ll stay that way. At home I take care of myself and concentrate on my wellbeing! My husband is a saint and we have a happy home!
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When I stayed with my mother for 8 days when she was nearly helpless due to muscle strains, I hoarded cookies in my room. Definite comfort eating from the stress of dealing with her constant obsessive-compulsive demands.

Even being around her for a couple of hours, which is what it is most of the time as I taxi her around, causes a craving for junk food.
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Yesterday I ran out of clean pants so I pulled an old pair of jeans from the bottom of the drawer... I. could. not. get. them. on. My weight gain has been subtle enough that I could mostly ignore it, but the proof was undeniable. I wrote in another thread that food was the only sensual pleasure I had left and I would not give it up, emotional eating was my lifeline. It will soon be a year since mom has been in the nursing home but the patterns I established during the years I cared for her have been very difficult to break. I'm trying to be more mindful of what I eat, but the combination of having gone through menopause, the protests from my aging body when I exercise, the void in my life that I still haven't found a way to fill since I'm no longer a full time caregiver plus the little voice in my head that tells me living to a ripe old age isn't all it's cracked up to be make it hard.
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Sister, I can totally relate and I am glad you wrote. I use to work out everyday, did not eat junk, and took care of myself. Since my Mom moved in I have found delight in soda, and chocolate. I am fighting weight gain and depressed also that I cannot seem to find my discipline I once had. I do not work out anymore and just fell awful.
I wish you the best as this is a struggle.
Maybe we can be accountable to one another and challenge each other and get back on track. It is quite difficult and I do totally feel you woe. I have been really trying to get myself back in that area. (big hug)
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The biggest mistake we made was moving my mother-in-law across the street from a Dairy Queen. After dealing with her, a chocolate shake looks so good!

Don't beat yourself up but don't let stress undo all your good work.
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Erica, I'm a number of years older than you are, but please consider this: I attributed my fatigue and weight gain to taking care of Dad and the stress that went with it, along with my age. Finally, there were other symptoms I couldn't shrug off, and so I had my thyroid checked. My tsh was more than 10 times what it should have been. If in doubt, please get yours checked.
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Sister, I’m right there with you. I’ve gained quite a bit of weight in the last 3-4 months since my mom has had a serious spiral downward. The o e thing I have noticed lately is how freaking tired I am, and I’m 34! I’m vowing to slowly work the gym back into my routine with even walking and meal prepping ahead of time. It’s hard don’t get me wrong, but I want to ring in my 35th Birthday feeling better than I am now. I feel like I’m aging faster ever and it is what I am doing to myself. We also know that to take care of others we need to take care of ourselves. Going for a walk or some gym time with allow us to release the stresses of dealing with caring for others. Good luck! Try to get ahold of this before you run yourself down
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