Putting the rest of their life in your hands.

It's been a stressful year. I was sick for a week and Mom ended up in the hospital.  It's very hard to get back to being me with all that happened.

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First you need to accept that once an elderly person's health begins to fail it is going to continue to decline, often at a very unpredictable rate. They can be fine at breakfast and suffer a stroke, heart attack, fall, or car wreck and be in the hospital by lunch. Once injured, the elderly have fewer physical resources to recover and the treatment decisions will more likely be about preserving quality of life than full recovery. No one is in control. These declines are going to happen. You need to take each like an ocean wave. Do your best and get through it, do not guilt yourself for something you do not control, and move on into the "new" future.

Second, even if its only small blocks of time, take some time for yourself. Drinking a cup of coffee on the porch and taking a few deep breaths reduces my stress levels during the care giving day. Mom attends a day care 3 days a week so I use that time for shopping and my own appointments as well as taking a grand-nephew to the park or splash pad. After Mom goes to sleep, I take a long soaking bath with a good book and something cold to drink. My brother comes over Sunday afternoon and he takes the watch for a few hours, helping Mom out of her chair and making sure she's steady with her walker before she takes off through the house.

Third, accept life is always changing and your life experiences are changing you. Once you have been a care giver, something changes in you that is never lost. You can move back to a place (your home) but it will not be the same because you have changed and your LOs have also changed in the time you have been gone. I suggest you stop trying to re-become the person you thought you were before being out of the home for several months care giving and instead embrace the experience of being in your home again and around your family at this point in their life. It's sorta like going to a family reunion. You see cousins that you may not have spoken with for several years, yet your affection for them is unaltered by that silent passage of years so you start catching up with what's been happening. I believe you will find home life snaps back to the new normal faster if you stop trying to "return" to the way things were and focus more on the way things are now.
Helpful Answer (15)
Tashi5 Oct 2019
well said
well done!

'stop trying to "return" to the way things were and focus more on the way things are now.' -very wise-
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I agree that thinking anyone else has ‘put the rest of their life in your hands’ is not helpful, reasonable or healthy to either party. Not even a child puts the rest of their life in a parent’s hands. You cannot be responsible for making your mother happy, healthy, or immortal.
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An important first step is changing your mindset. You say “ putting the rest of their lives in your hands” Please don’t take that on emotionally or mentally! That’s far too stressful. My situation with my dad improved a lot when I finally learned that I needed to protect myself and that I had no real control over the events that are coming. Control is an illusion we take comfort in, though it’s not there. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, more that his life will play out just as it’s supposed to, or going to, without me freaking out and being upset all the time. He’s living alone, despite all involved knowing it’s unadvisable, but he’s adamant and of sound mind. It’s not “on me” if and when the bad events come. Neither is everything with your mom on you, be a caregiver, but also know it’s her life and your stress is only hurting you, and not helping anything. Try to create some distance emotionally, I wish you the best
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I play the tuba. I spend SO MUCH of my caregiver time in the logical, structured, minutely directed part of my brain that practicing my lessons and band practice and taking a lesson are like the brain brooms sweeping fresh thoughts into that brain from the whimsical, adventurous, carefree side.

I rely on that and have come to USE IT as a tool to keep myself grounded.

Everyone needs some sort of tuba in his or her life to be safe when handling the burdens of “taking care”.
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I had 4 tablets, iPad mini, iPad air, iPad Pro & an android tablet. I kept them all charged and used all 4 of them in the couple of years of having to sit with my DH 24/7.

When he started waking me every hour to void, I got in touch with a holistic buddy and she put me on Ashwagandha and I never looked back. It kept me stress-free and allowed me to go back to sleep throughout the night.

Sadly, the last 6 months were also filled with a LOT of ice cream, but he was well worth that too. During the year after he passed, I lost the extra weight again. I started walking and I mean walking! I got a companion dog (boston terrier that I adopted) and the walking allows me to remain on an even keel.

Caregiving is not easy.
Helpful Answer (10)

Oh how well we understand the stress we all face as Caregivers!
Once we decide that we need to reduce stress, this decision alone is half of the battle! We are on our way to a calmer life. We are on our way to our own better health and we
remove poisonous negative emotions. We replace them with calmness, peace and yes, joy!
How is all that achieved?
Everyone finds the desires of their heart, for their loved one AND for themselves.
For me, balancing my responsibilities of Caregiving and finding ways to distress myself, go hand in hand, every day!
I have a simple, mental checklist:
✅ Am I doing my best and giving God the rest? Yes. I do things respectfully. I do not want to live with regrets.
✅ Am I giving myself some pleasure today, so I can distress and be strong to face the unpredictability
of caregiving and the daily demands of managing life? Yes.

These are my two DAILY questions.
My balanced approach. Most days this approach of mine works for me.

Everyone can find in their heart what gives them comfort. ( family visits, talks, outings, shows, movies, laughter, music, dancing, exerting, shopping, friends, writing, reading, gardening, drawing/coloring, playing a musical instrument, walking, sitting outdoors, relaxing, playing table games, following a hobby, meditation, praying, sharing, counting blessings, volunteering, etc. etc.)
The soul needs its “ food” too... and of course avoid regrets, anger, or guilt.

The force of a disease is huge.
I do not fight it. I do not let it injure
my heart or my mind. I face it daily with the balance of serving my loved one AND myself.
God is watching. God is helping. God is pleased and so am I.
Sending you all a heartfelt wish to find your own daily balance.
Hugs 🤗
Helpful Answer (8)
Psalms23 Oct 2019
Praise God and thank you for sharing 🙏. I needed this reminder.🤗 Take care...
Of course it will feel that way now. When one is depleted with their own health and dealing with the issues of an aging parent life feels truly rotten. In time hopefully things stabilize although it wont be perfect forever.

If you can find ways to help yourself enjoy life that is some of the best medicine. Perhaps it might be some form of exercise,reading an interesting book,anything that benefits you. There will be times when you feel as though your head will explode. But generally it doesn't. A luxury can simply be a boring day when you feel well and the elderly person in your life is not having a big problem.

Hopefully you might find the best living situation for your parent and their care. If there is help available in that area your well being will benefit. There still will be difficult days but in time you might find you can cope with them more easily.

Feeling stressed from dealing with an aging parent is totally understandable. As time elapses hopefully your health improves and you figure out how best to care for your parent. This is often the very most we can hope for in life. I hope you get to that point in time. Again it may not last but hopefully it does not linger endlessly in a negative manner. I wish you the strength you need to cope.
Helpful Answer (7)

Please don't do this to yourself.......the only life in your hands is your own, and sometimes I even wonder about that. Maybe it's that stress overwhelming your body that landed you in the hospital. I have parents who are 89 and 90 and mom has dementia among other things. My husband is in the hospital now after having yet another "heart event" as they do testing to pinpoint what it is (after quadruple by-pass 10 years ago and a valve replacement 3yrs. ago). My daughter was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of 13mths. and now at 40 lives with the residual effects. I'm not telling you this for sympathy, but perspective. If I had put my daughters, my husband's, or my parents life in "my hands" I would cease to exist. You do the best you can while you can.....and try to make YOUR health a priority. That is paramount....and you have the support and love from your family (minus deadbeat brother, which is another issue entirely) which is a tremendous bonus. Don't lose yourself to caregiving, it's a long hard road to find your way back. My best wishes.
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I believe much of the stress you feel is due to not having enough hands to share the load. Anyone who has been hospitalized 10 times in a year needs help to manage their daily life, your profile says life is easier since she moved 5 minutes away from you - I do hope that move was to a more supportive environment,
Helpful Answer (6)

With all your mom's health problems and frequent hospital stays, I am very surprised that she is living alone and that you have been able to back off and go back home (as you well should!). Is someone else helping you care for her?

And yes it is a roller coaster. We're in a low point at my house with my mom.

Sorry for the loss of your dad and it is not uncommon for the remaining spouse to decline after the loss of their longtime spouse.
Helpful Answer (5)
Lily8467 Oct 2019
We bought her a manufactured home and she lives with my daughter. My mom is only 5 mins from me. I was with her in mass for a year, then she moved up here
Ty for your reply
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