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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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So many helpful ideas here. I needed this!

Ive been a caregiver for my mom w/Alzheimer’s while my sibling has been in and out of the hospital for the last 6months. The anxiety has been overwhelming.

When it’s especially bad I am on edge, can’t catch breath, extra sensitive to touch and sound and light, etc. Then I crash and can’t stay awake. It drains me. I can sleep anywhere once the anxiety wears off. I’ve never experienced anything like this.

The one one thing that helped me when I was anxious last week was simply listening to a podcast while I drove. It happened to be a Christian one and I almost instantly relaxed and could breathe again. As soon as the podcast was over and I got to the hospital the anxiety hit again. Ugh.

Anyway, I do know walking for exercise is incredibly helpful, but not always possible. Some of the ideas here were great!
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Absolutely, positively do not take it personal. Keep in mind they are not within theirs. I just reminisce of nicer times when Mom's mind was more hers. When she becomes a lil manic, the doctor approved me giving her Tylenol PM as needed. It really helps her have a great sleep and then I can have a break. Plus she triggers her defibrillator when she becomes combative so its beneficial as well.
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Oh how well we understand the stress we all face as Caregivers!
Thankfully STRESS IS MANAGEABLE!
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.
How?
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 🤗
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Psalms23 Oct 2019
Praise God and thank you for sharing 🙏. I needed this reminder.🤗 Take care...
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Lot's of prayer
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It can be when your parent and you are polar opposites. That was my late mother and me. Respite helps when you can take it. It is actually much needed to be a successful caregiver.
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It is very stressful for me as I work 32 hrs a week. Recently had surgery and trying to take care of myself and her was difficult. I try to get enough sleep and play piano to relieve some stress
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This will sound silly, but my solution to the stress is- I cry. At least once a day I have a good cry about feeling overwhelmed. Many nights I start with my "I just cannot do this any more", have a good cry, sleep and the next morning it's okay. I cry when Mom does not see or hear me and it helps me release a lot of stress. There is healing in tears- don't know how or why but there is. Also have a good friend who is also care-giving and understands- that helps a lot too. When you are sick your body is telling you to take care of you. Sometimes that might mean having meals delivered instead of cooking (if you can do that), or just taking things slower than usual. Learning to listen to your body is important. As caregivers we tend to allow ourselves to be squeezed dry before we realize we need to look after ourselves too. I am not able to get out for breaks so I just started walking inside the house, and i give myself a 45 do-nothing break EVERY day. Little things add up to help you. And cry when you need.
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I'm a hard core junker. I love to go to yard sales and estate sales every weekend to find treasures. The best thing I've ever seen for stress relief, bar none, was a dummy punching bag in the form of a man's head and torso, on a spring form base. You could punch the thing till you were blue in the face and he'd just pop up for MORE and more abuse! I've always regretted not buying the old bloke! :) He was only $50 and to buy one on Amazon, it's $290.00

https://www.amazon.com/Century-Opponent-Freestanding-Training-Dummy/dp/B00329TVEM/ref=dp_ob_title_sports
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I was a caregiver four times and aside from the normal suggestions to take respite breaks, take care of yourself first, do things and find the time for them that are important to you, etc., there is one thing I learned the hard way and I know many people will disagree with me on this. When people have mental and physical problems and the behavior is appalling and they become abusive, nasty, controlling, etc., and you want to scream - then do not always try to deflect what they are doing and be miss nice guy - if you do that and they don't stop, your frustration and anger will build up in you and enough of it, and you will start being destroyed. I don't care who they are or what is wrong with them or why they are doing what they are doing - sometimes YOU have to fight back and really let them have it so the footing is equal. It will save your sanity and just maybe it will make them stop and shut up. If everything fails and nothing stops them and it is harming you, then wise up and face the fact you are a fool to take care of them. They must be removed and placed somewhere to allow you to live your life - while you still can. Sometimes you have to fight back and "not put up with things". Believe me - it is true and it can often make the difference when things are going downhill.
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Roller coaster is right! Still trying to smooth out my roller coaster experience with varied results...

For stress I took up cardio kickboxing! Found a place just 10 min. away. Sounds hard core but it's easy to modify the workouts according to physical needs - all ages in the classes and people are hitting the pads and giggling. And of course you can punch and kick huge bags AS HARD AS YOU WANT. For the money this has been the best therapy EVER.

And I'm also going to get a ukulele...
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Yes, it is.  I've been doing it for almost four years now with 8 moves to 4 different facilities during this time as well as countless trips to the hospital, the doctors, the bills to keep up with, the car, the pets, the laundry, more and more diagnoses to add on top of the original ones, etc., etc., etc.  I figure when my mom is gone, I will have time to do a few things that I haven't had time to do for a long time, but I will also be so lonely trying to get a grip on not having to do any more moves, hospital trips, but replacing those with the stuff that goes along with the death certificates and the insurance policies, etc.  It will be the same, only different.  My mother said that she was still receiving bills a year from my grandmother's death regarding my grandmother, so it won't end for a while even after your LO is gone.
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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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staying busy relieves stress for me, exercising, long walks, eating small meals
visiting places, zoo ect.
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I'm usually overwhelmed and paralyzed in the face of so many high stakes decisions. And I'm not even with her! She's in a memory residence 3,000 miles away. But I'm painfully aware that I'm the only one who can make any decisions and take any actions related to any aspect of her life. I have a brother, and he cares, but he is much less involved. I'm responsible for every email, every phone call, every document, every 250-page online booklet of rules for various federal benefit programs, every account, every password and security question, every doctor, medical test, medication dosage. If I don't do it, it doesn't happen. I'm responsible not only for her health and well-being and living situation, but also protecting the savings she and her husband worked all their lives for, as well as making sure her unoccupied house is insured and maintained. How do I deal with the stress?? I don't even know! I walk a lot, every day. I try to stay focused on my own needs, but it's hard, there are only so many hours in a day. I write in a journal, and do some creative writing. I'm not the linear, organized type--I'd rather be making daisy chains in a meadow. It's a big effort to force myself into the mindset to deal with EVERYTHING, knowing the clock is ticking on so many things. Music, dance. This forum helps!
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Vlange Oct 2019
Thank you. You have eloquently stated how I feel. Not to take away from all the good you have done....I’m feeling red flags about your “unoccupied” home.
please check her policy. It’s not what you want to hear today but it may save you
more later. Good Luck.
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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.
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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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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.
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Tashi5 Oct 2019
well said
and
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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Make time for yourself.Whether it's a walk or a few hours outside the home.I was a full time caregiver to my mom until she passed and now it's my dad.
I make time for me.Luckily I have two family members that will come sit with my dad.I go get pampered,movies,out to eat;shopping once a month for my own sanity.If I didn't I would turn into a bitter emotional wreck.Take care of you so you can take care of your loved one.
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you just do the best you can, and take it a day at a time. None of us is Jesus and we cannot walk on water. i've been caring for my mom for 20 years, and the last 5 were extremely difficult. Now she is bedridden and dying but she made it to 90...although it was considerable amount of work and nothing short of a miracle she lasted this long. She no longer is capable of responding to the environment, cannot talk at all, and requires a feeding tube which keeps her alive so far. The best way is have friends and social support. there is no way a solidarity person can cope with a bedridden parent without the support of others. One day she will be dead...but she's died in many ways already -- right now I'm just maintaining her body. Feeding one end, cleaning the other and every Tues, Thursday and Sundays inducing a bowel movement with prune juice and coffee. But at least she is comfortable and she will NOT die of dehydration which can take 2 to 3 weeks. This sounds horrible, but in many ways a blessing. I've gotten used to her not being here because her mind is gone, so when she passes, albeit it will still be hard, the impact most likely will not be as bad. Her condition now--vegetative state due to severe Alzheimer's--has soften the blow since this has been ongoing for years.

As for "putting the rest of their life in your hands," only God can do that. What is meant to be will simply be. More to the point, you need to start planning on your life. What are you going to do after mom or dad dies? It's still your life beyond mom or dad. Right now..like I said..do the best you can and take each day individually.

Despite mom's near vegetative state, I am still happy she is still with me. I love her very much and I'm sure you feel the same about your parents which is why we fight so hard for them, and sacrificing our life for them.
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Have you thought that your being sick contributed to your Mom being in
hospital?
It probably has absolutely nothing to do with you...
The more help you can set up for yourself and your Mom (to help you while you're both well) the easier it will be, especially when you get sick... x x x
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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.
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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 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,
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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.
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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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