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I have my 90+ year old parents live with me and my husband. Although I have caregivers seven days a week, I do a lot for my parents. Seeing my very ill parents each day makes me feel sick. I feel very tired and that I am coming down with something. I feel totally unmotivated and force myself to do things because if I don't do it no one else will. Has anyone felt that being around sick people all day makes one feel sick too? Having caregivers in the house all the time also means my husband and I have no privacy and that also gets me down.

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Caring for an aging parent is stressful indeed. It is helpful to remember you can take 'interlude' breaks to refresh and restore your mental; physical and emotional well being by engaging in activities that bring a 'positive energy' into you. I have been a family caregiver for many years, and been through what you are going through and experienced 'caregiver burnout'. I found that through 'prayer and meditation' one can restore the loss of 'energy' caused by 'emotional; mental and physical' exhaustion. Listening to 'positive' messages and meditative music can refresh the 'soul'. If you have a faith, go to church and be open to the healing grace that comes through contact with spiritually minded mentors. Taking 15 minute intervals for 'private silence and prayer' is very powerful and brings healing, and the necessary 'patience' with self and your loved one. There are wonderful links on 'you tube' to help with this powerful 'self care' tool.
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Love2Garden

I have been caring for my 93yr old mother for 12yrs. She has macular degeneration and depression. She's in my home with hubby and myself. I feel for you. I know how hard it is to be emotionally invested in caring for a parent. I understand how hard it is not to have privacy in your own home. I know the depressed state of mind and lack of motivation feeling. You sound very depressed. Please get your self some help. I know! I've been there done that and still there. I am in therapy now. Self care is extremely important. Its a must if your going to survive this challenging assignment. Reconnect with hubby, friends, kids and grandkids if any. All this was put on the back burner for me in caring for mom. Therapy has helped me to focus on regaining my life back without focusing on trying to fix mom. Find a hobby, go out to lunch with friends. Have a set regular date night with hubby. Recognize you can't fix mom and dad. They sound very cared for. Get out as much as you can to refresh your psyche.
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Yes absolutely, being around my parents made me get sick. Apparently the mind-body connection is VERY strong for some people. I’ve been examined by two doctors who have no diagnosis although readily admit I am physically ill. So I’m getting a check up.
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I think you are overdoing things a bit so are tired then by being with sick people when you will feel 'off' then it is easy to slide into thinking you are sick too -

First you should get a check-up to insure that you don't have something but mainly to reassure your own mind that it is just overdoing things a bit - it could also be as simple as having low iron or low vitamin profile so ask the dr for bloodwork

Second when was last time you & hubby went out for dinner? - the repetiousness of caring for your parents can be an emotion drag on your spirit - if there is another family member available arrange that they come over semi-regularly so you can get out for movie, dinner, lectures, plays etc - this will help everyone as the change can stimulate all involved

Third you have some help for them but is there help for you & hubby - by this I mean can you have cleaning service even once a month to help you get ahead on items that fall behind like windows, wall washing etc - can someone come to do a bit of the outside work? - this would mean you would have more free time because most people can't relax knowing that the 'list' is growing all the time so by getting some items off of it then you won't feel the stress of being so far behind - if you are not behind then for sure you are really overdoing things because we all are behind a bit - when you can relax a bit each day then you feel better within yourself
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needtowashhair... I understand what you are going through. I am learning that if I do not take care of myself... I cannot help anyone else. Talk to your doctor to see if they can put you on something to help the depression. I walked away from alcohol 28 years ago and though things get rough will not go back to it. I get my honey settled in so that he can watch his programs and I head for my computer so that I can work on my paintings. This is my sanity saver. If you have a hobby, when things are quiet, work on it. Can anyone help you even if just for a couple of hours so that you can get away or do something you want to do? Hang in there.
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Hi Demstress... I agree with the advice that everyone here has posted. If you trust the caregivers, get out and get completely away for a little while. Go out to eat with your family, go to a movie, find a hobby - something YOU enjoy doing. Anything to give you time to relax and unwind. I have been a caregiver to my honey for thirteen years and these last few months have really taken a toll on my physical health and I am mentally exhausted though I have not lost my ability to be patient and understanding. Hang in there and please take care of yourself.
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I feel your pain. Literally. I'm 11 years in and go through bouts of depression. I'm in one right now. It all feels so hopeless. I get why people become alcoholics. I've never been a drinker, I never liked how it tastes or makes me feel. But I drink a beer a night to get to sleep now. For a lack of a better description, it feels like it takes the weight off my heart. For an hour, the despair lifts. I'm not proposing this as a solution by any means and I know I can't get carried away. I don't want to go down that hole.
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I'm no expert, but, I know from my own experience that being around someone who is actually ill or who believes they are actually ill can really take a toll on your state of mind. It's tough. I have taken measures to try to stay as healthy mentally and physically, as I can. I started trying to not focus on things that I can't control. If they are getting good care and medical treatment, then, I can't control everything.

I try to let it go and focus on my own health, eating right, blood sugar, blood pressure, exercise, and social activities. I try to feed my own spiritual needs with church and other people who aren't sick and infirmed. And try to have some fun times, meeting friends for lunch, concerts, special events, etc. I've heard it described as "self care." I have to place my own self care as a priority, because those who we care for really aren't in a position to do that for us. AND, they need us healthy, so we can better protect their welfare.
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Part of the "pall" that Eyerishlass mentions is I think the anxiety, emotion and concern for the declining health of a loved one, and the anxiety of how to best provide the care needed. That's complicated by the many limitations on care, especially the financial ones.

And there's always the consideration that we ourselves may eventually be in a similar situation.

If there are family issues, especially uncooperative or completely absent members, who also are hanging on for their inheritance, add another level of stress. And that stress doesn't stop after death.

Add them all up and that's a recipe for emotional distress and possibly illness.
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I think being around frail, aged, and chronically ill people everyday and being responsible for their care can wear a person down physically and emotionally. They may not be physically contagious but the pall over a house that includes people infirm enough to need full-time caregivers can be palpable at times and affect the other people in the house.

Take advantage of those caregivers and get out on a regular basis. Go to lunch with your husband, see a movie. If you want to take a nap give the caregivers strict instructions not to disturb you for any reason.
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Demstress, I would not be surprised that being frail and sickly is kind of contagious, in a way. Maybe it's like how fit people tend to hang out with other fit people, spouses tend to be similar weights, Debbie Downers try to get you to be a downer too, etc. (No offense to all positive, upbeat Debbies.)

I'm not sure how caregivers can counteract this effect. For me, I notice that I just have to get outside, even if just for short bursts during the day. Getting the sun on me and feeling the breeze. If I don't, or only manage a brief look at the sky while taking out the trash, I'm wiped out and kind of blah for the rest of the day and evening.

Our baby monitor for my dad has an option for a battery instead of just plugging it in and this spring and summer I want to use that option more to go outside while my dad is napping, instead of staying inside and snacking and web surfing, which is so easy to fall into. And fatigue-creating.

I know what you mean!
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