Am I responsible for curing her loneliness too?

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I'm a paid Caregiver, and love my boss like I would my own mother. She's wonderful, and terrible at the same time. I do everything for her. From scrubbing her floors to braiding her hair, and everything in between. Please understand that this woman is VERY demanding. She went through 7 paid Caregivers in one year. Most quit. I'm so tired by the end of the day from physical work, and lack of sleep that I just don't feel like socializing with her a lot of the time. I'm too damn tired. Sometimes she is lonely because I don't sit with her, and watch t.v. Or just chat about her life, her problems, her opinions....that I've already heard a thousand times. I feel like she is just draining me of every last drop of what I have to give sometimes. She will start banging on her soup bowl or doing something dramatic to make a lot of noise to get my attention. I already work so hard for her. Should I take the little quiet time I have in between to rush to her loneliness all the time? Am I neglecting her if I don't sit with her, and just chat whenever she is lonely...which is frequent? Please give advice how to resolve this...I feel completely drained, and powerless over having any options.

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Calicaregiver, you sound like you are doing a fantastic job, and that your boss and you have made a good team. You have both benefited greatly. I know how you feel about keeping company with her. I feel guilty for not spending more time with my mother. But to tell you the truth, my mother would drive me batty if I spent more time with her. She watches the Game Show Network all day and sitcom reruns at night. She tells me the same things over again. I listen to her when I'm with her, but can only spend a couple of hours a day. I have work to do, so if I'm not doing my own job, taking care of the house, or doing something in the yard, it won't get done. With my mother there is another problem. She picks arguments. She just loves to argue with me for some reason. It can be frustrating to have everything I say contradicted, so I usually don't say anything much.

I use the time when she is in bed to catch up on myself. I love going to my room and shutting the door at the end of each trying day.

Does your boss need all-day assistance? or are you able to escape to do the shopping? Are you able to take her out to eat? Sometimes doing things like going out to dinner goes a long way in satisfying the need for company.

Anyway... it is totally okay to not spend a lot of time keeping your boss company. Sometimes coming in and out of the room periodically is all it takes. Now, if we could only find a way to not feel guilty for not wanting to be with them more. Each of us needs our own lives and space, so I don't think we're unusual to not want to spend so much time in front of the TV, etc. For me, sharing meals with my mother and watching a TV show or two with her works.
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I am an Independent Caregiver. There is no agency involved....much to the co-trustees chargrin. She hired me through a friend of hers that was my landlady at the time. I was never a Caregiver until I met this woman. I have had to self educate myself on many things. But, I've worked for her for 3 years, and she simple relies on me for everything.
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In hindsight, I let someone take advantage of me in many similar ways. It's very hard to stop the "momentum" once someone has you feeling like you are responsible for every aspect of their life. Setting boundaries is something I didn't understand, and I thought it would be "mean" to say no or refuse to engage if I was treated badly. If you are miserable, tired, and burned out, you will not be capable of providing good care. Setting those boundaries makes it possible for you to do your job well, rather than drag through every day dreading the next.
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You should talk to your agency. Your first priority is her care. The second, I think, is to be a companion. The agency I work with does not allow them to do certain things. Monday, my Mom was dozing, but woke up and said she couldn't breathe. I had to tell our awesome caregiver, her main responsibility is to be with my Mom (she was outside). She works extremely hard, but sometimes, she does things she doesn't have to. So I called the agency and praised how wonderful she is to my Mom, but the things that I care about are: (1) she be with my mom at all times; (2) she cook meals for my Mom (tho my Mom has been resistant to this; and (3) she take my Mom on errands she needs to go on (but check with me first). My Mom just wants to spend, spend, spend. Re-evaluate what is required of you, and don't drive yourself into the ground trying to do everything. Maybe make a list. I know there are a few things that shouldn't be required of you, such as housekeeping, gardening, and I'm sure even more things (that you shouldn't be doing). I hope you begin taking care of yourself. Maybe you could work for 4 days instead of 5? It's obviously taking a toll on you physically & mentally. Please keep us updated.
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I am in her home 96 hours straight a week. My shift begins at noon on Monday, and I am not relieved until Friday at noon. The other Caregiver takes the weekends.my employer has virtually no family that she speaks to, and has no children or spouse or extended family. She has a Co-trustee, and a lawyer. The Co-trustee can't stand me, and would be happy to see me terminated. But, part of the written legal agreement she made with her lawyer, Adult Protective Services, and the Co-trustee (who is a private company qualified by the court to handle her financial affairs) is that she has sole authority over which Caregivers work for her. I used to work 72 hours a week for her. But, she spoke with the APS Counselor, and the Counselor asked me if I could take on another day! So far, my boss ONLY wants ME! She's mad when I leave for the weekend, and many times gives the other Caregiver a hard time...comparing everything she does to me. I feel like I need to be loyal to my employer because she has been very good to me, and helped me put my life back on track by giving me a job. I am able to support myself, and my family again. The quality of my life has greatly improved due to my employer being loyal to me too. But, I honestly don't believe she could find another Caregiver that takes care of her the way I do, and loves her too. It's just hard. I feel more like her daughter than her employee. But, it is a job, and I need to keep that in prospective. I dread the day she is no longer in my life, but I hate the emotional attachment I have developed because I know she won't always be here. I just can't fill her every need. And, the breaks that I do manage to take are the times that she starts insisting...demanding in her own way...that I spend them with her. Thanks for your input.
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Hi Cali,

Are you a live-in? If not, what are your hours with this lady?

You're working a job. Yes, you are a caregiver but still, it's a job, and like any job you need a break...or two....a shift. If you're working a 12-hour-shift you should take a 15 min. break every 4 hours and that means 15 min. when you're not caring for her or taking care of her house or sitting with her, etc. I know it's difficult when you're in the home, you can't leave her, but bring a snack and go into another room for a few minutes. Professional caregivers need breaks just like every other caregiver.

But I understand the dynamic. I'm a home health nurse and usually work 12-hour-shifts but if you've been with this lady for a while then you know her routines and can probably find a few minutes here and there to go into another room and read a book or magazine. Unless I am expressly invited, I do not eat meals with my patients. With most of my patients there is usually someone else in the home like a family member so if I go in another room my patient will be ok. I get to know the routines of my patients and then find the time to eat my lunch when they're not eating. Maybe my patient is dozing in a recliner and I'm in the kitchen or my patient is eating at the table and I'm sitting in the next room (provided the patient doesn't need supervison while eating). But it sounds like you've been with this lady for a while, are familiar with her habits and routines and unless she cannot, under any circumstances, be left alone for 1 second then there's nothing wrong with taking a break that you're entitled to.

I work for a great agency and if I had a question about something like taking a break I wouldn't hesitate to ask my care coordinator.

Even though we're working in "the home" doesn't mean that we're not, in fact, WORKING. We may not be on our feet for 8 hours or we may not have to handle customers the whole time or answer phones or anything else like that but we're still working.

You're not neglecting her if you don't sit with her all the time. You need your breaks. But companionship is part of what home healthcare workers do. And it is exhausting and draining which is why you need BREAKS :-)

Are you with an agency? Are they supportive of their caregivers? Maybe you could ask someone how to balance being a caregiver in the home and taking a couple of breaks so you can recharge your battery. To your patient, you're there to care for her and it hasn't occurred to her that it's a job to you and that you're working. Our business is very personal by nature and boundaries can get a little fuzzy at times. I've had patients that will not ask me for anything until I have sat down and eaten my lunch and then I've had patients who need almost constant care and close supervision. It sounds like your lady might be somewhere in the middle. When do you eat your meals? My suggestion would be to eat separately from your patient. Make your meal according to her schedule. Does she nap? Does she watch tv? Take those opportunities to eat/have a break. Don't respond to her banging on her soup bowl! Can't she speak? If she can speak and she starts banging on her bowl go to her, lightly put your hand on hers and tell her nicely that it isn't necessary to bang on her bowl, that you're right there, what can you do for her? Since you've been responding to her dramatic attempts to get your attention it might take you a little longer to break her of that habit but unless she's completely lost to Alzheimer's or dementia there's no need for her to resort to such rude and childish antics.

Is there someone else in the home? A spouse? A son or daughter or other family member? If there is that makes it easier for you to carve out 15 min. here and there for yourself.

There's a reason why she went through 7 caregivers in a year. But expecting a break here and there is reasonable.
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I think she needs a robot, not a human being. So, you are #8 and will take more crappola than the average caregiver? When does she sleep?
Are you "on call" 24/7? What do YOU WANT to be the answer to your dilemma?
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