How do we, as caregivers, take care of ourselves?

Follow
Share

There is just too long of a history to list, however, on a shorter note, my dad had a stroke about 4 years ago, and mom has had a lifetime of severe anxiety and fear, that left her in a bad spot since dad's stroke. Her issues affected dad where she refused Alzheimer's treatment when he was diagnosed 2 years ago, and she began isolating, taking the phone off the hook 95% of the time, locking everything up, and in addition to her fears gone extreme starving herself. Sadly, I had no clue about how severe, although I knew more so than others. Did I mention I'm an only child?

Anyway, what I'm curious about is how do we as caregivers take care of ourselves? I don't know about anyone else, but I had to retain POA, financial burden, taking care of hospitalization, finding assisted living, taking care of bills, helping maintain their house, moving items, running their errands, doing banking, and so the list goes, OH then... its on to my life IF I have time.

So its easy to hear about paying attention to our physical needs, etc, but the stress levels can be immense. Its easy to hear the things that "need" to be done such as sleep, eat properly and so forth, but when there is so much on a person's plate (and that's with help), how does one take care of themselves? Shopping isn't possible, going to a movie can easily be interrupted by a phone call or message about something urgent. So what does a person do to escape?

Just curious. I know I can't even nap without a phone ringing for something. Thanks all!
Mitzi

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
15

Answers

Show:
It takes time to find balance, Nitzipinki, and it takes time to look inside to find priorities. The "friends" who fall by the wayside, and/or criticize you for "putting them in assisted living" - even when it's the best thing for them - aren't friends.

I found I had to develop a thicker skin, and ignore the people who criticized me. That was a huge and difficult step, because I've spent my life as a people pleaser. But I knew what my parents needed and what I could do and could no longer do. The criticism from some lasted until my parent's deaths, and I'm sure much unspoken criticism was out there. So be it.

Your parents will take time to adjust and will take their down times out on you. Please learn to detach from that and don't accept guilt. When they know it doesn't work, they will work harder at developing a network and make friends and be much happier.

You are taking care of things the best way possible.
Carol
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

There is nothing so pressing that I can't take 10 minutes and go outside and take deep breaths.I can look out the window and see the changing leaves, a squirrel, a baby calf. I'm in a situation that allows me to see a lot of nature, so I am blessed that way. Nothing is going to explode, implode, or burst into flames if I take a few minutes for myself. I may not get an hour, but I can take a little time for myself. I've learned that not everything has to be done perfect or right now. I ask myself "how important is this situation, in the bigger scheme of things". Sometimes it's act now, relax later. Sometimes it doesn't get done until I feel like it. I stick to the routine as much as possible, to keep her calm. But sometimes my sanity and the oncoming knots in my shoulders take priority. I get a "turn" and I have to give it to myself and not ask or wait for permission. It may sound selfish to some of you but no one is going to LET me have some time to myself. I try to pay attention to what is right in front of me, not the past or future, and not listen to the noise of resentment in my head. These are some of the things I do to have a minute or two, hope it helps. God Bless.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Nap? what is a nap? I agree with you, how are we supposed to take care of ourselves. I never have a minute to myself. I feel totally overwhelmed.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I am with you, lindam. Not everything is in the urgent quadrant of life. Some things I do whenever I please to do them; that may be weeks or months before I get to doing some things. Others are part of a daily routine and I still have control in terms of how I go about my daily routine. Others don't have to be done in exactly the same way each and every time. I always have a minute to sit, deep breathe, take a leisurely walk at least 3 times weekly in the busiest of weeks, read, take a 20-30 minute nap, absorb the stillness of the world when everyone else is asleep, or before anyone else awakens, etc. Sometimes while I am waiting, I read something uplifting. It is all a matter of recognizing the windows of opportunity where I choose to pause, renew and refresh. I would not be any good to help anyone else if I did not allow myself a deep breath now and then. It is not even an option to ignore my basic need to slow down now and then. I worry like anyone else. I don't spend all of my life worrying about things over which I have no control. Few things are a matter of life and death. In such situations, the sanctity of life comes first. Otherwise, I do havelots of options. I am not a caregiver to be a martyr. I am a caregiver simply because I care about my loved one. I also care about myself and my happiness.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I think its great you are able to experience I want to understand what people do to relieve stress. You are very blessed to be able to experience much of nature.

Just out of curiosity I want to ask some questions. How long have you been a caregiver? Do you have any additional assistance where you can call on family and such? Do you take care of financial, any additional real estate from your parent(s), take care of any legal, etc? Do you work in addition to maintaining your own family? What about taking care of your health? Have you yourself had any medical issues? Did you always have a good relationship with your mother?

Thank you for your honesty. I definitely appreciate your insight! :)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I have been a caregiver for maybe 7 years or more now and am the sole caregiver who performs all of the above. If I don't balance my life, I would not be healthy and possibly not be alive to be the caregiver that I am. I choose no respite care due to all of the horror stories about poor quality care and strangers being left alone with my loved one. As I have always said, I would never be an adult were it no for parents who cared for me when I was unable to care for myself. For me, it is a no contest category. It is the very least I can do if I reflect on all of the TLC I received in my family over the years.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I have been a caregiver for over 15 years. Most of that with family. I am currently a paid caregiver because it's what I do.With my father, my oldest sister had POA and was in charge of finances,ect. But most of the day to day care was mine. There are people on this sight who can answer some of your questions and direct you to resources for additional help. I am in good health considering my age and feel it's because I choose to not take myself so seriously, and to realize I can do what I can do and no more.And I am very blessed to have nature all around when things get stressful. Paid or not, the job is the same for most of us. Please come back and tell us how you are doing. God Bless.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

God bless you for your gift of caregiving. It is truly a gift. I think part of the stress with my issues, is first and foremost, I've always had a strained relationship with my mother. (There is a long history there, being I'm adopted and only child)

Unfortunately, when my father had a stroke 4 years ago due to a surgery that drained blood from his brain, my mother was such a severe control freak that she hindered his healing. She did not allow him to re-train other parts of his brain.

In this lack of non-acceptance of her life change, she withdrew, she wouldn't treat him, and she began starving herself and my father. She tried getting me to quit my job to come watch her, and she tried additional manipulation tactics to get that to happen. In the last 9 months she has been hospitalized three times (two out of three due to attention seeking). Mom got herself down to 74 lbs (being only 5' 3" tall) and dad was so bored and wouldn't interact with me at all.

I ended up having to move both of them into assisted living, but boy was that a miracle in itself the way it happened. Fortunately as well they had the finances to do it. The caregivers are top notch and I can call at any time and they are just so willing to tell me all that's going on.

Back when I stayed with my father the second time mom was hospitalized, my mother had given no indication on just how bad he was. I found out during these past few months from my aunt, that two years ago dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and mom refused to treat dad due to her denial. Fortunately, God had placed perfect people in the perfect places to help and assist as need be. It was and still is emotionally draining and I'm so far behind in my daily tasks and so consumed that I just stare at the things to be done piling up all over my house.

I also deal with some "close" friends of theirs that are money grubbers and were "politely" stealing from my parents. In addition to dealing with that, trying to work, taking on this new responsibility with all their maintenance in addition to barely hanging on to what I need to do in my own home.

All while being insulted by my dear mother. Finding balance is something I am still trying to find.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

mitzipinki, your recognizing that you are trying to find balance will eventually lead you to a place of greater balance if you allow yourself to let go. It is a real blessing that your parents are in assisted living, which helps on the urgency front. One thing that I have found in my life is that there comes a time to drop "friends" who are a drain on one's energy and there comes a time where I need to turn down invitations to do things that are nice, but would simply add to complicating my daily existence. I always remind myself of that saying that "no man on his deathbed ever said that he wished that he had spent more time at work." You are going through a lot and it seems as if you took care of the urgent category by placing your parents in assisted living. Give yourself major credit for that and a whole lot more that you have done and continue to juggle in all of your roles. If you spend some time reflecting, perhaps you may come to realize that not everything is of equal importance and that as caregivers we sometimes impose unrealistic deadlines on ourselves. Keep sharing. You are in the right place where others care, and most importantly, there is always someone who understands. God bless you, too, for your gift of caregiving. Don't settle for guilt. You seem to have done an outstanding job in spite of strained relationships with your adoptive Mom and the deteriorating condition of your Dad. When you have done your best, angels can do no more, mitzipinki. Would you say that you have done your best? Slow down....
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Having a routine when I get up in the morning-my husband sleeps later-thank goodness. First it is bills then dishes then laundry then straighening up then checking this site to see how everyone is coping-I feel better when this is all done-and I do not worry about perfection- good enough is good enough. Also I try to sit for about 10 min while the sun is going down until it is dark-seems to calm me down.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions