I am a 50 something male who was forced to move back home with my 83 year old mother about 3 years ago. She underwent knee surgery that got infected and was forced to recoup in a nursing home for over a year. When she finally returned home she was suffering from dementia, bordering on Alzheimers. We have never got along, and now I am forced to be the primary caregiver. I have a sister who is a RN, whom also works at the local nursing home who does contribute to Mom's care, but she has not been stopping by Mom's place that much since Mom has returned from the nursing home. We did hire a professional caregiver, but she only come 2-3 times per week for 2 hours a day. After 3 months of this, I am ready to have nervous breakdown. My personal situation is not good anyhow, and now I am facing bouts of depression, I'm gaining weight, I'm very angry, and I just feel at times like checking out. And to top it all off, neither my sister nor my Mom feel that I contribute much. I have chronic migraines, hypertension and periodic depression, all of which I take medication for. The situation I am in is exacerbating all of those conditions.

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I really feel for you, having experienced major burnout after 17 years of caregiving for my Mom. The hypertension and depression are very common among caregivers, and one of the main hazards we face. Caregiving is one of the hardest things any adult child is called to do, and we do it out of love, as well as a sense of duty or responsibility. But it can certainly take a huge toll, as well. You have to find ways to reduce your stress, increase the amount of respite time (there are excellent day care respite programs, at least in my area, so that's a possibility for some immediate relief. I agree with the idea that it is time to explore all the options for care, get a social worker to evaluate the situation (perhaps you'd find help through the Alzheimer's Association? a local caregiver support group? or the county where you live?). But the most important thing at this point is to recover your own health, physical and emotional. You are no good whatsoever to your mother if you can't function. There is help out there and people do care! Reach out for counseling, help managing your stress, and a more workable situation for your mother. You all deserve it! Blessings to you on the journey. Please don't give up. Ask for help. There are people willing and able to give it.
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Minguseye, I'm going to blunt. If you are not feeling up to blunt right now, skip this and come back when you are up to it.

You made a decision to come back and live with your mother 3 years ago. It was a decision. Perhaps you made it under duress. Perhaps it looked like the lesser of the evils available at the time. But to think that you were "forced" to come back puts this whole situation on an unrealistic basis. And then you were "forced" to become the primary caregiver. Hmm ... someone held a gun to your head? Someone threatened to reveal a shameful secret and blackmailed you into it? What? How were you forced into this position. I think it was another decision you made, if not by action then by inaction.

So the first thing I will say bluntly is to acknowledge your responsibility. You decided to to these things.

And the next blunt thing is that you can continue to make decisions. If a beer truck ran over you next Tuesday I hope that your family would mourn you and miss you, but they would somehow cope with Mother without you. (And then they would find out just how much you had been contributing, but that is neither her nor there.)

So, what is it you want to do? Move back to where you were three years ago, and resume your life there? Continue to live with Mother, but with lots more respite? Move out but stay in town to look in on your mother often? What do you want? Think about that very concretely and be very specific. Don't rely on someone else to tell you what you can have or what you have to do, but decide what you WANT.

Once you know what you want, explain it to your sister (and mother, if she is able to understand) and try to come up with ways that you can start working toward what you want while Mother continues to get good care. Maybe that means the hired caregiver works more hours. Maybe it means mother is placed in a memory care unit. Maybe sister moves in with her. It depends on what you want and what resources are available and what other peoople want. Don't just dump this all on your sister -- help get the solution in place -- but be firm that you are going to start working toward making what you want possible.

While all this is going on, it might help you to see a counselor. If you are used to letting yourself be "forced" into things, then taking charge on your own behalf is going to be hard. You deserve some help and support, and a counselor can provide that. Counselling can help with your depression and anger, too.

And, Minguseye, if you ever get the urge to "check out," please PLEASE call a suicide prevention line. Look up the number right now and place it in several places it will be easily accessible. You deserve many many more years to make decisions and many more chances at happiness.

Come back and let us know what steps you are taking. We care!
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My heart goes out to you; I understand how you feel and think if you can, you need to do something about it in terms of possibly placing your mother in assisted living or a nursing home. Have you considered these options?

I feel for you having the health related problems as well and the situation truly can exacerbate your conditions. Migraines are horrendous to deal with; I suffer from them as well....I think when we start feeling the way you are now; decisions have to be made. And of course, it doesn't help when your sister and mother feel you don't contribute much. That just adds insult to injury. You know what you know; so what they "think" doesn't matter - they are not taking care of your mother's needs - you are.

If I were you, I would start researching other alternatives... somethings got to give and it can't be you. My mother is in a nursing home and doing fine even though she constantly complains, but that is her nature. There are some really good facilities out there and maybe it is time to explore those alternatives.

Thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers...take care of yourself.
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