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My mother is a full-time caregiver to my grandmother, who is in poor health but is not completely infirm-she can still bathe herself and all of that, although she is starting to need more help as well.

Grandma has been living with my parents for about 5 years now, but her condition has only recently deteriorated. I have started to notice changes in my mother's emotional health and demeanor recently, and it has made me very worried for her. I know my grandma can be demanding and I know that it has taken a toll on my mom. Some other recent life events have also been stressful for my mom.

My question is how to approach my mom about what I have been seeing? She used to be so happy all the time and full of life and fun. Now she is snappy and often upset. My mother and I have always been very close and I really miss my old mom and want her back so much. Any suggestions are welcome.

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Please be gentle on your mother. Maybe you could offer to help her out as others have said and let her get some free time. Or maybe she is just too worn out to try to get help for her ownself, so you could offer to help her find resources for respite and a support group. Sometimes just showing that you understand and do little things for her to let her know that she is important and loved could make a big difference. However, don't just start in on her about everything that you see wrong in her life. Don't force all your answers for how she needs to fix her life and that you know what needs to be done and make her feel like she is failing. My kids do that to me. They have all the answers how to fix my life but no one and I mean no one offers to help.
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What a sweet and loving daughter you are! I am a caregiver to my Mother and have a daughter who is just happy it isn't her doing the work. My outlook on life has changed also since I became a caregiver. What it does is drain and empty us so at times we may not have a lot to give to others. I accept this and know that it is temporary but I do get depressed - especially when I have not been given any respite. I think your Mom would greatly appreciate hearing that you are worried about her and her health - as caregivers our needs are always the last so I am sure she would appreciate your concern.
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Both of our daughters have had this discussion with me and it had a profound effect, so don't be afraid to let your Mom know your observations. Our daughters live out of town. Their message to me started with a sincere statement of NOT wanting to lose THEIR mom due to the stress of me caring for my parents. They did both volunteer to come and help and we actually paid from my parents trust, to fly each of them in twice over the past 18 months, so that one of them could be in my parents home, while I, living 5 hrs away, could focus on certain financial deadlines. I took them to heart and tried to find resources to help me handle my needs better. I didn't realize that I was at my wit's end much of the time. If you CAN help out, even a few hours a week, with care, do so. If there are resources to provide a private caregiver for additional hours to give mom a break, do that as well. It seems on this site, there are many who do not realize that there is help out there....even volunteers through the local council on aging...people who can stop by to visit while Mom gets out to care for herself. Might call local associations and try to drum up resources for Mom. One of my problems was being so overloaded with bills, submitting legal info to get Medicaid, VA benefits, and still trying to monitor their needs from long distance, that I did not have time to make calls or research info for myself. My daughters did some of this via internet, from their towns....even made calls to get info. So let her know, you need your MOM alive for you. You need a relationship with her that is good and don't want her to drive herself into poor health or her own dementia. Then figure out how you can help, who else can help and what resources you have that you may not even know about.
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Very rare is the case that I have not spoken what I am thinking; though sometimes it may offend those being spoken to, with words chosen wisely. Mother was diagnosed with Dementia last year around November 2012. I was not made aware of the condition until May of this year, for reasons we shall leave UN-discussed for this conversation. This statement, "Many times we as women will say one thing when we really mean another...." head the nail squarely on the head. That is all I, as a male of the species, has to add to this conversation. Just something to ponder.
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Caregivers must care for themselves first or they won't be able to provide care to another person. Caregiving for an aging relative is more demanding than caring for children. I think a frank conversation is due, tell her you are concerned. contact the local area agency on aging for assistance, they have senior care programs and national family caregiver support programs that may be able to provide some services and give your mother a break. There is also a service called older adult waiver which provides a variety of services, the agency on aging can also give you information on this program. Being a caregiver is something we do, but it can take it's toll. There may be support groups that meet in your area, it helps to know you are not alone in the caregiver roll and this could be something your mother could benefit from as well. Let her know she is not alone and give her your support.
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Dear BDJ -- If you would lovingly say to your mother exactly what you said to us, that would be a good start. You don't have to fix her or the situation. Just speak from your relationship as her daughter. It would be a shame for you to lose your grandmother and mother at the same time. Blessings to you all.
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I think you must be my daughter.... figuratively speaking. I am pretty much your mother and most everything you have expressed is me and my situation. Kathyt1 said it perfectly, "your Mom needs help," I need help. My daughter and I and my older sister moved into my parents home a number of years ago due to my own personal health issues. When I got better the tables turned and I was then caring for my parents and now it is just my mother.

Although I have two siblings and one lives in the same house, they work outside the home while my job has become caring for Mom alone. I never realized when I took this job on that it would become so difficult nor that it would go on for so long, but being a good daughter and loving my mother, I took it on. When you are dealing with dementia or Alzheimer's you are not only caring for an aged person but a person with a mental disorder that makes your job a thousand times more difficult. They themselves are difficult, they do not like what is happening to them and they take it out on the caregiver and the rest of the family feels it as well.

I have asked for help from my sisters on numerous occasions and they have known what I was going through but they never offered the assistance I needed or to just give me time off. Trying to take a summer vacation has become a chore because the one sister who could watch Mom, doesn't want to be left in charge of her, it is too difficult....yes I know it is, I do it every day!

Have you stepped in and offered to help your Mom? If you haven't I would ask you to please be an angel and do it. I even offered to pay my daughter for her help to no avail. My daughter has been adversely affected by living with my Mom and experiencing this disease, and I am sure my entire attention being focused on Mom and her care has left my daughter wondering....."What happened to MY mother?" Let me assure you that we love you but despite what articles and TV programs tell you, "You can not do it all alone." We NEED your help, your love, your support. If it can be afforded, we need a caregiver assistant, if you cannot help us.

I have benefited greatly by having a therapist that comes to my home once a week so I can talk/vent about how I am doing and feeling. Your Mom could probably use the same. Talking to an outside third party is better than speaking to a family member.

You need to ask your Mom to sit down and talk with you in a very gentle and quiet moment or see if you can take her to lunch, tell her your concerns, tell her you admire her for what she is doing, tell her you love her and you miss her and the way things use to be. At the same time however offer her solutions, offer her help, show her you care enough about her that you are willing to be there for her. If your grandmother gets bad enough, help her find a facility where maybe grandma can go to live or even a day care so Mom can get a break. If you are old enough to find this site and ask this question, then you are old enough to help Mom find some alternatives, to help her regain her life and light.

As caregivers we lose ourselves because we do not have time to think about ourselves anymore, we have a sick parent, a husband who needs us, children who need us and we can only be stretched in so many directions until we snap. This is why I think when you speak to her, you not only need to tell her you miss HER but at the same time you present a solution in saying what if I came and sat with grandma so you and Dad could go to dinner every week? If you don't present a solution, you are only giving your mother another problem to deal with...your hurt feelings over her not being happy, so make sure you come up with a solution to help her to remove some of the burden from her shoulders. If you have relatives or other siblings, you all need to pitch in and help, your Mom is carrying a very heavy load on her shoulders.

They say "It takes a village to raise a child" but it also "takes a village to care for an ill/aged parent."

By the way, if your Mom says, "No, it's okay, I can handle it," don't listen. Many times we as women will say one thing when we really mean another....Your Mom needs help no matter what she says!
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Your Mom needs help. She needs someone to share the burden of caregiving. Someone who will give her some time to take care of her needs. Can you take care of your grandmother. Start slow maybe 4 hours at a set time that your Mom can depend on every week. Then build to where you could take a few days of your grandmom's care. Are there any siblings, your Aunts or Uncles who could be more involved. Talk to them, share your concerns. Ask them to help.
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https://www.agingcare.com/articles/be-your-own-best-friend-while-caring-for-others-152992.htm

This is a new article on this site. I thought it was VERY good. As care givers - we concentrate of being patient with our loved one, looking after THEIR needs, being kind to them, etc. But do we treat ourselves this way?

No, we just keep giving, giving, doing, doing, working, working, putting off our own self care until we crash and burn. It is typical. All too common. :0(

Often we just don't realize we need to CARE and LOVE ourselves or HOW to do it. We are too busy, too tired - until it is TOO LATE. :0(

We need to know that is it ok to say 'I have done my best' and 'I may not be able to continue.' It doesn't mean we have 'failed.' We are all different and our care giving circumstances are all different. Just because our loved one is not bed ridden or does not have dementia does not mean that our care giving is LESS of an emotional drain than someone elses situation.

I know I have a tendency to think - I shouldn't feel this exhausted, impatient, tired - after all, others have it a lot harder than I do. But we have to allow for our own emotional state. We are not all created equal. And yes, some do have much greater stamina than others. I did real well for during the 3-4 hardest years (multiple surgeries, infections, more surgeries, rehabilitation, etc.) only to crash when things calmed down. I had not realized the TOLL those 3-4 years took. How hard it was for me to 'remain the optimistic one' - to spend to much of my time and give so much of myself to my MIL trying to make HER LIFE BETTER/HAPPIER only to find that I couldn't give her happiness. Her losses were too great. And then only to find that I had lost MY happiness along the way as well. I was no longer the wife/mom I used to be. My own spirit was broken.

I am coming back slowly - but we must realize that WE are just as important as our loved one. That we have just as much right to LIVE and be HAPPY and if we are not finding some sort of satisfaction in our life - it will trickle down........

It may be time for a change for your mom. Does she get regular respite? Does she ever get a true vacation? Is she caring for her own physical and emotional health? We tend to put ourselves last. It is common. Keep us posted on how it goes for your mom and grandma.
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