My mom is 74 and lives with me. I am the only person she has to rely on. I am a widow, 55 and only have 1 remaining kid myself, she works and can't help. I am so burned out I can't think straight but it's not from having to care for her as much as just putting up with her. She refuses to see a doctor, smokes all day long even though I have asthma and can't breathe because of the smoke, and does nothing but eat potato chips all day long. She will have an accident in the bathroom but won't tell me about it, so I won't know until I go in there and see the mess. Her mind is still pretty sharp so there is no dementia involved as much as I can tell, she has just decided since she is retired she doesn't have to do anything. I have not been able to get her to bathe, washer her hair, face or body in well over a year. It is dealing with that all day long that has me so fried I can't think straight. I don't know how to take care of myself anymore and can't see any future beyond tomorrow. I used to be a pretty creative person but now I look at everything with dull eyes. Part of my history is I have been a caregiver to 4 different family members over the past 8 years, starting with my mother in-law, husband, my son and now her. I am on a very limited budget and can't afford any medical care for myself. Is there any advice anybody can give me?
If I had asthma, you better believe no one would smoke in my house. We are talking about your life and the quality of it. Not just mom's. Mom needs a mental evaluation. She has reached the point where you can no longer take care of her if things don't change. I honestly believe if you continue in this environment with no changes it's not mom's fault. It then becomes yours. If you can talk to her and reason with her, tell her there have to be some changes or she will have to make other living arrangements. Then hold to it. You are enabling her if you continue. Tough love. The first step is a complete physical and mental eval. And post a "No Smoking" sign for heaven's sake. You can do this
If mom is mentally sharp, has all the potato chips she needs, then you leave, everyday, to protect yourself.
Take yourself to the nearest Senior Center, supportive services dept. and go there daily until you find what you need to help.
That is, unless you change it.
If you are unable, make an appearance at your nearest emergency room to help yourself. You sound desperate and defeated to me.
Do you have a car?
Keep talking.....there is help.....keep talking.
First off, people with many forms of dementia, particularly vascular, will converse and recognize familiar people and memory is not as bad as judgment and empathy, so you hear the "sharp as a tack" thing all the time, but it's total bunk.
Second off, if she does NOT have dementia, it is even worse. She does not NEED care, she WANTS it and she has ZERO right to eat you alive in order to get it. If her judgement is just fine then the real problem is she judges correctly that you will put up with this crap literally and figuratively without limit until you drop over dead, then you need to get out and get yourself counseling to help you quit being a doormat and start being a daughter.
What do I mean by being a daughter? Look - did she give a damn about you and your welfare when you were growing up, despite having a very Bohemian lifestyle? Does she really want you to run yourself into the ground, and can she even perceive what she is doing to you? If she does is that legit? Does it do her any good to wear you out and have you die before she does? No, of course not!! It is time for you, the responsible adult daughter, to turn around and be the one who sets limits, on what you will and will not do, and what behavior is and is not acceptable.
Start with your Area Agency on Aging and find out what the care options are. See if an in-home geriatric eval is possible. You have the option of moving out and notifying Adult Protective Services that you cannot care for her because of your asthma and the smoke exposure and you do not think she can care for herself. You are not too old to get a job with Walgreen's or someplace that may even have benefits, and if your income is low enough you can still get care via PPACA. We wish you well and we hope that you can begin to believe that you have both a right to take care of yourself and an obligation to take care of yourself - Mom needs care but it does not have to all be provided by you and it cannot be on her terms at this point. Somebody responsible and capable needs to be running this show, and she is neither, whether through no fault of her own, or totally her poor choices freely made.
Bottom line, your mom needs more help than you can provide. She needs to get out of your home and into a place with more care, for both of your sakes. Tell us why she came to live with you and maybe we can start from there. I'd also say, "My home, my rules. Rule #1 - NO SMOKING IN MY HOUSE. I have asthma and it's not healthy for me." Start there. And "Rule #2 - You make a mess, YOU clean it up." Get those two rules going and you're half-way there, while you research other living options for mom.
My advice to you is first try to get some time where your mom is out and away from the house, where you can have some quiet time to your self to think and decide what you need for your own health. There are adult day care programs in most towns. If she has cognitive difficulties that might be a great option for her. If she is truly with it, many senior centers have organized activities a few times a month at little or no cost to the senior. Some have weekly meals and activities (eg knitting groups, book clubs.) Some do monthly trips. It's worth looking into.
After you've cared for others for awhile, it becomes second nature to pick up on others' needs and wants, and it becomes very hard to hear your own little voice inside telling you what you need. Sometimes when that inner voice becomes inaudible, our body speaks to us instead. If you are getting tummy aches, headaches, etc. or if your asthma is acting up, listen to your body and take what it is telling you seriously.
Things can get better for you. There are resources out there that might be able to help take some of the pressure off of you and maybe give your mom some alternatives. What you are feeling is common among caregivers who are experiencing fatigue or burnout. You will feel better but you need to find a way to meet your own needs. It does sound like your mom might be having some signs of dementia, but honestly when elders are very stubborn sometimes it's hard to tell.
I feel for you. It sounds like you are suffering and have been through a lot. I hope you will check back in. A lot of resources vary by state, but each county should have an Area Agency on Aging, Dept. of Aging or the like who can get you started finding options for your mom, including housing, transportation, home health aides, etc.