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When you're frustrated, exhausted with circular conversations, unable to control what's happening in any way, and living in dread of your phone ringing for the tenth or twentieth time in one day ... what do you do? Anyone care to share your coping secrets? I mean, not in how you relate to them, but in how you maintain your own sense of self and sanity?

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1. Sometimes, I steel myself and grit my teeth before getting started on whatever is going to frustrate me.
2. I remind myself what a royal pain I could be as a kid.
3. I look for humor.
4. As a last resort, I walk away. If I did that very often, wouldn't get much done, but I save it for times when I'm about ready to blow my stack.
5. There are certain things I'm rigid about, certain things I'm not. I prioritize them. If I want it done, I make sure she does it with whatever wiles/will I need to have but I try to be honest about whether things NEED to happen or not. If they don't really NEED to happen, I sometimes just let them go. And I don't correct her just because she's wrong - only when it's important.

I used to blow my stack and be super-impatient on a fairly regular basis. These days, I'm chilling with it all, more. I had to practice chilling on it. Even then, I'm not perfect. I have my bad days, too, and I try to remember that I'm doing my best and not to be too hard on myself.

Also, I found that doing this via phone is REALLY hard. I found my life got easier when she moved-in, because I can see what she's doing and control some of it. So, the phone calls are just super-frustrating, to begin with. I think it makes it even harder to handle the whole thing, in my opinion.

I don't mean you should have her move-in with you, just saying that the phone is a uniquely frustrating situation.
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This forum is so helpful and healing. I have a super anxious Mom who never cared for herself, even before Dad died, and does even less now. I also learned not to answer my phone after the twentieth time, as long as I know Mom is OK. I had to instruct hubby and daughter to do same, as she will nag them if she can't reach me. I am absolutely anal retentive about doing some sort of needlework for one hour a day. The time knitting or sewing calms me down. I just began the me time recently, and it helps. Wanted to ask how people handle thoughtless comments such as: you should be grateful to have a Mom or your brother can't help because he had a difficult upbringing? Humor helps but I do get annoyed with reminding these boobs that I had the same parents!
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My parents don't have Alzheimer's or dementia, but both are elderly and ailing. When I first started taking care of them, I did not understand A LOT of what or WHYthey did some things.I cleaned the house, it got back dirty in two days. I sorted paperwork, it got back disorganized in less than a week. I created a budget, they continued to spend wildly. I tried to administer drugs properly, it was resented and not followed. I have myself an anxiety attack! For me, the answer was to not take everything so seriously, humble myself and realize it was out of my hands. Pray to whomever your Good is
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Sometimes I think that we are lucky life is so busy so there are times we are not ALWAYS thinking of the negativity of it all because that is so unhealthy!! So many of my friends parents have passed and I am so fortunate to have mine. Although it is so hard to see my father spend 24 hrs a day helping my mother with Parkinsons.
She is not the same person but I know what to do to make her happy, what to talk about how to make her laugh...I PRAY that wont change. They will be moving close by so we can all help him. She will always be the greatest mom and the positivity for me is letting her know that as much as possible. Positivity is so hard
to feel especially when you feel there is nothing you can really do to make things better but remember this is your life too and whatever you do to help is commendable!!! You need to know your doing your best and being there to help
comes from your heart. God Bless You and Yours!
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I am finding it helpful to use this site, so many great comments, insights and suggestions here. For me, talking to a psychologist regularly helps me remember that I am doing my best and I need to do whatever I can to care for me too along the way. That looks different for different people and not all ideas are possible for each caregiver, but I hope you find some small things that you can reliably do to care for you. A cup of tea, a bath, a phone call to a friend, or journalling may work. I pray you'll find what works for you as I know it is an ongoing quest for many of us.
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Deborahlee, I couldnt agree with you more. I am sitting now holding my Moms hand and we are on year seven.
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The answers here are all excellent . I have been taking of my mum for the last 5 years and these are my coping mechanism :
1) Pray a lot for strength and grace because it is tough being a care giver.
2) Remember how mum took care of me when I was little and all the sacrifices give additional boost of energy to me when I feel down and tired .
3) Learn to take care of myself and not to panic easily helps because I realised if I am down, mum would need to go to a home instead
4) If you have one or 2 siblings that would share the burden , enlist their help
5) See from mum's perspective and when she is helpless and totally dependent on you , you will sense a deep love comes within your spirit that you would want to do the best you can to walk with her through this last lap.

I am really very very thankful that I was given the privilege to be with mum and care for her at this time and no other siblings can do what I am doing . Even time spent watching TV together , holding or massaging her hands bring tremendous joy to me, and I am sure she feels love as well.

God Bless and keep going .. you are doing the right thing to take care of mum, if we don't , who would .. Shalom and blessings and best wishes to all in this circle .
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She cant help it. hang in there.

Please don’t try and make me Remember…
Don’t try and make me Understand…
Just let me Rest and know you’re with Me…
Kiss my Cheek and Hold my Hand

I’m Confused beyond your concept…
I am Sad and Sick and Lost…
All I know is that I need You…
To be with me at all cost.

Don’t lose your patience with Me…
Please don’t Scold, or Curse, or Cry….
I can’t help the way I am Acting…
Although I will try.

Just Remember that I need You…
And the Best of me is Gone…
Please just stay beside me…
Until my Life is Done.
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Oh, my. This really struck at my heart today. Have been having a hard time not being angry at a lot of the picayune things. Trying to keep perspective and my sanity. Thank you all!
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I go outside, go for a ride, or just get lost in a story on t.v. I don't turn to drugs, alcohol or food, just meditation realizing, this too shall pass.
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I'm not sure there is anything that will really help. Some occasional diversions keep you going, but my cousin had the perfect analogy for it. She said, "It's like a baby-sitting job where the parent's never come home." I remember those times when the parents would say they would be home by midnight and not show up for hours. Those hours were the longest in my life! I can walk away for a short period of time, but I'm never free of the guilt that I have for doing that. There is always that "What if.....?" in the back of my mind until I get back home. I'm really trying to find some helpful words. I think acceptance is the answer, but I haven't been completely satisfied with that myself.
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I pass it over to God. In my case, Mom lives with my family and I. I walk away to avoid engaging. If it's the phone---walk away from it. If they leave messages, you can erase them in the middle of the message--harder to do when on the phone with out consequences. I find something to concentrate on other than the demands...needlepoint, facebook, this site, reading. TV doesn't really help me much so I avoid that. Favorite old shows on DVD and movies do help. Find stuff you LOVE. Good luck.....God speed.
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I agree with kathyt1. Mediation, walks, yoga or other physical exercises and weekends getaways helps me dealing with my mom ' s dementia, she is 90 and frequently goes into rage and foul language lately and can go up to 5 hours .my family totally non involvement with this situation think I can handle all by myself.
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When she naps...I try to nap. Feels like I am back to when the kids were babies but that was how I coped then. You have to let some things slide so you can keep yourself sane. I am trying to stop the cycle of getting upset at the "way" mom talks to me or comments. I hear "mean things" and usually that isn't what she meant...part of the problem for us both.

We used to give kids a time out...not really for them but to keep them safe while we calmed down...that's what mom needs too. Take a time out...set a timer and both go to your corner and take slow breaths.

I am sorry Mom looks at the world through such cloudy lenses, but I must keep my vision clear because I don't want to be so negative. And a lot has happened to her to create this negative vibe...

Stay positive. Use statements like "I'm sorry you feel that way" and "Thank you for sharing that thought" which really just acknowledge their input without turning into a back and forth.

Find a middle ground...mom is more mom when we play cards. Sometimes I am tired and don't want to, but she can joke and focus on something besides the state of what she can't do when we play rummy...so I will try to make cards more important to me.

Find the bright spot to aim for..."keep going until the wedding" "have to hold that new expected great grandchild"... "remember tomorrow we are going to lunch with the kids"...

Try some hopeful signs. Actual signs of paper. Statements like " I Love you Nana" signed grandchild's name. That is often helpful and if you change them they will feel cared for and not forgotten.
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Mom just passed after a year of care giving in my home. She couldn't even sit up in bed by herself. I was her legs, arms, hands, feet and brain. Oh, she was "here," all right, but almost helpless. Couldn't walk without a gait belt, a walker and me. Couldn't dress. Couldn't bath. Her life was filled with "couldn'ts".

Now that mom's passed and I look back? I honestly don't know how I did it. But I have an idea...

My life's philosophy has always been, "Just do the next right thing." I never thought much about the burden, I just did what had to be done. Tried to find some humor in it, and tried to make mom's last days on earth good enough to let her know she was safe and surrounded by love. I think I did that.

Did I sometimes fail? You bet. Sometimes I got short. Sometimes I was cross with mom -- mostly not believing she couldn't do better. I sometimes thought of how MOM'S life was when she was my age . . . very different from the life I was living. But, all in all, I have no regrets. I am human after all.

I didn't wallow...didn't dwell on negativity...didn't feel sorry for myself. It was a choice I made to care give for mom. One I'll never regret.

Bring a buddy into your life. I had one, and she helped immensely. I could unload my frustrations on her -- and did so liberally. She often had tips/tricks that helped. If that buddy has suffered an immense loss in his/her life, so much the better. They "get it".

And HERE. Unload here. This site helped me soooo much. Not only by unloading here, but by learning things -- and teaching things. I realized I'd found many shortcuts, tips and tricks that could help others. This site (and another public forum on the internet) were my absolute stress relievers.

Try it. It might work for you.
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Meditation is excellent for fostering acceptance over something you can't change. So is exercise, it gives you control over your body which extends to your mind. Weight training gives you strength of body and mind. Walks relieve stress and opens your mind to solutions. The suggestion to see a therapist is excellent. I see one once a month, he gives comfort, support, and workable solutions. Good luck, this won't last forever
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Maybe you could ask a family member, someone from church, good friend, etc to come and sit and talk with mom/dad while you just took long bath, read a magazine or took a nap. I would have my young teen daughter do her homework while keeping an eye on mom. I was still in the house if help was needed. Times like this i turned the phone off. Also if the budget allows maybe just getting a companion for a few hours a day to come in and talk to mom, read her a book or do her nails, would allow you some down time to re-energize. This is one of the hardest things you will ever do but knowing at the end of this journey you will have peace and know that you did the best you could. I kept reminding myself that had the roles been reversed my mom would have done the same for me.
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Thanks, country mouse. Friends had been telling me to do that for a while. Recently Mom left a message crying hysterically because she thought I'd called and told her my granddaughter died. Then she was saying that she'd been dreaming about babies. I assured her that I had not called; the baby was fine, and I was sorry she had to go through so much worry and emotional upset. I actually think she had dreamed (dreamt ?) that I called. So that was answer worthy.

Next time she called I let it go to the machine as I had company, and it was another accusatory call, asking "did YOU take my pkge?" Any time she misplaces something she accuse me of taking it. After several of those incidents, I just didn't call her back this time, having decided that I can't run over to the ALF every time she hides or misplaces something and then is sure I or someone else moved it. Not taking or responding to that call felt just fine. It has taken forever, but I am finally realizing that I don't have to jump at her every whim, and guess what? Nothing happened.

If your loved one is truly "loving" this may seem harsh, but my mother is often very verbally abusive, puts my kids down, and puts me down, and I have decided to put my own mental health first. My physical health has suffered from the stress, and having Epstein Barr Virus, while unpleasant and sometimes debilitating, has turned out to be a good excuse to "opt out" of her drama.
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I contacted a priest who is also a psychologist. It was the best 20 min I had while taking care of my mom and feeling like I was in the center of a tornado. Only needed to talk once. I was very blessed to find this man who understood what I was going through and offered realistic advice including seeing a doctor for some meds
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This group forum helps me so much. I feel I am at the end of my rope each day more times than I can count. I deal with two of them and it is a constant struggle.
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Absolutely, you can't control what is happening, only what you do in response to it.

So, for example: the phone rings. What happens if you don't take the call?

Unless the answer to that question is some kind of catastrophe, feel free to ignore it. Well, free-er, anyway: it takes practice to get used to the eerie peaceful feeling! But after you've tried it a few times and nothing dreadful has happened, you should find it easier to relax.

Setting up a good, reliable reporting system in case of emergencies will help. That way, if there is any *real* need for you to be contacted you'll know it will happen.
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i have been taking care of dad with alzheimers for 8 years, he is now in the late stage, i have been on xanax, all it did was make me sleepy and hungry, i am now on Valium, and it is much better for myself. I also take walks, when the weather is nice, and if u have the time, try to get into a support group. I do not have the time, so i am using this website to vent, and hopefully help someone with what I have been through......god bless, and try to take one day at a time, that is all we can do..
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I take the phone off the hook, go upstairs and take a nap.
I tell my self "God has a plan" and He can take the calls.
Limit her to one call a day. Get her some Xanax or Ativan.
If she won't take them, I would.
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