My mother is in a private care home. She was diagnosed with dementia (Alzheimer's). I placed her in the home 9 months ago with my Father, who also had dementia. My father died in August. (One week prior to that my MIL died), 3 of my mother's sisters died after that, one in September, October & December. In January, my oldest grandson died of a heroin overdose. I have been caring for them since 2011. At that time my father was very sick. We moved them here from out of state into our rental. (We live on the same property). I have four siblings who all live out of state. Two of them would come twice a year for a few days so that we could go somewhere. One brother moved in with them for a while. He made an agreement with my Dad to do the coming and chores around the house for room & board and a small weekly compensation. That was for about 8 months before we put them in the home, and it ended badly. 😥 My mother is slowly losing her memory and having other issues as well. She's gracious when I visit, had stopped giving me a bad time. But she's not happy. Missing my Dad (61 years of marriage). Cries out for me at night when she wants something (to pull up the covers, etc). The care home is wonderful. I got the flu, then bronchitis, then the flu and pneumonia & now bronchitis again. I've had to stay away from the care home. My Mom's depression has increased since I've been unable to visit. Even though I call regularly. For the past two weeks I have taken a break. I have called less and haven't visited. I'm just so weary of it all. I'm still trying to process my father's death, let alone the rest. 😢 I called yesterday and ended up talking to the nurse who let me know that she's not eating (except for sweets). They try to encourage activities and she won't participate. Walks around, just very sad. Incontinent now. When I talked to Mom, she just wanted to talk about Dad. Poor thing, she's in excruciating emotional pain. I usually an able to redirect the conversation and make her laugh. She wouldn't let go, kept talking about it. I told I'd come today and take her out to lunch. She still wasn't happy, but was glad I am coming. The problem is, with all the deaths, and the emotional turmoil that surrounded my brother's departure, putting them into the home and now her grief, I just want to have a life. There have been many problems with my husband... He's done. I'm exhausted. I don't want to go and be there for her anymore. Feel like I need to go somewhere and lick my wounds. I need to heal! Don't get me wrong, I love my Mom. Dearly. I know that many of you have been in similar circumstances. How can I cope when I don't have the mental and emotional resources to do so? How can I be there for her when being there sends me into a tailspin emotionally?

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So... you've had enough, haven't you?

I mean, just read back over your short version. God knows it's plenty for any one person; and seven years you've been carrying all this.

It must be just awful to think that your absence is having a detrimental effect on your mother. But then again: if you were dead you couldn't visit her, either. Sometimes it just isn't possible to give someone all the things you would like to give her; and it sounds as if you're so close to breaking that you just don't have any more to offer.

Or not at the moment, at least. Suppose you took not just a couple of weeks, but a real sabbatical? Do you think if you knew you had definite breathing space ahead you might get a kind of caregiver's second wind?

In any case, how long has your mother been a resident at her care home? Could you ask them to give her the same level of pastoral support they'd offer a childless resident, and propose a review in - whatever you think - a month, three months?

There is the risk that your mother might lose touch with who you are and not be able to recognise you. But - it doesn't make any difference. I think you are in the classic oxygen mask situation; and I think perhaps the best recourse would be to ask the home, or if they won't help look for external charities in your area who might offer befriending or enrichment. Churches are often a good place to start.

Do not feel guilty for needing help. Do not feel guilty for not being able to do something that is simply beyond you. And, yes, you do need to heal. Feel better, hugs.
Helpful Answer (26)

IMO - it's time for you to take care of yourself. Mom's in a safe place and being cared for. I'm still working thru this myself, but you're not responsible for her happiness. Now I know we want our parents to be happy on top of being safe, but at what cost? Take a break... a well-deserved break.
Helpful Answer (25)

It may benefit you to see a therapist to help you deal with all of this stress and grief. It helps to talk with an objective third party about these things.
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Your mother lost her husband of 61 years, at a time when her comprehension was compromised. This happened less than 8 months ago. It doesn't surprise me at all that she wants to talk about him. It seems natural to me that she is sad. I was sad a lot longer than 8 months when my husband died. Is there anyone else she could talk to about him? Does she have a clergy person? Is there a chaplain on staff? A psychologist? She may need grief counseling more than antidepressants. (Or maybe both.)

I can imagine that you can use some grief counseling too. My goodness, what an extremely difficult period of loss and stress! You need some time to heal emotionally as well as physically. Do the best you can to arrange for mother to get support in other ways, then take significant time off. Get therapy for yourself -- at least that seems appropriate to me.

You deserve time and space to heal, because you are a very special and worthy individual. You need to go this for yourself. You can also be a better support for the parents of your deceased grandson and your mother and others you love if you are healthy yourself. You deserve to heal for your own sake, and others will benefit from it, too. Be good to you.
Helpful Answer (16)

I"m very sorry to hear of all your losses. That's a lot of loved ones to lose so quickly. It's a lot to deal with.

I think I would discuss your mom's condition with her doctor. She could have depression on top of the dementia. That can affect her mood and make her more sad, tired or withdrawn. I'd explore about medication to help her feel better.

And if you are also feeling really sad, I'd discuss that with my own doctor to get some options. It's tough to deal with a LO who has dementia. Sadly, this condition sometimes means that they are not happy.
Helpful Answer (14)

Thank you all so much for your kind replies and good advice. Ever since my father passed, twice a month a hospice grief counselor and a chaplain have been making regular visits to her. And, I do totally get it that she's still grieving, I am too! I went to the grievance counselor myself a few times. Unfortunately, she wanted to explore the anger issues that I have with my siblings, and I am quite sure it would be helpful... But it overwhelms me to think about it right now. I may see about getting some therapy from another source soon. There is a local caregiver support group that I have attended. That all being said... It so feels like just one more thing I have to do. Easily overwhelmed right now.

The care home has been calling because of the behavioral issues my mother is having. This morning they let me know that she's got a UTI. In the past that has caused severe behavioral issues. Hoping that there is some relief for her with the antibiotics. The doctor has also decided to increase the dosage of antidepressant that she is taking. So hopefully these things will help her.

I had already decided to cut down my visits to once a week. We have a trip planned for the end of April. 10 days. A family wedding (not my family, my in laws). Won't have time alone. But at least it's getting away for a little bit.

And, I am feeling a bit better physically. But still resting for now. I need to get back into my exercise routine, so many things have been set aside.

Thanks again for all of your loving advice and help! It's a good thing to be able to vent. I really appreciate it. And, doing a little better!
Helpful Answer (12)

I am a therapist and a caregiver. I know first hand and second hand how grieving takes time and caregiving takes energy. Counseling helps because it allows you a safe place to process all your feelings and put them in perspective, letting go of what you don’t need and working through the rest. First, you need time to recover from being so ill. Really recover. That takes at least a month or so. Then you have to process all the loss. That could take a year or so. So stop being hard on yourself. Your mother has lived her life. Now it’s time to live yours.
Helpful Answer (10)

Dear Meaha ; this is a sad story I can relate to completely. WOW !!! God Bless you !! I will pray for you !! Please take care of yourself ...YOU CAN'T TAKE CARE OF ANYONE IF YOU SICK OR WORSE!!! Give yourself a break !! Your strength is astounding!!! You are the glue that has held the family together all these years. Losing A grand child is an awful ordeal grandchildren are supposed to outlive us ,it's so unexpected to lose someone at a young age !!!all of your other loss !! So sorry I send prayers!! Do not feel guilty to mend !! This stress can cause extremely dangerous health issues Please take a breather !! The other people are right look into friends for the elderly at churches ect...Your mom is in GOOD HANDS !! Do not worry you need to REST ...again prayers to you and your family.
Helpful Answer (8)

mahea... “how can I cope?” What I’m hearing in the great replies above is to go beyond just cope... You’re onto something good with ‘go away and lick your wounds.’ I too hope you’ll get counseling for yourself, and try to arrange for specifically counseling for your mom. But in addition, I hope you will arrange some kind of trip for yourself, if it were me I’d speckle it with visiting close friends who live so far you don’t see them much, and have a core theme of being alone in between. Visit sites of natural beauty. I note that you are grieving the loss of relationships with living relatives as well as those who have passed. Call your mom on a schedule you can fit. If appropriate, tell your husband you appreciate what support he's been able to lend, and you have to go rebuild yourself from the inside a bit. You’ll be back. Truly sending you a big hug.
Helpful Answer (7)

Mahea98--If you are doing your best, don't feel guilty. There are plenty of people who say they can do it better, yet have never done what you're doing. I'm a "been there. Done that" person. I just wanted to say you are doing the right thing. Go ahead and be good to yourself and remember the good times.
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