My 79 year old mother has ALZ and lives at home with my 82 year old father as her primary caretaker. The last year is when I knew something more that just occasional memory lapses was wrong with mom. Along with memory, there were personality changes, social withdrawl, inability to cook meals she once enjoyed, and she can no longer comprehend what she has just read. She has lost place and time and called friends in the middle of the night thinking it was in the afternoon. She has hallucinations about animals in the backyard where there are none.
She fell several months ago and broke her pelvis and has difficulty moving around without a walker.
My father is in denial about her cognitive issues. A few of their friends have called me with concerns, asking for me to get involved to help her and help dad. They've expressed concerns that they don't think my dad is aware mom has any cognitive issues that otherwise seem very apparent to them. I've told them I will look for a neurologist and other specialists as needed. I have made a number of appointments for mom, but each time she keeps cancelling because she doesn't feel well enough to actually go.
Dad takes good care of mom and loves her more than anything. However, his denial about her cognitive status is making some things more difficult. For example, he keeps correcting her when she gets details wrong or cannot remember certain events, rolls his eyes, and talks about her in the third person when she is sitting right there. I've tried to explain to him that mom's brain is working differently now, and to PLEASE stop correcting her. However, he keeps going right back to his old patterns. He thinks he can fix her.
I now am feeling in my own life that I've lost that spark... that "it" that kept me going in my own life. I am tired, drained, exhausted and my mind is mostly preoccupied about what is going to happen next with mom & dad. I feel like my dad has caregiver burnout and won't do anything to balance his life so will eventually have a heart attack. That will leave mom alone and I'll have to put her in assisted living. I feel like this situation is only going to get worse. Oh ya... and my husband has been battling cancer the last year.
Having my mother move in with me is not an option because my husband does not need the stress of having her around as it may impair his condition.
I have found a support group that meets once a month at a local hospital and I've attended a few times and found it very helpful. However, I still feel like the spark in my life is gone. Each time I have a memory lapse about something, I think I'm getting my mom's disease.
Does anyone else feel this way and what do you do to cope?

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Ginger: Cling to your boundary of not bringing Mom into your home. It’s a double-whammy that your hubby is working through cancer, and my heart goes out to you.

In fact, regardless of what is going on in your home, do not turn it into Mom’s nursing home. I know that sounds rough. But you deserve — and NEED — a sanctuary from the stress of your parents’ decline.

Clearly you are loving and caring. And being a logistical caregiver is just as valid as being a “turn my life over to Mom/Dad” caregiver.

This forum is full of excellent advice on how to determine what/how much you personally can give, and how to arrange resources for the rest of your folks’ needs. only gets worse. So get used to sharing the burden with Trained Professionals now. You will be in a much better place (mentally and physically) when the challenges escalate. 

In short, no “ daughter guilt.” Do not allow yourself to be compared to some martyr-woman (everybody knows one) who did a 10-year Florence Nightengale stint with dear mama....and super-daughter “only” needed 3-4 hours of sleep for that blessed decade. And never saw a doctor or dentist for herself, yada yada.

Always remember: No amount of abusing yourself will restore your mother. So don’t “go there.” Tackle this problem through the filter of also needing to be the wife, mother, grandmother (possibly?!), friend and wage-earner that you are. And will always need to be.

Good luck to you. Keep coming back to AC Forum for support and ideas. This site is a sanity-saver. ((((hugs!))))
Helpful Answer (10)

(((((Ginger)))) It sounds like you have caregiver burn out too. I agree there is probably not much you can do to change your dad's ways and that, and looking ahead at what may becoming, is getting you down. You are worrying about it and you are going through a very difficult time with your husband battling cancer.

My goodness that is a lot for any one person to have to deal with!

I am glad that the support group is helping you. What else can you do to get your mojo back?

Part of it is, I think, accepting that your dad is like he is and your mum is declining and there may not be a lot you can do about it. That is a bitter pill to swallow. You must be grieving as your life has received several large blows/losses in the past year due to your family's health issues and you are pretty powerless to change things. It's tough! I imagine you have had more than a few tears over it.

Getting support is very important and you may want took at counselling. I do when get into what feels like a permanent funk over my life issues.

Whether you worry or not, things are going to play out as they are, so staying away from the negativity would be good. It isn't always easy, but you can direct your thoughts in better directions. The doom and gloom outlook steals your joy. L look for things to be grateful for even in very difficult circumstances. It helps.

Do good things for you - massage, mani-pedi, a hair do, coffee with a friend. It doesn't change the circumstances but it builds you up so you can deal with things better and you get a few hours away from the troubles. Look after yourself - no matter what is happening around you, you and your wellbeing matter too.
Helpful Answer (6)

Ginger, I so empathize with you! Sometimes, it's ust waiting for the disaster we can see waiting to get worse!

Two thoughts. Ask those friends to talk to dad, not to you. Maybe they can get him to see that she needs better and different medical care.

Get dad to his doctor. Talk with his doctor about the stressors on dad. Prep the doc beforehand about what you see.

Request a needs assessment through your local Area Agency on Aging. They'll send professionals to your parents'home (you should be there).

Sometimes, our patents need to be told hard facts by someone other than us "kids".
Helpful Answer (5)

I’m in a similar situation except mom and dad are reversed, Dad has dementia, Mom health and mobility issues. They’re late 80s.

What I’m finding with mom, even though she doesn’t have ALZ or dementia, is that her reasoning is getting very bad. I had hoped that she would eventually agree to get help or move to assisted living but I can see now that’s not going to happen. I’ve also bailed her out of financial phone scams twice this year, caught it just in the nick of time. And part of this is just old folks fighting any change.

My guess is you won’t change your dads ways or improve his understanding of your moms dementia. At some point a crisis will occur and you’ll just have to do what has to be done.
Helpful Answer (5)

I love this place. Was just logging in due to some of the same issues - I really badly need to either get a job or find some way to work at home and it feels like I'm trying to do it through quicksand b/c I'm expected to provide a lot of emotional and logistical support to my (widowed) 78 yo mom and one of my (widowed, childless) 80 yo aunts, both of whom had cancer this past year. Myself and one of my cousins are responsible for them (I have a half brother but he's mentally ill and can't be relied on; other cousins around but also other sick aunts, children with disabilities and addictions, etc)... just took in two of my aunt's cats which immediately needed $1000 vet care and are vomiting and urinating all over my house... and she's crying and begging me to keep them but I just don't know it'll be possible if I can't do anything about the 'accidents' (have other cats, yes I'm trying the pheromone diffusers etc.)

I really need some help. Neither mother nor aunt has saved any money for old age and they're both effectively broke, so I do a lot of listening to worry about money on top of health issues... it's sucking the life right out of me. Someone here recently helpfully wrote that old people are like the drowning, they'll climb right over you in order to survive. I try to remember that and it's not personal, but it's so damn hard when there's some new disaster (aunt is probably needing a defibrillator soon as her heart was damaged by chemo apparently - and 40 years of cigarette smoking but nobody is allowed to mention that of course.)

I think I need to find a good therapist….really need some help with boundary setting. If I go a day or two without calling them they’ll just badger me to death and I’m feeling like I can’t leave my cousin wholly with the burden of my aunt, who’s the more negative and dramatic of the two of them (if she’s a little dizzy she’s about to have a stroke, trust me it is exhausting, mostly b/c she does really have issues but you can’t ever tell what’s real and what she’s playing up to get attention. She has my mother sucked in to where I get constant calls that Aunt B is going to die any minute and she’s “so worried” etc… it’s not that I don’t care but I’ve been told Aunt B won’t be with us much longer every week for the last five years.

I'd tell them both to call someone else for support but they've been invalids so long a lot of their friends aren't around much. They have sisters but all of them are in their 80s and sick and old and broke also, so not much help.

I'm so glad y'all are here. Hope everyone had an adequate holiday, given what a lot of us are dealing with.
Helpful Answer (5)

Really, how can any of us have any good feelings (mojo) when we see our loved one's situation declining day by day? Also when we, as caregivers, are run ragged caring for them.
Throughout this whole ordeal, I feel a profound sadness (also got other family stuff contributing to that) and am finding I have to pull myself out of a hole ocasionally. I tried 2 types of antidepressants but they gave me chest pain. Yes, that's a normal side effect but I don't feel that a medication for depression should make you worry about your cardiac health.

Waiting for the "bomb to drop" with my mom (a fall, more advanced dementia, death) contributes to the problem. I've just accepted that, until the situation changes (she passes), I'm not going to feel like my old self. I feel that this experience has aged me greatly. I try to reason with myself that, when mom meets God, that part of the anxiety/depression will be gone. I also look forward to retirement in 4 years (or sooner if necessary). Yea, no more traffic to fight. To help myself through this tough time, I've bought books, I pray, I joined this wonderful board and talk occasionally to a friend who's mom is also "challenging".

I'm looking ahead to the future, when the time is just for me. I've got plans and I believe they will materialize. That's what keeps me going-the future. This tough part will not last forever.
Helpful Answer (4)

I love the people on this board! So real. Hellebore "I hope everyone had an adequate Thanksgiving" I laughed out loud! Which is great considering I had a crying fit earlier today over my parents. I am calling my church to set up an appointment to speak with the counseling pastor. I told someone today that I was emotionally and spiritually ill, but "losing my mojo" describes it too.
Helpful Answer (4)

Dear GingerMay,

Sending you love and hugs. There is a lot on your shoulders and its only natural to feel like the spark has gone out on life. I'm glad you have your support group. Try not to think too far ahead and focus on each moment and then each day. And if you can try to get more supports in the community or through church. Thinking of you.
Helpful Answer (3)

@sue - I can have good feelings even though my mother is declining. I am sad at times that her life has been reduced to this, but it, and worse, happen to many people. However, I still get enjoyment out of my life, and I know she would want that. I am already old - should I wait another 5 years before I can feel good? I don't think so. Being burnt out caregiving is another matter. Even as a distance caregiving, I got that way at times, and I worked to make changes, get counselling, back off - whatever I could do to make it better.A growing number of us quite in our senior years are looking after the interests of parents, who are even older as longevity in the population increases. We need to have some quality of life for ourselves before it is too late for us, even if we are caregiving.
Helpful Answer (3)

The drowning analogy is spot-on! I care for my mother and mother-in-law. One lives in the house and the other in an apartment above the garage. They do not get along. They are 2 very different people and I do not like either of them very much. They would suck the life out of me if I let them and then be annoyed that I was not around to help them. Stubborn, depressed, selfish, self-centered are just a few descriptives. I strive not to allow them to effect my whole life. I have teenage daughters and a husband and a life I would like to enjoy. If it were not for an anti-anxiety medication, acupuncture and people to vent with I would be miserable. Ginger, you must take care of yourself, first and foremost.
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