How can I find time to take care of myself without going out of my mind?

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As others have said, we have to *make* time since we'll never *find* it. What I've told myself and believe to be true is that if I go down my loved ones will have lost me and that could be the end of them. That is unfair to everyone.

While I've never been great at finding (or making) "me time," I have made the effort. Without doing so I'd have completely burned out long ago. For me, the answer has been getting up at 4 a.m. so I can meditate. That may not be the answer for many people but it's helped me. Others may consider that self-punishment but my point is that we must try to find something that works for us.

Please keep telling us how you are doing. We know how your are feeling as much as anyone else can and you'll get a variety of views from the community.

People who care about me sometimes remind me to take the time to care for myself. And I'm sure this is well intentioned. But what does it mean, really? Where does one get this 'time.'

Truly speaking, I don't have control of my time any more. I look after my 96-year-old mother who has dementia and doesn't walk well so she has to be watched. I never know when she'll sleep or wake. I can't predict her behavior nor how much cleaning up after her will be necessary on any day.

Yes, there's lots of time in between chores, mostly spent sitting near her. I can read, watch TV, do little projects. But something happens to the brain when this sort of captivity is forced upon me. Normal mental resources aren't available. I go dull and muddle-headed and lose sight of the big picture.

I'm not always able to overcome this. But one device that helps is to make a list of things to do as time and opportunity permit. For example, I can't go take a shower and wash my hair unless Mom is asleep or someone else is watching her. But I can take care of my feet. I can do sewing repairs. I can set up the ironing board nearby and catch up that work. And so on.

A bit of creativity is needed and some discipline. The trick is to remain focused on the fact that BOTH the elder being cared for AND the caregiver are precious human beings, deserving of the best possible life, moment by moment. From that perspective, the self care practices arise of their own accord.

Blessings to you and yours during this special season.
I have been so overwhelmed and when I do try to make me time the guilt is even worse. As always I am my own worse enemy. My New Year promise is to make more me time - because as you all have said "we go down, everyone goes down" please keep these chats going so that I know I am not alone with any of these issues - thank you all. Merry Christmas
It is worthwhile to invest in having professional caregivers come in sometime to provide respite on the weekends or during the weekday. There may be other siblings, relatives and friends who you may be able to call on, but that can be an imposition although they may not want to say so. Now, other siblings can certainly chip in to pay for home health care...the very least they can do. The cost can run from $18-$23 per hour, requiring a minimum of 4 hours to be taken in one day.

Thank you.
You sounds like you are burning out. Does anyone care for your mother while you are at work? Do you have any siblings? Would it be possible to bring in some caregivers on weekends to give you a break? If you drop dead to the floor, then who is going to take care of your mother? Have you investigated the reputation of the nursing homes in your area?
I've had to move into Mom's home, which made the most sense in my situation.
What has helped for me, is to make sure I "book" time with girlfriends to go out once or twice a month and, during lunch breaks at work, I walk around the block and notice the birds, decorations, trees, etc. If the weather isn't good, I read and eat lunch at my desk or in the break room to talk with others (I'm a therapist). I've (periodically) gone to a meditation class and then used the techniques I learned. I make sure to sit down to eat a decent breakfast and pack a good lunch (so I don't eat from the candy dish or get crappy fast food). It takes a commitment to myself that I'm worth it, and that if I DON'T take care of myself, I won't be able to enjoy the freedom that will be available to me when this caregiving stage is over. I also get to Meeting on Sundays at least twice a month, where I get spiritual support. Each of these things I do takes no more than a few minutes to maybe 2-3 hours, while someone else cares for/sits with Mom. It's helping me maintain my sanity and my sense of humor. It makes me feel better just to KNOW that I'm taking care of myself, too.
This may be kind of 'obtuse' but it dawned on me as my mother called me just now about something that to her is of utmost importance but in my book can wait till I get around to it. What dawned on me - and what I've been trying to work on doing - is understanding and acting on the fact that what's a 'priority' for her isn't necessarily a priority for me. Example: She's been trying for DAYS to call the credit card company to get a check for her rewards points - we do this at the end of every year - call to get a check for her rewards points. For some reason she isn't getting through to them. I told her a couple days ago that if still having a problem I'd give them a call. Well, she called just now to ask me if I could do it for her. No problem. Well, normally no matter WHAT I was doing when this sort of request came through, I'd drop everything I was doing at that moment and get on the phone and do it - partially to please her and partially to clear the decks so as not to have anything for her hanging over my head that needs to be done. There are two problems here: 1. There IS really no pleasing her and it's taken me 50+ years to figure that out; and, 2. when I stop whatever I'm doing to fulfill her requests...that's all that I end up doing usually with the rest of my day...fulfilling that request and getting sidetracked with whatever problems arise from it. Also, once that request is fulfilled, she has another, and another and I end up sacrificing time I'd planned on devoting to MY things that I needed to get done for me and my household, to her. Priorities. The rewards points are NOT a priority, and don't expire/will be there even into the next year to be collected by us if it takes us that long to get to it. So I will call the cc company when I get around to it, which may NOT be till next Monday if that's how it happens to go...if I have a spare minute between wrapping gifts, whatever and feel like it, then I'll call sooner. My point is that I'm learning - by trial and error - that her priorities are not MY priorities when it comes to administrative or other non-essential things. This helps me claim 'ME' time and keep it 'ME' time and from frittering 'ME' time away minute by minute on her seemingly never ending requests, and helps me feel I have at least SOME control over an otherwise crazy and unpredictable situation.
At first I felt overwhelmed with caregiving for my Mom who is bedridden. I began to get up early to make some time for myself to read or write in a journal before the day begins. Making this time for myself early mornings has really helped.
Somehow, some way, find the time. Otherwise, you'll have a physical or mental breakdown, and then what will you do? As Jill1027 says, if you're looking for time, you may not find it, so you have to "make" time. I wish you well.
For me the feeling 'guilty' part is the worst for me. I feel like I can never do enough or the 'right' way even though caregiving has changed the person I 'am'. I'm working on reading a book about living in the now... I've lost this. It's Christmas and I'm feeling rather numb... I so want to 'feel' happy again. It's been so long since I've 'known' myself. This is wheee siblings could have helped... Not only with the parent, but in helping their brother or sister be who they are and support the caregiver's happiness. It not only drains you but slowly takes so much away from you that you didn't realize... Working on it with the others of you my friends... Blessings

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