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I’ve been to a therapist/ counsellor three times in my life, but never about caregiving, so perhaps this won’t be relevant at all. None of my experiences were really helpful. I think perhaps I went in thinking ‘help’, and I should have been more specific in what I was looking for. ‘Help’ related to a situation with someone else (different each time, years apart), so there was a lot of explaining the situation. It would have been better if I had looked specifically about things I could do - you can only change yourself, not the other person. If possible, I would say talk your issues through first with a friend, to clarify what you are really looking for. Therapists here tend to follow the dogma that they get you to talk and you will see the answer for yourself. Wrong, at least for me. I wanted ideas and suggestions so I could look at things in a different way. One of the benefits of this site is actually that you get specific ideas from different points of view. You could put up another anonymous name, and spill your guts here for free! Therapists can also be interested in an ongoing ‘relationship’ as they get to know you, and it can get to be very bad value for money. Best wishes.
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Helen323 May 9, 2019
Thank you. I do find THIS site to be VERY helpful since it hits on so many levels of caregiving. My friends have also been a form of 'therapy' for me.
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Yes, I have. It was helpful for me. Sometimes it takes a professional to point out things that we do not want to necessarily see and the opposite as well, they are able to validate what we do feel is correct.

Best of luck to you. Hugs!
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Go for it, Helen. You need all the support you can get.

As I was responding to this post “With love, me” partner Katie Curic was on CBS morning news talking about the need for support for people affected by cancer. She has just joined this company to help provide support for cancer survivors and their caregivers.

http://www.yourcancergameplan.com/people-living-with-cancer/with-love-me

Also consider therapy for your mom if she is able.

Hugs to you and mom Helen.

Edit: on whether I have been helped by therapy. To me it’s all cumulative. You start where you are and while each session may not help, overall it is helpful. It takes awhile for our “blind spots” to appear. Somewhere I picked up to go at least for 10 sessions before allowing yourself to quit. It’s hard work of a different type to make progress. It’s a safe place for your wounded spirit. Not all therapists are created equal, not all are a good fit. It can sometimes take only a few words to make all the difference. Those words might be spoken by you or the therapist. It’s the environment that’s created that allows you to give and receive the help you need. Meditation can really help as well.

.
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Helen323 May 9, 2019
Thank you for your input. The best therapy I have received in my current situation of being a fulltime caregiver has been my group of friends who are caregivers as well. Just my personal experience. I did go to a therapist yrs back for a personal reason and it did nothing for me.
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Hi Helen, I did go to a therapist shortly after my mother died and I became my father's caregiver (with no help from my siblings). I feel that it did help me, she told me how to set boundaries, to enlist help from a caregiver agency, and to make time for myself. Sometimes I feel guilty if I am not able to do something for my father and I do feel that she helped me to see that I matter also and need to take care of myself as well. This was several years ago, but I have recently thought about going back to one. If you are on the fence about it, I would definitely recommend that you see one! Also, check references, and see how you feel with your first meeting, if you are not comfortable with one therapist, try another one. Good luck!
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Helen323 May 9, 2019
Thank you for your information. I went to a therapist years ago for another personal matter and felt it did nothing for me but very happy it helped you.
Finding the RIGHT one is key....
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Hey Helen! I found therapy to be ineffective only when I go without my own treatment plan in mind. My solution for that was to go in with the issue I needed the most help with and i spilled my guts, first session. If they can handle all of what I spilled, I know it instantly by their reaction and response. If suggestions are offered to me after that, then I know I have the right counselor. As many have said, all therapist are not created equal. I have had amazing progress with the right one. I’m at a point right now, where I don’t want to start over with a new one and I have to get past that to get the help I need. My attitude going into counseling must be one of openmindness. If nothing changes...nothing changes. I can only change my actions and my attitudes....unfortunately. That’s makes the difference for me.
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Ash1984 May 12, 2019
You make a really good point about a treatment plan. My current therapist (after going through several duds) is very good with that. We have goals or specific issues that I am working towards. I know it can be frustrating for people who haven't had experience with therapy (and those of us who have) to see a therapist and know it just isn't going to work out, but then you find a good fit and it really can be helpful. I hope you find someone you feel is right soon.
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I call my therapist my 'best friend that I have to pay'.

I initially saw her for help with childhood abuse and the fact I could not deal with the anxiety I was experiencing. This morphed into a 'whole person' kind of therapy.

I would go with a specific issue to deal with. Yes, a lot of it was caregiving, either to my hubby who went through a long patch of sickness, and also my mother, who is a very difficult animal to care for. A LOT of my 'issues' are due directly to neglect and abuse by her, yet I still feel responsible to help care for her.

She has been wonderful, but honestly, she's not the day to day I need. I have ONE friend I can talk to, all the rest drifted away during DH's illnesses. I just didn't have time to nurture friendships.

If you can find a good therapist who listens and who can hone in on your issues and give you quality help, then yes, I think therapy is amazing. If you're going and sitting there silently, and not working towards getting better---nothing will change.
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NeedHelpWithMom May 9, 2019
MidKid,

You are a blessing to your mom. A lot of people wouldn’t be as generous as you are. You have a beautiful heart and I admire you a great deal. 💗
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I finally joined a support group, and it has helped me.  I thought I could tough it out without it, and did at the expense of other things until I finally couldn't cope alone any longer.  I called the leader last night because I just felt that I couldn't wait until our next meeting next week, and we had skipped our last meeting time when it was cancelled due to weather.  She listened to what I had to say, could hear the frustration in my voice, said she was glad that I called and would research what the problem is that I am having, and would get back with me on it.  Sometimes it just helps to have a shoulder to cry on, or a listening ear to listen to you until you get it out of your system.  The leader is also going through her own issues, but they differ from mine, so to listen to someone else's problems is different and gives them a different perspective to compare their response.  Sometimes it takes something totally off the wall to throw at someone to get them to quit crying the blues and see that we are all facing issues...some similar, some different, but all of us have something going on at times that seem overwhelming at the time to us.  When we look back, we wonder how we actually made it, or we laugh to see that it wasn't that big of a deal in the big scheme of things, but seemed insurmountable to us at the time.
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NeedHelpWithMom May 9, 2019
Good for you! Glad you have a shoulder to lean on. We all need that at times.
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Helen,

Don't hesitate to change therapist if they aren’t a good fit. Happens sometimes. Don’t give up. I wish you well in your search. Hugs!
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I have previously used a therapist -- once after my Dad died -- and several times in dealing with a particularly prickly very senior mother. As previously mentioned, finding the right therapist is the key. I would suggest that you talk to several geriatric case managers (firms or individual) to see if they provide counseling services or see if they can refer you to a counselor/therapist who has experiences in dealing with caregiver situations. Some people respond well to group sessions (kind of a "misery loves company" situation plus you can learn from other people) but for me, one-on-one was more effective. I wish you well in finding the support you need.
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I've been before a few times for different things (not cargiving related) and wasn't impressed. Not right fit, I suspect. None of them thought that I needed therapy. lol But, now, I'm getting ready to join a support group though that does have to do with caregiving for my LO who has dementia AS WELL as my senior parents.

Also, my LO's Hospice Social Worker seems like a therapist to me. She has been incredibly helpful to me and provided me with so much info, referrals, support and kindness. She's told me to call her anytime for any reason if I need to. I really look forward to our visits and am so happy that I was able to meet with her for regular visits. The sad news is that she is being assigned to cases in a different area soon and my LO is getting a new Hospice social worker. I felt so sad when I got the news. I hope the new one is as awesome as the prior one.
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In my case therapy is a Godsend! I wasn't sure what was off in my life, but I knew having the same reaction wasn't working. I went in 4 years ago & except for unforeseen calamities, my rear is in that chair every week. She had me just start talking & we work on things that she can see that I used to gloss over. She is an amazing woman with strong faith & incredible passion for what she does for a living. When she suggests follow up readings, I make sure to check out the subject. Therapy has made an enormous difference in my life!
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I went to therapists way in my past and unlike you, I found it very helpful. But now I depend on the strategies I learned from therapy years ago and on my friends to gently point out to me what I am not realizing by myself. I do the same for them. So hang onto to those friends of yours. Despair, depression, dread, anger are all things I think should be expressed and dealt with before they make you sick.
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I cannot imagine not going to a therapist AND attending support groups while going through this journey. Have been going for several years. You have to find the right one for you. Medication when necessary.
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Yes, I started seeing my latest therapist when caring for my mother and moving her to AL, plus other problems, was making me unhappy and stressed and guilty. This therapist is a good match for me and has been very helpful. I saw her once a week for a while, but now it is every couple months just to unload.

Due to family situations I have been to a number of therapists over the years. I try to get good recommendations, but there have been a couple I have been to that just weren't a match and I didn't return. I can usually tell with just one session. It doesn't mean they are a bad therapist, just not a match for me.
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My therapist has one role, and that is to remind me that my expectations for myself, an those others have for me as a one woman care giving machine for two ill parents is a fervent wish, and not a realistic expectation. I see how I come to her every week with things, only to see that its really the same thing, the guilt, the isolation, the disappointment, the fear, the anger, and oh - did I mention the guilt? :) I don't do group right now because I can't do listening right now- I need to talk out my grief, out of my mind, out of my body. It feels indulgent, but it also feels like a lifeline through this terrible storm.
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Yes, and yes.
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Yes, my therapist was a lifesaver when I was caring for mom. It takes a little bit sometimes to find a good "fit" as far as therapists go, but once you find a good one, it does really help.

Mom passed in February, but I still see the same therapist, who has helped me with issues since mom's death as well as just being a non-biased person I can talk to when I get stressed about whatever it is I am feeling at the moment.
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ImageIMP May 13, 2019
Ironically, I first tried a therapist about 9 years ago - when Mom was in her late-80's - because we were so close but when she started declining I was terrified of losing her. That helped some...

About a year after Mom and I entered the Hell of injury, damaging rehab/skilled nursing facilities, surgeries, MRSA, depression (both of us), panic - I realized I needed an outlet for all of the emotions - anger, grief, fear, exhaustion, et al - and my friends just weren't capable, and eventually willing and happy about listening to me.

My therapist/counselor ended up being a friend I could talk to. I found our sessions mostly revolved around me being able to vent - just to let off some steam and pressure before I blew like Mom's pressure cooker! When it was appropriate, she interrupted me with pearls of wisdom and personal reflections/perspective because she'd gone through the same things with her own Mom.

So - it can absolutely be helpful, even a lifesaver, to find someone who will listen and provide feedback, even if it costs a few $$'s. It might even save a few friendships along the way, so I say go for it!
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I started seeing my current therapist about 2 weeks after I moved my dad to LTC. I had been leaning too much on my husband and my mom (who has not been married to my dad in almost 2 decades) with all my guilt, frustrations, and anxiety attacks surrounding my father. Then the caregiver burnout hit in a big way and I couldn't figure out what is wrong with me. My therapist helped me to understand that my burnout was a cumulative effect from caregiving for 4 kids with extra needs and disabilities for 10 years (17 years total actually being a mother..disabilities didn't come into play until 7 years in), my father for nearly 5 years, supporting my husband through military years and deployments for 14 years, and the death of my MIL just here recently. She had me see through outsider's perspective that everything I've done would wipe out any person. She's helping me set boundaries, which has had fantastic results, given me ways to deal with anxiety attacks, see that I'm not going to bounce back from all this in no time flat and I need time to recover while balancing the raising of my kids. She's my person I can get real with and there's zero judgments and she's paid to hear me ramble on and be frustrated! This forum has been very very helpful as well. I really should start the journal my therapist is always on me about. LOL Writing things out is truly cathartic.
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scotchtape2112 May 12, 2019
Well said, Miranova!
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I go to a Lewy Body Dementia support group once a month and it helps a lot. Sharing with others who understand my stress, my exhaustion and my feelings of hopelessness is reassuring that I am doing the best that I can and that I actually may survive this. Several months ago I started seeing a psychologist once a month also. He cannot help me with my caregiver situation so much as he can help me find some rays of hope. I don’t feel so consumed by my husband’s illness. I’m still in here, somewhere.
I realize that I have to take care of myself first, even if he has to wait a few minutes before I get to his care. Honestly, caregiving can ruin you if you don’t mount a defense in your own behalf. I plan to continue with my support group and psychologist and certainly recommend that every caregiver seek all the emotional and mental support he/she can get.
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Yes, this whole process thrusted me into therapy. No help from my family. My aunt who had no children but mothered all of us had no one but me or a nursing home. I refuse to put her there. She will never go to a nursing facility unless I cannot provide her the care she needs.
Therapy has helped and given me someone to speak to about the stress and how this situation has impacted my life.
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Yes. CBT therapist was what suited me best, they also help you set boundaries without feeling guilty etc. Highly recommended any caregiver see a therapist so their life isn't lost looking after a loved one.
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I was a full time counselor at a mental health so I if and feel that there are so many level of situations that come up with forgiving that you have take the one on top of the list and go from there. With myself also as a caregiver of an Alzheimer s husband, I find I needs my own well being drilled into me. When I got there I was ready to work on other issues. Counselor or friend we need someone there to talk to!
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Yes. I purposely looked for a female therapist who was in her sixties, and through friends I found a great match. Support groups are also valuable.
My friends have been terrific, but I tend to avoid cathartic talk with them and give brief but honest updates when they ask, "How's your mom?" I tend to focus on being a listener for them and that takes me out of my self-focused rut. I am fortunate that my mom is in a safe and excellent long term care community. If she lived with me, we would both probably be dead by now..or in separate institutions. I'm a other vote for finding a therapist.
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Kittybee May 12, 2019
I agree it's important, if you can, to not constantly vent on your friends. Friends should be there for you, but it's unfair to expect them to hang in there year after year hearing the terrible stories. Brief updates, honest admission of the difficulties, yes - long agonizing discussions, no.

Your friends can help keep you anchored to "real life", your existence beyond the confines of caregiver.

A therapist is where the long agonizing discussions can go. And you should have a place where you can have them! It has helped me enormously. I've always had ambivalent feelings about my mom, yet I feel obligated to help her because she has nobody else. So I continue to need to work with the conflicted feelings, and no way do I want to air them to my friends. A skilled therapist has been a real lifesaver for me.
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Yes. Although I am still looking. It's takes some time to find the right match.
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As loved ones decline and become heavier to move to the point you even have to manage their bowels, it is doubtful talking about it helps since friends can provide the same "ear" but without having to pay an extra expense. I've known a LOT of people in therapy and they did not help them..they are just as messed up as ever. I found that when I learned to accept my lot in life--I grew old to the point my parents died or dying--this acceptance helps me deal and accept because that IS life--dying is a part of living and people are SUPPOSED to die. I find taking some time out for myself helpful to regroup..even if it's just an hour to window shop or visit a nearby consignment shop..and I love riding my bicycle. Therapist is just another appointment and expense..if you got the money and time go for it.

Maybe this is just my way of dealing..I don't want a therapist because of the expense and time..and I really knew a lot of people they are messed up still even seeing someone.

I also don't like taking drugs to control my thoughts. Drugs have side effects, and a magic pill will not change the price of tea in China. In other words your situation will be the same on drugs or not. Feeling sleepy may even impair your ability to care for your loved one and yourself.

Therapists will push therapy because that is how they make a living. Can you afford it? Long wait times? Even if you find free clinics for indigent, you can imagine hoards of people waiting to see someone (and often for drugs). Meanwhile your loved one will be by himself or herself what for two or more hours? (driving and wait times including "therapy") just to talk or get drugs.

Here is an article why psychotherapists fail a lot of people. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201010/why-psychotherapists-fail-help-people-today

HEALTH INSURANCE--if you are lucky enough to have it, will only cover a few sessions..or not at all..not without a mental-illness diagnosis code. In other words, your therapists has to label you mentally ill for them to pay. You may be stuck with enormous co-pays too. You just think about these things. https://tampatherapy.com/2017/01/25/reasons-not-use-insurance-mental-health-treatment/

If you ask someone for help, you have to pay and a lot, or became part of the cesspool of indigent care thus long wait times for talking and drugs.

If you absolutely need it, there are free support groups. And you may find tips how to care for your loved one easier in these groups, such as more effective ways to manage bowels and bladder, or pulling someone up.
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Harpcat May 12, 2019
You seem to have had some really sour experiences with therapy while I haven’t. It is not true that you have to have a mental illness to have talk therapy. People go all the time for marital, family counseling and personal counseling. I never had an insurance issue and over my lifetime have been for various reasons.
if you are Medicare it is true they will only pay if the therapist is a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a licensed social worker.
If therapy saves a life from deep depression and suicide, it is worth it.
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Yes I have done so and it helps tremendously.
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I could have really used someone to help me but have no idea where to look and don't want to tap into my health insurance with that. I feel the hospice team we had was really good, but they came up short with family support after mom died. I could have used someone to talk to a couple of times. I have been through a whorlwind since mom's rough demise and passing, with other family members dying, home disasters, a move, etc. y husband was hospitalized and had a heart operation and I had a spontaneous retinal detachment and eye operation while mom was bedridden in my home. Most of all there is anger at others that did not help me in the slightest during that rough time, and all the incompetent medical people and NH personnel during mom's rehabs. One dropped mom and broke her ankle while putting her in her wheelchair and the first 5 star rated NH let her lie there too long and she developed a stage IV wound. Do I feel anger? Yes, a lot of it!!! So much seems frivolous after all this, and I don't have a lot of patience and interest in actually doing much. It would be difficult finding a person that is good to talk to and help me get over this 6 year long anger I feel at times.
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yatzeedog123 May 12, 2019
I understand your anger b/c I have anger too. I am dealing with a husband and he’s classified as “moderate” stage dementia. To me that means he still functions and I’m thankful for that but he is so difficult to deal with. There is no mistake that the person with dementia is the tortured soul. However the caregiver is really the one who suffers more. Right now I have no one helping me. My husband is still attached to the real world and would have no part of an aid helping. U have been trapped for 6 years. Families and friends scatter with the mere hint of helping out. You, no doubt, have had life changing problems stacked upon each other without any relief but it’s all over. My armchair psychology says let go of the anger. It can only cause u more harm especially with ur health. Maybe u need to see a professional to help u get thru ur rage. You’ve done the hard part now it’s time for u to heal. I wish u well.
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I’ve struggled with this question. I constantly read everything I get my hands on regarding this horrible disease even though it frightens me to keep finding out more and more. My best therapy comes from this site. Unless the therapist has someone close and has experienced first hand what we go thru day to day all you’ll get is textbook therapy. This disease makes every nerve ending raw. This is my opinion only. I find if I can get out of the house, whether it’s sitting on the porch reading, or jumping in my car and going somewhere, makes my entire mood change and I can decompress. It’s so important to make time for yourself. I hope your situation allows u time alone. Keep reading this site. There are so many insightful people on this site who can help u navigate thru this very difficult time.
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Yes I have and it was helpful to have someone to unload on and get advice from. They see things from an objective perspective. It’s hard to ask friends who can’t understand and my sister who I love dearly is too close to the situation. In fact I haven’t gone in about a year but I’m going back in a few weeks. Just to feel supported and get her perspective on things. My dad just fell again causing a new fracture and I lost it the other day as I’m so tired of it all. My sister suggested I go back so I am.

helen...I saw where you replied that you tried therapy once and it did nothing for you and also that you rely on friends. That got me curious as to why you posed the question to us in this post. Are you reconsidering therapy perhaps?
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Omg YES YES and YES, therapy is a life saver for me , my 94 year old mom is still alive and my issue is it’s very hard to deal as an only child with the neediness , I also know that when she passes I will need help with all these feelings , a therapist one can click with is trained person that can help you see things in a different light , helps work through your depression, if you were sick you would go to a doctor wouldn’t you ? Just because you don’t have a cold and you feel the illness in your heart and feelings doesn’t mean you should get help , if people write that you shouldn’t then that is only coming from a small minded , probably small town person . I live in a big city and people know to seek out therapy to help them selves , sometimes all you need is a few sessions to make sense of all your feelings , Definitely go
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