What ways do you find most helpful in being able to cope with being a caregiver?

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I just started reading the posts on this site and it is/and the people here are amazing. I'm 50 years old, married, taking care of my mom who lives with me and who is in the end stages of COPD. I realize now that the resentment, and the guilt that I was feeling resentful, is shared by others. I want to take care of my mom but also realize how important it is to take care of myself. Can you tell me what positive strategies worked for you?

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At the risk of being suspected of accepting bribes, I have to say that AgingCare was by a very long way the single most important thing that saved me from suicide, murder or total mental breakdown.

Runner-up: respite care at an excellent facility for a week at a time. The idea was to do this every three months - it didn't quite happen like that, but the two occasions when it did work at least allowed me to get some sleep. I'd recommend getting a schedule of respite breaks sorted out as early on as you can.
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Exercise beats the anxiety back. Even if it's Just 10 min at a time try to do 20 to 30 min. a day. Hydrate. Set a goal for glasses of water per day, and as CM has said community and sleep.
Make sure you get protein and veggies in your diet before stress eating. And give yourself a big hug. You are a wonderful person.
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When I was caring for my Mother 24-7 I always thought in my mind to just get through that day only and sometimes I'd think to just get through the next hour only.doing the best I could,one day at a time.
I have also kept a journal and writing down my feelings in it has helped I think and the wonderful caregivers here on AgingCare have been so supportive too through it all.This is what has helped me and still helps me now that Mother is gone.
Take care,Lu
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Thank you all!! I like all of your ideas. I definitely need to take better care of myself. I feel like I am the unhealthiest I've ever been in my life. Churchmouse, I would have to drag my mom screaming and kicking to respite care. However, I did just talk to my sister and she agreed to come over once a week just so that I can get some "me" time. I'm sure that will help. 97yroldmom, I just got a glass of water and am going to exercise at lunch. Thank you!
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I have a plan for my life after caregiving. I work everyday toward that plan.

If I get nothing else done...I research aspects of my future plan. I read about it, I plan, I do.

Everyday. It keeps me sane and grounded.
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For nearly 2 years I cared for my bedridden Mom in my home before she passed on over a year ago. In order to do this I made it a point to compartmentalize my days and weeks to one at a time...just get through each day and be grateful for making it through. I also made it a point to behave like a nurse, so to speak, by learning everything I could about my Mom's condition, medications, diet, etc. I bought fresh flowers for Mom's room and played her favorite music while she ate. I established a routine. I grabbed whatever moments I could for myself for a quick shower with nice bath gel, a good mystery to read, many adult coloring books, watching the birds and animals outside, watching the sun rise, etc. When my husband was home I ran to the market. I got up very early each morning to get on the computer and on Aging Care....communicating with other care givers on here truly kept me sane and going in order to face each day one day at a time. Compartmentalization of each day, routine, and grabbing small moments for me.
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I stayed at mom's house for a few weeks when she broke her hip. I was going crazy just being with her for that long. I sat on the porch for short periods. Looking at the sky, trees, etc. Had screen door so I could here her if she needed me.
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CM Can you share where to apply for bribes?
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I feel for you. I agree with all the above. I swim for an hour at least once a week, then have a relaxing pot of tea, on my own with no phone signal. My time. I don't feel guilty about it. Good luck and please be kind to yourself.
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Good for you to recognize that you need to do something for you. Remember, you are the most important person in this equation, and unless you take good care of yourself, it will be very hard to take care of your mother. That means eating healthy, exercise, taking time for yourself and your marriage.

While my mother and dad did not live with us, I was still deeply involved in their care. They were in a senior "independent" living with assistance, and they needed a lot of assistance. Ultimately they both needed to be under hospice care, not because they were expected to die within six months (although that requirement might vary by state apparently), they needed more and more assistance. It does not cost anything to have a hospice evaluation done. What they can do is give you more opportunities to care for yourself as they do some of the tasks (bathing, OT, PT) with their patients. And I also did some light-hearted things, like putting cheery postage stamps on any letters and bills I paid for them. The last page of stamps I got was of ice cream desserts. They made me smile.

And come back to agingcare.com regularly. It has been a wonderful source of encouragement and information.
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