I live with my 80year old mother. She is going thru separation anxiety. I can't go in my room and close the door or go out to my activities (except to the grocery store). I tell her I'll be right back to talk to her or play a game with her,but most times I just want to stay in my room and read where the chair is comfortable and no distractions. How can I make this a workable arrangement without becoming resentful towards caring for her? She gets over our budget often, with tv purchases,even when I try to explain it to her.She can't get out very often because she has bad feet and knees,so we just sit around driving each other crazy. HELP!

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If you can get her to some adult day care (even is she needs a wheelchair), it would help. You need to have a break from her.

Her anxiety may be medical, so I'd be sure her doctor knows about this. Perhaps an anti-anxiety medication may help?

If you want this to work, you will have to find a way. These are two ideas. Likely other people will chime in, so stay tuned.
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I went through this also for the half year I cared for Mom. She sort of hung near me doing her crosswords, whisperblithering to herself. But back then (7.5 years ago), I was of the notion that I should be able to have my old life back. Not to be. I finally "downloaded my old life onto a harddrives," unplugged it and put it on the shelf. I wasn't going to have my life, my privacy, from that day forward.

When she was conserved because of sisters' financial abuse, I was MADE to be her 24/7 caregiver. I had to give up ushering at cultural events (my only ME thing for a few years)...then I decided that if I had to DO something for myself, it meant taking Mom along. What would SHE enjoy that I would enjoy?

Thus, she's attended many SF Symphony concerts (Pastorale Symphony, Mahler's 8th ...we were orchestra center...Beethoven's 9th, Mahler's 5th, St John Passion, Messiah). Art museums, sidewalk chalk festivals. Really many places and experiences I might not have attended, but I did because MOM would enjoy it also.

Also have mined DVD veins. Discovered she liked to conduct along with TV performances, so got a lot of Andre Rieu videos (the ones in English, some have subtitles.) Recently discovered that ballet DVDs are wonderful for her to watch. The Classical Baby set is lovely, and we've watched them many many times.

Bird and squirrel watching and feeding...we both love that. Many many things we share, with a life overrun with CUTENESS (toys, figurines, photos, cats, squirrels).

I think I had a stingy attitude at first (among other attitudes), like "you can't enjoy MY life. Create your own LIFE damn it. Contribute something PLEASE. Have an original idea, start a conversation...something!" I was thinking about my college age interests in Samuel Beckett and Brecht, and 'facing the shadows.' Now my antennae are out for anything cute with big eyes and upturned face. However, I am looking forward to the day when I can have real conversations again...

Oh, not so resentful of my mother, but of my two deadbeat sisters.
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Alzcaregiver - excellent advice and attitude! We all should adopt! I'm reminded of a comment Martha Beck made in one of her books - she realized after she became a mother that she was feeling guilty about not wanting to do things with her kids - until she realized that just because she didn't like kid things, she still really loved her children and wanted to spend time with them. So she sat down and thought about what she liked to do and what she liked to talk about and then just included them. It was the perfect solution for her and the children began to enjoy what she enjoyed. That is what you're doing with your mother.

I know many parents (mine included) act disinterested, bored or complain when you introduce new things. But you have to do it anyway. Block out their complaints like you would your kids and just focus on what you want to do and enjoy doing. Kdutchess11 - if your mother likes to watch TV, take up needlework or get a laptop and do online freelance work. Do what you can for yourself. Sitting and doing what she wants to do will drive you crazy.

It's a difficult situation and invariably it strikes exactly when empty nest, menopause and a whole host of other situations are occurring to make life difficult. I too have a book called "Saying Goodbye to Mom" - Reflections on MidLife, that chronicles my experiences caring for Mom and the things I learned and experienced during this difficult time in life. It's something you can read a little bit at a time that may help you to feel less alone. Let me know if you're interested. I know how lonely a place it can be.
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I wonder, if it's NOT a medication remedy situation, can you do what they do with a dog that has separation anxiety? It sounds awful I know, so don't drop your jaw yet. We had to leave our dog home and he'd go crazy. I started by just going out the front door and waiting for a few minutes, then come back in. The time I would leave would become longer, BUT I'd always come back. He eventually got used to me leaving him alone, but it took a LONG time for him to figure that out.
I don't know, can a human being be trained like that or not? Isn't it just de-sensitizing them to you being gone? It was either that or I was gonna get rid of that I guess that part wouldn't work. :)
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When I first started caring for Mom, I tried all sorts of tricks to get her interested in things, art/flower arranging, photography. The only thing she obsessed about where her charts of her BP, sugar reading, etc. She had binders full of them, carefully drawn chart. And nobody ever read them.

Oh, so I tried to put in the center column ACTIVITIES. She should write what activities she would do. Then I tried a brainstorming chart for activities. She refused. Lady, get a life, stop sucking on MINE (which if you haven't notices is now NOTHING cause I have to care for you, damn it.).

So, to remind, yes I found those things I was interested in that Mom showed an interest in, and feathered out from there. If she like Beethoven's 9th on the concert DVD, she's like the Pastorale. If she liked the Pastorale, she'd like Mahler's 5th. I have a video of her "conducting" watching YouTube video of Bach's B minor mass. She liked seeing birds at the lakeside cafe...we had birds in the backyard. I like all those things. And as I said, I had to get over the resentment that she didn't make her own choices, that I could no longer have my own exclusive tastes.

This is kinda funny considering the CoDependency stuff I went through a few decades ago. Now I am totally in control of someone's about meddling. gotta go
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In retrospect, my life was MORE miserable when I just let my mother rot in her own depression, while I tried to live my own life (or create a life in new location as I quickly fled a 20-year nourished community).

Because all sisters "when Alzheimer's hits, everyone splits" dumped Mom's care on me TOTALLY, I eventually realized I had to create a community/family for Mom myself to replace real people. Fabricate one. These are the things I did just involving pets and animals. (Oh, most important part of this was getting Mom on Zoloft. She had NO spark before she got on this antidepressant; then, the things I did for her took light.)

We already had 4 cats, three of which terrorized my mom's awful cat. (Eventually I wove them into her life and she loves them now.) Something to cuddle: Guinea pig, present from niece (connection always reminded "your granddaughter gave you Little Piggy, remember?") GP's are messy cages and wouldn't do it again, but the piggy himself was a doll.

Final pet addition was a natural community in itself, a cage of four parakeets. I named them "The Gang of Four." I didn't want individuals, but community (an aquarium would be similar). What these characters added that was unexpected was "comic scapegoat." If I'd lost my keys, I grilled the parakeets about which one was guilty. They ALL looked guilty. It added humor to the day.

Outdoors (out the kitchen door), we started feeding the squirrels and birds. A birdfeeder outside the window is good time killer, and your Mom can help fill the feeder to make it "hers." I went overboard here and did woodworking project with a wooden bar that hooked over the door handholds. I put a fold-out table on it, and stenciled flowers, bees, and big squirrel on it. Nice wood, varnished. I am very proud of this and glad I didn't "make do" and skimp. She eats breakfast and snacks there, and with space heater and bottom protected from drafts, can do this on chilly days too. This activity takes up as much as 2 hours meaningful activity per day, where she coos sweet sentiments to her babies, and points out every squirrel and bird. Cost is only peanuts... $2 day! (I rake up extras when possible and recycled them.)

However, all this means getting involved with your parent even more than you are now. So many times I resented doing more for Mom, cause I'd already given up MY whole life, my income, all my friends, stunning scenic living situation. I just couldn't get myself to be involved intimately, not any closer. I resented doing one-on-one activities like bean bag tossing, and I hoped that providing her with other interests, I could have a little space to keep MY life alive. Never worked out that way. I can set her up throwing peanuts, but come over every few minutes to share squirrel sightings.
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make sure u give her half hour extra when you go out. If you are going to be out one hour tell her an hour and a half so she doesn't worry. And if you get back earlier suprise her by saying see I'm back as promised! That might bring a smile to her face & releave some stress for both of you.
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Maybe SHE should have a small, or smallish, sturdy lap dog to occupy her when you have to leave or want to be alone! Seriously, look into hiring a home health aide; here the minimum is 3 hours at a time, but it is worth the price. Aides do everything from just visiting to light houskeeping.

Since your mother still enjoys games, check out the
senior citizens' center. There are domino, card, even knitting groups in larger centers. Is there a caregivers support group that meets in your area, or even the occasional caregiver seminar through a local hospital.

I think really old folks feel a vulnerability we do not readily comprehend. While preserving your sanity and enjoying your
pleasures, remember to keep forbearance & patience in your heart for them.

Check out these websites for resources & ideas:
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Get some help! so that you have enough time to do things you want to do.
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Unless you were trained as a care giver this is a hard no win situation. I have had my 88 year old Mom live with myself and my husband for over 2 years. I get zero help from my brother or sister. My husband and I still work full time so I do have someone come stay with her and help me a couple hours a day. But she is very demanding and doesn't respect our privacy or house rules. I have tried very hard to be patient and not resentful, but it happens anyway. Sometimes I just look at her and wonder who is this old woman living in my house (but then I remember the good Mom I used to know and used to be able to communicate with). I wake up each day and have a good attitude and try and be positive as possible but sometimes it doesn't last and it's just very hard. I do have a lot of support from my husband, so that helps. All we can do is the best we can do and don't beat ourselves up if we aren't the perfect caregive.
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