Hello. I am new here and I wanted to find some emotional support. I live with my mum who is 62. I am 23. My mum 2 months ago suffered a stroke. It was pretty severe but she is doing really good now. She was discharged from the hospital almost 2 months ago. The thing is, due to this horrible episode she suffers from anxiety and doesn't like to be left alone for a long time. I remind her to take her pills, do the shopping, take her pressure and glucose because I want her to be happy and healthy. The thing is, I started to feel a little bit emotionally exhausted. I am basically 24/7 with her and I need to see other people. The other day I just went to my sister's house (who just lives 1 block away) and spent the afternoon with her and some friends. I just was having fun and forgot it was 2 am. And my mum started sending me messages saying she was anxious and scared and asking me to go back to the house so I did and I started crying because I felt really guilty for leaving her alone for 8 hours in a row. The thing is, I love her with all my heart but I don't know if it is going to be like this forever. I understand she may be going through a post trauma effect because of stroke and arranged an appointment to a therapist for my mum. But I kind of started to feel like this will be like this forever or for a really long time. I feel like I am never going to be able to spend the night with my friends without my mum feeling scared or anxious of being left alone for a long time. And I feel really bad for feeling like this. I dont know if the therapist will help her. Anyway, thanks in advance for your responses!

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I am sorry that you are having to deal with all this at such a young age. It's really more than someone your age should have to worry about. You should be hanging out with your friends and staying out as late as you want, without having to be worrying about your mom. I know she's scared, but she shouldn't be taking that out on you. Hopefully she will be open to the therapy and it will help.

I'm guessing dad must be out of the picture since you don't mention him, but what about your sister that lives only a block away? Why can't you both take turns caring for mom, until you can get things figured out with her care? She shouldn't be letting all this fall on your shoulders. You should be able to live and enjoy your life, just as much as she does.

And mom certainly shouldn't make you feel guilty when you do get a break and have some fun with friends. You are doing nothing wrong. We all have to have some fun once in a while during caregiving, or we would all go crazy! Wishing you the best.
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A few issues I'd like to address:

1.   Separation anxiety.   That's understandable, not only b/c of the stroke but b/c of the pandemic.   Have you thought about how to create backups?  Do you have a medical list of her conditions, meds, etc. to give to first responders in the event of an emergency?    Is 911 programmed into her phone?  

Does she have a fall alert?   A lock box outside so that first responders can get in if you're not there?  

People she can call friends or relatives to create her own social life?    You might discuss this with her and see if you can identify options that might offer comfort when you're gone.   Listening to music is one.

Is she getting Meals on Wheels?    The deliverers provide a brief respite from being alone, and they can observe her condition and call you if necessary.   My father really enjoyed his MOW deliveries, made friends with the deliverers, and they in turn reported back to the Senior Center on his condition, with alerts if necessary.

2.    Leaving her alone for a long time.    Do you check in every few hours?  I assume she knows where you are and how to reach you?    Are there projects she can work on to keep busy until you return?   Even Solitaire or playing single sets of dominos can divert someone from anxiety.

3.   Another option is something I'm really partial to:   seated exercises.   My father used this device while sitting, either reading or listening to music, and it helped strengthen his legs.

4.     What does your mom enjoy doing?   What were and/or are her hobbies?   I think distraction is one of the best ways to address separation anxiety, although I've been through it with my own mother and know that she was still most comfortable when I was home, or when my sister stayed with her when I had to go grocery shopping.  

At that time though we had no back-up options other than my sister, who was also undergoing chemo and wasn't always able to come over.   It was wintertime, and I didn't want to take Mom out; it was too tricky with stairs, porches, and ice.

That's another option - are there friends or relatives who could stay with her for a few hours?
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You're very young to have to handle all this at your age. I'm so sorry.

However, you're doing the right thing by getting Mum to a therapist. She does have PSTD to an extent because she just got a big dose of mortality, and it's scary. When my mother had breast cancer at 58 years old, she was an emotional wreck for five years, because that was the magic number of years you had to get through in order to be considered cured. (BTW, she's 91 now and never had a recurrence.) When she hit that five-year mark, she became her old self again.

Your mom will no doubt learn from her therapist that "stuff" happens in our lives. As long as she does what she needs to do in terms of staying in good health (no smoking, keep her BP under control, etc.), she shouldn't let her stroke identify her nor take charge of her entire life. Sometimes stuff happens, but we don't get paralyzed from fear of it.

Ask your sister to give you some respite time, and consider getting some therapy for yourself, too. Otherwise, you're doing a remarkable job.
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