How do I deal with this?

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Hi there! I'm new to these forums and am so glad to have found this place and have a community that understands. My elderly mother has been living with me for the last 10 years. Over the past 20 years she's had a heart problem and a whole host of other ailments, but the real problem began around 3 years ago. Her health went down rapidly, she lost her hearing and became more dependent on me. Over the last 10 years I more or less put my life on hold to care for her since she and my dad separated. It was pretty tough, juggling between both their emotions and inevitably being the scapegoat for both. I'm 34 right now, and most of the last decade was spent working outside, at home, and spending all the time possible with mum. I didn't get much time to date since I couldn't concentrate much on a relationship. I met a wonderful man a couple of years ago. We got to know each other and he wanted to marry me despite the situation with mum. So we got married almost 3 months ago. He's been really understanding of mum and treats her better than most of my extended family - he surprises her with little gifts, tries to keep her happy and doesn't take offense when she is moody or throws tantrums. But the whole thing is taking a toll on me. I'm finding it really hard to balance out time with my husband and my mother. She's not confined to a bed and she's relatively independent. But she's lost her hearing and has become quite frail. My husband and I have our own business and work from home so that we can care for her better. But it somehow isn't enough. I find that I'm juggling too many things - I cook, clean and take care of general chores. I also need to work since ours is a joint business. I need to give my husband and my marriage enough time, and at the same time make sure that mum doesn't feel neglected. There's literally no time for myself and it's getting to me. My husband sees that I'm burned out but there's nothing much he's able to do because he doesn't know how to cope either. I've reached a point of emotional numbness and I don't know how to cope.What do I do?

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BubbleGum, you are trying to manage a household of 3 adults, care for an elderly dependent, run a business, and nurture a new marriage. Of course you are burning out!

Which of these things doesn't really require your personal attention?

1) Well, no one else can nurture your marriage! Can't delegate that!
2) Plenty of people could dust your shelves and clean your toilets and mop the kitchen. Housecleaning is always a good candidate for delegation.
3) Do you love to cook? Then hang on to that task. Otherwise, consider more take-out, frozen dinners, and other shortcuts.
4) Mom thinks only you can care for her and give her attention. That simply isn't true. She doesn't want to go to a Day Program once a week. She doesn't want visitors. Didn't she teach you as a child that you can't always have what you want? Seriously, you are contributing a lot to her welfare and it isn't always comfortable for you. She needs to contribute too, even if it makes her uncomfortable.
5) Can she be left alone for hours at a time? Working from home is awesome -- I did it while caregiving -- but you still need to get away, alone and with your husband. Attend to her safety with devices like a medic alert system, and go on out if that is reasonably safe.
6) You have a sister who is willing to have Mom visit periodically? Then off Mom goes. See "you can't always have what you want" above. This assumes Sister isn't abusive or toxic in some way. Just because Mom wants only you doesn't mean that has to be the plan for the rest of her life!

Many of these remedies cost money. Mom should be paying her own way to the extent possible. What is her financial situation?

The main message here is that Mom cannot be allowed to dictate your actions. If the poor dear is suffering from anxiety and/or depression, those are treatable.
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Geriatric psychiatrist.
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Thanks everyone. I've been away for a while and couldn't check my messages here. Mum refuses to budge out anywhere, nor does she gel well with others. I've tried getting her friends over but it's like she wants no one but me. I have an elder sister but mum refuses to stay with her even for a while. I've spoken to my husband about the need to go out once in a while and he said we'll work on it. Trying to get our laptops out and sit at Starbucks and work at least one day in the week if possible - just for a bit of change in environment. I'm trying to get a friend over to visit just for an hour or two while we are away so that someone is there to have an eye on mum. Still zoned out but trying to stay afloat!!!! :-(
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My mom spent the years when I was in my teens and twenties dying of one thing after another, we never expected that she would outlive my father and that she would still be ticking along in her late 90's. I tend to think her health crises tempered her and have allowed her body to continue well past the expiration date, lord knows how! You have had your mom with you for 10 years, but are you prepared to continue for 10 more? or 20? I understand all too well the feeling that you have carried the ball this long and are unwilling to put it down when the end zone is in sight, but part of the problem is that no one really knows where the end zone really is let alone if it is in sight. I think you need to do some serious soul searching and come up with a plan for the future. It could be the status quo or it could involve major changes, but it has to be realistic and viable for the long term. In the mean time, respite stays at a local AL or nursing home can give you a break as well as an introduction to the services they can offer.
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Can you send mom to senior day care one day a week? Ask a volunteer
maybe church member, college student to come in and keep your mother
occupied for a few hours a couple times a week? Check with your county or city
services. They may have volunteers that visit seniors.
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Two things. Has mom been to a geriatric psychiatrist? It sounds like she needs to be evaluated for her "moodiness"...which may be depression and/or anxiety symptoms.

Second, RESPITE. Look ways that you two can get away, even for one weekend day every three weeks. Call your local Area Agency on Aging and see what resources they have. And start checking out Assisted Living facilities.
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