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I am an only child of my last remaining parent. My mother is 94. I am 64 and just retired. I didn't think or expect to become a caregiver. It left me in a depression for which I am getting help. But everyday, when I go to visit my mother and do things for her, it hits me so hard that I will eventually be losing a parent and it's very sad to see her so old and getting age related problems, etc., I find myself worrying 24/7 and unable to enjoy myself and preoccupied with how to handle her issues and how to help her. Any advice will help. Thanks.

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Dear Angustia,

My deepest condolences and sympathies on the passing of your beloved mother. I'm so sorry for your loss. You are an amazing person for caring for both your mother and father. I know they appreciate your love and attention. It is overwhelming and I can't blame for having a break down. I did too. It can get to be too much but like you said I also have no regrets, because I honestly tried to do my best for them. Thinking of you during this difficult time.
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My mother just died, I have 7 sister, but they didn' have time for take care of my mother when she was sick, that was very hard for me because, I take care of my father too, he 92, I almost get brake down. now I have not regrets because I gave my life for my mom. and I would do again.
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Dear Bloomschool,

How are you doing now? Its so hard to think about our parents aging and needing more and more care. I hope you can find the right balance.

For myself, I wish I had asked for help sooner to manage my anxiety and anger about having to be my dad's primary caregiver. Since my dad's passing I have more regret and guilt then when he was alive. I know everything is 20/20 in hindsight.
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Yes, you WILL get through this, it's a window of time (we don't know how long the journey may last) that we choose to give to our parents and you will have comfort having no regrets for the many years after they're gone. Very difficult, yes!!! Worth it, yes!!! Precious invaluable time right now! !!!!!
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Thanks for the all the great advice. I guess there' s is no escaping this part of life. I never imagined I would have to go through this. It never ever, entered, my mind! And that I would be alone with no family to help. Even though I do have a sister who "divorced" us years ago and wouldn't lift a finger to help. I am sure I will get through this, but as we all know, it's d*mn hard! Thanks. :)
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Dearest bloomschool: I feel for you and can relate. When my mom could no longer live alone (after many medical issues as well as mid-stage dementia), she could not live with us because of the stairs. I had to find a place for her (skilled nursing facility) because at this point she was in a wheel chair and was not well. With the wonderful place I found for her, she got a little healthier. I had my own family to care for at the time and was dealing with breast cancer as well. I was fortunate enough to have my family for support, but I was like an only child because my only sister (no brothers) died after her third child was born. She was 24 at the time. When I needed help with mom, my sister's children (grown with families of their own), did not come around much (they said that she wouldn't remember anyway). I dealt with mostly on my own, and saw her decline rapidly. It was very hard to watch, but I was with her after work and weekends almost every day so she wouldn't be alone. Even though it was difficult, I wanted to be with her as much as I could because I knew that it wouldn't be long before I wouldn't have her anymore. My dad died when our oldest son was 2, so I could focus on her without having to worry about another parent as well. I tried to focus on the good times each day and be with her in the past because that was where she was most of the time. She talked about things like it was when she was young. She would ask me why I didn't remember so and so and finally I would just pretend. I could not get her to understand why (I wasn't around then - born many years later), so I just went along with her. It made her happier and less anxious at the time. I was with her when she took her last breath (one of the hardest things I ever had to do), and I sometimes still have a difficult time trying to forget that, but most of the time I focus on my family and the good times of the past. I hope you will be able to remember good times as well, and just remember to keep yourself healthy, take time for yourself because then you will be able to cope better. It is definitely not an easy thing to go through, and doing things for your parent takes a lot out of you, but in the end, you will know you did your best and have no regrets. God bless you and your mom. I hope this little bit of sharing helps you in some small way.
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bloom: You may to see a psychiatrist, who can give you an RX for an anxiety med. I know...been in your shoes and it's very hard.
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BlackHole There are always exceptions about our parents not having to care for someone for years. My mother took care of my sick siblings for over 40 years. My father was a caregiver until he was 90 years old.
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You asked how not to worry. I always quote something Michael Fox said once when asked about his Parkinson's disease. "If you always focus on the worst case scenario, and it happens, you have lived it twice"

I used to imagine that when my Mom died that I would just fall apart, simply give up and eventually commit suicide. I'm not exaggerating. Well its been a year and a half since she died and I am still here. I miss her terribly. Some days the pain of her loss is so strong that it physically hurts, but I am still here. You'd be amazed at how strong you are. When my Mom started to disappear before my eyes I found reserves of strength I didn't know I had. You will be fine.
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It was hard for me not to worry and grieve while I took care of my father. It is sad to see your parent becoming frail and sick and you can't stop it.
Going to church helped me.
Try to watch something funny on t.v. I asked my daughter if we should be laughing. She said laugh or cry. I would rather laugh; you can cry later.
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So true zythrr. Bloomschool, ur worry is understandable, however try to take that energy into enjoying and cherishing every moment. One day these will be memories to carry you through the grief, try not to waste the precious times you still have. I wish you and your mom the very best. Keep writing on here as well, it helps
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Thank you Blackhole. I too am an only child, but recently made the decision to place my mom in LTC. My dad passed away earlier this year and I promised him that I would take care of her. I love her and feeling VERY guilty that I have done this. I too am experiencing anticipatory grieving, for when she is gone and because I have no children and realize what is in store for me. Your insight into their culture has helped.
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You can take some comfort that the age difference between your mom is not that big,and that you have been able to have her with you so long. Many, children aren't that fortunate.
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Saying this because I lived it: Your mother's "independence" is contingent on you co-living her life. Therefore she is not independent. Despite what she tells herself; despite what she tells others; despite that her housing is named Independent Living.

Not sure how social mom is, but she can probably pull herself together for limited chit-chat with people who.....are not you. Puts on hrr best face and recites some version of "I do just fine. Dear Daughter checks in in me." Mom's audience validates this myth. And on it goes.

This is an unfair amount of pressure on you. And mom's generation expects full servitude from an adult child. Part cultural, and part delusion.

Delusion #1 -- "That's what we did for our elders." Yes...."we" being an army of homemakers. Not working women.

Delusion #2 -- Back in mom's time, most elders did not drag through a multi-decade decline like today's elderly. Back in mom's day, any ONE of these was the express-route to "the end:" high BP, high cholesterol, stroke, a heart condition or cancer. the express-route to "the end." Now any and all are managed conditions. A long way of saying that Mom might have taken care of someone for 6 months....not 6 years or 16 years.

Delusion #3 -- Dementia or not, many of today's elderly have (figuatively) develped severe myopia. They cannot or will not acknowledge that whatever you are doing for them......is not getting done at your house. I'd spend hours paying mom's bills, then barely have 10 minutes to slap-dash through my own finances. After spending a Saturday raking mom's leaves, I'd groan at the thought of spending Sunday raking my own. Ditto manging mom's kitchen, gift-shopping, Christmas cards, the beat goes on.

It's great that you are seeking support for depression. Keep it up. The constant worry is a separate -- but concomitant -- issue. And it has the potential to eat you alive. Make sure you full picture with your therapist; not just "dad died and mom's all alone."

Instead of visiting mom every day, could you give her a good chunk (say...7a to 1p) two days a week? Or something like that? Tell mom to keep a running list. Then call her and the night before, to review what she needs during your scheduled visit. (Emphasis on "scheduled!")

And is there any way you can warm up mom to the idea of Assisted Living? Talk up the idea of meals/laundry/light housekeeping taken care of. Stress that you would not abandon her -- but you would visit regularly to chat and catch up..... take her to her fave restaurant or ice cream joint.... leisure shopping (not groceries!)..... take mom on day trips to see the lilacs in the spring, the lake in the summer, the colorful leaves in autumn.... yada yada.

Heck, tell mom you're previewing AL or Continuing Care Campuses for YOURSELF for YOUR next decade. And insist that mom accompany you on the visits, because you want her opinion your options. Maybe something will spark with mom, and she'll see the benefit for herself. If nothing, mom will see that these residences are not the warehouse/asylum-style old folks' homes of yesteryear. Far from it.

Keep combing this forum for ideas and support. Listen to your dread and despair, because it's trying to tell you something. The "mom care" can't be all you. It just can't. Research options for county/community/church-based home services (and transportation) for the elderly.

Set your limits now, so you don't turn into the frog in the pot of water that slowly but steadily gets hotter. If bathing or toileting or foot care or feeding mom is not for you, that's OK. Own it. Own it NOW.

Being a logistical caregiver -- marshalling resources for mom -- is still caregiving. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. And ohhhh, people will. Same goes for the crushing pressure to bring mom to your house or move n with her. If that's not for you, that's fine. (Again, search this forum for accounts of the highs and lows of that game-changing life decision.)

You worked your whole life for this retirement. It is your investment and your reward. Don't destroy your pysche (and your health) by turning it all over to your mother. Make a clear-eyed evaluation of mom's "wants" vs mom's needs. Analyze the needs first. And again, no shame in outsourcing this or that. "Wants" fall into a different tier of decision-making. And the "wants" (hopefully) are an opportunity to choose some things you can do for mom that are mutually enjoyable -- and not merely transactional.

Best to you, Bloom. These are rough years. And draining. And sad, at times. Keep making the effort to not get lost in all this. Your well-being matters, too. So you need to live like your well-being matters. All day, every day. :-)
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Bloomschool when My Mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's I knew this would be Our last journey together, thus I was delighted to care for Mam in Our own home, since I felt a trouble shared is a trouble halved. While My Heart was breaking inside, and while on My own in the first weeks I cried at the thought of loosing My Mother, yet I always wore My happy fase when attending to Mam's kneed's, and I sang old Irish songs, and I recited poetry that Mam learned while at school in the 1930's and 40's. Then one day Mother recalled that all Her Friends are gone, naming a few, and I'm the next to go She said. And this is what Mam said to Me.......Yes We must go to make way for the Young, because the Yought must have Their fling.........We've had Our time, and now that time is Theirs to Live, and to Love and toil as We have done..........THESE FEW LINES EXPLAIN THE SICLE OF LIFE, and We must accept this is how it must be. After all it is only enivitible that Our Parents will be gone before Us. Mam passed away last June and I am now alone, but Life goes on. It has to. Cherish the time You have, with Your dear Mother and stop worrying and grieving, since You will have plenty time for grieving after Your Mom is gone. Be strong bloomschool, and I wish You and Your dear Mother well.
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Thanks, for the answers. I am talking with a therapist. It just seems that layers of sadness are being revealed in therapy. Down the road I know I'll feel better. The hard part is convincing my mom she needs help. But she can't see it.
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You say you are getting help with your depression. But are you getting help with your anxiety? I agree with Cmagnum, a good therapist can be an excellent guide through these uncharted waters.
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This sounds like anticipatory grief to me which is normal. I think a therapist would be a good person to talk through these emotions and difficulty functioning as you described. This does not mean that you are weak. It just means that you sound stuck and could use some help to get unstuck.
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Bloom, have you found meaningful ways to fill your days now that you have retired? Having a lot of time on your hands can equal extra time to worry, make sure you spend time doing things you enjoy and being around other people!
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It is SO hard to see our parent's age and decline.You are a wonderful daughter to go and help her everyday and you are SO lucky to still have each other.Just try your best to stay in today and in that moment,take it one day at a time.Try to be strong for her.I know it's hard because I just lost mine.My prayers are with you.Take good care of yourself,Lu
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You don't.
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I guess there's no easy way out. I know it does no good for me to worry and lose sleep. Doesn't help me or my parent. But how do you stop worrying?
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I am also an only child so I can't pass the baton onto someone else to help out. Oh how I wished I would have found this website years ago, and learned how to set boundaries for my aging parents who were also in their 90's.

Thus we have to change our own lifestyle in order for our parent to continue with their own lifestyle. What is wrong with this picture?

By setting boundaries, if one's parent is still of clear mind, maybe it would be a wake-up call that they need someone to come in to help. Or maybe not. Once I started backing off, my parents still wouldn't hire caregivers or cleaning crews. At my age I couldn't maintain my own home and theirs, too.

Oh I lost of lot of sleep during those seven long years, and my health circled down the drain. Yet my parents were doing fine health wise and had no problems with sleeping.

Sadly it took a major medical crises for my Mom to leave her home and live in long-term-care. My Dad continued at the house but he wanted caregivers to help him. Eventually he moved to senior living and he wishes he would have moved long ago, he really enjoyed the place.
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