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My mother recently turned 92. A trip to the ER a couple months ago landed her in the hospital, and then into skilled nursing. When she is released, she will go to an assisted living facility. The problem is, I am the only person who is responsible for her care. My sister lives in another state, too far to do anything but the occasional visit. My brother is in England. He contributes by making phone calls, arranging for her admissions, and taking care of insurance. That is helpful, but it still doesn't equate to the day after day wear and tear of caring for my mother. She has never been a pleasant person, even before she became older. She has driven away all friends and family members. It has been such a relief to me to have her in skilled nursing where I don't have to worry about her safety, hygiene, dressing, medications, or the dozens of other things that are required. In order for her to have a room reserved for her in AL, it is necessary to have all of her things moved from her apartment within 10 days. Of course, this again falls on me. To say I am burned out is an understatement. I need to take some time for mental health breaks, but when I don't go to see her for a few days, I end up feeling guilty. When I go back to see her after being gone, she'll tell me that everybody was asking where I was. This is her not so subtle way of letting me know that SHE wondered where I was and why I wasn't there. How can I take much needed breaks for myself and not let the guilt consume me? I admire all of you who post on this website. Until someone has "walked in our shoes" they have no idea how grueling and exhausting being a caregiver is.

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By the way, I forgot to mention that hoarding can actually happen as a way to fill in the gaps for what's missing from your life. If for example you happen to be lonely like you mention this lady is, it sounds like she may be filling in the gaps for the meaningful relationships that she's lacking. When you're lacking certain types of meaningful relationships, you're missing out on what really matters, and that's what was meaningful relationships and the beauty that comes with them. I can say this from experience because I was once a hoarder myself. I was very lonely when I first got out on my own many years ago, and because I had no relationships I somehow became a hoarder. There is a difference between hoarding and just having a lot of stuff laying around. When you going to have stockpiled in actual piles clear up to the ceiling, that's hoarding. If you watch YouTube videos on cases of hoarding, you can definitely learn more about it and why it happens. What you will realize at some point is that each case is different. Because we're all broken and live in a broken world, we will all be affected by different situations in some way or another. Hoarding as unhealthy as it may be, is just another way for the person to deal with something bad that has happened in their past. It may be that the person just doesn't know how to talk about it, or it may also be that they don't realize anything is even wrong. You can have something unresolved for so long that you don't even know anything's even wrong, because it's been wrong and unresolved for so long that it just becomes the norm for that person. It's not until they move on that they forget that anything is even wrong because it's been unresolved. What you may want to do is to find out what exactly this person will share with you. Just listen to them talk and try to absorb what they are saying. At some point or another, something will click and you'll be able to put the pieces together. Only then will you reach a solution to help them resolve unresolved problems if you do it in a proper manner. If the problem involves the very people she Porsche the way, you may want to go and get to the bottom of everything by first getting everyone else's story. Listen to what everyone has to say and do it in a nonjudgmental manner. You may actually have to write everything everyone said so that you can review it in your private time and put the pieces together. When you resolve the unresolved issues of the past, try to see how you can bring some good into the equation to resolve the problem even further. When the root problem has been dealt with and resolved, you may actually be surprised to find that the person may stop hoarding. In my particular case I was just lonely but so lonely that loneliness almost killed me more than once. I'm not sure there are any words to describe it, but when you get so lonely for long enough, you eventually come to the point of even sleeping excessively. When that happens, I don't know how to tell you that there are times when your soul will actually slip out of your body because you're actually seeking someone in the spiritual realm if you can't get what you need in the physical world. This is actually the moment of death that God can choose to stop if it's not that person's time to go. This has happened to me more than once, all because I was too lonely for too long. This is Avon why they say why do you have a pet bird to put a mirror in the cage if you don't have a mate for that bird. Yes, even birds can die of loneliness, I had that happen many years ago when I had a pet finch die shortly after I got him. In fact, I didn't even have him two weeks before he died. Loneliness does very strange things to people as well as animals.
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When I dealt with my elderly friend, there came a time when I had to distance myself as well. The best thing I found is to just come to the point of determination and just go do whatever it is I need to do. I didn't really feel much guilt because I was taking care of an actual need. If you need to walk away to take time for yourself, just get up and do it, no questions asked. Taking that first step will be hard, but trust me, it gets much easier each time you do it. Also take into account the other posters on this page because there are many other great ideas such as making your visits further apart like I had to with my elderly friend. From experience I can say that sometimes you must come to this decision right after being hurt by that person. The key is to make your decision right during the period of going through that her hurt and stick to it when you no longer hurt. I found that the best decisions are often made during the deepest hurt. During those times of pain is when you're going through some very deep, serious soul-searching. During those times is when your best decisions are made because during those times you'll discover the truth from within. You may have reached a point in your life where you realize that your time with someone is done, but you're just waiting for the right people to step in and take over your duties. I dealt with a couple different situations where I discovered that I can only do so much due to the situations at hand. I knew that something needed done but getting the right help was hard at first. When the right people came along and took over, I was actually free to move on, as hard as it was. Sometimes you come to a point where you just have to distance yourself from a person and their situation because you just can't do everything or be everything to everyone. This is why I agree with anyone who would suggest putting some distance between your visits. I remember having to do this and it was the best thing I could've done for the situation. Sometimes doing the best thing is actually the hardest, and the hardest things actually pay off at some point.
If the person you're caring for happens to be bored and need something to do, you may want to consider getting the person a tablet or an iPad to keep them occupied. The only downfall is that it's a touchscreen, and touchscreens are so sensitive that you can accidentally touch something that you don't mean to touch. Overall, having an interactive electronic can keep a person busy with games and with YouTube having a wide variety of videos. You can actually give the person something to do around the time your planning to take time out for yourself. That way the person will be occupied when you slip out to take time for yourself.
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I can relate. I have a 95 year old mother in an AL. I have one older sister 10 hours away so my mother's care is my concern. I used to visit her almost every day because I wanted to make her happy. I am the one who had to remove her from her home 2 years ago and she misses it every day. She will never be happy and I feel guilty for that. Every time I back off a little she either gets sick or hurts herself and has to go to rehab and then needs my attention a lot again. It is a vicious cycle. Your goal should be to back off and take some time for yourself...as I try to do. I am recently retired and I have a wonderful husband and kids who try to help but the guilt I feel doesn't go away especially now that AL is using up all of her savings. If she were totally in her right mind she would be so upset to know that her money is almost gone. I feel guilty for that too. Guilt is a horrible thing and I try to fight it because deep in my heart I know we are doing the right thing for our mothers' care but I understand your guilt feelings. She forgets most things now except she hangs on to her beloved house and doesn't appreciate what she has NOW. She will die a very unhappy lady.
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Hoarding can go with Dementia, but it can be a symptom of unresolved trauma and grief as well. The stuff that is hoarded becomes the emotional support that won't abandon the person. When we have to clean up hoarding at work we hire a professional organizer and a restoration crew who specializes in hoarding to help with the clean up. The professional organizer helps to care for items of value and the restoration crew hauls the items of no value to the dumpster that they remove when it is completed. Taking this route it usually takes a day or two to get it cleaned up. It can cost $5,000-$10,000 to do it this way but if the person has the money it works very well.
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Becky, (my name is also Becky), I wanted you to know that you and I are on the same journey. My dad 85 is in an assisted living facility nearby. My sister is out of state and does a little, but the vast majority of his care falls on me. He is also quite unpleasant and quick with the guilt trips. He is rude to the staff and other residents. Keeps me constantly on my toes. I too, am looking for guilt-free escapes. It helps me (and I hope you, too) to know that others are walking this path alongside me. Please let me know if ever you need to bend an ear. I'm here for you.
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Thank you all for you kind and helpful answers. I should clarify a few points. Due to family dynamics, my sister and brother have limited contact with my mother. As I said, she has been difficult all of my life and my siblings have some history with my mother that keeps them away. I live in the same town as my mother, so I'm the one. I am divorced and retired 2 years ago after teaching special education for 31 1/2 years. I have two grown, married daughters, and two amazing grandchildren. My mother hasn't lived with me. She moved from her home to an independent living apartment about 10 years ago. The facility where she lives has different levels of care so that she can remain on the same campus. My youngest daughter currently lives in my mother's house. It was empty and falling into disrepair. My siblings have told me that the house is mine when the time comes. I think this relieves their guilt somewhat. They both know how stressed and exhausted I am, and are sympathetic, to a point.

I have hired movers. One group will take the things that aren't going to AL back to her house. Another group will take her furniture, etc. to AL. I've spent 2 days, so far, clearing her apartment. She has hoarding tendencies, I think, as I was able to throw much of it away. Does the hoarding go with the aging, dementia process? I always thought it's because she grew up during the Depression and learned not to waste a thing. Anyway, I'm rambling. Thank you again for your sincere replies. It feels good just to hear that I'm not alone in what I'm feeling and that there are others who understand. I have thought in the past about seeing a therapist/counselor. I will look into that. God bless you all.
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I finally had to make arrangements to get away from my mother (94 years old) and going to a local YMCA to exercise. I still have to leave notes explaining why I am not in the house when she goes looking for me (I am 67). Two pf my siblings live 3 hours away and might come check on mom three times a year. One sibling lives 10 hours away and never comes to visit. My brother (oldest sibling) calls mom every morning to chat but never offers to take her to his home, my other siblings call mom two or three times a week. None offer to take mom home for a while to relieve my family of here care. I have been okay with the arrangements until the older sibling retired and now calls or emails about their trips and places they are visiting. While we had some of those opportunities years ago, we no longer feel asking our children to come and care for mom. Mom only leaves the house to go to a hair appointment once a week, otherwise she reads and watches TV. So I try to slip away after leaving her a note that I was out of the house and get some time alone and "away".
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Becky it sounds like the main issue now is getting Mom's things moved. It is an overwhelming task. Is she currently in your home? Her own home? It sounds as if she may attend church. Do you? If you are not able to hire a moving company that specializes in elderly moves then ask the church if there is someone that would help you. Or some other service organization in your area? Seems a sibling would be able to come for a few days to help with the move.

And space out visits more. Let the facility do their job of caring for your mom. She WILL be fine in spite of her efforts to make you feel guilty. You are the only one that can control how you feel. You are letting Mom make you feel the way you are feeling. Get out and do something fun for you today and every day. Get involved in activities that you enjoy doing.
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Now that your Mom's hour by hour care in being managed by professionals it is time for self-care. Hire movers to support you in the move. In my area there are companies who specialize in helping seniors to move. I am a counselor/ psychotherapist who also works as an advocate to seniors and disabled. You need to get an appointment with a counselor, licensed clinical social worker or psychologist. They will help you carry the load and sort through the feelings of overwhelm and fatigue that will open up your emotional capacity to move on. They will also give you ideas about how to do self care and hold you accountable to your self care. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel for you with the move to the assisted living. Once she is moved and settled in this will free up some of the day to day demands of her care. Caregiving is very very very hard word. You need to be acknowledged for your hard work and love. In my experience thing should improve once she is moved. If you find after trying all these thing that it is still not working find an Aging Life Care Professional and an Elder Care attorney in your area. They will be able to assist you with a plan to take more of this off of your plate. Prayers for you and your mom. Self Care is vital.
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I completely feel for you, as I am in the somewhat of the same situation with my 94 year old Mom. In my case, my sister lives an hour away and decided to bail on my Mom completely when she was diagnosed with ALZ, as did the the rest of the family. So... I'm it, and my husband & 8 year old daughter have been suffering right along with me. In September, after a horrible time with my Mom in AL, not meeting her needs, etc. I took it upon myself to find someone that could help me handle all of this on my own. I found a Social Worker through my Mom's Neurologist and started meeting with her on a bi-weekly basis. She helped me to see that I had to put my Mom's caregiving on paid professional's, as it was wearing me down mentally and physically, as well as my family, to try and continue to handle it all. I took on the task of moving my Mom to a Memory Care facility this past September. She wasn't happy about it, but, it's been the best thing for her care, as well as mine. I do things for my Mom from a distance now, I depend on the facility to oversee her care and keep me abreast of any changes or needs she has. It's allowed my family to become somewhat "normal" again. I hope this helps. My advice to you is find some support for yourself first, get your Mom the help she needs, and take a breaks frequently. You are one person, and are doing your best to help your Mom, and that's all anyone can do! God Bless you.
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Yes it can be grueling and breaks are as important to your wellbeing as anything. No one does any job 24/7 and the worry of being a caregiver can be just that. Use a senior moving company to pack and move her. Is there some reason at least one sibling can't come up for a few days to help support you while she moves in. And then let you have a few days to yourself to even get away. I have found that by taking short getaways ....it can help because I'm not in the same city. But beyond that you need to decide that she has the care necessary and you will be a better daughter and happier person mentally if you limit your visits. You've done nothing wrong and there is no room for guilt. Remember, you have a right to a life. Set your boundaries. The more you do it the easier it becomes. You are a good daughter...do not let her take that from you with manipulation.
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My mom is still in good health, but needing more help at home. My sister and brother are both only an hour away, but are overscheduled in their lives. They do show up..but it is on my husband (once a week for him) and me (another two times a week and the daily phone calls) to do the most of the work. We moved back to this area to be able to do so, and I am happy for it ...but find it exhausting.

My method is to go over a weekly schedule with her. I find out what days she has things that might keep her busy (at the home, any holiday festivals or events etc) and we go over what days I will be with her. We were with her yesterday, I will talk to her today for if she wants me Monday or Tues. She is busy Wednesday and perhaps Friday we will both go down and Saturday my sister is having her. Sunday is church, and then, another week is done. So #1...set a schedule.It helps her relax to know when I will be there. Supplement with phone calls.
#2. guilt- we can't take as good and patient care of someone else when we are exhausted. We have to recharge our batteries.
#3...tell your sister and brother how you are feeling, and let them call on days you won't be visiting....it will let them help more in their own way, and perhaps appreciate that you are getting burnt out.....and go get a manicure or have a nice lunch somewhere...spoil yourself. you deserve it. And lastly, if she never appreciates your help, hopefully all of this hard work will clear your heart of any more guilt for the time that is coming. You know you have been a wonderful daughter to a difficult woman. Bless you!
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There are some things that you are going to have to handle, like arranging the moving of furniture. But many people go into assisted living who have no children or whose children are a great distance away. They survive just fine. Your mother will, too, even if you visit less often and give up chores that can be done in/by the care center.

Feeling guilty about taking care of yourself? Do it anyway ... and push that guilt far, far into the back recesses of your mind! :)
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Thank you both for your replies. Just reading your kind words and knowing you can relate make me feel better. I didn't say before that my dad died 10 years ago, and since then, my mom has just kind of been moping around, waiting to die. I keep telling her that God isn't done with her yet, that he has something else he wants her to do or experience. Yesterday was a good day with my mom--I wish there was some way to know or predict their mood swings. I am going to put more time between my visits. I have noticed that she is much more agreeable if I haven't been there for a few days. She spent most of yesterday telling me how much she hates it where she is now. I kept telling her that if she worked harder in therapy, got stronger, that she could move sooner. Of course she doesn't equate the two.
Thank you again for your understanding and encouragement. :)
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Becky, sometimes it's hard for us to remember that we can only take care of our parents when we take care of ourselves. That means ensuring that you're able to continue to visit her and handle what aspects of her affairs are necessary. You cant do that if you're sick yourself.

Your mother is I think attempting to make you feel guilty, and it's working. The expectation that the adult generation of children is going to take care of their parents seems to be widespread among that older generation, and many take it for granted that their adult children will fall into that role and accept it. Not so.

The important thing to remember is that you did what you felt best for her; from your description of the situation, it wasn't feasible for you to care for her at home. She'll be mad and she'll take it out on you, probably not even realizing how miserable she's making you. She's angry and wants to vent at you.

Ask yourself this: if you did bring her home and care for her there, how long do you think it would be before you developed such severe health problems that you ended up hospitalized, or with depression worse that you probably have now? How serious would your illnesses be and could you recover from them? If you could not and the illnesses were such as to be for the rest of your life, or to damage the quality of your life, how would you be able to continue even visiting your mother? You wouldn't.

So if you remain at the mercy of the guilt feelings, at some point it will build so much that you're not able to function effectively, either for yourself or your mother.

I think the first step is putting a little distance between your visits. Let your mother learn to appreciate you and look forward to your visits, even though that may take some time and actually may never happen.
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I feel so much for you. I never figured out what to do other than just be there both my mother and father. Now that it's almost over, I would like to help those of us that have given so much. But it has to be said, few will know of what you are doing, but you still are an unsung hero to me.
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