How do YOU stay sane?

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Hi. I'm new here. My mom has always been eccentric and difficult. She is almost 89 and up until 2 months ago was living in a retirement community in the independent living section. We had a hired caregiver with her 3x a week mainly to help with grocery shopping, laundry etc. Mom has been in Depends for 5 years for urinary incontinence but frequently leaked through. But her main issue was her memory - not who were were but short term things. She also lost all her math skills so I've been handling her finances for 5 years. I now see that we probably missed some signs of other issues due to her usual eccentric ways. But - two months ago she fell - it was attributed to her bad hip. She didn't really injure herself but the weird thing - to me at least - is that she seems to have almost completely lost it mentally. Is that unusual? She still knows who everyone is but has become completely unreasonable and has no judgement skills. After the fall we moved her to assisted living with help the same 3 days. After a month it was clear she wasn't going to make it there. The place she lives let us stay a while so we could find a good nursing facility - as long as we had someone with her from when she gets up until bed time. We have found a nice place and are planning to move her in a week. Of course she is having a fit and is refusing to move. My brother helps out some what but has made the moving process more difficult by trying to accommodate her - "I'll go if you find a place that..." We'd find "that" and she would see the place and refuse. I realized this was a stalling tactic immediately but my brother is having difficulty accepting her dementia diagnosis. That said - he finally got tired of taking her to see places. She can't really walk - very short distances with her walker but mainly uses a wheelchair. Okay - finally getting to my point. She is now having poop accidents and is getting it all over her hands. It's breaking my heart watching what use to be a smart, independent, adventuresome woman become a unreasonable, tantrum throwing child. Like I said - she's always been difficult - think Meryl Streep in August Osage County but without the excuse of drugs. I have a 22 year old son with sevear autism who functions at a two year old level living at home. The stress of it all is almost more than I can deal with. So - how do you all stay sane?

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I REALLY stress out when dealing with my father (NPD, dementia) Sometimes I feel like a panic attack is going to happen.

This is going to sound so incredibly stupid...but here goes and I hope all the wise people on here don't ban me from the forum.

I have a "worry stone" I keep in my pocket any time I see him. I keep it in there and sometimes hold in my hand to remind myself to stay calm and to be in charge of the situation. Then when things get ugly I squeeze that rock in my pocket, go outdoors and take deep cleansing breaths. Here is your slightly insane, nut bird reply of the day! Be strong, you are in charge, not her.
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How do you stay sane..........I'm not sure all of us started out sane but thats a whole other forum.

Sometimes you have to turnoff your GIVE A D*MN. Mine turns off pretty easily these days. I'm not implying you should ignore elders needs and neglect them but at some point you realise that with stubborn old folks major moves are going to be crisis driven.

When my parents care became my sole responsibilty few years ago I was in a freaked out state of mind for about 2 years, obsessing about every little thing, worrying about them constantly, and always second guessing myself. It didn't help that I didn't have a clue how to deal,with all this stuff.

But I'm better now. I try to convince them to do the right stuff but usually they don't. They are still legally competent so I can force major stuff like assited living on them. But soon there will be an even greater crisis than the last and things will change. I think we have to accept this reality to keep from going nuts.
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By respecting myself. I'm no one's beast of burden and doormat. And I'm certainly beyond the caregiving phase of taking ____ from people just because I love them.
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Thanks for your reply - lol, it's my only one so far. But that said I have been mesmerized by this site! I wish I knew of this place of knowledge, experience, comfort and support years ago! Silly me - I had no idea how many people are going through exactly what I am and how many people have much more difficult situations to deal with. I really feel for the caregivers who care for a parent(s) in their own homes. You all are braver than I!!! I've always known that would be beyond my capabilities. Anyhoo - thank you to whom ever established this place - in just the few days I've been here I have received great comfort in knowing I am not alone.
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I have never been entirely sane either. I have a strong tendency to totter very near the edge - this was only diagnosed as a medical issue after my marriage broke up in 2002. Consequently, I had been on anti-depressants and sleep meds for 8 years before I started taking care of Mom.

That didn't entirely help with the stress of caregiving (although I shudder to think what might have happened without it). I have been in therapy with a counselor since 2012 - for me, that is the only thing that has helped me shut off my GIVE A D*MN (thanks Windy!).

You know the reason elderly people like their kids to take care of them (aside from the fact that we're free) is that they have such phenomenal control over us, even as adults. We are so loathe to overrule them, because of the long history of being under their authority. Many of us come into caregiving not even knowing that we can say "no" to a parent. In that sense, we are our own worst enemies. Counseling helped me get past that point and stop letting myself be manipulated by all my mother's machinations. I highly recommend it.
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The resistance of an elder to moving to a safer and more appropriate facility is I think one of the dilemmas many caregivers face. I don't know of any answer; I'm still dealing with it. Sometimes it takes a more serious accident before our elders will be more willing to consider other alternatives.

As to coping, after you've read more of the posts here you'll find that coping is really a challenge. `Some folks plead and plead and become exasperated. Some become more forceful and make the plans, than bring their elder along to the new place despite strong resistance, and perhaps the knowledge that the elder is going to be very angry at his/her son or daughter. Others just can't convince their elder to move to a safer place, and end up spending a lot of time worrying and anxious that something drastic will happen. And often it does.

Others, like me, try to make the home more accommodating and institute safety and backup measures for solo living. Some bring their elders to live with them. Some move in to live with their elders.

I think what we all have to do is find ways to at least mentally escape from the caregiving world and take refuge in something that provides peace and solace. For me it's gardening, dreaming and designing beds I'll probably never create just to rechannel my thoughts into something positive. Music helps a lot as well.

And I try to remember that I'm hopefully providing my parent with levels of comfort, support and caring that ease his life, as he's actually facing more challenges than I am.

Many caregivers I think do take comfort and solace from knowing that they're providing their parent or spouse with support during perhaps the most challenging period in their lives.

Equally challenging is turning caregiving into a venture in which we can learn from our experiences while providing comfort to our loved one.

I wish there were an easy answer but there isn't.

Hopefully others will share their methods of coping to help you on your journey.
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I am finding a worry stone tomorrow. I like your idea, Mince.
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I don't want to offend anyone or get into psychological guesswork, but I think that a strong sense of self respect developed during childhood and adulthood is the foundation for taking stands that support individual action, resistance to being used, and wondering where to draw the line. I don't exclude myself and have been through this, including when working for aggressive attorneys who just pushed and pushed.

What I'm saying is that I think adding a lot of focus on each of us as individuals, as people who have our own rights as well as obligations to stand up for ourselves, with self respect and conviction, helps make that challenge of telling our loved one that some things just aren't going to be done, or if they are, it will be within a time frame that works for us as well as them.

And honestly, it was just as hard to navigate this type of self protection when working for aggressive attorneys as it was/is with family. Our parents don't fire us; employers do, and that can cause some serious trauma as well as emotional instability.
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Been reading some of the comments here, great stuff BYW, and it reminds me of other discussions about how we are not spring chickens any more. My wife and I are early 60s, somewhat active, not Tarazan and Jane or anything, but we took our kayacks down to the lake for a short paddle today. As I was pulling up to the garage later we had this exchange:

ME...Hey Hon. Why don't you hop out and open the garage door.

Wife...How about I painfully and slowly struggle out and attempt to open the door.

Time for a cocktail and some Bengay.........
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Sanity has never been my strong suit. The most I can do is to try to stay back from the edge, which can be quite challenging. Something that helps me is to take one day at a time, knowing that something may be bad today, but it will pass. My mother may fight me with what I'm trying to do, but I know it will fall in line as it's needed. One thing I've learned as caregiver that has been very hard for me is to stick to my ideas of what is best. All my no's get challenged, but I keep saying no. If I make a logical plan, I stick to it the best I can.

You know that your mother needs a higher level of care and that the AL has requested that she move to it. You can tell your mother, "We have no choice. This is what we have to do." You'll know that your decision is good. She may oppose it, but will settle in after she has been there a while. I hope you can find just the right place for her, so she can still enjoy life while receiving good care.
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