How do I cope with my caregiver responsibilities and deal with my own depression and social anxiety disorder?

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I am the only caregiver for my mother who is 101. Up until September 23, 2015, I also cared for my 75 year old sister, who then died of pancreatic cancer. Hospice was a god-send during her last 3 months of life, and I'm grateful for their care and support. It was very painful to watch my sister die before my eyes, and it was a very trumatic experience for both my mom and I.
Since then, my mom has had a very difficult time coping with the loss of my sister. She hates going to bed at night because she said she feels all alone when everyone else is sleeping. I use an audio monitor to listen for her, and usually have to help her to the bedside commode twice a night or more when she calls me. And because she doesn't sleep, she makes incoherent noises that keep me awake off and on during the night. I am so tired most days that all I want to do is sleep.
Thankfully I do not have to work outside the home, as I am paid by the state through the IHSS (In-Home Supportitive Services) program to care for my mom. She has lived in my home for 6 years, as did my sister. My mom is blind in one eye and can only hear if you speak directly into her ear. Having a conversation with her is tiring, so that doesn't happen very often. She still has full use of her faculties, and I am grateful for that.
This responsibility is taking it's toll on my mental and emotional health to the point that I dread leaving the house to run errands, seeing or talking to friends, and have no energy to perform household chores. I have lost all interest in anything that used to give me pleasure, like reading, sewing, and listening to music. I feel now that my only reason for living is to take care of my mother. I feel selfish for wanting a vacation away with my husband for a few days. No other family members have time to help, or they live too far away, or they are too ill themselves to be able to assist. So now I feel like I am just waiting until my mother passes away so I can be selfish and get my life back.


If anyone has similar feelings or are coping with a similar situation, please share your experience and/or thoughts and ideas. I would greatly appreciate it!

Answers 1 to 5 of 5
Top Answer
I know what you're talking about. After a while we can start getting depressed and slightly agoraphobic. It's like we don't fit in to the world out there. Who can really blame us? Our lives are not something that anyone would write about in romance novels. I feel good that you have a husband there to help you go through this, so you're not so alone.

One thing I do know is that we have to get out of the house even when we feel like hiding. The dread of going out will keep feeding on itself if we don't try to get past it. So even when you don't feel like you want to go out, do it anyway. It may be just to take a walk or talk to a neighbor. It's like therapy. If we don't go out, we'll soon dread it more and may begin fearing it. Getting out and about is a good way to lift the spirits and fight the agoraphobia that is creeping in.

One thing you might enjoy is going to a senior center to talk to people and get some exercise. Or you might enjoy a walk in Nature with a friend. It keeps our lives from becoming all about the person we're caring for. It gives us a chance to connect with others.

You don't have to wait until a loved one passes to do little things to make you feel better. Caring for someone else has to be balanced with taking care of ourselves. We are just as important as the one we're caring for.
Alifay55, after caring for my parents [mid to late 90's], even though they weren't under my own roof nor I under theirs, there was just constant needs due to the fact that my parents wouldn't downsize.

I learned the hard way that a senior citizen should NOT be caring for an older senior citizen. In the past 7 years I felt like I had aged 20... I look in the mirror and don't recognize what I see as the wear and tear on how I look. It's taken a toll on my health. Gosh, I feel like my 94 year old Dad is in better physical health then I am. He may outlive me.

On Friday I had an emotional breakdown, I was so upset with everything from the past 7 years and the fact my sig other was doing as little as possible to help. Not his parents, not his house, not his problem. Oh well, at least he drove me to Urgent Care. I hope your hubby is helping out.

Lack of sleep was big with me. No wonder I got serious health issues, no wonder I fell and broke my shoulder, no wonder I get major panic attacks when I drive. I hate to leave the house, too. I gave up a lot of fun things that I use to do, I just have no desire to pursue these things any more.

My Mom had passed. My Dad is living in a really nice senior living complex, it makes me want to move in :) In fact, downsizing looks better and better every day, but I am too tired to start the process.


Thank you JessieBelle and freqflyer for your responses. It helps to know that others are interested in how one feels. Thank goodness my husband is my greatest supporter and does all he can to keep me grounded and thinking clearly. We are both nearing 65 and are facing retirement. At this stage in our life, it all seems too much at times to try to juggle our life along with my mother's. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts!
I am not really familiar with IHSS but if she has a case manager, is there any possibility the case manager would approve a respite stay for you or pay someone else to come in to help?

I am very social but felt depressed, anxious and trapped which caused me alot of anger and resentment. All I wanted was to be free, get away from the house and socialize with others but the patient refused respite even though doctors, nurses and social workers said it was needed. Since I stopped caregiving, I am off the anxiety and depression pills I was taking and feel alot better.
If you can afford to, have aides come in, instead of getting paid to do the work, at least a few days a week. You will find that very refreshing and it is nice to have the visitor to talk to. Hire a housekeeper for two hours once a week; again it is someone to talk to.

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