Hello, I'm just feeling very blue the last few days. I care for my father (82, with severe emphysema). He's having a pneumonia exacerbation today and is back on antibiotics and is sleeping most of the day.
With Easter tomorrow I'm feeling forgotten by people around me and it's making me feel blue. Dad and I had plans to do something together after church services, but he's having a bad day and we may end up having to stay home. As a busy caregiver, I sometimes feel invisible. Everyone depends on me that I'll take care of everything, but no one thinks of me and my needs. I can see people pulling away - invitations stopping, no cards or phone calls just to see how I'm doing or offer encouragement to me.
How do others handle the loneliness and isolation that can come with taking care of someone who is very sick? How can I get people to understand what I'm going through?
Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts.
Take away from here knowing that GOD makes us givers strong and ensures the blessings are endless.
One of my Home bounds (94 years+) is praying the Rosary pretty much all her waking day. She is finishing her life... Not praying for herself... But for praying us.
Hope this give you the comfort you need... knowing what you are doing as a giver is a wonderful thing and is truly the purpose of life.
1. It really is very important for you to find counseling, either with a licensed professional counselor, licensed psychologist, social worker or pastoral counselor. Look for an individual who will partner with you in your deepest days of chronic sorrow and be there for you when life lightens up a bit or stabilizes for a time. This kind of individual is referred to as an "exquisite witness." He/she does not give you advice (you actually know more than he/she does) and does not expect you to perform miracles either in your caregiving or self-care. This is an arm to lean on, an ear to hear your misery and a shoulder to cry on. Use it as often as you can.
2. Make a time during the day (often early evening is best) to call at least one of your children, one friend, one supporting neighbor, etc. to try to maintain contact with the outside world. Talk about anything except caregiving. Try to find something lighthearted to discuss or something interesting.
3. Join a group--any group. A book club is often very good because reading takes you to places and states of mind other than your own. Often friendships are not forthcoming in book groups, but at least you will have the structure of the group and something else to focus on besides your situation.
4. Consider taking one course at a local adult education (high school, community college or university). Many of these are given free to seniors. Concentrate on some topic that interests you and do the work religiously. Be prepared for class and speak up. This is critically important to your self esteem and identity that is being pounded into the group by medical, etc. personnel. Take your course seriously--it can be a lifesaver.
5. Once a month go to the hairdresser and have your hair cut, styled, colored or whatever will make you look better. You will feel greatly improved!
6. If you are overweight, join Weight Watchers. They have a fabulous new Points Plus program that is really doable as well as an on-line tracking system that lets you know immediately if you are on the losing weight track by keeping tabs on what you are eating. If you don't like the meetings, just run in every few weeks and get weighed, then leave. The meetings are pretty much a bore anyway.
6. Set a schedule for fixing up and organizing the items in your home. Polish the silver, organize the paperwork, dump the old junk you don't want, polish the floors with BONA and see if you don't feel like you live in a a better place. If you have either time or energy, rearrange the furniture, accessories or anything else that shows a willingness to face life with creativity and toughness.
My suggestions come from my personal experience. I have been an active caregiver for over 15 years to my chronically ill husband and I have done everything I am suggesting for you. I even graduated in 2009 from a 3 year program in mental health counseling, taking one or two courses at a time including summers. Do I still feel as you do---of course, I do. That the reality part. But I try my best to join something, learn something, talk with someone and make an effort to look good (down 12 lbs on WW). Perhaps this will work for you, too.
Be of stout heart and take control of your situation.
I am also sorry that your MIL has had dental problems. Went through that with Mom in the dead of winter last year. She had partials installed and other dental work as well. It was more taxing getting to the docs offices than the actual work was. She is a "toughie." But her quality of life has improved because the partials work fairly well. I hope the same for your MIL.
And I know what you mean about self-pity. When seniors get older, and their world starts to shrink, they become very much, "it's-all-about-me." I have to remind Mom that, despite all her health challenges, she really is doing pretty well and that there are so many others who would gladly trade places. It works for a while, anyway.
Take care of yourself. What a good daughter and dil you have been. And I know your mom was a person of strong faith....she is in a lovely place right now.....Lilli
My mother-in-law had to have her two front teeth pulled out last on Monday cause of periodontal disease. While I felt really bad for her, I was also dealing with my own mom who was dying of cancer. Mom died Wednesday after a rapid decline of only 3 months of really being sick. So on Friday I took my mother-in-law back to the dentist to get her new bridge with the two new teeth put back in her mouth. On the way out of the dentist office she was complaining about the appliance etc. and feeling really sorry for herself. I had just HAD it at that point with mom only being gone 2 days before, so I asked her 'Gee, I wonder if my mom would've rather had her two front teeth pulled out, or DIE OF CANCER?' She really liked my mom and she admitted she was being a baby and how sorry she was about my mom etc. Point is, I think we all need a reality check once in awhile to put things into perspective. There's always someone worse off then we are, it's all relative. Even though my mom died, there are people who's loved ones suffer for much longer than my mom did, so again it's all relative.
As for me, I went to Easter Mass and the priest had a wonderful sermon the really hit home. He's from the Phillipines and has noticed that we in this country are brought up to be independent and not help others out. His sermon encouraged all of us to reach out to each other and help each other without being asked. He also encouraged anyone with financial problems, etc. to reach out to him and that the church had a fund that could help. I talked with him after church about my isolation and he really helped. I will be calling him this week to meet with him and see what the church can do to help support me and plan some visits with my dad. My neighbor's wonderful sister called and insisted I have Easter dinner with her and her friends. I spend several hours with dad at the hospital then did go to dinner and returned to the hospital to spend the evening with dad, bringing him homemade pie. The nurse took him off the machine so he could enjoy his pie and brought him candy and brought his meds in plastic Easter eggs. My neighbor's sister also sent food home with me so I don't need to worry with cooking and can spend time with dad. It's Administrative Professionals Week and I've gotten some nice cards and gifts from my colleagues today which has given me a boost.
I think I have to learn to trust my own judgement with dad's health. If I feel he's off, even the doctors blow it off, I need to get him to the ER and insist they look at certain things.
This is my first holiday alone with my mom. She moved in with us in February. My husband and son went to his side of the family for Easter so it was just me and mom. My dad died right before Christmas so these holidays are so hard. We couldn't even bring ourselves to dye Easter eggs this year as my dad was the one that always loved it the best. He was so creative and fun.
I made my mom and I a rare treat of broiled scallops wrapped in bacon and a green salad. We also watched "The King's Speech." I had the volume up to 100 (!) and she couldn't hear it very well, and the light reflected off the TV, and your fireplace looks off balance (???) and........So, how was the movie? LOL
I know how very, very it hard it is sometimes to battle the blues. Sometimes you just have to laugh and know this too shall pass.
I think that it just exacerbates the feelings of isolation during holidays. Not only do I feel alone, but now, everyone of my holidays (which I used to love) is ruined. I am glad that others have shared their experiences today because I thought I was the only one feeling miserable on a holiday....again!
The one thing that I was looking forward to when my mom moved near us was having the chance to celebrate special days with a family member. This is NOT the way things have turned out. Mom uses every opportunity for a pity party.
I can feel my health dwindle and I cannot remember the last happy thing that happened to ME.
But I have a new plan...starting May 1st, I am creating a new regimen for myself. I want to get healthy, have a better mental outlook, and make some changes so that I am not shouldering all this by myself.
On this holiday, I am very thankful for everyone here who have become my long distance family and my unflinching, caring, support system. Thank you and bless you for taking time out of your insanely busy lives to share your advice and moral support with us all.
Take care everyone...have the best day you can manage...and please join me on May 1st for a "new-and-improved-me" day!