I feel like a pressure cooker.

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It's been a while since I've posted anything. My mom is 86 and has dementia. It's bad some days and good some. I think a part of her condition impacts me because I'm a 48 year old female with an incredibly stressful job and am very likely having signs of menopause. So, emotionally and physically, I am beyond worn out by the time I go to bed each night. Let's add financial stress, I pay for a sitter to stay with my mother everyday so that I can focus at work without worrying that she's setting the house on fire or leaving the water running or whatever misadventure. I haven't gone to church in a year because I am so tired after preparing her for church each Sunday, all I want to do is hand her over to my sister in law so she can attend church with her and let me pass out and get 2 hours of sleep peacefully. I am the youngest and have 3 living siblings that have done absolutely nothing to assist me with this. Today was the day the pressure cooker dayum near exploded. I was on vacation the entire week of Thanksgiving. I say vacation. This means I gave the sitter the week off so that I could stay home with my mom for the week. We had a fairly uneventful week culminating with a spa day where she and I got manicures and pedicures and it was glorious. Today, I readied her for church as usual and handed her off to my sister in law. By the way, the sister in law is a widow to one of my brothers that passed away 8 years ago. She does more by just taking my mom to church with her than the surviving siblings I have. As they drove down the driveway, I felt heat rise in my body. Was it menopause or was it rage. Either way, it helped me pick up my phone and text the 3 siblings and tell them I wanted a meeting with the 3 of them next Saturday to discuss our mother's care. I reminded them how much the sitter costs me. My sister actually called me. I cried and told her how exhausted I was and how I had been paying for the sitter out of my own savings which were dwindling. Did they seriously think our mother could afford a sitter??? I know I know, some will say WELL THAT WAS YOUR OWN DECISION. Guess what. Yes it was, because my 3 oldest siblings never came to help with their mother, they just walked away and left me with the guilt of any decision to be made just as they had with our Dad before he died. Not anymore, I'm going to make them decide what happens with our mother. She after trying to make excuses for why she never reached out and ultimately said she would start helping with the cost. Hallelujah!! Well, she is known to lie. But let's just take this as a glimmer of assistance to come. She even said she'd come stay with our mom the 4th Saturday of each month so I could have some private time. Again, she's a notorious promiser. But, let's just pray on this and hope I really finally have someone helping me through this. My youngest brother called next. He listened and said he'd support me with whatever they all agreed to. I also know he has to get permission from his wife to sneeze. So, let's add this to the prayer bin as well. I still haven't heard from my eldest brother. Maybe he'll wait to show up Saturday rather than call to see what's wrong that would cause me to text them today. Odd thing. He lives closest to me and his mother. We share a common drive way in fact. We never see him. I hope they don't let me down.....my blood pressure can't handle another pressure cooker moment like I had today....

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Your story here is far too common. I'm sorry for yet another one.
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Babygirl, your story is achingly familiar. I was pretty much the sole caregiver for my dear, departed Mom as well. I think my brother took over for a week once when I nearly passed out at the hospital due to stress. He had to phone me to ask how to give Mom her medicine and during his so- called helpful week, the paramedics had to break the lock on Mom's door to get to her cause she was probably too scared to call him, him being oh so busy. He could not wait to give me her keys back.

The one time I asked sis to go over to my Mom's cause I was getting really worried about her she assured me she would go over the next day. My Hubs and I were driving past and I said to Hubs, pull in here, I want to see if sis's car is there. It wasn't and I had this niggling worry inside of me so since I had a key to Mom's place, I let myself in. My Mom was sitting on the couch, talking to herself in her underwear cause she had wet herself. She didn't even seem aware I was there. I phoned sis and said she should come over. Her response "well, if you can't handle it yourself". To make a long story short, I called an ambulance and we discovered my Mom had raging sepsis, had had a heart attack and nearly died. If I had trusted my sister to go over like she said she was my Mom would have died that night.

So, the moral of this story is if you feel you can hand the reins over to your siblings, great! But make sure they know what they are doing and can be trusted to not overlook something important. If not, I agree with others who have said maybe it's time to look for a nursing home.
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Dear babygirlga,

I hear you, I know its tough being the default caregiver in the family especially after everything you went through with your father. I know you love her and care a lot but as the others have said its time to look for additional supports in the community or through church.

I see so much of myself in your story. After spending a lifetime being the good daughter, the reliable daughter, I felt dumped ignored by my three siblings. I let the anger, resentment and bitterness consume me. Looking back I really wished I had done something different for my dad. I too was going through an early menopause so I wonder if that also affected my mindset. I let things get too far, even if your siblings do not step up, remember you have choices. Maybe it is time to consider a nursing home or assisted living facility for your mother.

I hope you can find time for yourself and a better balance soon. Thinking of you.
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I may be missing something here, but have you considered that it's time for your mother to be in a facility? Also have you applied for whatever home care services are provided by Medicaid or other public agencies in your state? The sitter should not have to be paid out of your pocket, or your siblings' pockets either.

I'm encouraged that your siblings called you, and I hope they do step up to help, both physically and financially. But I see that as a stopgap measure at best. Providing 24/7 care for a person with dementia is not something that one person can do alone, especially one person who's still working. Hopefully a future placement for your mother will be one of the topics for discussion when you meet with your siblings on Saturday.
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babygirlga,
You are finally seeing your limits because you are pushed up against a wall. Today was the proverbial "last straw". Good that you are making your siblings aware of your financial contribution (I'm amazed that they didn't know) and hopefully making them responsible for your mothers care also. Don't let anyone off the hook on Saturday.

If your mom has no assets (bank account, etc.) have you thought about looking into Medicaid (medical insurance that will pay for dementia custodial care for the indigent), so the gov can pay for her nursing home?
If that isn't a possibility, then the cost of her care should be split 4 ways or tell them you'll walk away and leave it to them to figure it out. She could also be rotated between the siblings to give you a break. Yes, this can cause more confusion in a dementia patient BUT the caregiver needs to have a break or you can suffer serious mental and physical problems. Caregiver burnout, at times, can also lead to caregiver death. Some die BEFORE the one they are taking care of. This is serious business and they must assist you. Be a B*tch if you have to be. The reason they haven't helped you is that you have let them of the hook.
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Try to limit the opportunity to avoid helping by creating a list of all the tasks you handle, those which can be done by the family, and give them, not a chance to decline, but a chance to decide which tasks they'll undertake.

That supercedes letting them decide by themselves, which could result in offers of help that aren't the most needed or critical, or in fact no offers at all as they may not understand the scope of care.

Give them choices and let them choose. That puts them on the spot.
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Well good start! Keep it up Babygirl! If forgetful sister reneges on her offer.. just calmly call her and tell you are so grateful for her offer, and you will be dropping Mom off at a certain time.. thank you so much again. Hopefully the brothers will step up also,, and could next door neighbor bro help with some things around the house?
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