Follow
Share

I found this article helpful.


https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caregiver-fix-it-mentality-leads-to-burnout-152629.htm


I realized, and I hope many of you do too, we can't "fix" old. As we seem to feel good about a living situation, a medical regime, a day to day routine, inevitably something else goes wrong. My question is, I still seem to constantly sit in an anxious state waiting for the "next thing." Do any of you have any suggestions for me on how to rid myself of that anxiety? I am an only child. My mother lives in AL in a retirement community 3 minutes away. I'm married and have two children (20 and 15). I have a full time job and am off in the summer.

Find Care & Housing
I am so sorry you are feeling anxious. It is a hard one to live with, but there is a reality that helped me and maybe it will help you.
My first husband was in law enforcement. I used to worry every single day when he went to work. That he'd be injured or killed. Gave myself bleeding ulcers.
Then one night about 11:30 we got a call that one of the agents had been shot and for him to grab his long guns and get to the scene as they were actively searching for the shooters. I stayed up all night waiting to hear who got shot, if the other agents were okay, if my husband was going to be okay, etc. Worried myself into the hospital for 3 days because I kept throwing up blood (sorry this is so graphic). A lovely internist who treated me asked me, how did all your worrying change the outcome of the situation? I said it didn't, it couldn't. He said, then why do you worry? You are wasting energy and making yourself sick, AND YOU DIDN'T CHANGE A SINGLE THING!!!!
From that day on I stop myself from worrying.

I think we are programmed to worry as a sign of caring. But you can care for someone without worrying. So the next time you start to feel anxious, stop, breathe, and ask yourself if becoming anxious or worried can change the situation. Then let it go. It's only hard the first time. After that, it's a piece of cake. Big hugs and comforting energy to you.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to Maple3044
Report
Janine5432 Jun 3, 2021
Thank you so much. You are right. I appreciate the time you took to write to me. I will try. I promise.
(3)
Report
See 3 more replies
First of all God bless your mother 🙏🙏 90 years . That’s great ! As our parents grow older of course we know they are going to have health issues . All we can do is try and influence them to exercise eat healthy maybe try juicing . I would put up with anything to have my mother, father , sisters, brother, daughter back . But their gone. I realize it’s very stressful
I am 24/7 caregiver fir my husband who has Dementia and Parkinson’s also a 9.8 aorta aneurism bad kidneys , he’s in diapers can no longer get out of bed blind in one eye now loosing the site in the other one . He doesn’t know anyone other then me not his kids or grand kids .
so I can write a book on anxiety and depression. There’s been times when I didn’t want to get out of bed myself just lay there next to him and sleep through
the day . But I have no choice I have to get up , bath ,shave, change his diapers, feed cut his hair, do laundry and house work , pay bills , make every decision all by myself ,it’s only me. And it’s so hard on me . But again , I can’t just quit
my husband is at home with me and can no longer even stand or get out of bed .you at least get a chance to breath . Try sitting your self down , take a deep breath , and get a tablet write down things you are grateful for . Don’t leave anything out no matter how
small . Then write what upsets you , why are you anxious , why are you feeling guilty? Why aren’t you happy ? You
realize your mother is being cared for she’s safe , I’m sure a nice place to live where she can socialize with other woman there . she’s close by so you can visit any time your off work.
What if she didn’t have Ins or funds to live in a retirement community . Would she be there with you ? Now that would be real anxiety ! Who would watch
and care for her while you work? You would have no family privacy for your daughters , mom would always be there .
you would have to take on all her personal care Baths, hair , teeth feedings . It’s clear you love your mother and want the best for her . But putting such a guilt trip on your self isn’t fair to you or your family. You could end up hurting your own health . Stress is horrible , it clouds your thinking , causes you to turn away from those you love . Don’t put your own daughters through that . Show your mother you love her by visiting with your daughters , take her cards , give her a new night gown just small gifts or have the girls draw her a picture or hand make anything for her.
believe me when I say you have a lot to be grateful for . I hope you believe in Jesus ! Pray to him for guidance in this matter . God is always ready to listen I would not be able to cope with out Gods help. Give him praise each morning tell him how grateful you are for all he’s done in your life. Begin each morning and end each night in prayer . Through faith in the Lord there’s nothing that can’t be fixed .
I just started using this site myself.
I pray you get the help you need . I don’t think your mother would want you feeling so anxious over her . As a mother , grand mother and great grandmother I would never want any of my children stressing over me . I’ve made decisions in my own life that caused some Heath problems . I’ve had many neck and back surgeries I’m in constant pain but no way should my family feel guilty or stressed over it. I want them happy with their own families . I hope I’ve said something that helps you . God be with you dear . I pray you find the answers you need 🙏🙏🙏
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Heartaches7849
Report
Janine5432 Jun 5, 2021
Thank you for writing to me.
(1)
Report
See 1 more reply
I think the anxiety comes from denying the new state of our mother's health. We think if we did something different or took some action sooner we could have a different outcome. My mother did exceptionally well until she was 87. Then she took a fall and broke her right knee badly. She needed surgery to repair it, but it's a risky surgery with a 40% failure rate on young healthy people, and mom's age worked against her. With possible bad outcomes including amputation, we decided against surgery and mom was left with a knee that doesn't bend completely and not at all for walking. Mom went from walking a mile a day and moving around the house as she liked to being bound to a walker. I started feeling guilty about the fall (I should have seen it coming and pushing mom to use her cane more) and worrying about the next fall, even though I knew her spinal stenosis would eventually mean she would be wheelchair-bound. Mom and I had a rough year; her adjusting to the loss of independence and I adjusting to the fact Mom is really declining.

I came to mostly acceptance and lost the constant anxiety when I was able to accept Mom had entered a new stage of life that I could not change. There would be changes, often as quick as her fall, I could not anticipate nor change what would happen. I focused on providing as much good care and opportunities for enjoyable interludes as I could. Physically Mom loves a whirlpool bath and getting lotion applied so I made that part of her daily routine. Mom also has some dementia so I looked back over my childhood and her life for the things she enjoyed that she might still be able to do. Mom always loved music and sang most of the time when she was working during my childhood so I started singing with her. She remembers every song and hymn we ever sang and she loves our time spent singing. So while conversations about current events or books we have read don't work very well now, we can enjoy the time spent singing. I don't know when that next "changing" event is going to happen so I focus on today. I know that changing event is going to happen because Mom's declining health and eventual death is a certainty I cannot change - worrying about it before it happens will not change it.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to TNtechie
Report
Janine5432 Jun 4, 2021
Thank you for sharing this with me and letting me in on your story with your mom.
(0)
Report
Your mother is living in Assisted Living, so there is a team of caregivers on the scene to keep an eye on her FOR you. That, in and of itself, should help relieve you of the worrying factor b/c if something goes wrong, you'll get a phone call, right? No news is good news, that's how I look at it. My mother is 94 and living in Memory Care AL. I get a call at least 2-3x a week that she's fallen. She's done so 73x since she's lived in AL and MC combined (since 2015) and there was nothing I or anyone could have done to prevent it, either. She's been hospitalized with pneumonia twice, and other issues twice, to the ER countless times, too, but thanks to an alert staff, they warded off WORSE problems by catching things quickly. That's all we can hope for. We can't prevent our mother's from dying, so all we can hope for is the least amount of suffering along the way. They're both set up in the safest possible place to ensure that, too.

I like Maple's suggestion about warding off worrying by reminding yourself it doesn't change the outcome of anything; it just makes US sick. I often think my mother will outlive ME b/c of how anxiety ridden she makes me. I'll be 64 next month. So I work on ridding myself of the anxiety producing comments and drama she creates every day. I fact check her statements with the staff at the MC, and realize that 90% of what she says is either a lie or a huge exaggeration. I highly suggest doing that, btw, if your mother is prone to telling you lots of ugly details about how much pain she's in or that she's 'dying' or the like. I often feel much better after making a fact checking phone call and hear that she's sitting in the activity room doing FINE.

Anyway, there's nothing WE can do about THEIR old age and infirmity anyway, so why make ourselves sick over it? Get out and about, keep your mind on productive activities, and tell yourself you'll cross the crisis bridge if and when you have to. In the meantime, you'll enjoy every moment of the life God gave you, your children, your husband, your job and your friends. In reality, we wind up worrying about things that never even happen!

Best of luck!
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report
Janine5432 Jun 3, 2021
True. Thanks so much for taking the time to Write to me and try to help.
(1)
Report
See 1 more reply
I’m an only child, too. You received some excellent advice from the posts below. I have been told by three professionals (primary doctor, psychiatrist and counselor) the exact same thing...for dealing with my anxiety and my mom... develop distance... and you might have to become creative about it so that your mom doesn’t notice. Here are some tips that have helped me:
1.Send lots of mail. Little cards and notes. Small packages, etc... even though you are a few minutes away.
2.Call right before her meals/activities... she will be occupied after the call is over.
3.Make in and out visits. Again, before an activity. Don’t go alone, bring another person to buffer.
4.Talk about the busyness of your children and their activities.
I struggle with anxiety. It’s a lot to handle. Being the only child of a declining parent is extremely hard. I never want my sons to experience the upset and stress I have been through. Warmly-Sunny
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Sunnydayze
Report
JaniceM Jun 4, 2021
Those are great ideas. My Mother-in-law is very lonely now and mail is a big daily event for her at 93. I will have to send more cards.
(2)
Report
The best advise I have is to BREATHE (a lot) and not borrow trouble.

I was more anxious before mom and dad moved to AL - they were in IL and dad was falling - a lot - at the time we didn't know dad was having strokes in the balance center of his brain - no outward signs of the stroke). Dad was unhappy still being alive and I was afraid he was falling (not necessarily on purpose - but ... I sometimes wondered). When a retired nurse told dad he didn't have alzheimers sent us to have dad evaluated by neurologist to confirm the alzheimers and as a result of MRI found the evidence of his strokes.

The anxiety went down after they moved to AL - however dad continued to fall - but I knew he was safer than he had been.

Anxiety soared through the roof in Jan 2019 when found dad didn't have the "creeping crud" but was suffering CHF, AFIB, leaky valve and another circulatory issue. At 91 he decided not to pursue active treatment and went on hospice. Once things got sorted out and dad was on hospice - anxiety went down again. Yes he continued to fall - at least weekly - and I'd cringe whenever the phone rang early in the morning or late at night. While I knew he would continue to fall - I didn't stress out over it. I didn't stress over his end of life decision or when one afternoon, he went to sleep and never woke again.

While I always wondered what would happen next - I never worried much about it - and I'm a worrier and prone to stressing out by nature. However with my parents I actually wait for the shoe to drop before freaking out - which lasts until I can get my head around what's happening - luckily with dad (I believe his bones were essentially made of rubber - 2 of his early falls in IL resulted in a couple of cracked ribs and a compression fracture of his spine) the rest of the his fall essentially left him bumped and bruised - later falls were slides to ground as he was too weak to stand.

Spend the summer off - visiting your parents, but especially taking care of yourself. Have a spa day - or 2 or 3. Have long leisurely lunches, lose yourself in several good books.

Be good to yourself and good luck.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to cweissp
Report

Dear Jeanine, it sounds like you are waiting for the next shoe to drop. It is a sign of your hyperviligence which produces anxiety. The good news is that your mom lives on a retirement center. Do they have progressive stages of care as your mother would need?

Time now to take a deep breath. You have done your best and all that you can do. Does your anxiety come from a place that you have not done enough or from a place you are fearful of her dying and want to consciously or unconsciously prevent this? Who do you have that you can talk to, your spouse, a friend, a clergy person, her doctor or social worker Tell them your story -you need to be heard. You don’t want advice, just to be listened to.
Each time you feel anxious, remind yourself these are old tapes and you now are focusing on all the good you have done. You no longer have to live up to these false expectations. Blessings

Dr. Edward Smink - Soul of Caregiving
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to CaregiverEdward
Report
Live247 Jun 5, 2021
"...remind yourself these are old tapes..." YES, so true, like a well-worn path we keep walking over and over because the path is there and it's automatic to walk them (or replay the old tapes playing in our head). Thanks for this reminder.
(2)
Report
See 2 more replies
I think most of us caregivers call relate to feeling anxiety. There is so much uncertainty and stress with caregiving that.... anxiety is almost an automatic reaction.

Here are a few things that have helped me manage my anxiety more:

1. PAUSE & BREATHE to calm the brain to be less reactive. I have made early mistakes by being too quick to react because I couldn't sit with the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. I am getting more comfortable with the not knowing. Taking time to pause and remembering "I can handle hard things".

2. TAKE AN HONEST LOOK AT "WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL" so you can take small steps to feel less overwhelmed about it. For me, taking well thought out action helps to calm down my anxiety vs. keeping it rolling around in my head.

3. Simple concept but hard to adopt....RADICAL ACCEPTANCE of what you can not change. My mother has Alzheimer's Disease. It's been a perpetual process of loss and having to accept very tough things. By accepting "what is", I have been able to reduce my suffering. Like I said, easier said than done. I am a work in progress, but it definitely has gotten better with time.

So many great suggestions here on this forum. Good for you coming here to ask for help. Be gentle with yourself.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to SusanSTL
Report
Janine5432 Jun 5, 2021
Thanks for sharing and helping me.
(0)
Report
I apologize if this offends anyone, but the ONLY solution I know to prevent anxiety and worry is leaning on and trusting in God. I meditate on Scripture daily. There are many, as the Bible is brimming with hope, but two that come to mind in this instance are: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Whenever anxious thoughts come to your mind immediately stop them and instead recite one or both of these scriptures and believe them in your heart. Do it each and every time and slowly watch your anxiety flee.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Splendor
Report
Regent Jun 5, 2021
Thank you
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
Like Susanonlyone I feel responsible for my dad's happiness. I feel anxious because I know he never thought he would live this long (95) & and end up living in MC. IO feel so bad for him. He does not participate in activities; can't see or hear well at all, but he is close by & I visit him twice a week. I want him to have a better quality of life but there's not much anyone can do. Some of this is guilt, but I know I haven't done anything wrong. I know RATIONALLY that there's nothing I can do about aging, but EMOTIONALLY I guess I think there is. My anxiety also stems from trying to come up with a plan of action for every contingency: if X happens, then this is what I'll do. If Y happens, this is what I'll do. Consequently, I work myself into a frenzy which is exhausting & helps no one.

My brother & husband are very reassuring and helpful, as are the posts on this forum. Without all of these resources, things would be a LOT worse so thanks!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to nature73
Report
Kathib818 Jun 6, 2021
I feel the same about my dad. I start feeling guilt/sadness/anger every time he doesn’t sound “ok”
he wants to live alone so we settled on him getting a house seven houses away from us. We’re very fortunate he was able to buy the home. He won’t except Caregiver he won’t take Uber and he’s always angry at me. I try to make every day pleasant for him I will take him everywhere he needs to go and every doctors appointment. I make dinner every evening for him and bring him down to our home. My therapist just told me to stop trying to make him happy it won’t work. Easier said than done. I have constant guilt. I should be with him, I should be exercising him, I should be cleaning for him, the list goes on. Just keep feeling sad and guilty. I would hate to have my children feel this way about me. Hopefully I have made the arrangements ahead of time that will ease your burden. And I call it a burden because it’s a burden of guilt and sadness. Good luck to us in the days ahead.
(0)
Report
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter