For ten years I was the caregiver for my mother. This started off gradually, with post-surgical recovery from breast cancer, followed by heart surgery, complications from diabetes, macular degeneration, then a stroke that left her with global aphasia, and eventually dementia. We lived through all of the issues discussed on this forum - the refusal to leave her apartment, the refusal to accept anyone's help but mine, the anger, resent, distrust, the hell on my marriage, the crazy-making failures of the healthcare system, I have six siblings but it fell to me, etc. All of it.
It was a rough ending to what had been a beautiful mother-daughter relationship. While she died in good care, I carry a tremendous amount of sadness and guilt about how it all went down, not to mention anger and resent with my siblings. After ten years, these feelings have mellowed, but they are not gone. If anyone brings up the subject, I'm in tears before too long.
It took me about three years after my mother died to get my life back to "normal". Part of that was finding work in a new place. I started my own business as a Personal Assistant, doing light office work for small businesses and private individuals. One of my first clients was an elderly man. He did not need caregiving, but someone to manage his bank account and mail and some business he was involved in. It went that way for a couple of years. Then he moved to a retirement community, and asked if I would continue working with him. Soon after, he started showing signs memory deficit and then dementia. His son got involved in his care, at my insistence, and I witnessed a train-wreck happen, where the care was managed so poorly. My client had an unnecessarily troubling demise. It was very frustrating, and it triggered a kind of PTSD from my experiences with my mom.
While working at this retirement community with this client, word-of-mouth got me three more clients who lived there, needing similar help - mail, bills, errands. One of the clients I have taken on at this place, whom I've become very close to after four years, is now experiencing memory deficits and signs of dementia. She is a holocaust survivor - tough, stubborn, independent. Her strong will reminds me a great deal of my mother. She also has low vision from macular degeneration, and just like my mom, is stoic and sometimes childish about dealing with this challenge. We are at the point now where she is calling me every day needing my help and attention, and simultaneously starting to resent me. It's my mother all over again. I am falling into the hero syndrome and recoiling from it at the same time. Yesterday, we had a very bad day out, with anger and frustration on both sides. She needs more help than I can give her, which I am trying to arrange for her, but she refuses to accept that she needs it, while calling on me to do more and more. I have several other clients, and I do not have the time, even if I had the willingness. I can feel myself getting drawn in, but the emotional place we are in is not good for either of us. My spouse recognizes where I am at and is concerned. I am trying to engage the administration at her retirement community to step in, but to my client that is tantamount to betrayal. How can I gracefully find my way through this in a way that will not hurt my client and dear friend? I am even asking myself how I let myself get back to this place?