I feel sometimes that I absorb so much of the distress from elderly parents on a daily basis. I do believe that there is a phenomenon of caring too much, and I wonder how I can find a way to care less or at least not be the sponge that absorbs every negative emotion. My sister has a much tougher exterior and can distance herself better. She'll say to me, "Just ignore him" when my dad calls every 15 minutes until I cave in and pick up the phone. My MIL lives with us and my dad lives across the country; both have dementia and are often in crisis mode over one thing or another. For MIL, she is convinced that someone is stealing her cigarettes from her room... and then the YELLING begins. For my hypochondriac dad, he thinks he's dying all the time. He has been saying that for the last 15 years! This puts me in a state of high alert, especially when everything represents a crisis situation for them. I've told MIL it hurts my ears when she screams on numerous occasions - but she doesn't remember. Their behavior is not rational. On one level, I totally get that their brains are broken and that they are suffering. But on another, I find it hard to develop strategies, or build a protective wall, to prevent their torments from impacting me so strongly. (I have done mindfulness training and breathing exercises; it helps but I still struggle with this.) I feel incredibly sorry for them, but I also feel sorry for myself - there seems to be an additive effect of being exposed to their complaints and misery constantly. I know in the media people talk about the desensitization of violence - I wish that I could become more desensitized to their behavior and the irrational things they say. I'm getting a bit better at this, but would appreciate any inspiration from folks on this forum. I have always thought my supreme empathy was a strong point for me, but it is not serving me well here. Do any of you have suggestions of how to reconcile the demands of caregiving with not being so invested in all the emotion involved?