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My mother (91) is bipolar........and very hard of hearing. The hearing problem was something she has always obsessed about. An ever-present part of our family for as long as I can remember. She has always been able to "selectively hear" things and has also spent a lifetime "tuning out" and refusing to pay attention as she went off into her manic or depressive states. I know her like a book. Please don't suggest hearing aids - they are of no help to her nerve deafness and she becomes an emotional banshee if anyone even mentions hearing aids. She lives with me and I am struggling to communicate as she can manipulate sooooooo well. She has a sweet persona to the outside world but to me - she is very difficult. Question is....................I have to yell in order to "snap her out" of her craziness. Yes she's medicated and seen regularly by psych people.....not much else they can do. BUT I get so exasperated - and the yelling.................makes me feel like a terrible person. I can "feel my blood pressure pumping hard and fast" and worry that I could have a stroke from all this. Does anyone else worry about their own health while caregiving?

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One of the hardest things for me in caregiving is having to repeat almost everything I say. The TV is always on loud, so I have to yell over the TV. It makes me sound like I'm mad and actually feeds back on me that way. It does take a toll on us.

My mother is also mentally ill. Occasionally I've found myself yelling at her to get her to stop something. That only happens when I've been pushed to the brink. A good example of this is a couple of days ago when she was going to tear up the lining to the flower bed because it wasn't letting her imaginary water flow out of the yard. Actually it was her imaginary water that made me install it to start with, and it was a lot of hard work to put in. Anyway... she said it was her yard and she would do what she wanted. I got very angry and said it was her house, too, and if she did it, it would be my last day in her house. There was only so much disrespect I could tolerate.

People may think we are awful that we should get angry at someone who is not mentally well. The amazing thing is that we don't get angry more often. We're only human. When people lose empathy and keep hitting us with a verbal baseball bat each day, it is only human to have to react when the blows are too hard on us. We have to forgive ourselves and realize that it isn't us. It is the situation we are in.
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When my brother-in-law called me a angel for taking care of his parents on a family vacation it pissed me off. I am not an angel and have no aspirations of being angelic. I have no desire to caregive myself to death and become a martyr. There's a limit to my patience and to how much I am willing to adapt my life for my inlaws. When I gave an inch, my inlaws thought that meant they could get a mile. Eventually, I burned out, got sick, and was angry with myself for allowing myself to be treated with disrespect. My days of being an angelic doormat are over.
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Stanford's school of medicine has studies underway about caregiving and its effects on family caregivers. Some of the alarming statistics coming out include:

1. Alzheimer's caregivers have a 63 percent higher rate of death than non-caregivers.

2. 40 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers die from stress-related disorders before their patient dies.

Caregiving for an Alzheimer's patient can last 15 years. I understand that your mother is bipolar instead of demented but does it really matter if the caregiving stress on you is just as bad?

You can't change your mother but you can change how to react to her and how you behave around her. I think you need to get yourself some caregiving and coping skills so that you can better manage the physical and mental strain that caring for your mother is putting on you.

One thing that comes to mind so you can stop shouting is get a small chalk board and write your messages to your mother. They sell them at craft stores or online.

I urge you, however, to not neglect your health. Go to your annual checkups. Go to the dentist for a cleaning. Get your annual pap smear. This is your life. Take care of yourself.
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Thanks so very much to you girls for responding to my question. It helps soooo much to realize that somebody heard me! lol Being heard - helps more than anything else!!!
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I don't know, Pam. We never asked the bull. Could be he's thinking he wished he didn't have to bellow and snort so much to get his point across to those cows and steers. If they would only listen!
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LOL, it ticks me off that caregivers are thought of as either saints or leeches by the non caregiving public. Nope, I do this because it makes sense to me, for now at least. And I'm definitely not a saint ;)
Ah, the yelling. You start just raising your voice to be heard, but it can soon become angry shouting when you don't get any response... are they just ignoring you? Why can't they at least acknowledge that you are speaking to them, even if they don't quite understand? Your statement " I can "feel my blood pressure pumping hard and fast" and worry that I could have a stroke from all this" reminds me of when I was much younger and caring for my sister's kids, it felt like the frustration was going to blow the top of my head off. Back then I had to make it a conscious decision to back off and walk away.
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There are lots of reasons that hearing aids don't or won't work out, but it actually is a myth about them not helping sensorineural deafness. Before they had digital aids that could selectively amplify the right frequencies and tune in to speech sounds primarily, this may have been true. But I have SNHL and can still work and communicate auditorially because of my hearing aids...plus a little unconscious lip reading on days I might forget them...:-)
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Marialake, oh yes shouting and stress could very well shorten your life. Even though my parents were living under their own roof [even in their 90's] and me under my own roof, there was enough stress to go around.

After seven years of helping out my parents, who refused caregivers or cleaning crews, eventually I had crashed and burned. I should have asked for help from my primary doctor to get me through this years ago. I hate taking prescription meds but now I am on a a mini dose anti-depressant and a tranquilizer... good grief, why didn't I do this years ago !!!

My Mom was also hard of hearing and her eye sight was failing, it was so embarrassing for me to yell at her whenever we were out shopping, but that was the only way she could catch a word or two.... [sigh] I realized it wasn't her fault, but people were looking at me.

During those years of helping my parents, I did develop breast cancer which surprised everyone as I had zero markers, my surgeon said it was from all the stress. Oh great, now lets add much more stress to the stress.

How I wished I would have found this website 7 years ago until of a couple of years ago, I would have learned to have set boundaries. It wasn't under years later that I realized my parents were continuing with their happy go lucky lifestyle while I had to make major changes to my own.
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I have to add, Maria, that I know you well enough from the group to know you're close to being an angel. I have a feeling that if you yelled at your mother when you were angry that you were close to being at the brink.
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Bellowing never kills the Bull. Why? Because he feels BETTER afterward. If your yelling makes you feel worse afterward, avoid yelling, or avoid feeling guilty about it. Be the Bull.
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