What can I do differently now, to keep from going through deep depression when Mom dies?

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Many of you have already had loved ones pass away from dementia, Alzheimer's and various other diseases, but you are kind enough to continue to give us the benefit of your experiences on this site, so......

May I ask you all a few questions?

I am concerned about how I am going to react when Mom passes away, I have had problems with depression and panic and anxiety in the past.

I care for my 85 yo mother and I do not see her passing away for several more years. When my father died in 2006 I thought we would be lucky to keep Mom alive for 3 more years, but 8 years later she is still going although her dementia and effects of medications for it, are gradually taking a toll on her and unfortunately myself, my daughter, and my siblings.

I know that for many of us the stress has been so great for so long, that in a way we look at death as a release or relief that is natural but we feel ashamed to admit it. Many people seem to curl up and pull away from life as they grieve and some never get past it. I was wondering if any of you that have gone through the death of your loved ones and you look back on it now, is there anything you wish you would have done differently? Is there anything you might have done during the time you cared for them that might have helped you more both then and now? Did you figure this all out beforehand and do things to prevent falling into deep grief?

I am asking because I am the 24/7 care giver who is under enormous stress with little to no help at all from siblings. They work and I am on disability therefore the care giving was just a "given" in their book that I should do, because I am home. I have done it for 8 years with Mom and now my panic and anxiety has begun again because I see my life slipping away (61) and my daughter is graduating from college and beginning her life..... a life I have missed out on due to caring for both parents, an aunt and brother in law as well as being ill myself for the past 17 years.

I can see myself becoming more depressed when my mother dies especially since I already feel like I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at times from what I am currently going through. I look at my age and wonder if anyone would hire me to do anything, I find myself passing pre schools or other businesses and wondering, "Would they even let me volunteer?"

I need to "head this off at the pass" if there is anything I can do NOW to help save myself when Mom is gone. Although I am sure I will feel relief, I am also sure I will feel lonely, at loose ends, and just plain old "lost" when she is gone, because my every waking moment is spent running to meet her needs and the needs of this household.

I had thought that perhaps leaving the house now, to take a class or visit a friend on a regular basis would help, even getting some type of part time job, but to do this I need the assistance of my family, which is not coming. As a matter of fact my older sister who lives with us stays at work 4 hours past quitting time (she works part time), so she does not have to come home and help deal with the issues of Mom. My therapist tells me I MUST leave the house each weekend and go do something fun with my daughter or a friend for my mental well being, however this same sister, has told me I can no longer leave the house, without her permission!!! My reply back to her was not a nice one! She has no right or authority to try and keep me at home, this is a jealousy issue. But it gives you an idea as to what I am up against.

If any of you could or would give me advice I would appreciate it. I feel like I need to begin "putting on the life jacket now, to prevent myself from drowning" later on.

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I think Jeannegibbs makes a great point. What will be our life purpose?

When we are caregivers, our priority is clear. The question you asked is a GREAT one. I encourage you to plan ahead, by developing interests and circles of friends now.

Those will be a comfort to you later. I heard someone say today, if you are struggling ... with depression, indecisiveness, etc, etc --- do something, anything. Take action... take a first step. Get out there.

Good for you that you asked this question. Make your bucket list. List all the things you think may be fun to do. Go on line and look around. There are all kinds of free learning, offered now on line from great universities like MIT, etc.

Start reaching out now. Look for joy. Even in our greatest challenges, there is a silver lining in there somewhere. Keep looking. You will find it.
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Dear holycow, seems like a lot of advice out there doesn't it? All I can offer is this. . .do what's comfortable for you. A minute at a time. I took my day by minutes. First try to get out of bed and shower. Next day, maybe fix myself up, try my hair differently, make-up etc. Now, the biggest step of all, going outside the house. Good advice is being given to you. You just have to pick through it and find what will work and be easiest for you right now. I won't lie, it's gonna be really really difficult to carry on. But, simply said, you must carry on. Or you won't carry on at all. Good luck to you and stick with those positive affirmations. Sending you virtual (((hugs))).
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Holy cow. I just had dad go on ahead, 10 month ago I had been taking care of him an mum for a lot of years, I now have mum, an with both take it day by day. What helped us was our faith I hope Holy cow that your name is a sign of who you are ( not the cow) but the holy. We cried a lot, but that's good, if you have any kind of believe you need to strengthen it as much as you can. Before my caring became hard core 24/7 many many years ago, I had already began building up my Faith, at the time not knowing why. But I sure do see now why, with it l have been able to handle all that has come my way, nothing has knocked me down an kept me there. If l was downed with His help l got back up, an was a smarter an strong person for it. So Holy cow, just depend on the Holy Spirit when His needed, He won't let you down just believe. What to do! just build up your believing! and leave the rest to Him to carry you through the storm.
God bless an keep you strong.
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i think it is incredibly astute of you to look in the future and ask others on this site how you can prepare yourself. I too suffer from anxiety and depression and although I know I cannot predict everything in life, events such as the passing of a parent. But I find if I know something about what is coming it is much easier to handle. I am blown away by some of the things i read on this site ("blown away" = amazed.) some of the things intimidate me, some make me feel better. all are preparation for things to come.
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Holy Cow, all you can do is your best. That does not include forsaking your own health and well-being for your mother. You are honoring your mother in life, as the Ten Commandments tell us to. They do not say to sacrifice yourself entirely for your parents. As for that sister of yours, can you kick her out, or is she providing financial support for you and Mom?
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I am so sorry for your situation. I could have written that letter myself except that I took care of mom and dad in my own home and continue to care for mom as dad passed 3 yrs ago. Thinking of their death as a relief is nothing to feel quilty about, they feel that way too. I wish I could say something to help you. I was told to take classes or something too but I can't. I would suggest that you start looking into things that you would be interested in doing when the time comes that you are free again. Start making a list and when the time come, dive in on it. Sending you my love.
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Hi My Mother passed back in Dec 2013, So this is still very fresh in my mind. I had been my Mom's Caregiver for the last 15 years with no help from my brothers.I knew back in Sept that things just wasnt right with my Mom she was showing signs of Dementria or something I had spoke with her Doctor about this but nothing could be done till someting happen. In Oct I had to put her in the Hospital after she had a strange episode while driving.Took her to the doctor and she had a bad UTI. was in there for 2 days and home we went after that she never got out of the bed she stayed there not able to get up she was in a wheel chair and scooter chair and had always gotton up but now she just layed there wouldnt eat or take her med. So I knew this was gonna happen. I prayed that it wouldnt and se would be ok. Dec 1st I put her back in the Hospital this time they said she had mild demetria within a day she didnt know me she just kept calling out for her mother which i had to become to keep her calm on dec5 they told me she didnt have long and the next day she was gone at 330am she stop breathing i was right there. as far as now everybody will say it will get easier. It hadnt for me yet. I cry everyday. I feel Im depressed but dont know what to do. A friend told me this everybody wil tall you to take it one day at a time. Im gonna say this (Sometimes you half to take it a moment at a time) This has turned out to be true.I feel like Im all alone now seems like everybody that said they would be here for me is not here. Everybody grives differently so just give yourself sometime I have spoken with several people that have lost there parents some for 10 yrs or more and they still grieve. Yes I think getting out the house now and especially afterwards will help its when I home that I breakdown. Sorry if I have ramble on make you find peace with in you.
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The things I've done since the passing of my Mom:

Went to bereavement group at Catholic church in my neighborhood, even though I'm not Catholic. It was very helpful for me. Others said it didn't help, so I think its a matter of how open we are to the 'help'. When it was over, I wished it continued.

So, I keep coming to this site and hope to help others with my experience.

Signed up for exercise classes. Community classes are very inexpensive and they are populated with people over age 55 and everyone is lovely. The workouts are gentle.

Joined a gym where it's populated with much younger people and everyone is very friendly. The workouts are challenging and I just do my best.

Yoga, gentle/therapeutic level only. This helped me relax and think about my sons.

Now, it's a year and a half later and I've signed up for community school classes. Drawing, how to keep resolutions, healthy cookies was not so healthy, but I will keep trying to find interesting things to learn.

I go to everything the library offers for free, particularly in the evenings.

I joined all three book clubs at my library. I don't always like the book choices, so I am looking into the book clubs at other libraries. I have read stories about North Korean prison camps and suicides and murders, but have decided to only read books that are GOOD!, healthy, up beat, positive, constructive and teach me something amazing about the world.

All this is a long way of saying, my family and friends who are still working and have young families got tired of talking about my Mom very fast. It was helpful to get out of the house, to move my body and to read and to stimulate my mind.

Life has moved on. I still miss her, but I'm happy that she knows I loved her and that I took good care of her until the end. Her words stay with me and she is in my heart and in my mind. I'm blessed with good memories.

However, as I've gotten older it has become increasingly difficult for me to stay healthy, so I have to get up and get moving Every Day!

When I wake up in the morning I say, "I'm lucky, I'm lucky, I'm lucky." I'm lucky for the challenges that have come my way, because they are a puzzle for me to solve and I am lucky for all of the blessings. I'm lucky that the sun shines and I'm lucky that the rain waters the flowers that will come in the spring.

I wish you lots and lots of luck and blessings as well. I am sure you will find them all around you if you just keep looking for them and as they say, keep moving forward.
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I personally think you need to get your mother into an assisted living home. My husband died on Feb 1 and he was in a wonderful home. I did everything I could to make him comfortable and stimulate his mind. I had lost him to alzheimers a long time ago and I was with him everyday the week he died. All the kids came and he waited for the one who was away to get there before he died. I am sad and am comforted by all the nice things people said about him but I am not devastated with grief. I is a relief to have him out of his life with little quality. ACtually, after a few weeks I have more energy than I have had in months. I think I was more stressed than I realized. I have dealt with depression and anxiety in the past and I think you will be fine.Let yourself grieve and then take care of you. GEt out and do the things you couldn't before and above all don't feel any guilt. YOu have done the best you can.
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I just went through this in October. I took care of my mom for 10 years after my dad died. They lived in a duplex with us. It was mostly myself, my husband and daughter doing her care until we could not take care of her appropriately anymore. It was a relief when she passed because she was my every thought a milliion times a day and through the nights. I had a camera to watch her from work and checked on her throughout the day. I would wake in the middle of the night and check the camera to see if she was sleeping. I never went anywhere after work because I knew she needed to eat and needed her meds. I felt guilty because she was so lonely during the days and when we came home from work and she came downstairs to visit and just get human interaction, we all became irritated because we just wanted to get dinner and do laundry and our own things at night. When she passed I would come home from work and do my normal things and then by 6:30 or so I was sitting in my chair feeling guilty for having nothing to do. I expressed this to a co-worker and her words have stayed with me. She said "that's called living and that is something you have not done for yourself in long time. Enjoy it and you deserve it". How right she was! How right she was.

My advice to you is do the best you can but the most important thing is to take care of yourself first. You MUST have an outlet because it puts things in perspective. There is only so much you can do and give of yourself. I had a couple mini nervous breakdowns at the end of my care for her at home. Finally one day I just knew I had to put her into care because my own health and family was suffering to try to take care of someone that needed more care than we were capable of giving. Don't beat yourself up and don't get depressed.

Looking back you ask what would I have done differently? I would have given mom more of my personal time and not been so selfish. I would have put her into care sooner for her and I both and not felt so guilty. I would have loved her more and tried to be quick not to anger. I would have imagined myself in her position with end stage dementia and not knowing what was happening to me and just looking for a trusted face to know that I was cared for and loved. I would not beat myself up with guilt for not being able to do it all. I should not have let lazy siblings who tried to control my life get to me. I would have been the strong woman my mother was and whom she raised the same way.

Be strong and accept that when she passes she is so much better off. I cried very little when my mom died because I knew she was so much better off and she didn't want this earhtly life anymore because the life she knew was stripped away from all of us by the dreadful, debilitating disease of dementia.

Blessed are all of us who have the opportunity to take care of those we hold in our hearts always. You will look back and feel so good that you chose to take care of her and did your best. Hopefully at the end of our own lives someone will feel that way for us! God Bless and Good Luck always......
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