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My whole life revolves around her every want and need. I have no life besides taking care of mom. Family either doesn't live nearby or aren't available to offer help. I manage to get away to work by having a caretaker stay with her Monday-Friday. What can I do to get some time for me?

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Thank you HP. I, also, have just found this site as a result of a mini breakdown Friday. I'm the sole caretaker of both my parents...ages 85 and 86. Like you they are still in assisted living, but I am providing other 'needs' daily. So far our relationship is wonderful and I want it to stay that way. My problem is burnout. I WANT to take care of them. But my emotional energy is draining. Thanks for being my support!!
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Yvone I am so sorry for what you have to endure-my husband did not love me-he changed as soon as we got married and did say he hated me so caring for him was difficult and I finally had to learn to detatch and not let his bad moods and behaivor reflect on me and that I simply did not deserve to be treated badly-and his bad behaivor kept up until his last heartbeat-he was unresponsive to me the last days but did try to talk to our kids and grandchildren-he was punishing me -the one person who stuck with him through long standing abuse the verbal hurt more than the physical abuse. Moonlily please call social service or the office of the aging in your county-someone needs to give you some relief-please keep us posted. Lavender-any friend that indicates that they are tired of hearing your feelings should not be in your life-a true friend would try different things to help-maybe stay with the person you are caring for for 2 hrs so you can rest.
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Oh how we all feel your pain. I'm the youngest of 8 kids...and the only one that has been by my mom's constant side. I have a husband and 3 kids. Quit all my cleaning jobs to care for my 91 year old mom, who has progressive dementia. I'm going crazy out of my mind from no sleep. She is up every hour on the hour, even with all the drugs I have been instructed to give her. She has hospice and they have been my saving grace. I am getting C.O.P.E. at the end of the month. So I can get some much needed rest. Hang in there and check for any resources in your area that you might qualify. I thought I could go it alone. But I'm so glad I have them all to lean on. Respite is a wonderful thing.
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It is so very helpful to hear others echo the same feelings I have. My problem is that my mom is very anxious and will do NOTHING to care for herself, and conveyed the message very successfully to her son and favorite child that he was not required to help, even though he lived off my parents and took money from them! I have come to realize that the anger is a legitimate emotion that we should NOT feel guilty about. We can do without and give up for only a certain amount of time. I realize that the feelings I have for my Mom are a reflection of her feelings for me. If a parent didn't give you what you needed emotionally when you were a child, you cannot do better now, and it is NOT your fault. You can only give back what you have gotten, and no more. It is very difficult to feel any kind of warmth to abusive, dysfunctional parents. I carry on by trying to care for my Mom as best I can in a humane way, and tell myself that the "empty spots" in her care are when her son is supposed to be contributing to her upkeep but doesn't do it. The problem is, we take a vow to care for our spouses and children, but not our parents. They think because they gave you life they can take your life, not realizing that sending you to college or raising you was their job, and you don't owe anyone anything for doing their job! I just pray very hard and hope that I don't lose my mind. Most of us also have families to care for, so we have to stay sane for ourselves and spouses and children.
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I have felt the same way. At least you have a job and can escape for a while. I try to give myself some time just for me. It is hard to do. I go outside and read or play mind numbing games on the computer. I had been getting up everytime she called me but now I tell her I will be there in a minute. This way she is learning that I am not at her beck and call. It will take a while to get better but it will in time. My mother treats me like a maid also. My friends are getting tired of me calling them and crying but they are a lifeline.
I got my mom a cell phone and I have my number programmed into it and all she has to do is send and this allows me to have a little down time. I hope what I said is helpful. I found this website yesterday and I already have received some great ideas and blessings. I am so grateful for this forum.
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It is hard. Then the guilt I go through when I do get furstrated is hard as well. This has been hard on my marriage because at night my mother calls out about every 30 minutes for something. I am considering my alternatives to get help but its hard to even know what out opotions are at this point. There are weeks when I cant get a break. I feel for you
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You might want to consider hospice like dtflex said. She might qualify. I got hospice for my mom and she is ambulatory, from her heart condition alone. Maybe you could just call and have them evaluate her, they will help you. You never know, they might pick her up. I was in despirate need of help and called them and she was living in an apartment alone at the time, and they picked her up. Hospice is wonderful help when you are despirate. They will look fof a reason to take them on board.
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vyonne, WOW, your post made me cry....how sad. Parents are one thing, because you cannot choose your parents, but your husband you love and married, to watch this...it must be very hard...BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG HUG to you my girl!

Crowe,
I filled out a Durable Power of Attorney last year when mom started acting up, and the form only required two witnesses and my mom's signature...no cost,..no lawyers...no notary.

Also, the point you made how they make themselves the victim. With my mom's history of NPD that makes her the perfect victim. She's been crying wolf for over 2 years now....and she does not get it...that it does not help.
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I guess I'm lucky. My father is mobile enough to take the Dial-a-Ride bus to the local senior center 3 days a week so I get some time off.
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dwestlake,

So true and I think it is possibly tougher for us only children not to get overwhelmed or make a martyr of ourselves via F.O.G. Fear Obligation and Guilt

your friendly resident FOG buster :)
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Being an only child is a blessing and a curse. The advantage is that I don't have any siblings to second guess or question the decisions I've made in caring for my parents. The disadvantage is I don't have any siblings to share the responsibilities of caring for my parents.
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i know i felt bad all day. my husband is in diapers now. i am behind on the wash. there is no one to help but me everyone wants him to go in the nursing home. he said he will die there i would miss him like crazy. we truly love each other. i just had a real bad crying spell today. it was so bad. my husband is throwing up and has diarrea real bad. i cant get him out of the house he only has one leg. i am just tired. no help or relief.
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carol7,

I remember the quick downward spirial that my mother went into last March after finally agreeing to give me Durable POA. I sure wish she had done that earlier and asked for my help with taxes that I learned last February were secretly past due since 2004. I remember well what the drama of those weeks which esclated with many ups and downs until around the middle of the fall things became a bit more stable.

It sounds like you have become the person who now must make the dicisions that your parents avoided making. That's tough and I feel for you.

When my family was going thorugh an extremely rough time several years ago, I tried to be therapist for my boys, but while that was good for us in becoming closer, we later realized that we were all sinking as I was less and less able to be their rock. Thus, I got them to their own therapists 6 years ago and it's helped them much.

Yes, your close geographical location does make it more difficult to not absorb their emotions to the point of what they are feeling becomes how you are feeling, but that can't be solved by distance alone. I assume your parents have medicare A and B. Do either of them have any helath insurance from prior work experience?

It sounds like you could really use a third party to work through what your mom needs and what your dad needs and what can realitically be done. I wonder if someone from home health would come out and assess the situation and give you some optoins?

Right now you basically sound like I felt last year around this time and for a good while longer. As my mom's only child, all I could see was 5 years of past due taxes; a stepdad in a whieel chair as well as disbelif; and some step-siblings who did not seem to care that their dad was also 5 years behind in taxes. I had all the legal authority that I needed with both Durable and Medical POA, but it was like I was both overwhlemed by the situation and not entirely taking hold of the reigns with the tools in my hands. When you are looking a potentional IRS tax bill from 2004 with penaltieis and interest of $94,000 it gets your attention. My therapist helped me just take one part of this mountian at a time, get proactive in my communication with my step-dad and step-siblings which probably has made them feel like I'm going great guns and should give me the nickname of Rambo Crowe. Anyhow, The new CPA I hired back in September has completed tax years '05, '06, '07 and the plan is to finish '08 in March and '09 in April. It's been a royal nightmare finding all of the documents needed, etc. We've had one more letter about the 2006 return looking like another $90,000 plus. However, both '04 and '06 ended up beeing far less once we got all of the information together.

This was all done with me making several to where they live an hour away. Plus, I and my wife are both on full disability, and we have two teenage boys. This whole journey and my bipolar II which is the depressive kind have not gotten along with each other too well. Nor has this been a smooth emotional journey with the family or origin issues related more to my mother, but also with my dad that I'm deeply into right now.

So, it was a major turning point for me last week when I could finally clean my "Man Cave" and restore it to both being clean and orderly which included putting two years of my mom's financial info in containers outside of this room. As long as this room is ok, I feel like I can deal with the drama of my own family as well as the drama of my mother and step-dad, but this room falling apart went along with me fallling apart. One thing that also bothered me was not knowing where my mother's will so I woud see who the esecutor is. Well, since finding it back around Sept or so, I have the peace of mind knowing that if mom dies before taxes are caught up, we will still move foraward with the taxes because I'm the designation executor of the estate.

So, yes you are not alone. You will make it. Just try as hard as it is to take this moutain one peice at a time. Try to be both aware of how your parent's are feeling without being controlled by those feelings because you have absorbed them into yourself if that's taking place. You very well might have to have some discussions which are going to be rough and probably need to begin with "I'm sure this is going to be something that is not easy for either of us to talk about, but we really must talk about this now" with out the I wish ya'll had done this or I had pushed you do do that long ago. Somewhere on this site is my poem Path through trajic Pain. I think it might help. If you can't find it here, just google Path Through Trajic Pain and you wil find it.

Hang in there and know that we are all rooting for you for we understand right where you are and truly you are not alone.
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Crowe, you're right, of course, about my needing to get some counseling going. I guess I've always "therapized" myself and it's worked up til now. I also think that things wouldn't be quite so overwhelming if my folks didn't live 15 miles from town, have issues with their home's foundation, needing to sell that same house "as is" along with their land before they can afford to move anywhere else. And now that Mom has taken a downward spiral over just the past few weeks, I won't be getting any decision-making help from her or Dad. They each need different things in the way of care, but Lord knows how I'll get that figured out. They aren't rich by any means, but they have too many assets for medicaid to help. We talked to their attorney years ago and came away with no more than I know now. Everything he advised them to do, they just talked about and did nothing. I could go on for pages and pages because this is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to what I'm up against, but suffice it to say this: There is not enough money to put them in separate facilities even if they could sell everything tomorrow, and there is no place that I've been able to find that could accommodate both parents at once. This is all something I will have to work through... someday.

I appreciate everything I've seen on this thread. It helps to see that I'm not the only one who feels the way I do. I only wish that the financial decisions and deeding, selling, whatever was necessary, had been done before my parents got in this shape. Can't cry over spilled milk, I know, but it's more than hard to move forward with so many roadblocks. I guess we'll see how it all works out as time goes by...
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195Austin, your advice sounds much like what I told an older woman who owns and runs a little business here and her husband has been diagnosed with a terminal disease which has killed many in his family tree. While she's old enough to retire, this is her contact with the rest of the world and I was concerned that if she was able to sell it that once he dies which does not seem to be as close at hand as it was at one time, then what would she have to do anymore other than have a ton of money. So, she's enlisted the help of her sister and her children to take care of the store as well as let her regular customers know that sometimes she will just not be able to keep her store hours but please call and leave what they need on the answering machine. That was 2 years ago. She is doing well and he is still alive but not as near death like he once was. Maybe he got medical help in time more than his relatives did.

No one has ever said these kind of self-care decisions are easy to be made, but I think it is all part of the role reversal that takes place as the child becomes the parent type for the aging parent. You did well both for yourself and for your husband to keep in contact with others as you did which benefits you even now.
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It is really to try to do something for you that you can look forward to when you are a caregiver I did go to the senior center to join a group that sews cancer pads my husband did not want me to go out but I did as often as I could and formed friendships and now that he has passed on I was glad I had interest and friends that I kept in touch during the long dreary years of caregiving because I had a good support system in place you need something for yourself maybe a walk and for me it also was a small park where we could walk down to the lake that was calming you need to relieve the stress at times even though you have to go back to it all after a short time.
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I hear ya girl.. I totally hear ya. im not sure if Hospice is available to you yet, but it may be worth looking into. ( you have to get a Dr to give a life expectancy of < 6 mo. to qualify) I finally had to call them in to help me with moms pain management. She became unable to ride in a car to go to Dr's Visits ( which until Hopsice, was the only way to get her very strong pain meds)
My moods swings from poor, to bad and sometimes pretty good.
I promised my mother years ago that I would take care of her and not put her in a home If I could possibly do so. So in essence, my Promise= my prison. But I do it out of love and honor, even though its hard for me, even though I struggle every day. My sacrifice will be rewarded with release of guilt when she passes on, by my knowing I had done everything that I could humanly do,
Suggestions : Perhaps there is a center on Aging in your area, senior services. Etc. Im sure you've already looked, also maybe , depending on mom and dads financial status, you may be able to hire a part time caregiver? perhaps trade favors with a family member or friend. I Do know that Hospice offers a 5 day a month respite service for caregivers, this means a skilled nuring facitlity stay for up to 5 days each month. Problem is,, its a nursing home and I'm pretty sure my Mother would not be happy about that.
Its not as easy as some people make it sound. " just put them in the respite care" to get a break. I hate to keep rambling, but It's simply not that "easy " to do. For one Mom can't ride in a car. 2 I would feel like I was breaking my promise to her for my own selfish reasons. I wish you luck and patience because you're gonna need it ( eye twitching) ~ Nutz
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carol7,

First of all, you are not nutz.

Secondly, there is not any need for apologizing for venting. We all need a safe place to vent and this is that safe place.

Thirdly, 3 days ago I wrote that I thought this thread carried the highest stress level of any thread that I've read. Today's stories sound like a stronger high pressure system has just blown with some extremely thick F.O.G. in various places.

Fourth, it does seem that the older some people get the more of their real controlling, play the victim card, narcissism comes out.

Fifth, people who play the victim role don't just not know how someone else feels apart from it getting them the results that they demand.

I'm very concerned about these physiological responses to the incredible stress level in your life. I suggest getting some medical and therapy help to get yourself on a more even plane so that having to try to deal with so much from twice the distance that I do will not keep consuming you with all of this F.O.G. your mother is hoovering you into her own drama with. This not being consistent with medicines sounds much like my mother and is one of many reasons she is not able to live at home although her husband thinks she can. I think right now it is very important for you to get some help for you. Otherwise the Fear Obligation and Guilt that's all over you post will do some serious damage to your physical and mental health along with other important parts of your life.

I'm glad you found this place as I am glad to have found it a few months ago. Keep sharing. Keeping asking.
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It somewhat helps to see everyone's "feelings" in writing, and since this is my first time to even visit this site, I can say I'm happy that this is here.

"Goinnutz," I feel the same way you do, like an indentured servant. I know that my mother would be mortified if she really knew how she was making me feel, but the fact is, she doesn't. As another matter of fact, I've found that the older some people get, the more entitled they think they are to be demanding, hurtful, hateful and all the other negative adjectives you can think of. I just hope that I don't do this to my own children someday.

One thing I'd love to see on here is phone numbers and web address when someone finds an agency or a respite sitter or anyone of that kind. It would certainly prevent having to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, in finding this information on our own, and I would be happy to do the same if and when I find useful sites or agencies to help.

To give a little insight on what I'm dealing with right now:
Both of my parents have aging "issues."
Mom has the beginnings of Altzheimers, but her latest issue is some spots on her lungs, which we may find out next week are malignancies (not sure at this point), rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, rapid weight-loss, weakness, no appetite, not taking meds nor taking them properly when she DOES take them, and I could go on and on. My dad has macular degeneration, incontinence due to prostate cancer surgery 7 years ago, early onset dementia, and Mom has to give him his BP meds, anti-stroke meds, anti-depression meds, etc., which, of course, she sometimes doesn't give properly or at all.

For me, just finding a good starting point (again) is a task in itself. Contacting the CORRECT agencies can be daunting.
What seems to be the hardest thing for me is that I live 120 miles away from my parents and my sister lives 600 miles away. She doesn't have the financial freedom to quit her job and move closer to "home." Three summers ago (2007), I spent 3 solid months without a day off to care for my mom when she fell and broke her pelvis. At the time, Dad could at least still see to drive. By the following summer(2008), Mom had developed severe rheumatoid arthritis and was in continuous pain for over a month until we found the right combination of drugs and/or pain meds to help her get through it. She still is in a lot of pain but it's more manageable. I stayed with them for 4 months that time... never went back to my own home. Then, in October of 2009, my 80-year-old dad had a knee replacement, became combative and more deeply depressed with a big increase in his dementia due to the anesthesia, and that took so much out of MOTHER that she is now in the shape I mentioned above. I stayed with them for 3 solid months that time, too. I have to say that dealing with that and driving them to my house for Thanksgiving (with no preparation ahead of time) and with Dad still having a tough time getting in and out of the car with his knee issues, then driving to my home again for Christmas was a very taxing time and it really kicked my butt.

I guess what I'm getting at with this long, drawn-out epistle is that my greatest fear is losing my own mind throughout all of it. I cringe when I see their phone number on my caller ID. And I literally shake and get a sick feeling in my stomach when I know I'm about to have to return to take care of them. It would be easier, I guess, if my mom wasn't the martyr-depressed-poor-me type, but she is. I love her with all my heart, but she (and dad) are draining the very life out of me. And I think I'm already nutz.

Thanks for allowing me to whine.
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I agree. My mother has $178.00 too much coming in the door to qualify for full time in home help. I think we should make it so other factors are figured into this such as number of caregivers/relatives closely involved in the individual's in home care. Our elders live longer and stay healthier when they are kept at home. Also, I think that someone with a diagnosis of dementia should not be sued by the legal system. My ex-sister-in-law sued my mother and I had to pay her $130000 in order to keep my mother in her home. This is just not right and should be against the law.
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Perhaps we should start by writing to our Governors and congress persons.. Perhaps we should make aware the dichotomy of the aging process and the sandwich generation. We are taking care of our baby boomer parents and our adult children due to the economy.~nutz
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I would like to know why websites like this see this as an urgent matter to so many people over so many years now AND NOTHING GETS DONE ABOUT THIS IN CONGRESS OR HEALTHCARE ISSUE...geezus h ******. Why make us struggle through this instead of having help. Rich peeps just prop their mommies and daddies up in fine Retirement homes or private nurses and us poor schumucks have to go through mental and physical and monetary hell. I think there should be government run help....just think of all the money that went to banks and car companies and the regular citizens get squat! We pay taxes etc...there should be a universal health care and when you get a certain age there would be homes with caregivers that you can transisition too in your old age.
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I'v been taking care of my mom for 4yrs now.I was angry all the time at my siblings for not helping but I realize it was only hurting me so I prayed and prayed and ask God to change my way of looking at things and help me to have a better attude and realize that this is where I am to be right now.Just changing my way of looking at things has help me so much.
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bobbie321 and rephill27.

I am making a copy of such nice comments so that in my darker days they might help lift me up.

I suggest we all make our own file of nice comments that we save for a rainy day when we need to be reminded of such nice statements to brighten our day.
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F.O.G. Buster, may you live long and prosper. You make a whole lot of sense.
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Rock On CroMag.

as always, well said.

Bobbie
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The stress level on this one thread, I think, is the highest that I've read anywhere. The feelings of being imprisoned and the descriptions of the decreasing health of us as caretakers is a horrible story which needs to be told and when it is vented there is not any rational reason for feeling ashamed or a need to apologize for venting. Maybe I'm feeling a bit manic in response to so much here, but I've posted on several people's walls tonight the need we all have to deal with the F.O.G. which sounds like it is so thick for some that even fog lights might not help.

In our own situations with what is realistically available within the context of our lives, and how comfortable we are with not or stopping walking on eggshells, we need to take some steps to get freedom from the overwhelming sense of Fear Obligation Guilt that has either come from how our parent's programed us, or some relative in our lives or from somewhere else that keeps us from finding ways to take better care of ourselves and set some healthy boundaries instead of thinking we are bad or selfish for doing so.

I love the support that I get here and I enjoy offering support. The more I read of other's stories, the more I find that it seems that one of my purposes for being here is being a F.O.G. buster.
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It ain't no "fell like"- it's the real deal. I have no life except work & taking care of her. And now that her ankle's broke, she's at the nursing home where I work.
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I took care of my mom in her home for 5 years, ended up exhausted by emotionally and physically. She is now in a nursing home. At first I felt like I might be able to get on with my life, then mom resisted the nursing home, tried to sue us and took us to court. My sister who works full-time now has guardianship, but I am the one having to deal with mom on a day to day basis, visit her and try to resolve issues she has in the nursing home. I am the one having to try to explain away everything, sometimes I get in trouble with mom for the way I try to deal with it, sometimes I get in trouble with my sister for the way I try to resolve issues, resulting in me getting caught in the middle. At first I wasted a lot of time and energy getting angry and upset, worrying about stuff I really didn't need to be so concerned about. However, I do not think the stress from being a caregiver goes away even when they are in the nursing home. I felt resentful because all of the years I spend putting my own life on whole and wasted a lot of energy fussing over it. Now I have kind of decided to just deal with it, stop complaining and letting all this get me unhinged emotionally. There is a lot of tension between my sister and my mom and that will probably always be there after having to go to court over this, but I realized I was just making myself worse by getting all worked up about it. My main concern now is finances, as I really got ripped off trying to fulfill all of mom's wants and needs while I was caring for her, just hope I pull myself out of this financial hole, mom knows now that she can't afford anything, I can't afford anything, and we just have to live with what we have.
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Good morning everyone, I was reading through everyone's comments and just wanted to say that I can relate to the frustration and anguish. I would like to offer that I have come to the conclusion that there is one thing left that I can control and that is the amount of energy I am going to give my anger, frustration, and anguish. I can tell when those levels go too high, my neck pain becomes more prominent, hips and joints ache more, and I eat more. The absolute most difficlut thing I have had to learn is letting go of these emotions. I don't mean that they fly away or disappear, I just keep talking to myself about letting go of the amount of energy it takes me to keep them AND then to keep things going with my mother....who each day manages to find the dark side of things. The bottom line is I believe that she is no happier than I am about this situation which is why I think she "strikes out". I also have observed and put together pieces of information which now helps me to understand that it is not that mom has become this "person"....she had issues to begin with and unfortunately aging, health complications, and cognitive impairments have lessened her abilities.
Bottom line of what I want to offer: Yes they are our parents; yes, we feel stressed by the extra burden placed on us and they appear to be ungrateful, and yes the stress we feel turns us into people we do not recognize....BUT in the end, you still need to decide how much energy will you put forth fighting something you cannot control (your parent's health and their behavior) and how much energy can you re-channel to keeping the qualities you like most about yourself with yourself. I have been up and down with mom, but I am getting better at just moving forward...which is what we all have to do. Take care everyone.
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