How do you maintain any kind of life of your own while caring for a parent? - AgingCare.com

How do you maintain any kind of life of your own while caring for a parent?

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I am 28 years old living with and looking after my 71 year old mom who has a touch of "sundowners" and has difficulty walking and other issues. She needs to have her meals and medications prepared. Plus help with bathroom etc. My two siblings are both close and much older than me. The one lives on the same farm as me, only in a separate house.

For the past six years, if I've want to go to an event or just work, we have had to make arrangements amongst each other to check her regularly. Luckily I farm with my sibling so we are able to be in and out of the yard.

Every time she has any fall or health issue. Things seem to become more difficult. She has some really good days and then there are the bad days making me feel really defeated and scared. I start hovering more and it is affecting my sleep causing nightmares.

I am finding myself making excuses to not see my friends, because they don't understand. I don't date. And with my circumstances I can't imaging bringing anyone into my life. I used to want a family with children. I loved kids , but now I'm questioning all of it because that requires taking care of them. I feel like an awful person. I'm constantly worrying about her to the point it is physically and emotionally draining me. I don't know..maybe I just need a break. I just don't know how. Let alone stop worrying enough to enjoy it.

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Why would you feel that you're an awful person? Because you think about your life and what your goals and dreams are? You're human.

When I cared for my dad in my home for 5 years I got to where I didn't want to socialize either because I had nothing to offer. I had nothing to discuss, no "life" to speak of. All I had was the day to day caregiving of my dad so I began to shy away from a social life. My friends called and I would make sure the conversation stayed on them and their life, what they were doing, how their job was going because, again, I had nothing to talk about.

Every caregiver needs a break. If you are able to take one I suggest you do it immediately. I used to get away to a little B&B a couple of hours away. I'd make sure that my 18-year-old daughter would check on my dad (she lived with us) and that she wouldn't spend the night out while I was gone overnight. Those 24 hours away made a huge difference for a little while.

You have siblings. Can they pitch in and take some of the burden off of you? Can you explain to them what you've explained to us?

I hope you don't put your life on hold for the rest of your mom's life. She could live another 15 years. You're young, you need to be out and about and having some fun. You don't want to wake up at 43 years old and realize that everything you once wanted for yourself is gone for good.

Do what you need to do to carve out a life for yourself. If that means bringing in your siblings then that's what you might have to do. Hire professional caregivers so you can get out. Put yourself first. That's the #1 rule in caregiving and isn't selfish in the least.

And telling someone not to worry is pretty useless because the person is probably going to worry anyway but try not to worry so much. What do you worry about? Her health? You have absolutely no control over your mom's health. She may fall tomorrow or she may not. If she doesn't then you just spent 24 hours worrying about something that never happens.

If you feel that you can't get away and that you can't get your siblings to help and that you can't hire outside help then at least work on the worrying thing. I'm a worrier by nature and I have to work hard at not worrying. Mark Twain said, "I'm an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

Only you can change your life and your perceptions.
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I too am in the same situation - Married 3 years ago - Mom has had Alzheimer's disease for the past 8 years and lives with us for the past 2 - my life has changed - home to work - work to home - fortunately her caregiver is kind enough to take her so that I can go on a vacation yearly - but socialize - I have no friends now - because I can never do anything - if I'm not at work I am taking care of Mom - been doing this for the past 8 years - everyday is a struggle with everyday chores and life - eating, grooming, keeping her busy and entertained, having her do the little things that she can do which is not much - baths and medicine are the worst - I have cut down to 2 baths a week because it is so stressful on me - I since October have suffered an injury and need surgery the 29th of this month - ligament damage in my wrist - and then after that I have to have a meniscus repair and bone cartlidge done on my knee - I feel your pain - My sister takes Mom once a week - but it is while I am working - her caregiver is wonderful - you have to take a break - husband stays with her once a week - but does nothing with her - and they bud heads - because he doesn't know how to speak to her - when he is with her I come home and nothing is done - he lets her sleep all day - then everything is off for the day and he he's off to work. Money is another issue - the cost is $7000 a month for care - Mom's 83 she never even made that kind of money in her lifetime - between social security and her tiny pension she gets 1500 a month. My only advise is ask for help make your siblings share in the responsibility - In the end you will have no regrets that I can know for a fact - best of luck and happiness to you - I pray for all of us dealing with sick parents
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Whatever you do, do not compare caring for children with that of caring for an aging adult.... it's like comparing apples to oranges.

A child is something you plan for and are delighted when the time comes, they are tiny so changing a diaper or picking them up when they fall is so much easier than changing a diaper on a 150-200 lb adult or picking them up when they fall.

In a short time a child can learn to do for themselves [there are the exceptions depending on the child] and can fend for themselves inside the house.... with an adult parent it seems like life is going in reverse and every year they will need more and more care.

Believe me, I understand fully about your worry regarding your Mom. It seems like every free moment I am worrying about my parents, it's like it has taken up residence in my brain and I can't evict the thoughts :(
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You are too young to shrivel up and give up. If other siblings live on the farm as well, have a family meeting and schedule times when they can take over for you. Take a week vacation. Set up some kind of activity same night each week at a community center or college; an art class, dance class, yoga, so you can add some people your age to your life. Stick to it as though your life depends on it, because it really does.

I used to wake at every noise, anticipating a fall from one of my parents. Some how I got to the point that I realize that I could not prevent this, and that I would wake up to the noise if it did happen. I released some sense of responsibility. It is important to know that what ever happens, you will not be able to prevent it as it is unreasonable to hover 24/7.

I am 65 and feeling a bit cut off. Please do not let that happen to you at such a young age. Develop a passion you can do at home, sewing, art, jewelry, weaving, knitting, writing, photography, illustration. Just begin, ignore the quality and just keep doing this.
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I understand how you feel. For many years my life was limited while I took care of my mom. It was like taking care of toddlers - most of your time is centered around caregiving. When I did go out, I also was preoccupied and tired, and others who were in the same situation were the best company because they understood. My mom just passed recently, and now my life is my own. The thought of getting into a relationship or anything where demands would be made is unappealing, not to mention that I don't have the energy to meet any demands or give anything to anybody right now, although I hope in time I feel differently.

In other words, what you feel is perfectly normal.
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Get some respite, at least for a weekend or a few days; insist one of the siblings watch your mother. After that, look into elder care options in your area. Can your mother's medicare pay for visiting nurses/home aides to come every day for an hour or so or longer? Is she eligible for medicaid? A 28 year old should be having her own life. Don't feel guilty about it if you just can't do it anymore. No one wants to put a parent in a nursing home, but you are not a professional nurse [I assume] and there's only so much you can do. Sit down with other family members and come up with a plan. If they do not cooperate then you have the right to make your own decisions. I seriously doubt your mother, in her right mind, would want to be such a burden to you.
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You are at the age when your life should look like nothing but lots and lots of possibilities up ahead. And you should try to make that your reality. I don't know what state you're in but get on the computer and start with the state website. It will lead the way to programs offered throughout your state and it'll be under the heading Elder Care. Or something close. It might be the local Council on Aging. That is what it is here in Florida. The federal government if funding a lot of programs for the elderly, which means the benefit goes to the family, too, because they want more and more of the elderly to stay at home and out of nursing homes. So they help fund a lot of programs that could help you out. There are more and more hospice programs being created, and a lot of them will keep renewing the certificate necessary to maintain the help your Mother needs. The hospice provider/company will come out and do an evaluation of your Mother. Even if it is determined that your mother does not qualify now these people are incredibly helpful, with just information practically jumping out at you from them the programs that exist and the help thou can get and that's the reason they exist -- to come to the aid of someone like you, so in return you can be there for your Mother. I would start a research project tomorrow. Keep all kinds of info you come across in a notebook just for that reason. It might not be relevant now but it could be six months from now and you'll have what you need at your fingertips. If you access the internet at your local library (you don't have a computer) ask the librarian for ideas. They're a font of information. Make sure that your siblings are carrying their fair share of the load. That a means if there are three of you, you each give 33%. No one gets off because they have a day job or a girlfriend or they're always tired. So are you. Everybody pitches in and then everybody has the same amount of time off to do what they need to do. Or what they would like to do. Take a whole afternoon sometime when you feel you can leave your Mother with a book or a tv show or just taking a long nap with the phone next to her. If she can make her understand that you want an opportunity to find a life partner so one day you'll have two or three kids who would love to care for you because you were as loving to them as she was to you. Please start thinking about positive things like this and stop the worrying or the depressing thought. The French say life is beautiful and it starts again tomorrow. (Maybe I got that wrong but I like the idea of it). And though there are lots of things in life we all would change please consider one of the people who might have a few beneficial things on their side. You have siblings nearby who haven't flat turned you down about assisting with your Mother's care and one's even right there with you working the farm. There's this whole new farm to table movement (locovore ((sp)) movement) that appears to be pretty exciting i(t would seem) from a young farmer's point of view. And of course if you own the farm you work, check with small local banks and see if its possible to take a small loan out against its value, and use these funds to pay for some help for your Mother! And maybe a long weekend somewhere where other young people your age might go. Take your Mother along if that's the only way to pull it off. You are at a wonderful age and you will, I promise you, have a long and interesting life! I see children in it and I see you smiling as it's them kids running you ragged!. Good luck to you and God bless you, you are an angel doing His work for your Mother and He knows it, and you will get your reward, probably in some way that will be a big shock to you and come when you least expect it. Remember get your siblings over for a cup of coffee and some serious talk about dividing up the responsibilities. You should not carry the load just because you have the strength and the willingness to do it. Put yourself first for the next several months while you get your plan off the ground. Now I've got to go get my Mother's grilled ham, three cheese and tomato sandwich going. It's her absolute favorite dinnertime sandwich (after she finishes a huge fresh tossed salad with Marie's super blue cheese dressing (another fav!) that's loaded down with sweet juicy tomatoes and big old black olives! Tonight's her night for it though she'd probably eat it all seven nights of the week. Take care and please remember to think and answer to yourself, for yourself.
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Its not easy and you do need more help. Your siblings need to help more and hiring outside help is a good idea.

I know how you feel, I have no job other then caring for my grandfather, conversations with friends do not go well and I feel so repetitive because its all the same for me" Grandpa doesn't feel well, he ate better today, dad is sick again,Im tired etc" Like Eyerishlass said, the conversations seem to be about the friends life because its easier and I have nothing to offer. I see myself wanting to talk a bout a real job, movies, going out to events, but, its getting more complicated.

You need a break and your doing great. You need a life and your not awful. Yes, kids depend on us but its a little different with the children, but in order to decide that, you need to have more time for you. Any decision you make, needs to be right for you. Your in my thoughts :)
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I agree with the other posts that you did need to take time for you too although that never seems an easy thing to do. I am in a very similiar situation however I have no siblings to help out and also work FT outside the home. We have tried to get Mom to look at assisted living but there is no hope of that as she is as stubborn as they come!
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Thanks Frenchmadeline - you helped me too! (I live in Florida and need all the help I can get). I just applied for funding for my MIL to get two free days of adult daycare and a bus will pick her up and drop her off. We think she will be able to afford another 2 days out of her own money. I took her last week for a trial and she loved it. PTL!
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