Has anyone neglected their own health due to helping aging parents? - AgingCare.com

Has anyone neglected their own health due to helping aging parents?

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My elderly parents have two to three doctor's appointments each week, and I am in it alone, (my sister won't help), but I have neglected my own health, not by eating habits, but by not going to the doctor myself. I believe it is partly because I am exhausted being in doctor's offices so much, and if I did go for a check-up, and something was wrong it could be so time consuming, to do my parents appointments and my own. I think caregiving is a lot harder nowadays, because there are so many types of doctor's, (specialists for every problem), and it can be overwhelming. Has anyone else experienced my problem, where they put their own health on the back burner to help their parents?

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Hi Whitney,
Your note really took me back. With multiple elders to care for, sometimes I felt like I lived in doctor's offices. I couldn't stand the thought of going myself. I skipped mammograms, among other things. That's really bad and I caution people about this. I hope to let people know that upward of 30% of caregivers die before their care recipient. That isn't just elderly caregivers. It's younger women who don't get breast cancer diagnosed in early stages, or colon cancer or other health issues.
I know firsthand how hard it is to follow up on your own health, but please make you health a priority. It could save your life.
Do know, however, that many of us understand. We have been where you are (many still are in your shoes). It's very difficult.
Take care of yourself, please,
Carol
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I started taking care of both my parents in 2007. I ended up losing my job, because I was taking too much time off for doctors visits etc. My Dad died four months later, and I ended up selling my place and moving in with my Mom. I had always cooked healthy food for myself, and was in good shape for the most part. After three years living with Mom, and cooking her what she wanted. I found myself in the hospital with Afib. My cholesterol had gone up to unhealthy levels, I wasn't getting much exercise and in general my health was going down hill. I'm still dealing with the afib taking meds to control it. Have been told, I have too much stress in my life, and must reduce it. Yet I cannot. I am the only child! As it stands, my Mom who is now 92 may actually outlive me! Take care of your health, I know it's difficult. You are not the only one.
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Yes! I get so tired of Doctor's appointments. It feels like that's all I do. But I had a breast cancer scare (I'm fine) that made me realize I have to take care of myself too. But it's hard!

The one thing I always try to do for myself is take a walk every morning. When my Mom is in the hospital she expects me at her bedside every minute. One day I arrived about 9 after taking a morning walk. She was furious with me. As I stormed out her doctor was coming in. Her wonderful doctor gave her a lecture about how I need to take care of my health. I need to get exercise every day.

Things have calmed down since then. I only get snide remarks, not knock down drag out fights.
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"In order to care properly for our loved ones we must care for ourselves. We must have self-respect, and self-love, as well as love for others."

Amen to that. If you have a self centered, narcissictic family member, or even an ill senior with many health conditions, your own health will suffer unless you take steps to put yourself first sometimes, and look after your health.

Stephan, you raise an important point when you mention worrying about what you will do when the caretaking is over. It is so important to maintain a sense of "self" throughout any caregiving phase of life, whether it is with little chldren, or with sick, or disabled adults. In both cases, you can be consumed to the point of not knowing who you are any more. Start by seeing if you can set aside a little time for you to examine goals for your life. I know that can be easier said than done, but work on it - even while you are out wheeling the chair. Sometimes we get so tied up in the life of another person that we forget who we are, and need to rediscover ourselves.(((((((hugs)))) Joan
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I also put off my health check ups and didn't eat healthy. I ended up in the hospital for 4 days in IV antibiotics. Doctors said I would have died if I hadn't came to ER. I was so out of it in my head I didn't realize how sick I was. Walked around with pneumonia for 6 months.
Now I'm eating healthier (hard) no sugar, caffine, fried food, flour, soda, alcohol. Pretty much bland diet (do cheat at times).
You have to take care of you because no matter how healthy you are the STRESS from caregiving will bring you down. Please take care of yourselves!!-
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Wow, can I identify with this question. I have put my doctor appts. On hold for over a year since my 90 yr old mother came to live with me. I finally had a heart to heart talk with one of my sisters about staying with our Mom once in a while to give me a break and also for scheduled dr. appts. I have scheduled dicferent type of exams on the same day so as to make it easier and less likely to have conflicts. My sister lives about 2 hours drive from me and she is 70', ten yrs older than me. She has fibromyalgia and it bothers her from time to time. She also has a husband to prepare meals, etc. My husband passed away four years ago so I am single. Anyway it is easy to not take care of yourself, but not a good thing to do. I think I've been a little depressed because of my husband passing and pretty much didn't care about me so much. I am trying to plan ahead now and take care of me, as no one will do it for me.
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I have been caring for my mother, pretty much solo, for the last 7 years. Last year, I didn't get to my own doctor at all! I remember making appointments and then canceling/rescheduling several times till I eventually gave up. I realized later on (like so many caregiver friends reminded me) that I can't take care of her if I don't take care of myself. This includes following up on my own health and taking some time away to "recharge my batteries".

I respect how hard it is, but in the long run, you're doing everyone a favor when you take care of yourself. Even if you have to hire a sitter for your parents, please don't neglect your own physical health. Good luck!
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I'm not alone in caregiving my 2 bedridden parents. My oldest sis comes Mon-Friday while I'm at work. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterul, stroke and heart attacks run in our family - 3 ended up bedridden. Here where I live, we have a high rate of cancer (breast, ovarian, prostate, leukemia). Due to this, I do make time to have my annual physical check up on the same day that I have my mammogram. I also schedule my annual teeth cleaning, xrays and dental exam as close as I can with my medical appointments. This way I get it all done within that short time period.

There was a time period when I did not do the medical/dental checkups. I finally went to the clinic for severe pain in my lower stomach. When done with my appointment, I had one of my "dizzy spells" and slammed against the wall. Doc was shocked and rushed me back to the exam table. My heart sounded really bad - from a scale of 1 to 7 and 7 being really bad, my heart was a 6. It seems I had an infection in my heart, ordered home and home care with daily IV antibiotic for 6 weeks. This was 6 years ago.

I don't want to end up like my parents - bedridden. You can just keep it simple. Annual physical/medical check-up with the regular blood tests and pap and mammo.

Sorry...my eyes are blurring and I'm finding it difficult to think. It's time for me to go sleep..now. Later!!
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I have been taking care of my husband for the last 8 months, and have hardly left the house! Now I am taking time for myself because I know my health is suffering. Started back at the gym, also want to take a few art classes! It's important to take care of you!
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My mother neglected her health to take care of my aunt. My mom was 68 and aunt was 88. My aunt had was very demanding and Mom ran herself ragged trying to take care of her sister and make her happy! 10 months later Mom had a debilitating stroke and I ended up with both of them! My girls were not quite 2 & 9 at the time and I basically had 3 in diapers at the same time and no time to work on potty training with my daughter. I tried to juggle it all for about 3 years and we all paid the price. I never got to sleep through the night because some one always needed a help for the spotty or pillows adjusted - when my aunt wanted attention she would mess with her colostomy bag until it came loose and
made a big mess for ne to clean up! My mother would fall to get attention and after 3 years if picking 200 pounds of dead weight off the floor I now have chronic shoulder problems. One of my uncles finally took my aunt but my mom was even needier after that. It took my oldest daughter trying to run away because of all this to wake us up. Mom is now in a personal care home and my own family comes first now. Her appointments come after the kids' and mine. For various reasons I have had to homeschool my girls (oldest in now in public high school) and although it is a constant battle nothing us allowed to interfere with school work. I admit that my mother doesn't get to all the doctor's appointments she wants - it is a struggle to get to the most necessary ones but I have 2 girls who need their mom and I need to be here for them. When mom complains I always remind her that if anything happens to me there will be no one to help her. Our parents have had their chance to raise their families and as much as we may love them and/or feel obligated it is now our turn. Our kids need us more than our parents do. Their lives are just beginning and they need our attention and guidance to thrive. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn and I finally started therapy to get things back on track. I really regret the things I
missed with my kids when I was trying to do everything and I am paying the price with various behavioral problems with the girls.
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