I'm not cut out to be a caregiver...I feel like I'm losing my mind. What do I do?

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My husband and I took my 61 year old mother in in May after my father died. They had gambled EVERYTHING (their home on the golf course, retirement, pensions, etc. literally everything). They were living in a filthy apartment...and not taking care of themselves. My brother and I tried to intervene many times, but were told to mind our own business and they got to the point that they would only call me if they needed something.

My mother has changed drastically, she is not the person that raised me....she is living here rent free, and refuses to do anything to help out. She has diabetes (I think dementia too)and won't eat unless I make her meals (unless there is junk food in the house). She won't even scrape her platen after meals, she leaves it on the counter food and all for me to deal with. She goes 5 to 6 days without bathing and I have to argue with her about it. Today she smelled of urine so bad that I could smell it across the room and I said something about it, thinking that she'd go change or clean herself up or something, but no...It doesn't bother her in the least. She doesn't care that this is my home, there is no respect for that. Her room is dirty, her bathroom is disgusting to the point that I can't even have company. I'm embarrassed. She wants to go everywhere with me and then when I take her with me, she acts like she's going to drop dead from exertion. I agreed to let her move in to keep her off the streets, I didn't agree to be her full time caregiver.


Yesterday I woke to find her calling for me from the bathroom. She decided to take a bath and couldn't get out of the tub. She was twisted up under the bench I bought her for the shower. My poor husband had to come in an pull her out of the tub. She said that she had an awful night, that she got stuck in the closet and couldn't get out. I have no clue how she got stuck in the closet. Now not only do I have to deal with her every waking hour of my life, I have to worry about her hurting herself at night. I didn't ask for this and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it together. My anxiety level is through the roof.

I want her out of my house and I know that sounds bad. What do I do?

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It only goes DOWNHILL from here. It she is truly indigent - has no assets to speak of - get the ball rolling for Medicaid. You do NOT have to wait until you are approved to place her in a NH - at least that is what they told us. They will take her and do the paperwork and be paid by Medicaid. Not 100% sure on this - do ASK - but if you are looking at NH's - and do start looking - they will help you. Get on their list - rooms are not always available at the 'inn.'

If all you said is true and your mom is only 61 - it is time to act - now. Don't wait and don't feel guilty. It is pretty hard to be on the 24/7 shift. :0(
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Get her to a doctor and insist on a full medical work up and mental health evaluation when you make the appointment. I would also document your observations along with a little history and mail that to the doctor ahead of time. I did that with my mom so they could ask the right questions and had some perspective.

Do not feel bad you aren't cut out for full time caregiving -- especially in light of what you've told us. Once you hear from the doctor, you and your husband should sit down and figure out her finances, social security, veteran benefits, etc and see what placements might be available for her. She's young, so it might be that she can only go to an apt or senior facility on a sliding scale, you'll have to see and also consider the drs findings and prognosis.

If she is okay and just bully, then you'll have to set boundaries regarding living together and expectations including hygiene. Give her a choice to either get with the program, accept and pay for help to assist her and you, or she has to move out.

This could be a very long care journey for you, so if it is this difficult now, it won't get any easier and you won't get any less tired or younger...

Good luck and keep us posted. It's always helpful for us to hear what happened and what you did to cope or remedy the situation.
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There is a fairly bad encephalopathy, in addition to vascular dementia, that can happen with long standing suboptimally managed diabetes. The microcirculation everwhere goes bad due to the high glycoslyation of various tissues (what's her hemoglobin A1c been like? - probably not good from what you are saying...) plus atherosclerosis, (coromary artery and peripheral vascular disease) an doften peripheral neuropathy. Mom has likely lost a lot of her judgement, empathy, initiation, strength and coordination, which is why she is not acting the way she used to, and it may or may not be partially reversable with changes in medical management.

And, it may not be so much you are not cut out to be a caregiver, as you are expecting yourself to do the impossible - i.e. one person giving full time one on one supervision to someone who needs it badly, 24-7. That's why nurses have *shifts.* The decision(s) on how to to get your life and hers in better shape may not be easy, but is yours and your husband's to make; Mom won't be able to make good choices at this point, though you may try to respect her wishes as far as possible (and no further). Blannie is right, it ideally starts with a good medical eval whether Mom is willing or not, so you know what you are dealing with. This is a long, hard journey - maybe not "never" ending, but long and with a very steep learning curve of learning things you never really wanted to know...

Please stay in touch and feel free to let us know how it all goes! You may find yourself giving advice as much as getting it sooner than you'd think.
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Everything I wrote about compulsive gambling, and trying to intervene for your mom in that area, is based on the idea that she is otherwise healthy. I re-read the posts here and realized there may be much greater underlying medical problems, and of course, that has to be addressed, under control, ruled out first as the cause of her behavior. Good luck, I wish you the best.
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Hmmm. Do you consider your mother a compulsive gambler, a "degenerate gambler" if you will? If you think that she is, and has been, she could benefit greatly, imho, from going to a local Gamblers Anonymous meeting. You can find a directory of your local meeting location/times online. If you took her to a meeting, maybe it could help show her how she has been avoiding all her feelings in life. Seems to me, this is where your mother is at. She doesn't care anymore.

I used to gamble to avoid feelings. It was my escape from reality. I let everything else in my life just go down the tubes, and its a mindset that crept in over years. I don't know that I'm describing your mother's issues, but it sure sounded a bit familiar to me... her all-around lack of interest, responsibility, and self-respect.

You can't ever "force" anyone get involved in a 12-step recovery program, but you could take your mother to a meeting and see if she would be willing to keep going to them. She is young enough to recover herSELF, her own sense of worth and purpose, if she so chooses. She's in a bad spot right now, seems like. Good luck.

Oh, and don't be afraid to use Tough Love on her. In my experience, when we start avoiding all responsibility in life at this level your mom's at, we need to be "shocked" back into a little reality. You will be doing her a favor. No one truly desires to live like what you've described.
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Get her qualified for medicaid and find a suitable alternate living arrangement. Do not give in to guilt finding other arrangements. Caregiving is just not for some people. Elder abuse is on the rise and the main reason is because adult children are being forced into a stuation they are ill prepared for. Not saying you would harm your mom, but severe frustration could inadvertently cause some people to do things they would never think they were capable of doing. For everyone's safety find different living arrangements.
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I agree with everyone's advice.

About her behavior - it is very inconsiderate and may seem deliberate and hostile. But if she has all these health problems, and especially dementia, then what you are seeing probably is the result of a brain malfunction. In a way, it is "not her fault." It might be easier to get through this process if you can try to pity her, as well as being angry. Of course you are angry. She is ruining your life. But she wouldn't act like this if she were well.

This is a TEMPORARY hell you are going through. God bless you.
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Dear Wendeelou: No one would fault you for admitting that you do not feel cut out to be a caregiver. Not everyone is, and you would be doing your Mom a bigger kindess to find her suitable professional assistance, whether in your home or in a facility - rather than struggling with resentment, burnout, financial complications and strained family dynamics. Elder caregiving is never-ending and can change your life completely - which you've only had a taste of so far. However, I just read your profile (not mentioned in your above story). I think it is very significant that your profile states Mom has a heart condition and had a stroke!! You only mentioned diabetes in your story. Those two other medical issues certainly changes the dynamics of what you are dealing with. We are all thinking it unusual that a 61 year old woman would be exhibiting such signs of early dementia, and it may very likely be the stroke that has caused her some significant mental impairment that is causing her troublesome behavior. Since she is clearly not in her right mind, and you have chosen to take responsibility for her, then I say take full charge in getting her properly examined and diagnosed. This is something I would not let up on until I was satisfied that I had all the answers necessary to make fully informed decision as to her future care. For starters, I would make a detailed list of her past lifestyle and current strange behaviors and show it to her primary care doctor (he can read it before he goes to see her in the examining room). If he is worth is salt, he would probably do a full physical, and probably other diagnostic tests and most likely referrals to other doctors like a cardioligist and neurologist. I hope you have medical and financial POA's over your Mom (if you don't, please put seeing an elder law atty on your list). In the meantime, considering your Mom's mental status, medical/physical conditions and behavior, and the fact that she is living in your home, I believe you are within your rights to take full charge and management of her, since she is clearly not capable of making decisions or caring for herself. In fact, If you don't see to her proper medical care and well-being, you could be found neglectful if anything ever happened that resulted in authorities being called in. Some might say by getting some part-time caregivers into the home that she may be more inclined to behave (like for bathing regularly), and that may be helpful also. But the immediate need is to find out what is causing her behavior in the first place, because you know something is very wrong, and trying to deal with it all yourself can make you lose your mind. So take charge and give her no choices. Since Mom is living in your home, I believe your husband has a say in the proceedings and I would value his opinion and solicit his assistance to you). I would suggest that you have your husband or another person accompany you in the car, just in case your Mom freaks out while you are enroute to the doctor. For all practical purposes, your Mother is now the child, and you of course are the adult. I hope you find the courage to deal with her from that mindset. God bless you, and best wishes.
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Dont feel bad not everyone is cut out for cargiving I love my mum but i cant do this anymore its too stressful and ive no help from anyone else. If my mum was just old I could cope but not this im ill from stress and need to get her into a home but she wont go its her house so I cant make her but will see what happens sometimes it takes a fall or something to make them realise they need help?

I dont think anyone should feel guilty about not been able to care for someone with this illness I for sure do not my health is just as important as my mums and my old mum would never have wanted to be a burden she would want me to have a life.
Its very hard but if you cant cope talk to a doctor maybe get some hired help?

Good luck and dont feel bad even professionals find this tough we are only human!
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It sounds like your mother has many problems and it was very kind of you and your husband to take her in. 61 is very young to have such problems. If she is unable to care for herself, or doesn't want to even try; perhaps you could look into a facility for her. If she has no funds, she would most likely qualify for Medicaid. Elder Services in your town could help you with ideas and what options are available. There is nothing wrong with not being able to cope in these situations. Every situation is different and caretaking in your home is not always the best thing.

I agree with having her physical and mental health evaluated and that will help you determine what to do. Hugs to you and take care.
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