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I'm burnt out. In fact, I'm burnt to a crisp. My 84 year old mother has dementia. Although she still calls me by name, she doesn't have a clue that I'm her daughter (I'm just a "good friend"), she thinks her parents are still living, she thinks my father, who passed in 1989, is still living and last evening she was telling me some incoherent story about her brother and her sister.....but she's an only child. I know the things that she says and does are because her brain is lying to her & is telling her that things are real or true that truly aren't. I also know that she's not TRYING to stress me out. Still, I've been a 24/7/365 lone caregiver for 5+ years and the constant effort to keep her happy (she's quite demanding), keep her from wandering & field her continuously repetitive questions & anxities has worn me down, stressed me out & gotten me to the point where everything she says or does gets under my skin. Lately, I've been finding that I don't even want to hug her back when she wants one.

I'm burnt out. I know that I am. I even know HOW burnt out I am. I also know that one of the reasons why I'm SO burnt out is that I've been a caregiver my WHOLE life. I've been a nurse for 28 years, the last 5+ years while simultaneously caring for my Mom. I had to quit my job 7 months ago in order to be a full-time caregiver to Mom. I find myself feeling angry, isolated, resentful, physically tense and consistently tearful.

I know, for my sake, that Mom needs nursing home placement sooner rather than later. I've started touring nursing homes & getting all the necessary information to choose one. It might be another sign of how burnt out I am that when I think about placing her, I don't feel guilt. I actually feel a sense of relief......until I think about going back to work.....back to nursing. The thought of having to go back into ANOTHER caregiving role takes me INSTANTLY to tears again. I have no other viable skills....I've never worked in any other field...I'm single and have no other income....and I'm scared to DEATH that if I DON'T force myself back into nursing that I won't be able to pay my bills. On the flip side, I'm scared to death to GO back into nursing because a burnt out nurse is not a good nurse, nor a safe nurse.

Any other nurses out there that have reached critical mass & are SO burnt out that they don't think they can return to it? How did you "fix" your burn out problem?

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Hi Ozark, how about being a school nurse? No real problems, just mainly kids with stomach-aches and skinned knees. It will also give you plenty of adults to talk to and a change of pace from caring for your mom. I feel your pain, as Bill Clinton used to say! You're probably like burnt toast so the least thing hurts you. I really do sympathize. There were times, when I took care of my mom, that I was just so sensitive to everything a GD@#$ commercial could make me cry! Please try and get out in the fresh air and just breath! Blessings to you, Lindaz
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I am so sorry you are going through so much. As you know you need to keep yourself healthy now and care for the burn out. I am burnt out now myself. It helps to connect with others who understand. I am sure that when the time comes you will work out what is best for yourself regarding your career either with current work and/or whole new chapter.
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it seems to me that you are comparing caregiving for your mother to the caregiving role you have as an RN. When we put mom into memory care FINALLY... About 3 years after we should have, but daddy just wouldn't allow us to, due to his selfishness. Poor mom he kept her there and just told her to be quiet and sit down all the time. We were there for her to bathe her etc... But the minute we put her into the facility... A beautiful facility... Very expensive but worth it... It felt like ten thousand pounds was lifted off our shoulders. We were able to really laugh for the first time in years. It made an enormous change in our lives for the better. Of course our elation was short lived because daddy suddenly became a toddler at age 87 and expected everything to be done for him by my husband- otherwise known as the magic fairy- I really think you will be surprised when you make the transition with your mom, how much your attitude will change. You can't possibly make the decision in your current position. I would not rule out going back to work at this point. Once you take care of the situation that is zapping you of all of your energy, everything will seem a little bit brighter and much more simple. and everyday it's a little bit better, a little bit lighter. Its like the wall in boot camp, or so I hear from my husband the Marine... It's like the longest day...you feel like you are drowning, and simply can't make it and suddenly you realize there are a whole team of caregivers taking care of Mom. We had an amazing experience with Eskaton. I hope you will be able to take the necessary steps to get to that point. It was the best feeling I had had in years. I wish you the best going forward. Sincerely, finished
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Dear Olly,
OMG, I can relate. You are not alone. I am the only child of my 92 year old mother who has moderate Alzheimer's dementia. Things are getting way out of control and she shows open disdain and hatred for me. I can't take it anymore and I am entrusting her care to an assisted living/memory care facility in one week.
As one nurse to another and one caregiver to another, change your situation SOON! Your letter is screaming for RELIEF.
From Wikipedia (you KNOW this but seeing it in writing may help);
Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period over which an individual perceives he or she has no control. It involves an endocrine system response in which occurs a release of corticosteroids. While the immediate effects of stress hormones are beneficial in a particular situation, long-term exposure to stress creates a high level of these hormones that remains constant. This may lead to high blood pressure (and subsequently heart disease), damage to muscle tissue, inhibition of growth, suppression of the immune system,[1] and damage to mental health.
Can you see what it's doing to YOU? You can't kill the caregiver while assisting the demented. Your mother is at the end of her life but you have half a lifetime yet to live.
As daughters (then women and nurses), we are taught to always put the other person/patient ahead of ourselves. Many of us come from dysfunctional and codependent families and it's even more ingrained there. We are "programmed" to care for others. Society even puts in their two cents by expecting us to be the caregivers. We are bombarded from all sides.
Now comes the hard part, getting rid of the GUILT for NOT doing it. There should BE no guilt for placing your loved one in a stable, secure, nurturing facility where there are THREE shifts of caregivers to assist your family member.
Also, take one step at a time. Don't worry about returning to your nursing job right now. Find a suitable place for your mom and move her there. Block out guilty feelings by whatever means you can (I don't mean a bottle of wine every night :), but meditation, praying, reading, massage, visiting friends, relaxation breathing, etc. Realize that you gave it your ALL and, by placing your mom in others' care, does NOT mean you've FAILED. You successfully helped her to this point for the last 1,825 days!! Now it's someone else's turn because you need to nurse YOU back to good health.
You are looking at returning to work while still BEING a caregiver. There would be no way to do the two jobs at once. It's a possibility that, after your life has been returned to you and you are relaxed, the nursing job won't SEEM like care giving anymore. It could be the way it was prior to caring for your mom. There are some good suggestions above that would also take you out of "direct patient care".
Too many of us are loosing our health, marriages, relationships with children and friends, jobs, savings and sanity due to this thankless job. We've done the best we can.
The fifth commandment is Honor thy father and mother. To honor is to treat with respect, to do what's right for them. At this point, placing your mother is right for her. She will be well attended to by people who aren't near mental collapse.
Good luck and I'll be praying for you.
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wow ozarkolly....you've been thru ENUFF!! the reason you don't feel guilty about placing your mom is because you have HIT THAT WALL...and now you move forward to make your next decision because you have to!!! place your mom in a rest home. Take one day at a time...it's OVERWHELMING when you try to plan your future when you're FRIED!! Once you place your mom...SLEEEP! When you pass the hurricane, you will be of sound mind again...and will see a much BRIGHTER future! Don't think it could ever be worse for you than it is now! Take care...keep posting!
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Stellah, it is family dysfunction that does many of us in. Have you checked out some of the stories on the dysfunctional thread?https://www.agingcare.com/discussions/The-Caregiver-Dysfunctional-Families-149068.htm?cpage=0&cm=538505&utm_source=Notification&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Discussion#538505

What we all need to learn to accept is that even our families attimes will not and frequently refuse to provide any of the love and support that would help us, especially sibs. Why? Maybe they feel guilty? Is it easier for them to simply distance themselves from the situation? Is it too difficult for them emotionally to see the parents decline? Just some things to think about.
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Mom is with late stage vascular dementia...She is not the problem it is the family dynamics...Emotional support instead of disengagement...Edification would be appreciated...Genuine heartfelt appreciation for mom and I...It is not too much to ask...oh, maybe a call or skype sometimes...maybe a visit or suggestion to come for holiday without my bringing it up first...maybe stop the head games..just simply love....
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Hi OzarkOlly. Reading Your story is heart breaking, and yes You are exhausted. What a shame it is OUR SIBLING'S leave it all fall on Our shoulders.
Try to get care help in to relieve You three mornings weekly to allow You some free time for You. You will need to take a good long break before returning back to work, but for now take one day at the time.
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God never quits, Ozark! HE will be there for you ALWAYS!
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I was thinking a lot last night about how many posts I read which are written by good people, who keep going on one plan of caring for someone, to the point of losing too much of their own life. And even when the inner voices start trying to speak (depression, burn out feelings, burn out) they often try not to listen to those. They go back to the upper brain and run game plans of what they are supposed to do to be a good person or good child. I find myself summing up my reminder to myself in my own way: "Be a good person, but don't be a stupid good person". Don't hold on to the cerebral game plan (I have to take care of her) endlessly when the inner voice is trying to talk about recommending change. When caregiving is consuming you or enmeshing you, make some dedication to options and changes and not only to further sacrifice to the end.
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Dear Ozark,
I know exactly how you feel. I went thru this at age 14 when forced to stay home from High School to care for my dysfunctional Mother with cancer. I grew up fast learning to juggle things responsibly, and became excellent at it, to the point I burnt out somewhere along the way. When u wake up feeling emotionally like a crispy critter, and realize your life is not your own anymore and you are not enjoying it, its time to take action to let someone else help. for your career, what about change to caring for Animals? Many shelters are so in need of help. With your experience I'm sure you'd be welcome as a Volunteer. That often leads to paid positions. If you like it enough, think about Veterinary Assistant classes, and be a Pet Nurse! Animals give unconditional love..unlike most humans.
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Hi, guys...thanks for all of the encouragement & the prayers. I've probably had more talk with God lately than with anyone else. He's probably so tired of hearing from me that He hopes I forget his "phone number". LOL.

I did look into adult daycare but, unfortunately, the one & only adult daycare in my area closed its doors in June. We're extremely rural here & resources are very limited. My only current option for respite is either to hire an in-home aide, which I can't afford while off work or a respite stay in a nursing home. As resistant as she has been to nursing home admission, if I can succeed in getting her in a home...it's gonna be permanent.

I have a meeting scheduled for Oct 15th with her elder lawyer to discuss all of my options legally & financially. Normally, I'd have to make the 3 hr drive to his office but he was kind enough to agree to meet at an alternate location that cuts my drive down to 2 hrs. Hopefully, I will walk out of our meeting with a "battle plan" that will give me a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Once I'm able to "re-enter the light", THEN I guess I'll tackle the question of whether I can mentally & emotionally return to the demands of nursing. Until then, I'm taking it day-by-day & giving it up to God to guide me in the right directions.
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I forgot to mention in my earlier response: The reason why I suggested you get a break NOW is that once you get your head cleared, you'll be able to make choices based on what you want to do versus out of desperation. Your degree can be used in different settings that don't require one-on-care- you're very lucky that most likely, you won't need to go back to school or if you need a certification to just get your foot in the door, the expense for this will be minimal. You need time to yourself NOW - even if it's only once a week - so you can think more clearly about what you want to do. If you can, just get a caregiver for one night - one night - check into a hotel nearby, take a hot bubble bath, order pizza, wine...whatever your pleasure - and get that much needed deep long-needed sleep that your body and mind needs. You need to decompress - for your sanity. Don't delay! Like I said, check out the local massage school if you have one and see if they charge a student rate - which is ridiculously cheap to a LMT. Or go on Craig's List and see if someone is selling his/her unused Day Spa Pass. I recently found one valued @ $400 and the girl was selling it for $150 due to a very bitter break-up with her guy - and this was a top spa in town. Good luck!
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I too am a retired RN, who has been long distance care giving for both parents for 3 years. Also run a sm home business and have a hubby here with early Parkinson's, so I'll be his help meet as he gets worse. I am TIRED! Dad passed away in August. Mom is 100 times worse to deal with than Dad was, and is still at home, but she's almost out of money. Won't consider leaving her house. I cannot have the two of them together in my home with me. I agree with the others about looking at other kinds of nursing. Also, how about a small business as a consultant, or as someone who creates a 'care plan' for others, but doesn't do the plan? I've often thought back on all I've had to learn about all the resources available through the government Dept of Aging and Alzheimers organizations, and applying for Medicaid for Dad....dealing with the VA system....and wondered why someone has not written a book about all thee resources?? So many on this site are doing everything alone, and seem to have never been given a resource like Day Care for the Elderly!! They are too busy 'doing it all' to research anything that might help them. Maybe earn some money using your nursing brain to help others this way, and without being an actual hands on caregiver??
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Taking care of our elderly parents can wear OUR bodies down. Not one of us on this forum would say "gee, I feel on the top of my game." Make sure you take your multi vitamin. Have some time to yourself, even if it just to go to your car and scream!
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Have you researched areas inwhichyiur RN degree is viable, like Googling the question. Also research consulting firms that deal in medical arena or public health. Just a thought. Be creative, which right now may be difficult, but go on line and drew hay might come up. Perhaps you can become on independent consultant or trainer, etc.
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I don't have time to read all the responses but some of the ones that I read are marvelous. You will be able to find another career as an RN that is not in caregiving. I do know that there is a growing demand for Nurse Advocates. I hope you look into that with your vast experience.
Secondly, you must build in time for yourself as a caregiver because as you well know you are likely to get very sick from this amount of stress. In my area, there are exceptional day care programs for dementia patients. That would give you a half or whole day to yourself. Also, is your Mom a widow of a veteran? There could be money for her through VA Aid and Attendance to help you and to pay you. It's only about $1165/mo but it's tax free and could pay retroactively. I strongly suggest that you find someone to sit with her while you go to support groups and learn about other options for her care but more importantly, for your own personal health. Having a caregiver come in once a week to be with her, will give you another break. I am stressing at this point that you find some support and relief.
Also, in my area, no one goes to a nursing home if they can help it; especially with dementia - they don't have trained and enough caregivers to give the proper care to dementia patients. It's a unique kind of care requiring staff who get breaks, training, and are devoted to their careers as dementia caregivers.
Hope all this helps, and good luck!
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also, with a masters degree one can teach at a junior college.........all sorts of other options
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When I think about my own future, though I will cling to my own home as long as possible, the one thing I assure you qualifies me for 'nursing home placement' is when I don't even recognize my daughter. Too much of "me" is gone at that point, and its all over at that point. I don't think falls, or fires, or bad food, too much TV, too few baths, or social isolation, or mess should force me to go, but when my brain is that far gone then its OK with me, in advance. By the way, I'm practicing to make sure I have good habits on the other stuff before I lose my mind.
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I too retired my job if 27 years to care for my 88 year old mom who suffers from dementia and needs 24/7 care. I'm on a year into this, and already feeling overwhelmed, angry and so many more emotions. My state (Maine) has a state funded program that will reimburse 80% of respite care expenses (up to $3,800.00 per fiscal year) to those who qualify financially. There must be a diagnosis of dementia verified by the patient's doc. I'm about to use this for the first time, and it's truly a Godsend.
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I get it. I worked as a caregiver, human services work, and all kinds of people stuff, in addition to being the oldest of a huge family.My second jobs were usually related as well. Caregiving for partner currently. I am not working at the moment due to my own medical issues, and not able to return to my usual employment......it helps to have TONS of time for self care. I don't mind helping out sometimes, but I reach a point were I can only do a few basic things like hold a door open for a stranger, and i hit my max out point again. Thats ok Someone elses turn. Its not so bad to take ones time about jumping back into the fray Takes time to heal. Good luck to you
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I'm so sorry for your exhaustion. I cared for my mother for 7.5 years with dementia and I know how you feel. But I will tell you, when she's gone you will wish you could hear one more question, see one more smile and hold her hand one more time. My mom died 4 months ago and I miss her everyday and believe me caregiving was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. Did you know that Hospice offers palliative care for dementia, and the patient doesn't have to be end of life for this program. It covers a once a month social worker (that helps you with the stress) a nurse that visits the patient and a doctor on call 24/7 and 4 hours a week of respite from volunteers. There is a fee but it's well worth it. Stay praying daily, hourly or minute by minute and God will give you shelter from your frayed nerves, emotions and exhaustion. Also you may want to use those 4 hours of respite to attend a caregiver support group. Prayers for you from me. May God bless you and wrap his loving arms around your heart and soul to continue this journey and to give you the wisdom to let go when you can't do it any more.
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It is definitely time to get your mom into a good memory care facility! You've worked so hard and sacrificed so much for your mom and just know that if she were her normal self she would be so grateful for all have done! I'm also going to assume that if she were in her right mind she would never want to you to suffer and potentially sacrifice your own health and future to care for her 24/7. My mom has mild dementia and some days are so overwhelming, I'm not sure how you have done it so long!! If you can find a good place that you're comfortable with it will be so much better. It won't be 100 percent without issue and effort on your part but at least you'll be able to move forward with your life and be able to visit her and be her "daughter" not her "nurse". If there are extra funds available in the mean time, I would strongly suggest hiring a visiting nurse/companion even if it's 3 hours, once a week to give yourself a mental and physical break. It can work wonders!! It's okay to make yourself a priority. Good luck to you and take care of yourself!!
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My young cousin is an R.N. and she recently moved from direct patient care to teaching hospital software to docs and other medical personnel. The college I work for is looking for R.N.s right now to teach in the BSN completion program. If you enjoying writing, you might be able to start a side career penning articles for newspapers and journals.

But first I would take a long, well-deserved vacation. You've earned it.
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I know someone who was an RN for 25 years (head nurse in a busy ER) and now works as a chart coder. It's much less stress and no direct patient contact. She's had to take some courses to learn coding rules and regulations, but with Medicare and the Boomer generation, there's lots of need for qualified medical chart coders.

I think it's time to place your mom and take a break and figure out what you want to do after you get some rest. I'd also suggest you try to find something you love to do that totally takes you out of your present day moment. For me, that's the sport of pickleball. I get such joy playing that I feel mentally refreshed when I'm done playing. It's a great sport for older folks (I've played with a woman who was 87 and I regularly play with people in their 80s). You might like yoga or horseback riding or tennis or walking in the woods - just find something physical that you love to do. It can truly refresh you mentally and physically.
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Harp, I have seen compassion fatigue, and sib that is a counselor exhibits all of it. Why she even diagnosed me! Unethical IMHO. Counselor has stated that she has enough caregiving stress with her clients and would not be willing to lift a finger to help with the 24/7 caregiving for four years that I provided.

Off on a tangent there I go.


There are many consultant type positions that RN's would be very good at, while not providing the hands on care for anybody. There are nurse and social worker types that work in attorneys offices to assist families to negotiate the elder care maze. They also help it identify suitable facilities to place the elderly relatives. And just think, while doing your own shopping, of all the training you received!
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OzarkOlly -- you've worked very hard and want rest. Grant that to yourself. Your KSA's are so valuable, try to regroup after resting and follow the urging from many of us to stay in the medical profession.
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You know, many churches these days also have staff nurses that do follow-up calls and visits to members of the congregation. May not be the same sort of paycheck you were used to as an RN, but it could be steady income with benefits & significantly less stress.
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I meant to type "compassion fatigue". Here is a link. compassionfatigue/pages/compassionfatigue.html
I was at a workshop where a speaker discussed this topic.
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First I want to applaud you and praise you for your ability to give the devotion to mom all these years....I say that because I gave similar care to my invalid wife for two years and then my heart gave out. I was so tired and burnt out that as they wheeled me to the operating room I was not at all concerned with the immediately upcoming open heart surgery, but instead had an immense feeling of relief that I was being granted at least a couple of months of true respite.

You may well be able to find work in nursing in some of the ways others have suggested...There are such jobs as school nurses, industrial nurses and so on.
You may even feel comfortable in working for an agency and doing one on one home visitations.

First and foremost as I see it is that you should (must?) find immediate respite, on a frequent basis. One day off a week would do wonders. (In my case, I took a couple of two day trips in the two years I cared for my wife in our home. It was so refreshing.) My assignment was nowhere near as stressful as yours. My wife was grievously handicapped, but was agreeable...She could not speak and was paralyzed on one side but her mind was clear. She has lived in a nursing home since 2007, which is when my heart gave out.

Grace + Peace,
Bob
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