I am tired, even when I'm when wide awake. It's the kind of tired that seeps into your bones. I am not in physical pain but I feel like everywhere I turn, I am disappointing someone. My mother lives with me and is somewhat independent but not very. I feel like her personality is changing and she doesn't see it. She is in a lot of physical pain, diabetic, arthritic, and early stage dementia. I feel like she is extremely critical and constantly focusing on things I 'do wrong' or could do better but doesn't see any of her own issues. If I bring them up, she says blames her physical problems. I get that she is in pain and it's hard to know that you may be losing your control of your mind. I do not think she gets the responsibility she places on my shoulders every single day.

She can walk extremely short distances and occasionally does dishes, a light cooking of a meal, or folds laundry, everything else I do. I schedule her doctor appts and make she sure gets to them, I drop her off at the door of the clinic and push her in a wheelchair all the hospital, I do the majority of the talking to her doctors, I park her at the door of the clinic and go get the car. I carry her purse when she walks in and out of the house to the car, I back into the driveway so that she can get out on her side. I go to the store and get all the food, I make sure she takes her insulin, I pull her pants up after she goes bathroom because she can't reach behind her. I do all the laundry, I carry everything, I make sure her meds are filled and picked up. I make numerous phone calls on her behalf every week. I do all the shopping. I make sure all the bills are paid.

I listen to her cry when she is in pain. I listen to the same stories over and over and over til I can repeat them by heart. When she is searching for a word to say, I help her figure out what it is. I answer the same questions over and over. I remind her where she is, who is with her and what is actually going on. I calm her down if she has a bad dream. I make sure she wears her seatbelt in the car and I make sure the doors are locked because she occasionally tries to open the door when driving, I watch where she puts her hands in the car because she will occasionally grab the gear shift and yank it, I make sure she turns the car light off when she gets out because she always turns it on and forgets to shut off and it will wear down the battery.

I try to be sensitive to her feelings and not make her feel guilty or that she is limited or that I don't trust her. I try not to burden her and handle things myself. I listen to her talk for hours when I just want some silence. I am sitting here crying silently because she is asleep on the couch and I don't want her to wake and ask why I'm crying. I feel like i am watching someone I love die slowly and I feel guilty because I just want some peace.

I feel like all I do is listen to her talk about her feelings and I have to stuff mine in. If I ever complain about her she will say something like 'well maybe I'll be dead soon and you won't have to deal with it anymore'. I told her I thought she needed a friend or some other than me to talk to occasionally, one of her sisters or someone who is also old and in pain or dealing with the same health problems. Someone to complain about me to or just share with, I feel like she is lonely and putting all of her needs on me. Even all her conversation needs!

There is a tone of implied criticism in many things she says, maybe she doesn't mean it to come out that way but it does. Like yesterday, I was worried about something and it was like she was angry that I'd be worried and she wished I knew 'my rights' and didn't get upset. It was like she was implying it was a failing on my part to be worried, even though I have been through similar things before. Then there is the outright criticism of all the things I don't do or how I don't understand what her life is like. I know almost every facet of this person's life, I can almost tell you what she is going to say before she says it.

I do zone out when she's talking, I completely admit that. I do put off some things or not fill her in all my plans. I do this because she won't remember them or get them mixed anyways. It's a complete waste of time to give her more than small bits of information or to inform her of more than the next day's activities. I don't do everything she asks the minute she asks for it, because I have my own sh!t to do too.

She's so negative, and seems to look for the 'bad' thing to always happen or all bad possible consequences. It's frustrating and exhausting to listen too. I don't think I can express frustration because it's 'not fair' that she is the way she is. I just have to accept and work around it because there is no other option. Right?

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I'm struggling with this issue in some ways too and I don't think there's an easy answer, but there is an answer. I'm trying to work myself up to it. They have wants and they have needs. They want for you to be a constant companion and to dump every worry, fear, and negative feeling they have on you so they can feel better or comforted. This is the part that is emotionally exhausting and that we can set boundaries around. I think you need to put a space/time limit around how much of this talk from your mother you listen to before you come up with an excuse to cut the conversation short. Also you need space and a place to feel your own feelings - probably some kind of respite if you have it? Also it's not crazy to say this is too much for you and to look into assisted living options where your mother would have a lot more people to interact with.
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I was exhausted reading all this so I know you are doing it every day! You have caregiver fatigue!!! It's hard enough to have to use all your reserves to take care of someone and be on the alert, but then to be around the negativity it s HUGE drain. You do not have to take it and you must seek another way to live and yet be a daughter. You are no longer a daughter, you are an aide, nurse, chauffeur, personal assistant, maid, confessor, dumping ground, etc. I hope you will be able to first go see your doctor. Mine was a huge help when I was so mentally worn out and she was the one who insists my dad needed Asssited Living. I found it hard to be caring, I was so exhausted and he didn't even live with me. Boundaries mean you decide what you can and can not do or tolerate. You need them for sanity. It is not good for you to be around negativity and constant complaints. The lonely elderly begin to narrow their focus so that they are the center of the universe and do not see anyone else as having needs. They also use family as complaint central. You have a choice...remember that. Whether it's in home help, checking your mom into a respite bed at a SNF for a week so you have a break, or move her to ALF. Do see someone to help you make a first step and decision.
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Rachel I when I read your post, it sounded like I had written it myself! I'm dealing with the exact same issues and I know it's easy to say place them in assisted living , they'll do fine. Not so easy, my mother wouldn't do fine, she'd cry her eyes out and would have to be forced to leave her room. That would be more stressful on me then the current situation. So I guess we have to pick our poison. For now, I choose living with stress but not guilt, though of course as caregivers, guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.
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For all the caregivers ready this thread, make your decisions NOW. Let your loved ones know that you want to be placed in appropriate facilities when you're no longer able to care for yourself. Take the burden of this difficult decision off your family. It will be the greatest gift you can give someone your care for. Give them their life to live!
Helpful Answer (13)

Is there such a word as over-caregiving? You've willingly turned into a robotic slave in perpetual reaction mode.

See what you can do to level the playing field somewhat by sharing the physical and emotional exhaustion. Make a Mom's Chart with 3 columns: WHAT SHE CAN'T DO; WHAT SHE CAN DO WITH HELP; and WHAT SHE CAN DO INDEPENDENTLY. You'll notice most things fall under the last 2 categories.

She can, for example, do dishes more often and carry her own purse. If she has the vocabulary and the energy to find fault in everything you do, then she can talk with her doctors herself instead of using you as a mouthpiece.

You've chosen to operate beyond burnout. And now that guilt-ridden, 24/7 sense of obligation has you running on fumes. As long as you keep catering to her every need and whim -- whether real or imaginary -- she's not going to be inclined to do much on her own.
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Rereading everyone's suggestions seems everyone wants to do the right our parents..but for myself anyway...guilt keeps us from setting boundaries until we realize it's almost at the point of no return..we are so burned out we resent our loved one...who is in survival mode and sucking the life out of we don't even like or respect ourselves anymore..we feel selfish for even thinking of our own well being! It's like a trap I set for myself! Mom is at my brothers right now...and it's like a vacation for them...cause when she returns...I have to do the hard stuff..the banking..the doctors..the cooking...laundry etc..that makes me kinda angry...he gets to be the good guy..I'm the one she gets to verbally and mentally's gotten to the place..I want to be just her daughter again...not her caregiver....but then maybe I am over caregiving..hard to draw the line...hope I haven't offended anyone...I'm just thinking out loud
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It doesn't sound as though this is a good situation for either of you, does it?

How did this come about? Did you move her into your home? With what understanding? Are you being paid room and board and something for your caregiving? How much respite do you get each week?

What activities does your mom go to? Senior Ceenter, exercise class? How is her pain being managed? Have you looked into Assisted Living? I ask that because she sounds bored.

You sound very worn out. Have you been to your doctor recently? Talked about the strain that you're under?

It's good to vent, and this is a good safe place to do it. If it helps, great! But sometimes, you also need to know that there are steps that can be taken to better a bad situation.
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I am sure people are already telling you how you have to take care of yourself, and I am also pretty sure you are tired of hearing it. The reality is what you want to try and make people understand is that you are just tired of your life being taken away. I can tell from what you are writing that you love your mother, but you are tired, need someone to be grateful for the above and beyond you are doing, and need time to yourself. You need to see someone to talk to. Being frustrated, angry, tired and guilty are all normal responses and you need someone to tell you that. Getting it from someone that is experienced with caregiver stress will really help.
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You are doing a marvellous job looking after your mother, and seeing to all of her needs. I take my hat off to you!! However, you have to learn to take 'time out' for yourself. It's hard to even do that, but it is so important. When do you have a break from your mother? When she is sleeping, whether it is a sleep during the day or at night when she goes to bed. You cannot keep giving and giving without something breaking. Do yourself a favour and try to get 'time out', whether an interest, or coffee with a friend, reading a book at night, a walk down the road. Do you have other family than might have your Mum for a short time at all? All the best, Arlene Hutcheon
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SheriJean and others I think we all struggle with this. However, I've come to finally understand there is a limit to how much I can do (physically/emotionally/spiritually). Caregiving can be become so suffocating to the point of what you described so correctly!

I wish I had understood the boundary setting early on along with the guts to act on it then. It took me a while to get there, but I'm well on my way. We've started the year with my mom having two health crises and she's in rehab now near me. Dad is 45 min away in a house practically falling down around them. Even the house is saying please leave, get out and never come back! My wonderful hub has been caring for him. So we're getting dad moved in the next week or so to a really nice AL about 8 minutes from us. If mom survives then she'll move in with him.

We just told them both we're done! No ifs ands or buts you have to move for your safety and health as well as our sanity and health. Or I'll call social services and APS and let them guide what happens. So, they chose AL. The next will be to tackle the doctors. I'm sick of them, sick of hospitals, etc. The AL has doctors so I'll be looking into that after we get them settled.

We have to muster the courage to say when OUR time is up and follow through on getting them good care and get our lives back and peace of mind. I'm there now. I'm done running on fumes, just done.
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