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I have been having a harder time than normal taking care of my mother. She seems to be going downhill, but I don't know how much is real and how much is make-believe. She looks so tired and each step she is taking is like it is going to be her last. She talks about how bad she feels. But if we go to church or to get her hair done, she perks right up. Then she gets home and slips back into the barely living mode.

Yes, it sounds like depression. We've tried some antidepressants. Those that do any change at all make her hypomanic and obsessive, which is more nerve wracking than the depression. The obsessive activity wears her out, so she looks very bad when she is hypomanic. If I give her an extra Ativan, it helps her mood, but she doesn't get enough Ativan each month to do that often.

I'm having problems knowing what to do. I don't know if she is really nearing death. Her vitals say no, she isn't. Going somewhere helps for a while, but it's worse when we get back. I'm starting to worry about leaving her alone when I have to do things, but when I get back she is always fine.

I know she is getting older and closer to death, but I suspect she is dying more in her mind than she is in her body. It is so, so hard to live with someone who is spending each moment dying. I have a feeling there's nothing more I can do, since I do so much already. I just wish there was some way besides Ativan that I could make her want to enjoy life, instead of spending the last of it focused on dying. I hope that makes sense.

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Jessie, you are a pillar of strength, wisdom and devotion. I've often wondered how you can always be so cheerful, so devoted, so helpful, soo...well, always upbeat.

I think that sometimes just trying to maintain that approach can be wearing. It is an extremely demanding task, often with no or little appreciation, and it's emotionally and physically draining.

I think one of the most difficult aspects to recognize and accept, even though we probably know it subconsciously, is that we are caregivers but not totally responsible for those aspects we can't give, or generate: attitudes, depression, will to live, motivation, and more. Yet I think we often feel that we need to provide everything for our parents, or at least be responsible for addressing all their issues, moods, outlooks, etc.

Perhaps understanding and defining those different areas is necessary to maintain balance between obligations to ourselves and obligations to our loved ones.

Yesterday was one of those days when I had to keep telling myself that there are things that I can't influence and I can't allow myself to become upset over them. Regardless of how much I try, regardless of what persuasions I use I'm not going to be able to change the situation. Yet I can't accept the wa it is as it's not healthy. So what do I do?

You're in the same position, I think.

Reaching that balance between what we can do and what we can't (and need to just accept) is a treacherous journey marked by self-doubt, self-recrimination, questioning, evaluation, frustration and sometimes despair. It's a bad road to take. If I could do it over, I would choose a less treacherous road, but I didn't know then what I know now.

I don't know if I can really make any suggestions, other than to try to focus on what you can effect and control, and what you can't. And remember the inevitable law of mortality; it ends sometime....we can make the journey better, safer, more pleasant, but we never really know when that journey will end and we'll suddenly be released from the emotional conflicts accompanying the journey.
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At the moment I'm avoiding her. We're having vegetable soup for dinner. I brought her tea to her, then got her soup ready. She looked at the soup and started complaining that she didn't want that much. The way she said it was awful, like I'd done something wrong. I told her to just eat what she wanted and throw the rest away. She headed to the garbage and threw some away right then. It was so rude. All I could do is tell her that she could enjoy dinner by herself this evening. I'm back in my room now, enjoying my yummy vegetable soup. It is thick with vegetables and meat. Unfortunately, much of it will be smelling up the garbage this evening, so I'll have to take it out tomorrow morning.

People shouldn't have to live this way.
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GA, I am to the point where I just can't do anything more than I'm doing. I work from home, clean the house, do the landscaping, and do all the errands. Trying to schedule anything else would have to be done in my respite time. Like this afternoon -- this is the first chance I've had to get away this week. Me time, instead of tea time. :)

We do want to do things to make them happy and entertained, but after a while we learn it doesn't work. After a few up moments, it's back down right away, often lower than it was before. If a person is unable to be happy, nothing we can do will make them that way. So we do the best we can and hope we don't get lost in the unhappiness ourselves.
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I can relate to you JessieBelle, my mom seems closer to the Valley than yours but we also seem to be just waiting for God. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that there is nothing I can do to make it better. I can't make her favorite food or interest her in news or a TV show or talk family gossip because she just isn't interested. She doesn't even care if her basic physical needs are met, as long as she gets her pain meds she doesn't complain or ask for anything. She exists in her personal limbo land and I have had to accept that all I can do is wait with her and be a witness to her journey.
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Jessie on the theme of people become more like themselves the older they get your Mom's mental problems have come to the surface and she is hiding from them with her inactivity and constant negative behavior. Complaining about the soup which from past experience she knew would be delicious she was exerting the tiny bit of control she still has in her life. Most people would have eaten what they wanted and put the rest in the fridge but Mom decided she would show Jessie who was still boss.
You can't change her but you can change the way you react to her behavior just like Book did.if that is what helps.
Is it you who has the rabbit? Would having another pet like a very small dog take her interest. You could take it to the ice cream stand and have it eat half that would cut down your callories and get you out for some needed exercise.
I know she is unpleasant at times probably most of the time but she just does not have the desire or skills to change her ways. Why should she she gets all her basic needs met and being able to piss you off is her last little bit of control. You sound like an excellent caregiver you are just unlucky not to have a sweet little old lady rocking by the fireside waiting for the paper so she can read the obits and then the funnys and after that waiting for her beautiful dinner served on a Dresden plate with a small glass of whine. Well we can all dream can't we?
Another point about your parents, you say they both had unresolved mental issues well now there is no one to cancel her out and no sparing partner to take her agression out on so you are next in line. not helpful but i think if youcan figure out what is causing something it makes it easier to figure out a way to deal with it. You are not going to h*ll and horns are not allowed on A/C because they won't fit in our helmets.
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Jessie, you can always work out tomorrow. Day is a day for a treat - if you don't get a cone, get a Dairy Queen; I think they're a little bit healthier. And, oh, what flavors in the Blizzard range! ...pecan turtle cluster, French silk pie (are you getting hungry yet?), banana split blizzard, strawberry cheesecake blizzard, (are you out the door yet?) ... besides, you'll be helping Warren Buffett make more money.

Sometimes a bit of sugary food makes things seem better, or at least not so worse.

I think you're right about the options though - these caregiving situations are often not a choice of what's best, but what's the least worst option? Maybe that's a better way to view the situation - identify the worst case options and move backward to find something better.

Sometimes I think that when people reach a certain age, after a variety of health issues as well as the slow down that accompanies aging, they just decide to sit back and glide toward the end. We the caregivers are the ones suffering the angst over what can be done to help them.

Now, go have that ice cream and do some exercise tomorrow when it's cooler.
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Book, I can't even imagine growing up with such mental and physical abuse, yet despite it all you have remained at your core a caring, decent person. And Jessie, I think you also are caring for someone who has at times been less than loving?
(((HUGS))) to both of you, and all the others who have managed to rise above their personal challenges and become "good people". While is is not easy to watch those who once loved and cared for us crumble and disappear before our eyes, to care for those who may not deserve your love and devotion must earn you a special place in the hereafter.
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GA, no need to apologize. We do have the need to want to make things better. I think that's what keeps us trying. After almost 6 years, though, we figure out that this is as good as it gets. Sad thing was that it took me so long to figure it out. Must have had my helmet on too tight. :-D

Out the door to enjoy myself on this warm southern day.
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I love the statement about growing horns. I never thought of myself as a mean person but my MIL's verbal abuse and sour, foul mouth............well it makes me angry. Honestly, I am civil to her. That's it. I do feel bad that I am not more loving and sweet and kind - but it gets me nowhere. It's really hard to hug a porcupine! So..........caregiving has affected me in another way. It shows that I am not as nice as I thought! As the Bible says, it's easy to be kind to someone who is nice to you. What about your enemy? Honestly, I keep trying as it is the right thing to do. But those porcupine quills hurt!!!!
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Jessie, I can see a bit of my mother in yours. I OFTEN here the line about too much food & it pains me to see anyone wasting food. Not only are there people out there that would kill for what she wants to waste but, in an economy that's tough, I see dollar bills being tossed in the can! Also, mom's eating habits, or maybe more rightly, LACK of eating habits, has taken her from her 120lb norm to 93lbs.

I also have been getting the show boating when mom's in public. Life was never so grand, she's so fortunate being her age & feeling so wonderful & so very lucky to have such a wonderful daughter caring for her! (Ok, so I won't argue with that last part. LOL) At home, her neck hurts, her foot hurts, she's not hungry, I'm terribly mean & her life sucks...she just wants to "go back home" to the town where my brother lives because "I had such fun there, going out with my friends, doing things, visiting with all the neighbors..." Thing is, she's mourning a life that hasn't existed for at least a decade. She hasn't driven for many years so was stuck in the house, staring at 4 walls for 4 days a week wgile I worked. She used to bowl with 3 other senior ladies but when the only bowling alley in our farm community shut down she refused to ride along with the other ladies to an alley 30 miles away. And the neighbors she claimed she visited with all the time....we sat in the midst of 150 acres & they sat on 85 acres....we never saw them!! Thank God I have this farm to run & find solace in doing so or I think I would have lost every shred of sanity I ever had. And, of course, an occasional half-pint of Ben & Jerry's doesnt hurt, either...especially in this Missouri heat!
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