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I have been caring for my mom alone for 7 years. She has early onset dementia but I am seeing a little slipping in her memory happening. I notice that I am getting irritated with EVERYTHING she does. The messes she leaves me in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. I try so hard to not snap at her, but I don't know why I'm so upset. The only time she really talks to me is to ask if I bought her Ginger ale, Pepsi, her cigarettes. That's it. We live together and I can't get her to shower. We have a walk in shower with a chair. She would rather wash up and "BATHE" in perfume, which irritates my sinsuses. Am I just picking? In my dreams, I am so very ANGRY. I know that I am burned out but I don't have anywhere to turn. She won't go to the local Senior center for social activities. She doesn't want to do anything but stay I. The house and watch TV. I am trying SSSOOO hard to keep her active and engaged, but she wants to fight me on everything. My sister is moving in with us in MAY, but she is bipolar and I am so dreading this move but my mom wants her here. I am lucky to be in a state that pays family to be a caregiver. So I AM being paid to care for her for 5 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am just so angry all the time and I need a break, but I don't know what to do. I do spend time with my new bf, but I don't think it's enough. Please be nice in your responses. I am really on the edge.

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Zena, you probably don't need to be told you have "hit the wall." So first thing is make sure you take care of yourself. Statistics on caregiver health etc are rising everyday. Can you get out and take a walk? Go to the mall and walk laps. Pay for someone to take that time for you...even if it is just a few days a week. Can you join anything that takes you away from the house once a week? Something to look forward to that can take you to a happier place??
Now consider what you can change and what you cannot. How old is Mom? Between pepsi , sitting and cigs she probably does not have much energy. Unfortunately that is just one more long term issue that might complicate her health. But if you cannot change it maybe you can compromise. Example: think about if you put a timer on the tv. What would she do if it wasn't on? Don't look at the answer though as "what should I do with her " if the tv is not on ?
It is good advice from the posters above about re-thinking your own expectations on the assistance you are giving. And above all, ditch the perfume. Dilute it, change it, trash it. My MIL who lived with us was a daily "gloria Vanderbilt" user and it permeated every fiber of her bedroom and bath. I can so relate. :)
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Hi. Just wanted to add.. I also went into "overload" when I was going to my moms house to do caretaking of her ( 85 & in late dementia stages). And- my older mentally disabled sister was in the home there too.
I got so -angry- one evening that I truly KNEW -- I was seriously pushing myself. Over-the Limit.
In my case - I stepped back and took time away.. Could you split up the paid hours with another caretaker and find another type of work (out of the home)?
I think my anger was a combination of grief and feeling totally burned-out.. Taking care of you really IS important. It's surprising! what can happen if you Make up your mind to Be sure -- that your own well being is considered. A more balanced way to handle the work load there that Does consider what your needs are too. Many hired Caretakers have told me that it's mich more difficult to take care of your own family member! You already have so many ties & emotions and history with your loved ones too. All your own childhood and past gets rolling around amidst the many caretaking needs & all it takes to care for a "patient" too..
--- special. Thoughts
And care your way.
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You might also be grieving. I find I get angry and realize it is at the illness and what it is doing to my mother.
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Zina, you are angry because you expected things to be different, and mom is no way going to be able to live up to your expectations. She has dementia and is living within her comfort zone, which is shrinking, and can't keep herself neat and organized. The burden on you is a lot worse than you ever had reason to expect before. And the prospect of someone making your workload even heavier while pretending to you and probably to herself that she is going to be a Big Help would be enough to push anyone over the edge. You need relief and respite, and of course reduced expectations so you are not hitting your head on the wall as well as being overworked. You possibly need a license to say no to some unreasonable things as well. It sounds like you are giving 24 hour care and getting paid for only 5.... Maybe there are some other options? Maybe there are not, in which case the therapist validating your feelings, so you don't have to feel bad about feeling bad is the best that can be done. But I hope you can get some breaks here.
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Country mouse, she SAYS that she wants to move in to help me, but in her past visits, it seems that it has been more of a hinderence than a help. When she left, I had more work on my hands. I don't know how things are going to work
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You are upset and angry because you have a lot to be upset and angry about. And after years on end of it, that oh so gradual deterioration, you get worn down so that small nuisances and annoyances and frustrations become very painful. Like inflamed corns.

On top of that, you have the Living Well types telling you that old age is no barrier to an active and fulfilling lifestyle. Which is true, and no one should be prevented from being active whatever their age - *if that is what they want.* But if what they really want is to stop at home and veg in front of the t.v., then we caregivers are left feeling that we're failing to provide stimulation if we don't argue about it. When instead we should be supported in achieving that very fine, ever changing balance between encouraging activities and trying to force them on an unwilling, knackered recipient.

The only thing that really made me feel better was learning that this is a) normal and b) given practice, manageable. The trouble is that, as with raising children, by the time you get any good at it you're all done.

Um. What's the plan with your sister moving in? How does everyone see this working?
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One thing for you two (Zena and B12225) to consider (and it's something I work on with myself) is when you say "No one can take care of her like I can", I'm sure that's true. But does that mean that no one else can keep your moms safe and reasonably cared for? Does it have to be at the high level of care you're providing?

Maybe "just good enough" IS good enough. Know what I mean? I'm a perfectionist and I know that no one will pay attention to my mom's every need like me. But someone else might pay attention to 80% of her needs, which is probably perfectly fine. It's just not the 100% that I give. But if the 100% that I give is running me into an early grave, maybe it's more important that I let someone else do the 80%, so that I can save myself and take a break. At least think about that...maybe your moms can do OK with someone else (at least for part of the time), so you can take a break.
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You sound just like me. I am the primary caregiver for my 93 yr old mother. She has advanced dementia & is very difficult most of the time to take care of. No one in family to really help take care of her & they would not be able to as good as I can. I feel very depressed & burned out. I have no answer only to know I'm not alone in my situation. I do get some me time once in awhile. I pray for patience & understanding every day.
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Thank you Babalou and blannie. I don't know if medication or therapy will work for me. I mean most therapists just sit there and agree with me. I don't know how to get into another line of work. I know that my sister cannot take care of her like I do. I just need a break and stop feeling so angry. I spend time in my room, but I know that when I open my door, I will have to deal with her mess. Thanks for the advice
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Oh Zena, I just want to give you a big hug! Of course you're angry. I'd be spitting nails too if I was in your situation. I imagine you're feeling trapped and with the addition of your bi-polar sister, you'll feel even more trapped. At least that's how I'd feel.

So what's the answer? Either you need to figure out a way to get lots of down time and time away from your mom (and soon your sister) or you need to try to change the living situation. I don't live with my mom and even I get angry at the constant need that I have to fill when I'm around her. She can't help it and I know it, but I still get angry at the situation I'm in. So you're just human and you're trying to do more than you're physically/emotionally able to do right now. So figure out how to take care of yourself and your own needs in the whole scenario. Hugs to you...
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I think you should get yourself to your doctor for a complete physical, including an evaluation for depression. Therapy and meds may help. I think that you should consider moving on from caregiving and getting another job.

To be an effective caregiver, you have to be able to say "it's the disease, not my LO talking". You have to be able step away from the annoying things that your LO does and not personalize. Some people can do this. I know I can't...that's one of the reasons that my mom is not living in my home.

Do you have your own room? Can you retreat there when mom isn't needing dinner? Can you have a bit of sanctuary in your home? You need and deserve it!
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