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New here and struggling with caring for parents

Boots14
Boots14

Hi everyone

I'm not really sure what I'm looking for here, other than solidarity, or advice perhaps, as I'm feeling a bit lost right now. I'm 34, and during various stages of life have had bouts of moving home to care for my parents (now in their 70s). Various issues, including alcoholism and liver failure, fractured and compacted discs, pulmonary embolism, cardiomyopathy, breast cancer and severe depression in both. This affected me deeply (although not outwardly, I think) and I developed my own issues with anxiety, issues with food etc. Without boring anyone with the very long backstory, I've just taken emergency leave to be at home with mum after a hospital admission for several episodes of loss of consciousness, and I am really struggling to handle it this time. I feel that I can't leave her as she is so independent and self sufficient, she doesn't understand taking it easy and despite me doing everything for her and begging her to rest has had another funny turn since I've been here. She is also usually the carer for my dad, and I've been looking after them both so she can try to have proper recovery time. On Monday I have to go back to work, and I am so riddled with anxiety I'm not sure what to do. My mum is the most loving, caring person in the world and would (and does) put herself out to look after others. My dad loves her, but is so used to being looked after he doesn't seem to understand the pressure and worry she and I are under with his own health problems and her own. How do I try and balance everything? How do I love and care for them without falling apart in private? and does anyone have suggestions for kind, understanding carers who might be able to help in the mornings and evenings? Thank you in advance (and apologies for the essay!)

13 Replies
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Hidden
Hidden

Wow. Everything you said hit home. My mom had brain surgery in august. Two days later stroke. Moved her to rehab hospital. About week later massive hemridge. No need to bore with rest of it. Two months later finally home. Now me and my sister switch back and forth to take care of them. Hold on for stress and all kinds of things. Find your inner strength. See if there are programs for respite care for breaks for you. It is not easy, but very rewarding. Hope this helps alittle. Any questions ask.

Boots14
Boots14 in reply to Hidden

It's not boring to share, I promise. It feels better to get it off your chest sometimes, especially when it's a stranger with a similar experience. Please talk about it if you want to-it sounds very familiar to my poor mum! You and your sister sound very much like me and mine as well-we call it tag teaming and try to take turns so it's not always on one person. I try to take on a bit more of the emotional side of things though-she is very pragmatic and logical so can manage the finances and paperwork, but she suffers incredibly badly from anxiety with the rest. So that's my part :) How is your mum doing now? I hope you are trying to take your own advice and looking after yourself too-that is a LOT to handle and it will have been incredibly draining for you. Thank you so much for your advice and for taking the time to respond x

Hidden
Hidden in reply to Boots14

Hello. Sorry for the delayed response. Thanks for sharing and asking about my mom. Phsical she is ok. Mentally never be the same. She can talk but cant hold a real conversation. She is always looking for a turkey or ham to cook. She turns on oven and stove. She escapes home and she gone. Sometimes very argumentative. She is deaf and partially blind. Pop is blind, deaf, and has Alzheimers. So they are quite the pair. Married 57 years and still love and like each other most days. My sister her husband and folks are buying a house together. I wanted them with me but 2 kids, 1 special needs, 2 dogs and stairs would have been hard. I hope for you and family the best. Stop by and say hi.

Boots14
Boots14 in reply to Hidden

That is a HUGE amount for you to take on. It's incredibly painful when the person you have loved and known all your life isn't who they used to be. It's also a huge struggle adapting to the change in role-the moment I realised that I had become the parent was overwhelming. I LOVE that you mentioned their love for each other and I think it's wonderful that despite everything you are dealing with, you can still see that. What a beautiful thing. It sounds like you and your sister need some help too, if you don't have it already, even if it's just a little respite care. You can't do everything yourselves and nor should you. Please take care of you, and do let me know how things are going.x

I know the stress and anxiety that goes with taking care of parents. I took a year long leave of absence from my job and traveled over 2000 miles to move in and take care of my parents. At the time they had both been hospitalized for different reasons and then they were both in a nursing rehab for a while. My dad was released before my mom was. But then my mom was eventually released to go home. Unfortunately, her condition was like a rollercoaster that would improve for a bit and then go downhill again. Then the downhills started to get longer than the uphills. I was afraid to leave the house to do the simplest of things like going to the store, etc. My dad was doing well but not well enough to truly look after her if something should happen. I was getting exhausted both physically and emotionally. Someone told me that there's a reason on airplanes they always give the safety instruction that you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others. I took that advice to heart. I decided to get out for a walk or some type of exercise almost every day. I found that being out rejuvenated me and gave me energy to care for them when I was in the house. I also decided to contact a local church that I had been attending who had a ministry that provided volunteers to come in and "be" with ill or homebound loved ones while the care-giver could get out for a bit. Maybe check with a local church to see if they have anything like that who could check on your parents and/or actually spend time with them? Also check with a local senior center or hospital to see if they have any such services or can offer other suggestions to help you so that you won't worry quite so much. The worry never completely goes away but there is a little peace of mind knowing that I wasn't completely up to me to care for my parents all the time. I'll be praying for you and your parents.

Boots14
Boots14 in reply to backtonormal

oh gosh, this is like reading the inside of my head. The anxiety of taking a shower in case something happens, or you don't hear them. Of leaving them to go for a walk or see friends. My mum's health has followed a similar path to yours-she has suffered so many unfair setbacks for someone so positive and loving and kind. It's as if as soon as things seem to be looking up and you have a period of calm and rest, something else just comes along to test you again! I'm so glad you were strong enough to recognise that you needed to care for yourself first and foremost, and to look after your own physical and mental health. You are absolutely right that we can't care for others if we are mentally and physically depleted ourselves, and it's definitely something I struggle with. But I will remember your words going forward and try a little bit harder to take them to heart. Thank you for sharing your own story, and for taking the time to respond x

Hidden
Hidden in reply to backtonormal

Amen to that. Being caregiver is the hardest job. Total roll reversal.

Hello, I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Visit a local AA meeting and check it out. You can look up for "open" meetings where you dont even have to label yourself as anything. Just hear the shares and see if you can relate and see if the 12 steps can help you too.

Boots14
Boots14 in reply to SoberDrunk1

are you suggesting this for me or for a family member?

SoberDrunk1
SoberDrunk1 in reply to Boots14

I am sorry if I miss-interpreted your original post. You did mention in the original post alcoholism is part of your struggle?

Boots14
Boots14 in reply to SoberDrunk1

Not mine, my dad's. But I think I wrote it in a clumsy way, so my apologies for the confusion! I would love it if my dad would attend AA, but he is intensely private and has refused this on a number of occasions. It would require his full and honest acknowledgement of the issue, which I don't think will ever happen. I really appreciate your input though, and can I ask what a 'sober' member means? You are in recovery or using it as a preventative?

SoberDrunk1
SoberDrunk1 in reply to Boots14

Sure, I meant to say, I am a member at large, having recovered using the 12 steps of AA. The obsession to drink has been lifted and as part of the recovery, I do still attend local AA meetings, take a meeting into the correction facility each Sunday, help other alcoholics who desire to set it straight. And i try to be of use in few online forums. Of course its a peculiar disease. I will tell you a story. 2014 I visited India and there was suppose to be a talk show run by a celebrity who was going to feature something about AA. The members were excited, shored up support believing the phones are going to ring off the hook after the program. Calls did pour in, but not a single call was from the alcoholic/problem drinker, it was from the relatives of the alcoholic. We couldn't do much for them except to point them to Alon-an which is the sister fellowship for Friends and Family of Alcoholics.

Boots14
Boots14 in reply to SoberDrunk1

Those last few sentences really hit home. Alcoholism can seem a very solitary disease but the damage and pain it causes loved ones is untold. To watch someone you love damage themselves is so painful, and the worry and responsibility you feel as the bystander is overwhelming.

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