Carer under Stress

by Susan
(United Kingdom )

I am the primary carer for my 90 year old mother and currently spend half the week at her house and half at my own home. I'm the youngest of 3 but my siblings don't really give me much support. My sister lives in London and uses her location and financial position as reasons for not helping.

My brother has learning issues and does not cope well with Mum's ill health so the caring basically falls to me.

I am epileptic and whilst my epilepsy is currently well controlled I am currently under a lot of stress. I accompany Mum to all medical and hospital appointments, handle her medication, her financial business and whilst she is still independent to a degree, I'm finding it increasingly stressful looking after her.

She will not entertain carers because of a bad experience a few years ago, telling everyone she has her family to care for her but that's namely me.

I'm starting to become easily irritated and impatient and have verbally taken this out on Mum on the odd occasion. I don't mean to but I'm finding it difficult juggling home life with life at Mum's.

I also have my mother-in-law in poor health which is an additional concern.

I'm not a bad person, just someone who is tired and stressed and I feel so guilty for not being able to manage my stress better. I'd be glad to receive any tips on how best to keep everything on an even keel.

My husband says the cracks are starting to show.

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by: Anonymous

Your sister in London has the same moral obligation to your mom that you do. What is her plan if you are unable to care for your mom?

The Bigger Picture
by: Susan

Thank you very much for responding and I have noted your comments.
I fully appreciate every carer's situation is different and some significantly more challenging than my own. I have total respect and admiration for carers whose role is 24/7 and reading your comments has given me some perspective.

One of your comments regarding my sister, who lives in London, was "to cut her some slack". It's not a case of "cutting her some slack". Of course I appreciate her situation but she hasn't made ANY effort at all.

She sees my Mum once a year at Christmas (for a weekend) and thinks that she's doing her "daughterly duty".

The situation concerning carers is a very difficult one. I have had many conversations with Mum regarding care provision and it doesn't matter how I approach it I come up against the same response.

She is a strong minded lady with a heart condition and I cannot force her to have in place something she does not agree to. I'm going to try and speak to her again, with my husband, but I'm not holding out much hope. She certainly will not be dictated to.
As for my husband, he has been an absolute rock. He has been so understanding and supportive. He works full time with a long commute, takes me back and forth to my Mum's whilst keeping abreast of the changing situation concerning his Mam.

I appreciate the comments made and support but would simply say that there is always a bigger picture and what works in one situation doesn't always work in another.

your mom
by: Anonymous

If you are able to come back to your own home for half the day and lead your normal life, consider yourself extremely lucky. I envy you for that even if your situation is difficult. I care for my mom in my home and it's 24/7 with absolutely no escape.

Does your mom have the funds for someone to come into her home and help her? If so, this where you need to take the reins and become the parent (which gives you more a feeling of control) and view her now as the child you care for. It's a hard transition for both people, but it does help the situation.

You need to be more firm and just tell her your own health is suffering and this is what's going to happen. My mom would treat me like dirt for a week when any change starts, but I do these things for me at times because I have to or I will become the person you're on the road to becoming now with your harsh words to her.

One bad experience with an outside caregiver has shaped her thinking, but if you stay several times while this person is there and treat them more as a friend to YOU, then your mom may be more accepting of them and actually look forward to the company.

My mom had a fall a few months ago and each week we had home nurses come and physical therapy and I turned it into "We have company coming!" and somehow in her mind it changed the situation to something she enjoyed. Don't know if that will work for your mom or not, but you could try.

Since you're the only one this care falls on instead of your other siblings, just try to accept that it is what it is. Getting here from London would be expensive and difficult unless your sister is filthy rich, so you need to cut her some slack on that one I think.

The burden has fallen on you and you're feeling the heavy responsibility of it. May it also be that when you're not there, you're consumed with worry because she should no longer be alone? If that's the case, are funds available for her to go to assisted living? These are options you could perhaps explore.

Either way, change is hard for the elderly. One little bump in my mom's road throws her into a complete dither. None of this is your mom's fault, nor my mom's fault and I try to reach for compassion for her even though I seethe with rage inside at how this has changed my life.

It's easy to blame the person when it's really just the situation we're upset about. Try to not blame your mom for being old. We all will be someday and I have to try and think of how I would want to be treated.

It's not an easy road. Solve some of these problems by taking the reigns and the time you do have alone at home, try to leave it at the door when you get home and cherish the time you have alone with your own family.

Where's Help?
by: Anonymous

Your husband says "the cracks are starting to show." Well, what is he doing to assist you in your burden?

Please don't apologize for the way you feel. There are apparently millions of people like you who are bearing the costs of their parents living too long.

Parents are supposed to raise the child. When the child has to care for the parent in the second childhood, it's awful. I don't know what else can be said to help you, except to read the laments of the other people who post here so as to get perspective on your situation.

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