Who am I anymore???

by Who am I?
(USA)

I posted this as a comment on another thread but am re-posting as a new one in hopes maybe someone can offer me constructive advice...


I'm an only child (age 49), my father passed away more than 20 years ago and my mother's health has been declining the last 5 years or so (dementia, arthritis).

She's in her late 80s and she and I have always been super close, even more so after my dad died. In the last year I ended up quitting a job I really liked, with the help of a supportive husband, and we moved her in with us.

I would never have begun to imagine the level of resentment I've built up these months from having to do this 24/7. A few years after my husband and I were married his two teenage kids moved in with us and it was very stressful for a few years. Now they've grown up (into terrific adults, I must say) and out of the house and now my mom's here.

This is going to sound INCREDIBLY selfish, but we are a very social couple who love to travel, get together with friends, etc., and now we're home bound except for those occasional times I pay an exorbitant fee to have someone "babysit" mom for a few hours. It's taking a toll on my husband, too. She takes frequent naps, but not quite long enough for me to actually get any one project done around the house or to take an entire shower and get dressed before she's up again shouting "Is anybody home???"

I can feel the hairs on my neck stand up every time I hear her bang her bedroom door open and she wheels herself out. My level of guilt is awful and I'm ashamed to say I sometimes take it out on mom by reprimanding her for getting up before I was ready for her and that kind of thing. She has some hearing loss that she won't admit, and asks me to repeat everything I say. If I answer in a louder voice she says I'm yelling, then 5 minutes later she'll ask the same things again, over and over.

I've prayed for more patience and kindness, but I'm not sure what to do. I pop a Xanax once in a while to calm myself, but I don't want to become dependent, and it doesn't really solve the situation. I feel like I have a character flaw that I never realized I had, and that I'm losing my mind. I'm bitter, angry, my heart races, I don't sleep well and have gained weight over the last few months.

If anyone has any advice I would greatly appreciate it. We have a local Alzheimer's support group, but it meets at a time when I don't have anyone to watch mom for me. I do have an aide from a home health agency who comes a few hours twice a week so that I can get out to the grocery store, run errands, etc., and that's pretty much my source of sanity right now...

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Little Pleasures
by: cinderella

I can identify with your frustrations, and all I can tell you is that the only respite I've found from the certain knowledge that my life is no longer my own is to indulge myself in modest ways. For example, although I'm by nature a thrifty person, I love really *good* bath soap... and while ordinarily I wouldn't buy a $20 bar of soap for myself, I now do it every month. No one else may use this soap... it's mine mine mine mine mine. I also have a secret stash of absurdly expensive and insanely delicious chocolate. These luxuries run me about $50 a month but they're worth far more than that in sanity dollars.

One of the things that drives me to distraction about mom is that because her hearing is failing (she won't do anything about it, but that's another story) she turns the volume on the television up to window-rattling level. While there is no way to prevent this from being incredibly annoying, I've been able to combat homicidal feelings by using her TV time to practice my guitar... which she cannot hear over her own ear-splitting noise level. This is good because in general if she thinks I'm doing something that requires a little concentration, or affords me any pleasure, she finds several reasons why I should stop it and do things for her. I took me 3 months to work out this strategy and I can now play uninterrupted for maybe a half hour before being called away.

But oddly, the thing that keeps me most sane is my little cat. Now of course he needs a certain level of care... feeding, grooming etc. but he's always cheerful, non-judgmental, affectionate and humorous. He doesn't give me unhelpful advice, he doesn't make insincere offers to help, or tell me all about his recent Hawaiian vacation while knowing full well that my idea of a grand day out is a trip to the bank... he just curls up within petting distance and purrs at me... it's very calming.

Hang in there. It probably *is* every bit as bad as you think it is, but there will always be sandalwood soap.

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Coping
by: Nita

I know exactly how you feel. I am going through the same myself.

My advice to you is : develop temporary deafness. Or even wear ear plugs when you want to get some work done. Else the constant "call to attention" will get on your nerves.

Try to get outside support once-in-a-while so that you can spend some quality time by yourself, with friends or spouse. YOU NEED THAT.
And don't feel guilty.

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Thank you
by: It's me again (Who am I anymore??)

Hi Anonymous.

I appreciate your feedback. No, mom is also an only child and I have no living relatives other than some distant cousins on my dad's side who I haven't seen since I was a kid.

In reading my original post, I feel that I come across as extremely self-centered and for that I apologize. It sounds like I just get annoyed at very minor stuff, but really I have suddenly become "mom" to my mother and I don't know how to handle the role reversal. I was never able to have biological kids of my own, so now I'm changing mom's diapers, cleaning her commode, dressing her, and she has me basically making every decision for her, including what to watch on TV. My career did nothing to prepare me for anything remotely like elder care, so I think I'm learning by trial and error.

I want so badly for mom to make simple decisions on her own, but my husband keeps telling me that mentally she's not the same person and I need to stop treating her like my mom of 5 or 10 years ago and expecting her to be more independent.
Editors Note
Being a "parent to a parent" is not at all easy or expected when the time arrives....these two pages may help in some small way.
www.boomers-with-elderly-parents.com/elderly-parents-communication.html
And
www.boomers-with-elderly-parents.com/assessing-needs.html

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Who am I
by: Anonymous

HI! I hear ,what you are saying. Not easy situation. Sorry, that you are an only child, but you did not mention if your mom had siblings living.

You could ask one of them to chip in and help, once in awhile.

Did you try any "community services for the elderly" I don't know if you have this in the States, but here in Canada, we have all sorts of support.

Don't feel bad, I myself love my mother very much, and often I have resentment, as my other brothers will not do their part, in helping her but surely know how to " take her out once a month" and then all is "Great".
When I read this, it makes me "feel" for my daughter who also is an only child. I am in my early 60's but I hope I will Not have to depend on her only..

Sometimes, I feel life is not fair. We have to do the best we can, pray God for the support.
Bottom line, keep searching for some "outside help" for your mom. It could ease your problem.
take care.....

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