Yikes, is this what my life is going to be ?
When we were young and living our own lives, we were safe in the knowledge that our parent(s) were available to us either close by or on the phone. We didn’t think about becoming our parents’ parent. We probably saw other friends dealing with their parents but we pushed aside those thoughts for whenever we ‘crossed that bridge.’ Well here we are and we are running out of energy, patience, etc. This isn’t what I planned to be doing at this point in my life?
I’ve never juggled so many balls in my life
Chances are you are still caring for other people you love in your life, as well as, being a caregiver. That is the proverbial burning both candles at both ends. Three candle ends if you are a working person, too. You’ve found yourself:
- Being entrusted with your parent(s) finances, paying bills, setting allowance, etc.
- Providing transportation or worrying about their diminished driving skills
- Coordinating and attending a myriad of doctor appointments
- Managing a myriad of confusing medications and worrying they don’t mix up the pills
- Dealing with Medicare
- Managing their home: purging the pantry of expired foods, housekeeping, lawn service, general upkeep
- Enabling their social life and staying connected to friends who are likely ailing, too
Then there is the rest of the family: husband or wife, kids. Those duties don’t evaporate either. To add more stress to your life would be parenting joys of a teenager or two.
I just don’t want to.
There are decisions looming that you know will have to be made as a caregiver. Some tough decisions and mixed feelings where you are stripping your parent of their independence and dignity. You don’t want to ruin the relationship you have with them but you are feeling the strain already.
- Is it time for assisted living or a nursing home?
- Sometimes I get so frustrated, I just want to shout at them
- I need a time out from my mom/dad.
Who supports me?
You’re probably not taking care of yourself and no one is stepping up to care for you. Taking over the care of an elderly or even disabled parent is stressful and yet you feel guilty for the things you are thinking and feeling. Your friends are still there to support you but you can only burden them with just so much. Truth is, your friendships and other fun activities have slipped. They have become secondary having been replaced with caring for your family and increasing dependent parent’s needs. If your only de-stressor at the end of the day is a glass of wine, that’s fine but is it only one? Hopefully, you are not alone and have support from one or more people.
What is caregiver fatigue?
Fatigue is the just the first symptom. The most common symptoms are:
- Fatigue or exhaustion – burning the candle at both ends…. or more.
- Guilt – you feel like you should be doing more but you are tapped out.
- Grief – you have lost the parent(s) who were once your emotional ‘rock’ to rely upon. You’re realizing they are reaching the end of their lives. You are grieving the loss of the life you thought you would be having now. To some extent you are looking at your own mortality.
- Adjustment – Dealing with an age-declining loved one is a big adjustment. Depression and anxiety are not uncommon feelings for caregivers given the life changes thrust upon you.
- Frustration – This emotion comes from too much stress of being a caregiver and having to surrender control of your life to be a good supportive son/daughter.
- Anger – this comes from unresolved pent up frustration. Unaddressed, this emotion results in us to having to say “I’m sorry” to someone.
- Resentments – Do you have siblings that are not sharing the burden? Are family members making demands of you and not being supportive? Some resentments are justified but in all cases resentments are toxic to the health and well-being in your family circle.
- Deep Sadness – we hear this one mostly from people with parents who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s from the pain of watching their parent(s) mental acuity diminish and the damage leads to harmful verbal and physical outbursts. And, to no longer be recognized as a loyal, loving child by their parent. Unresolved…this will become depression.
I want a time out.
We agree completely. We have trudged this road ourselves. We not only know the way in but we also know the way out. Take some time for yourself. Come in for counseling and let’s start recharging your emotional caregiver spirit and help you build new coping skills with the life you have today. Initial weekly counseling is recommended for a few weeks to get out all the negatively and set goals for you. Afterwards, counseling is every two weeks and then as needed when situations arise where you want to find temporary support. Long-term counseling usually is not necessary.
Let’s start rebuilding the person you really are and still be a loving caregiver. Give us a call or request an appointment.