How can caregiver deal with own emotions and Mom’s diagnosis ?

My mother has Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am her caregiver and am under a lot of stress. I don’t know why this is happening to my mom. I love her so much and I really hate seeing her like this. I try to be the best caregiver I can but sometimes it’s so hard. I feel so bad when my anger comes out at my mom.  She’s always been independent and done the cooking, the cleaning, and taken care of her family. I miss the way she was before this horrible disease took over. I sometimes feel like I need help emotionally and spiritually and physically. If you have any suggestions please share them with me. Thank you,

A Caregiving Star

 

Dear Star,

First let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your mother’s former self. It is devastating to watch such an amazing and strong parent change into someone so dependent. You are grieving because she is no longer the rock you have known all of your life. It is okay to feel sad and angry. I applaud you for recognizing that you are beginning to experience caregiver burnout. It is a common side effect of caregiving and some caregivers don’t ask for help until they have very serious problems.

I don’t know all of the details in your particular situation. Are you the only person caring for your mom? Is there anyone else who can help you? Can you afford to hire some help for your mom? If someone cannot help with the hands-on caregiving, can they help with preparing meals for you and your mother, or buying groceries for you, or with cleaning the house? As you well know, dementia tends to progress and the demands on you will only increase. Any helpers you can start bringing on board now will make your life a little easier in the future.

If you have not already done so, you should contact the Alzheimer’s Association. They have a number you can call 24/7 to speak to an actual person who will listen to you or help you with advice. If your mom is up at 3am and wandering the house and you feel like you are about to break from exhaustion, you can call them. They will offer you suggestions on how to deal with her at that very moment. Here is their number (1.800.272.3900). Please call them. I promise you there isn’t anything you can say that they haven’t heard before. They will not judge you or make you feel bad; they will try to help you.

Taking care of someone with dementia is one of the most challenging types of caregiving there is. No one can truly understand how difficult it is unless they have done it. The Alzheimer’s Association has an online support group for caregivers like you. You can find friendship and advice there. You might discover that you are able to offer advice to other caregivers as well. Here is the link to join the group https://www.alzconnected.org/.

Physically, you need to try to take care of yourself. Everyone will tell you to eat right, get exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Most caregivers find those are difficult or downright impossible goals. But treat yourself well whenever you can. You deserve it. And do avoid abusing alcohol or drugs to deal with your emotions. It won’t make your stress go away.

I like that you are searching for spiritual comfort! Turn to whatever source works the best for you. Whether it is a church, a book on new age concepts, gospel music, or meditation, use something to help you gain perspective in your life. I am no longer a caregiver but have many demands on my time so I listen to spiritual books on my phone through Audible http://ow.ly/X2uwq. I can listen when I’m cooking, folding laundry, or driving in the car. It is very uplifting and helps me to step away from my stress for awhile. Find a way to fit spirituality into your routine.

You anger has me concerned. It’s very clear that you love your mom but all of the pressure you are under is taking its toll on you. If you cannot leave her safely when you are angry, here is what you can try.

  1. Step outside for a minute and do 10 jumping jacks. Count to ten slowly before speaking.

  2. Press your face into a pillow and scream into it out of earshot of your mom.

  3. Call the Alzheimer’s Association phone number or go online to their chat group.

It is really important that you try to get your anger under control for your own peace of mind both now and in the future. If you really feel that you cannot control your anger, you should call the hotline immediately and let them know what is going on.

At some point before you know it, your precious mom will be gone. The demands on you will go away. Try to keep that in mind. You will have regrets when she is gone no matter how perfectly you care for her. Everyone does. I hope your regrets are minor, such as “I wish I’d let mom have more ice cream at that family gathering,” and not “I wish I hadn’t lost my temper and scared my mom.” With the help of my suggestions, try to conduct yourself in a way that will make you proud. Your mom loves you and appreciates what you are doing for her on a deeper level. She will also forgive you. Remember that.

A lot of people become upset by the personality changes that the person with dementia undergoes, especially the child-like behavior. Treat your mom like a small child who needs your protection but giver her the respect she deserves because she is still your mom underneath all the changes. You are an incredible person. I hope my reply has been helpful to you. Please let me know how you’re doing and keep up the good fight.

I would love to hear from readers about any tips you have on dealing with anger. And if you liked this post please share it!

 

3 thoughts on “Dear Star: Readers’ Caregiving Questions

  1. I am dealing with same situation. I think the part I miss the conversations and jokes shared, last minute day trips. Seems like the shell is there, but the inside is missing major parts. I do not feel sorry for my self butt admit. To having pity. Thoughts. Wishing for old times and memories shared. It is important to keep her occupied. I use pre school puzzles and coloring books. Seems to calm her at times. Also she has a baby doll she has to take care of . How do I get on this chat line

    Like

    1. Hi, June. You are certainly not alone in those feelings. It is strange because the person resembles their former self physically, but the personality is strongly changed. You will find people just like you in the Alzheimer’s Association chat. Just click here: https://www.alzconnected.org/. You will be able to join and find kinship 24 hours a day. best of luck to you. You are a Star!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s