Just Venting Some Feelings

worryOne of the ways that this website has helped me is by giving me role models as I develop my identity as a caregiver.  Having others to identify with is helping me to accept this new role in my life. Reading the Stages of Caregiving gives me a framework for understanding what's going on in my relationship to my mom. In some ways, though, I am still deeply REJECTING being a caregiver.

I came to this site after a period of intense caregiving last summer, after my mom had a fall. But all that intensity died down and we got back to normal - sort of. But since the fall, things have changed. Before the accident, she did almost all of her own driving; now I do about 99% of her driving. Before the accident, she took care of her medication;  now I fill her pill caddy, check it regularly, get refills, etc. Before the accident, she kept up with her shopping; now I do her shopping, and if I ask her what she needs from the store, she rarely has any idea. She has said, "I feel like the fall jolted my brain - even though I didn't hit my head." Her memory problems do seem more pronounced now, but that's been a gradual change.

Right now, in Stage Two of Caregiving, I am beginning to help. I am her auxiliary brain - I help her remember things and organize herself to do things, I take care of her social life, I provide regular - though not constant - companionship. But I'm afraid of the next stage. I have to verbalize my fears and worries regularly - it helps to get it out of my system.

I am so afraid of losing my freedom. I'm trying to appreciate it now - I went out this evening to meet a friend at a bar for an hour! It was great! A beautiful night. But part of me is thinking, the day is coming when I won't be able to leave, or when I won't be able to do anything spontaneous. Or I won't be able to just be away from her. I know I can love her better when I have time away from her.

I am so afraid of dealing with poop. I can't even tell you. I worry about this a LOT. I made the huge mistake today of googling "how to change an adult diaper" and ended up reading these HORROR STORIES of dementia patients who play with their feces. I can't imagine my mother doing something like this - but neither could any of the caregivers posting in that particular forum. I can't imagine me coping with this!

She has these soft pants that we got at Walmart, and she's now wearing them at night and in the day. The same shirt, too. We went out to lunch today, Ryan's, and she commented that she was still wearing what she had slept in, but she thought it looked alright to go out in. It looked okay - pants and a shirt, and she was wearing a bra - but in the past she had much higher standards for her appearance. I don't think she had a shower. Sometimes I think she doesn't brush her teeth. She never cuts her toenails and they are frighteningly long now - she won't let me touch them, swears she will cut them. I've offered a pedicure and an appointment with a podiatrist, but no way. It makes me sad to see these changes, but I'm not up to fighting these small battles. If she's happy going out in the clothes she slept in, I don't really care - my own hygiene/grooming standards are probably on the low side of average anyway. I'll spend the weekend in the same pajama pants and t-shirt if I don't do anything social.

My fears about the future are really making it hard for me to enjoy the present - at least sometimes. Sometimes I'm better about shifting the worries to the back burner.

How can I protect all of my good memories of my mother in her prime and keep them from being overshadowed by what these latter years are promising to bring?

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