Just Venting Some Feelings

LilMagill

Just Venting Some Feelings

LilMagill
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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LilMagill

Thanks, <a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jmkeslin/' rel=\"nofollow\">@jmkeslin</a> - I appreciate hearing that.

Jean

Peri hit the nail on the head. I could never have imagined doing the diaper thing but I did it and it was not as bad as I imagined it would be. For me I think knowing that my mother-in-law's dementia made her childlike, made the diaper change easier somehow -- poop and all.

LilMagill

<a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/worriedwife/' rel=\"nofollow\">@worriedwife</a> Thanks so much for these kind comments_mysql! It really made me feel better to read your encouragement, and I hope I will be able to rise to the occasion as well you've done. :-)

Mamadanz

Hi LilMagill - Hang in. I know simple words that may not really convey much - but we all find our inner strength as we go through all of this.\r\n\r\nWith your mom and the \"personal hygiene\" thing - one thing I learned early on (actually as my kids were growing up) is to \"pick your battles\". While her standards may have been higher before - if she is \"OK\" with where she's at now - and it's not really \"bad\" - then maybe it's OK. \r\n\r\nAnother thought on that may be that she is thinking differently about herself and thus the change in attitude about things. Sometimes if our older family members feel like they are getting old, or feeble - they begin to accept that they can \"behave\" differently. \r\n\r\nSomething like this happened with my Aunt. My cousins put her in a nursing facility and one day when visiting, my one cousin was appalled that her mom started banging her cup on the table for attention! My aunt was not \"senile\" but had seen the quick response other residents got when they did something like that - that she started it - just so she didn't have to wait. :-) More cunning than anything else.\r\n\r\nSometimes, I think the opinion that some older people are \"regressing\" and behaving like children is true. Sometimes we may need to step in and respond to them with the same patience and understanding that we offer to a child. And please don't think I'm suggesting \"treating\" them like a child - but more our own mindset and reactions. We tend to not lose our patience with young children when they can't do something or don't understand something. We need to use the same skills we use with children with our older carees. \r\n\r\nAnd hope they work!\r\n\r\nTry not to worry about some of these things. We grow into things and at some point wonder where we got the strength or ability to do those things we used to worry or fret about.\r\n\r\nBreathe - and definitely make time for yourself - those moments are our sanity!

jan

Hi, LilMagill. I can so relate to your worry and concerns. I don't remember being an overanxious and worrisome younger person but the older I get, the worse I am. THAT SAID, and why I say it is because I think we live in a world with gosh-darned TMI, TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We can google ideas for how to cope but end with horror stories to fill our brains on things that will never happen. I just got done experiencing pregnancy, labor and delivery with my daughter. Computer-savvy as an young adult these days, she was filled with fear and trepidation on all the bad things that could happen. It's a wonder she let anyone near her. But everything turned out ok and the same will happen for you. Do your best to control your information input. Try to limit what you put in your brain to only that which you immediately need. Imagine caregiving for the elderly 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago. Obviously it happened without the computer and it happened with grace. For all time people have cared for their loved ones and lived in the current moment, trying not to live in the future they can't foresee. Living in the current moment that you have and not the future moment you may never have, helps to make memories you will always keep. \r\nYou are doing such a great job. What you do is out of love and wisdom. Controlling our thoughts is one of the most difficult things we do; I am terrible at it. I am so glad you are able to vent here if it helps, and know I'm walking with you.

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