Care for Care-Givers
anonymous Asks ...
I am in a bad situation. I have always gotten along very well with my mother in law so when she could no longer stay alone at home because of her dementia I said that of course she could come to stay with us.
I don’t know if I didn’t know her like I thought I did or if she has really changed a lot in the past year but I have come to a point now where I hate her. I spend all of my waking hours with her every day and I never get a break from her complaining.
The problem is we used a lot of the money she had earmarked for a retirement home to do renos on our house to make it more livable for her. So I feel like I am stuck with her. I feel awful to say this but I have on some occasions been rougher with her than I should have been. I feel awful afterward but sometimes I just lose control for a second. I have never told anyone else that I have done this.
I am not the kind of person that hurts people. Or at least I didn’t think I was. I guess I gave learned some unpleasant truths about myself this past year. I am disgusted with myself but I am also totally frazzled. What can I do to make sure I can keep myself under control even at the worst of times?
Loren Gelberg-Goff Says ...
I really do understand your frustration... Dealing with someone with dementia is never easy, and when they are living with you it's even harder. Take a deep breath... Help can be found. First, in order to make this arrangement that you have now with your mother-in-law work, you need support... either from local support groups for care-givers (found through County Services for the Seniors), Alzheimers association, Adult Day Programs, etc. It would also be helpful if in your community there are senior centers that have day programs for people with dementia... Any of these options would help to give you a break from caring for your mother-in-law. You do need and deserve a break!
Caring for someone with dementia is very challenging, and since they don't get better, they only decline in their abilities, frustration mounts. While I'm sure you feel very badly that you have lost your patience and temper with your mother-in-law, it's time to seek the help beyond just this letter, so that you feel supported and aided during this very overwhelming time in your lives.
You don't mention your spouse and whether or not he/she is participating in any way, or supportive of what you are dealing with. This is a situation that requires both of you to work together to give and receive the loving support and compassion you both need... It's hard enough to watch a parent deteriorate, but doing the care-giving is a double whammy.
I don't know what your finances are, but if you can put money toward any help at home with your mo-in-law... for bathing, dressing, etc. that would be an enormous help to you as well. There are registries that have home health aides, as well as professionals whose job it is to help people handle all the responsibilities of elder care.
I'm glad that you wrote in to start the process moving forward for you to get the help, support and compassion you so clearly need. Take a deep breath, and take the next step in making the much needed changes in how you are providing for the care and well-being of your mother-in-law. Please let me know if you need any further assistance. (Loren@beingwellwithin.com)