Tag Archive | stress

Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Need To Care For Myself

Blog - Pic 101“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I  guess it just happens. One day I’m having my mom live with us and things are “OK” (for having your parent live with you) and the next thing I know I’m spending every day at her house. What happened to “Mom is so independent and doesn’t mind being alone” and “We’ll see Mom a couple times a week maybe – she’s used to being alone.”

Well it seems that Mom is becoming less and less independent than she was and I’m finding myself over there helping her with tasks a caregiver should be doing. I told Mom that I’m not a caregiver and I have no interest in being one – even for my Mom. Sounds heartless? Maybe…. but that is how I feel. I didn’t sign up for being a nurse or caregiver, I just want to have Mom close by and make sure she is safe and nobody is taking advantage of her.

I’ve never had a close or great relationship with my mom – it’s been more of an irritating relationship. You’d have to know my mom to understand. But anyway, I’ve been cleaning her house and doing her laundry since she moved here, along with all her accounting and doctors appointments (and a list of other things), but now I find myself over at her house helping her with dressing herself, doing her hair, getting her meals, and making sure she is taking her medication properly and on time. Sometimes I don’t mind but it usually is at odd hours of the day – like at 4 AM.

So here I am spending a few hours every day at Mom’s. I can’t say I’m happy about it but I honesty don’t know what else to do. Some days are worse than others, but what do I do when it becomes more often? We’ve talked about having someone come in on a daily basis but that just doesn’t seem to be where Mom is right now – well, some days it is. I guess I’m at that in between stage where some days Mom needs extra help and some days she doesn’t.

So I guess I’ll continue on with the way things are until I feel I can’t any more. I’ve told my mom how I feel about nursing duties – I don’t want to give baths, I don’t want to do anything that involves bathroom duties (if you know what I mean), and I definitely do not do anything with feet!

I can understand people who have to be hands on with an elderly parent due to finances, and I can understand people who just want to be hands on, but I’m not in either of those categories. My dad provided well for my mom to have long term care so I guess we should start thinking about our options.

What I Learned: I don’t want to be a caregiver – I just want to live my life while knowing Mom is taken care of.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Went There!

Blog - Pic 33“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

What a stressful end to my day – and everything was going so well. I slept in this morning, had a nice breakfast with my husband, got some phone calls made, did some grocery shopping, popped in to see Mom a couple of times, spent some time with our son, and had a relaxing dinner our back with a delicious frozen margarita! I decided to go see Mom for a bit, make sure her A/C was set right for the night. When I walked in her back door she was standing in her kitchen looking a little frazzled. Then she started babbling away about nobody being home and how frightened she was and how I should have told her we were going away…. what?!!

At first I was quite calm and told her we were home all day except for shopping, and reminded her that when I dropped her groceries off I mentioned I had some work to do and I’d come back later that evening to see her. She said she remembered that but why didn’t I tell her we were going away? We didn’t go away! Then she asked why she hadn’t seen anyone all day. Again, I reminded her that I had been over there a couple of times already today and this was the third time. She told me I should wake her up when I go over…. hello – you were awake!

I don’t how the conversation went where it did, but all sorts of “bad” was coming to the surface. Mom was telling me how I was supposed to be caring for her and that I should be letting her know when we are going and coming, and how I should let her know when we are home by coming outside so she can see us. Are you kidding me?!! That just pushed me a little too far. I couldn’t help myself – she was just being hurtful.

That’s when I lost it….  I basically told Mom that if she didn’t like our situation and thought she could get better care elsewhere, then maybe she should go live in a home. Yup, I went there! I was actually quite calm about it, but firm. That comment made her do a 360 right then and there. That’s one thing my mom absolutely does not want to do – go to a home. And I don’t blame her, we wouldn’t want her in a home either, but there has to be some boundaries and respect of our situation. If we lose the respect then it just won’t work.

Finally, things got calmed down and the conversation ended with a hug. Mom said she’d try to work on “boundaries”, but I’m pretty sure she’ll forget most of what we talked about in no time. Maybe that’s the upside of memory lose. And, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Mom will eventually need more full time care. I’m not sure if she’ll have to go to a home, but she’ll definitely have to have someone come in on a daily basis. That’ll be a chore for sure – finding the right match for Mom. I may have to start a different blog just for that!

What I Learned: It can be a challenge caring for an elderly parent – it’s not for everyone, but I know we are doing what’s best for Mom.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Why Is The TV Talking To Me?

Blog - Pic 96“This is supposed to be the time of my life, the nest if empty; but now Mom needs me.” 

I spoke with a friend not long ago who was telling me about his mother’s hallucinations, how she was always talking to an old friend. I asked him if he ever told her that her “friend” wasn’t really there and he said,”No.” At the time I thought it was weird that he wouldn’t try explaining to his mom that no one was there, try to bring her back to reality, but now I get it.

Before my mom moved out here she told me that she was hearing people talk to her through the TV when it was on – she thought someone was spying on her from the cable company. She cancelled service and hadn’t had TV for quite sometime. When Mom moved out here I though it was a good idea to have TV so she would have something to do – there are some great movies on the classics channel and there is a classical music channel I thought she’d enjoy.

Well it was great for a while, but now she’s back to hearing voices in the TV again. And this is on the music channel where there is no singing – just classical music. Mom tells me she hears people singing happy birthday and talking about pie – and have even mentioned her name! But for some reason I never hear it when I’m at her place…. hmmm, weird.

So yes, I have tried going down that path of telling Mom that she’s hearing things that aren’t there, but she just won’t believe it. She truly believes there are people in her TV talking, singing, or whatever. I guess it’s not really like “in her TV” but people in the studio talking over the music. She keeps saying to me, “Why is the TV talking to me?”

Now I’m just going with the flow. I don’t want to upset her be making her think she’s crazy, so now I just respond to her question by saying, “Isn’t that strange? There must be a glitch at the studio.”

And to my friend who told me about his mother’s hallucinations? I get it.

What I Learned: The mind is a very powerful tool.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Everyone’s Deaf But Mom

Blog - Pic 95“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

It’s Sunday evening; my husband and I are having a wonderful time relaxing in our cabana, listening to the serene sounds of the night…. oh, and my cell phone ringing for the 4th time! Yes, it’s my mom. I let it go to voice mail enough times so I better pick up because she must truly be dieing this time. Sorry…. a little stressed!

Nope, not dieing….. just hearing noises in the garage. So while I’m talking to Mom my husband walks around to the garage to check things out. Mom must have caught a glimpse of him because she started called his name. Well, my husband knows that if he answers her she’ll talk his ear off and try not to let him go – and did I ever mention “the list” she has for him? YIKES! There’s always something she needs done around her house – I’m sure it’s just her way of having company – I get that.

So as Mom calls my husbands name I see him walking back to the cabana, realizing I’ve already told her that he was out there…. oops! So now my mom starts going on about how deaf my husband is because he never seems to answer her when she calls him. Hmmm, I wonder why? So I just agree with her about my husbands hearing problem – it’s so much easier.

Speaking of “the list”…. while I’m talking with Mom she mentions that her back door knob is making a funny noise and could my husband look at it – she’s afraid it’s going to get stuck or fall off and she won’t be able to get out (hello…. front door?). Even though my husband just tightened it about a week ago, I told her I’d have him look at it – then quickly said “but it won’t be tonight”, because I knew she’d be waiting at her door for him.

So tonight I’m visiting with Mom and she asks me if my husband is feeling better. I questioned what she meant (because he wasn’t sick or anything) and she said, “Well he must be sick if he didn’t come over last night to look at my door knob.” So when I got home I told my husband what she had said, so he decided to go over and look at her door knob – knowing full well that it was fine.

With tools in hand and a smile on his face, my husband looks at Mom’s door knob. She says to my husband, “Your wife must be deaf because she can’t hear the “clicking” noise the door knob is making.” Really Mom??? So my husband tightens it, he un-tightens it, and sprays it with WD-40 (which fixes everything, by the way!) and now everything is ticketyboo (as Mom says). For now, anyway.

Cross one item off the list!

What I Learned: Being lonely isn’t any fun – I guess fixing door knobs isn’t so bad after all.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: Tired of Being Tired

Blog - Pic 33“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

The weekend is here and this is the time my husband and I really enjoy our time together. We relax, we watch movies, we stay up late. Wrong night to stay up late! Mom called at 4 am sounding confused and disoriented and wanted me to go over and help her. Well I’ve only been in bed for a couple of hours and I’m in one of those dazed states – you know the one, where you’ve been in a deep sleep and then suddenly woken up. I try to help her over the phone so I don’t have to get my tired butt out of bed, but I succumb to her pleas.

So I get over there and Mom is sitting in her kitchen, obviously confused. I asked her if she knew what time it was and she said, “Yes, 4 in the afternoon”. Oh geeze…. I explained the actual time to Mom, asked what was going on and if she was OK. She told me she was hungry but was weak and didn’t feel like making anything. She then asked me to get her a piece of bread. Really? She called me over at 4 am to get her a piece of bread?

Unfortunately, being a little dazed and confused myself, I kinda lost it. I told Mom that it wasn’t right that she calls me at 4 am to get her a piece of bread and that if she needed that kind of assistance she needed to get a caregiver. Dang! That sounded mean.

After I calmed down and got Mom her piece of bread I apologized for “barking” at her. I made her something better to eat and sat with her for a while and then suggested she get some sleep. She did.

Next morning when I stopped over to make sure she was doing OK, she was in a fantastic mood and didn’t even mention our 4 am “chat”. Just as well…

What I Learned: Caring for my ageing parent is difficult at times, but it’s also difficult for Mom.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: Creative Caring (and maybe a lie or 2)

Blog - Pic 85“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

So Mom has been living with us for about 3 months now and I have to admit that it has been a little stressful. My husband and I are having a tough time adjusting to our new living arrangement and we’ve had more “discussions” about Mom than anything else. One good thing is that my husband and I have always been open and honest with each other and always tell each other what is on our minds. Maybe some of what was on our minds should have stayed there.

When I look back, I realize we truly didn’t understand what we were getting into. Everyone we talked to said “Don’t do it!”, and now I understand that those are the people that DID do it. They know how much of a strain it can have on a relationship and how much stress can come from caring for an elderly parent.

This is all so new to us and I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk with your significant other about how you feel, but most importantly about how they feel. When it all comes down to it, who is going to be there for you – not your ageing parent. So my theory – find the needs of my ageing parent without losing the needs of my spouse.

One of the hardest things I find to deal with is the fact that if I tell my mom the truth she turns it against me and makes me feel guilty. For example, one evening I told her my husband and I were going to go for a drive and have dinner. Well… wasn’t I a selfish person for not wanting to include her and why wouldn’t I think about taking her with us. That made me feel bad even though I really didn’t want to include her – I just wanted a nice outing with my husband – that made me feel guilty.  How do you explain to your mom that you don’t want to be with her without hurting her feelings?

So from here on in, my husband and I decided to handle situations so they worked for us. Yes, sometimes it involved not quite telling the truth, and some of the things we do may seem juvenile to some, but it works for us. I don’t feel guilty about doing it either because I am taking control of my life and this is the only way it will work having Mom live with us.

What I Learned: Get creative in the way you handle situations with an ageing, elderly parent.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Setting Up Doctors

Blog - Pic 82“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Today is the start of setting up Mom’s new doctors. I thought it best to have someone who specializes in Gerontologyand after hours of reading bios online and going over them with Mom, we chose a doctor we thought would be best for mom’s situation. I set up an appointment and we met with the doctor a few days later.

The first meeting went well and Mom thought the doctor was quite nice…. for a male! Mom would have preferred a female doctor but there are few of them in our area that specialize in Gerontology and traveling any distance in Los Angeles is quite a challenge, so I thought I would make it more convenient for my husband since he is the one doing the driving. I chose a doctor a few miles from where we live who is also associated with the nearest hospital – his office is right across the street from the hospital which I thought may come in handy at Mom’s age.

I was with Mom through the whole visit and helped her answer questions the doctor asked. Mom had a hard time remembering things but I was able to fill in the gaps. The doctor examined Mom, did height, weight, blood pressure, and did a complete blood work up. He was impressed with how well she looked but was concerned with her Osteoporosis so he ordered a bone density test. The one good thing about being associated with, and close to a hospital is that everything Mom needs is right close by. So we left the office feeling very good about our choice in doctors – now we just needed to wait for Mom’s test results.

We decided to take Mom for lunch after her appointment, which somehow becomes a ritual after all her appointments. Although my husband and I don’t mind going for lunch, Mom uses lunch to prolong her time out. I totally understand that she wants as much time with us as possible, but after hours of taking her to the doctor and then another couple of hours at lunch, my husband and I have had enough. It’s just a little overwhelming – mainly because we are not used to this routine but also because everything we do with Mom is just – so – slow. Like I’ve said before, I’m not ready to slow down, so it’s a little stressful.

But hey…. it has to be done so we will persevere.

What I Learned: A lot of energy is spent going slowly – I’m not ready for that yet.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Grocery Shopping Blues

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Today we did some running around – grocery shopping first. My husband dropped us off thinking we’d be 30 minutes or so – Mom can’t usually last much longer than that. Well I guess that B12 she is taking is really kicking in because she had more energy today than I’ve seen in a long time. She wanted to do every isle and then the deli…. oh no, not the deli! She likes the deli because she can sample things – and usually not like any of Blog - Pic 79it.

Finally she bought some tofu (protein – yay!) and then it was off to the salad bar. Really Mom? It’s not Marie Callender’s.  Then she spots something that looked familiar but she wasn’t quite sure what it was. It kinda looked like a kidney bean only white…. and bigger…. and flatter. So she stands there staring at it for what seemed to be forever, and then she grabbed the serving spoon. I knew exactly what was going to happen next, but before she had the chance I said “I don’t THINK so – that’s just wrong on every level.” I definitely got the evil eye, but she put the spoon down. That would have been embarrassing! Time to go…. next stop, the drug store.

As usual, I was just going to run in, grab her drugs, and run out. But, of course, Mom wanted to run in with me. Well, at 88 years of age there is no “running” in and there is definitely no “quickly” about it. But I complied (reluctantly) and off we went.

I’ll be honest, one of the hardest things having Mom with us is how our life has slowed down when we’re with Mom. My husband and I have so much energy and we love just whipping around places and getting things done. We never spend an hour or two grocery shopping, and  I’m just not ready to slow down. I think most of my stress comes from the waiting – it takes Mom 5 minutes just to slide her butt out of the car!

Later that night, Mom realized that her drugs came with the wrong lids – she needs the lids which are easier to get off. So she decided to call the drug store and let them know. Well, Mom is not the best with technology and the cell phone seems to confuse her more than anything, but she gave it a shot anyway. She dialed the number, but instead of pushing the “talk” button she pushed the “4” button which is right under the talk button and is also the speed dial for our son. Yup! You guessed it….  the phone rang right to CM. He answers and says, “Hi Grandmommy.” Well of course my mom is taken aback and asked, “Is this CVS?” Our son replied, “It’s CM, Grandmommy.”  After a few times back and forth of that, my mom finally said, “CM, what are you doing at CVS?”

Well you can imagine the conversation that came next…. you gotta love it!

What I Learned: I’m not ready to slow down but realize that one day,  I too will. Live it up while you can!





Caring For An Elderly Parent: The 5 Pound Purse Revisited

Blog - Pic 66“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I just had another conversation with my mom about her heavy/cumbersome purse and how it is not only too heavy but it gets in the way of other people. She swings it over her shoulder not giving any thought to who is around – I told her she needs to be careful or she’ll hurt someone.

Sure enough, the very next day while we were leaving Denny’s, Mom walks out the door and attempts to swing her 5 lb weight over her shoulder and…. WHAM! She nails a woman who was walking out behind her right in the gut. The poor woman curls over in pain – she couldn’t have weighed 100 lbs. I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t realize what happened until my husband and I reacted – Mom looked pretty confused. And get this, after we got through our apologies, Mom blamed it on ME! She said I jinxed it. Somehow I knew it would be my fault.

But I do think Mom is re-thinking the 5 lb purse… we’ll see.

What I Learned: It may take an incident to make something understood…. and keep your distance from a woman with a 5 lb purse!  

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Living With OCD

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Today wasn’t too bad – although my husband may beg to differ. We took Mom to the grocery store to pick up a few things; the usual routine – help Mom down her steps, help her to the car, help her with her seat belt, run back to close and lock her doors, jump in the truck and off we go! In the short time that I was locking up her place, Mom had my husband seeing red – and I missed the whole thing. Of course, my husband filled me in later.

I knew Mom had an issue with seeing out the window (which is totally weird because she never opens her blinds in her hBlog - Pic 71ouse) because I learned that from our infamous RV trip across the country. What I didn’t know is how OCD she is. You see, my husband had his jacket hung on the hook behind the driver’s seat and Mom asked him to take it down so she could see out the window. Well…. this is my husband’s work truck and he likes things the way he likes things – some of you may relate . Hey, I have no problem with that – I understand “work space”, but Mom did not. He explained to her that he had a meeting and didn’t want to forget his jacket and needed it looking good, etc.

Well that wasn’t good enough for Mom. She decided to move  – or “try” to move – the jacket herself. After several attempts and much moaning and groaning she decided to give up on that idea. But my husband had a change of heart and moved the jacket while we were in shopping. He realized that it wasn’t worth being that stressed over a jacket.

I guess Mom had a change of heart too because when we were driving home she told my husband that he shouldn’t have had to move the jacket since it was his truck and he should have it his way. WOW! Where did that come from? Funny thing tho – on the drive home the sun was beating in the back window (where the jacket should have been hanging) right onto Mom – and we all know how Mom feels about the sun (as vampires say, “blah, blah blah, blah blah”) – and she was leaning over as far as possible to get away from it but didn’t dare say a thing.

Well Mom, I’m guessing right about now you wish you hadn’t had my husband move his jacket…. right?

What I Learned: We’ve got to try to get along and make adjustments – but we still need boundaries.

Note: OCD is an anxiety disorder and can be very serious for some people. As time goes on living with Mom, I realize it is a serious issue for her.