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Overwhelmed and exhausted
Hello, I have been dealing with my father’s Alzheimer’s for the past 5 years. The first year I dropped my entire life when I went to Tx from Oregon to check on him for a week and found he wasn’t safe alone. I stayed with him for 5 months until I could deal with legal things and drive him to my home. I cared for him at my house until I couldn’t do it alone anymore. I am his POA and Guardian and have also spent a lot of time (years) going back and forth to Tx dealing with his estate since he’s been in nursing care. Lots of clean up work in a very small town. 8000 sq ft of garages and very hard to find help in that area due to remoteness. Very overwhelming and value barely covers the cost of dealing with it
I have spent a lot of time alone the last 5 years due to my responsibilities to my father. I’ve gone back to work a couple times in the last couple years, but his needs made it necessary to stop working both times. My life has been basically on hold and I’m trying to cope with my emotions of loss and grief. I find it very hard to visit my father because it is terrible to see his condition. He no longer knows me and he is hard of hearing and nearly impossible to communicate with. I go mainly to check that he is cared for, but i cry for days after. Single handedlyngoimg through everything he has saved over his lifetime has made it harder I feel like I am reliving his life and grieving his losses.
My kids recently moved 3000 miles away due to my son’s job. My daughter went with him and his wife because she wanted to experience NYC. My kids didn’t have a relationship with him due to distance he lived, but they would check on him for me before they moved. My two step sisters live 3000 miles away and are not involved.
I don’t have a support system. It seems I want to be avoid people but I’m lonely. I’m having a hard time functioning like I did before this happened. (Work, social, etc.) I’m in the process of moving back closer to him because I took a job 5 hours south of my father, but when my kids moved away and couldn’t check on my dad anymore, I knew I had to move back closer. The job was too stressful and I developed health issues
My life has been a series of putting out fires and emergencies for my father for over 5 years. I have had to travel a lot and have lost connections I had to friends. I am exhausted I don’t know where to start picking up the pieces of the life I had before. Actually, I can’t, it’s gone, I’d need to start fresh and I’m just so overwhelmed that I’m having a hard time functioning. I’m 53 and this has also been a financial burden as well as an emotional one.
What are some things y’all do that help you deal with the grief and stress when you feel like you just can’t manage another day?
I hear you.
I hit the wall in October and have been making it a priority to get my life back.
What kept me chained to my mother was thinking she was going to die 'any day'.
She went through so many changes in 5 years. Each change required my attention. But I started getting depleted. That's when I started saying to myself: 'oh, when this happens, then it will be better.' It never was. It often got worse.
I decided (and am getting therapy to help me see it through) that I need to be able to release my mother. Her life is not my life. She has lived her life. I need to live my life. It's wrong if I don't.
I think the reason you are mourning his life as you go through his stuff is partly because you are too attached. There is no separation between you and him. I think that happens incrementally without us realizing it. We have essentially given our lives to them so we barely exist anymore.
My mother is moving to MC tomorrow so I have been purging her stuff once again. Each time I do it, I get to know her better. It makes me feel pain for her even more. And those tangible things that evoke that sad feeling, I get rid of. And I'm thankful that I just feel the pain I'm feeling now. I know the pain would be even greater if she had died.
When she does die, I won't have to face those things again. They will be in the past.
It sounds a bit heartless, but when you're a sensitive person, you need to protect yourself. It's far too easy for us to be chameleons and live someone else's life. And it's quite difficult for us to lead our own lives. Our own lives are lonely. And it's because we haven't paid enough attention to ourselves.
Get to know yourself OCP. Talk to a counselor. It's so evident that you are a kind and caring person. That will never go away. But learn to be kind and caring to yourself. One step at a time...
Thank you mostlyme. You seem to understand. I did go through 8000 sq ft of garages and a house and he threw away very little in his lifetime. It was tourcher to see every photo, love letter, card, etc. from back in his childhood. It required me to spends months alone in Tx waiting for help for things I couldn’t do myself. There were antique cars, projects and parts, so many boxes of papers and magazines, books, etc. and it was all very much over my head and not valuable enough to have an estate auction in that remote location. I learned to haul things to Oregon where I could find help
Anyway, I need to find a way to get my life back. I thought I had, but I moved too far away and the stress of that job was too much to deal with and still be responsible for my dad.
Thanks for letting me vent. It helps to hear I’m in good company, although I don’t wish this on anyone. If others have survived, I suppose I can also.
I wish I was better equipped and I wish I could better control his quality of life, but I think I need to step back and accept some things and lower my expectations for he and I before I go off the deep end. Things will never be normal again. I need to find a new normal. The hardest part is not knowing what will happen next. Not having a plan. Uncertainty this has caused for my career and future, but I am going to have to find a way to have faith because I know I’m doing the right thing by doing my best for someone who loves me and needs me.
You might find some of the writings of a former board member named Zolly helpful. He has passed on, but he shared many wise words on letting go of things that were creating his own downfall on the dementia journey.
You've done well - your Dad is receiving needed care, your kids have struck out on their own on the wonderful adventure they deserve - and the care dynamic shifted. The move for a job that you needed and the distance for a bit of self preservation was a good idea, but currently does not work. You've cleaned out what sounds like a hoarded house (been there - big accomplishment) but........
now your well is empty. And Dad is still alive.
You've recognized you need to be nearby - AND that you need a life and a job. And some help letting go of the responsibility - because no matter what you do, Dad continues to decline.
Step by step.
Finding employment is important. Our retirement looms no matter what is going on in life. Finding work that gives at least some satisfaction can help us with our general purpose and self regard.
An accessbile distance to the nursing home is desirable. OR - it may be possible to move Dad to a nursing home near your job.
Set a limit on how much you visit. Later in our journey, our facility proved to provide excellent care - I aimed for once a week, but when life happened, visited less.
Find a grief/loss therapist. Helps you work through crisis along the way too - and evaluate thing when you feel like Dad's care needs impact work.
Not necessarily in that order. Sometimes, working through our emotions and getting our coping resiliance back is needed before tackling a job search.