The following are true stories sent in by today's caregivers:

6/29/04

My dad just passed away 5 months ago, my mom is 82, she was very dependent on my dad for everything, and I mean everything. I feel my grief in the last 5 months has turned to anger; I am not happy at all right now because of the change in our lives. I feel guilty when I "have a life." My mom cannot drive. She does nothing on her own. I tend to all of her affairs. I feel she is demanding and makes me and my sister feel guilty when we are not around. I am really trying to cope with this situation and would like to talk to other people in the same situation. I feel like a rotten person because of my thoughts about her at this time. My sister is babying her and not letting her be on her own which only makes for a bad situation. Any advice?

Cathleen Mackey
taylure@voicenet.com

6/26/04

Recently I have found myself having to cope with stress-related issues due to the aging of my mother. I work two 40-hour-a-week jobs and find that lately I'm spending extra time dealing with a lot of little problems that are all of a sudden cropping up that my mother used to, at one time, take care of. This is stressing me out and I'm spending all my free time solving her problems while neglecting my own. Do you have any suggestions?

Kathleen Witham
kattwith@yahoo.com

6/26/04

I would be happy to hear from anyone out there for support! I am planning to attend a local, monthly CAPS support group also.

My mother is 84 years old. I am 47 and an only child. Her only surviving sibling is a very active 74-year-old, who offers no assistance. I am alone in all this.

My story is thus: I was a professional social worker for 17 plus years. In April 2003, I resigned from my full-time position as a hospice social worker, a job I held for nine years.

I did this because my mother needed me. She had been residing for a couple of years at an independent living senior apartment complex for folks on a limited income. She had a lovely apartment and a range of activities in which to engage. Also at that time, she ended up with an apartment fire and had to relocate to my home for two months while her apartment was being restored. I spent many full days during that two-month period at her apartment, trashing all of her ruined possessions as well as clearing out an inordinate amount of junk and debris. Saying that she lived like a pack rat is an understatement. I had to use some of my retirement funds to buy her new furniture and belongings. And I had to purchase all new things for her and stay at the apartment to await numerous deliveries.

I also took my mother to several doctor's appointments to assess her mental status, at the apartment management's request, to ensure that she was mentally capable to continue living independently. My boyfriend stayed with mom at my house while I handled all of the above. He was disabled for that period with a broken ankle, but waited on her hand and foot, as she is very demanding, particular, eccentric, and prone to getting into trouble if not closely supervised.

She returned to her apartment in June 2003, but it was not to last, as she ran into more and more problems requiring my constant intervention.

I was trying to establish two at-home businesses to sustain myself financially after having left my job. One was an e-commerce business; the other a pet-sitting business. Neither ever really got off the ground, due to my mother's constant needs and meeting with the apartment management concerning her leaving things unattended on the stove, burning things in the microwave, creating smoke alarm problems that threatened other residents, and bouncing checks. Her stove was turned off, her microwave removed, meals-on-wheels ordered, and power-of-attorney provided to me. But, she resisted and continues to resist, my handling of her finances

This April, I was given notice of two months from the apartment management to move my mother elsewhere.

I reside in a tiny two-bedroom house. One bedroom was set-up as an office for my business endeavors. Where was I to put my mother? I got a small loan to renovate my garage/basement into a small apartment for mom, but by the time she was slated to arrive, we were unable to complete the project due to having run into many problems with getting permits from the city to install a bathroom ourselves, as well as to even create at all an environment resembling an apartment.

Instead, we had to move my office to the nowhere-near-finished cellar area and move my mother here with too much furniture and nowhere to put it and put her into the spare bedroom. This all took place on June 20 of this year.

During the past year, I have spent down all of my retirement monies to live and never got my businesses up to snuff due to repeated interference from mom and her needs and crises. Now the two of us are here together trying to make it on her modest social security and pension funds: hardly enough for two!

I want to work on at least the one business that allows me to be at home where I can supervise her. But, it is not easy. She needs a lot of watching because of odd behavior problems she has that can literally destroy my home. For instance, she has the bad habit of throwing things down the toilet that do not belong, which have created previous unnecessary plumbing expenses. She also likes to over-water my plants, which has ruined entire pieces of expensive furniture. Her hygiene is very bad. She tries to hand wash clothes that belong in the washer. She takes walks and pulls up weeds all over the place, returning with debris and a facial and hand rash. She sprinkles salt on carpets, furniture, clothing and drawers to ward off imagined insects, etc., etc. In her mind, she is living right and being helpful!

The list of her wacky behaviors is endless and perpetuates itself if she goes unmonitored. During her geriatric assessment last year, she tested as having only mild "hardening of the arteries" with exacerbated life-long eccentric behaviors that are increasing with age, but no pre-Alzheimer's or other organic brain diseases.

I know I am about to become overwhelmed and stressed out to the max with having her in my living space, needing 24/7 monitoring!

If anyone is out there listening and made it through this lengthy treatise, feel free to respond. I appreciate any and all input. Social workers make the worst caregivers and advocates for members of their own families. We forget everything we know when it comes to dealing with our own situations!

Maureen McGee
rabbits.rule@verizon.net

6/22/04

I have been living with my mom since 1992. I just turned 60 in February. Mom turned 90 in January.We live in our own house, but it needs a lot of repairs for us to stay here. We nearly froze to death at times. Our house is made of brick but does not have good windows anymore, needs insulation, a new furnace, and has a leaking roof. There are other things but I can't think of them right now. We are deciding if we should move and rent or stay and fix up our own house. We really can't afford it. Mom gets social security and so do I but we are still on low income. Does anyone have any suggestions? I certainly would appreciate any or all suggestions. I am at my wits' end over what to do. Should I stay or should I go? This is the big question.

I just found this web site this morning. I am going to ramble through this one some more. It is great to know of some support. I do mom's care giving on my own with no help. It certainly can get to you. I haven't gone on any overnight trips even because she is afraid to stay alone at night. I better close and hope to hear from someone.

Sally LaHaie
stillysal@webtv.net

6/7/04

I am 52 years old and married. My husband and I are both on disability, so we are limited as to our income. I have been helping to care for my mother, who is 74 years old, for the last 17 years.

Since my daddy died, I have tried to be as helpful to her as I possibly can. I live 25 miles from the town that she lives in. She too is disabled and lives on a fixed income. I have applied for every kind of assistance that is available to her. With all of my time and effort, she always throws away anything I try to do for her. She wants everyone to feel sorry for her. She doesn't’t appreciate anything that I do for her. I only have one sister who hasn’t ever helped with anything in the care of our mother, but she is the favorite daughter and gets all the recognition.

I have reached a point that, at times, I wish my mother would just go on to heaven since she is so miserable on earth. I feel guilty about these feelings, but I am burned out after all these years of caring for her. I recently took her to a new doctor hoping he could possibly help me find a way to help my mother with her depression. I was a professional caregiver before I became disabled and understand the depression in the elderly. I have reached a place that I feel I need to obtain her power of attorney. I feel she is becoming unable to manage her affairs. The only solution to the problem is to go to court and have her declared mentally incompetent. This really hurts me a lot, but my sister wants me to put her in a nursing home just to get rid of her. I really do love my mother, but I can’t keep on being the lone caregiver anymore.

Violet Blassingame
blassingame52@yahoo.com

5/25/04

I am the youngest of 3 kids, and thus the happy go lucky, irresponsible one, right? When my father began showing symptoms of Alzheimer's, all of the other immediate family members wanted to rest in denial. It fell to me to take his care away and find a neurologist who would properly assess his situation. After I got on that road, the others naturally fell into place and selected roles for themselves: weekend caregiver, financial planner, trip coordinator. My father now receives excellent medical care and has a full-time caregiver. It took about 20 months to figure out how to stay one step ahead of the illness.

My advice to anyone going down this path is to say yes when any friend or relative offers to assist you. Keep a "to do" list on hand so that when someone asks how they can help, you can say, can you take my dad to the doctor next Tuesday? Pick up his prescription? Sing songs with him? Can you relieve my mom for a day? People are glad to help. Eliminate those with negative attitudes, read up on the latest treatments, and remember not to let someone else's life or problems become your own!

Alicia Tolbert
legendsofsports@hotmail.co

5/24/04

Finding this site has helped my spirit today. Thank you. Although I am in Texas, I know the grief, guilt and depression each has expressed in their stories.

My mother is a vibrant 75-year-old woman who had a nasty fall 3 years ago, shattering her right femur. She spent several months in a wheelchair and then a year in physical therapy. The following year, she experienced a shadow fracture on the same leg above the plate; hence another operation, rehab time and relearning to walk.

Three months ago, she slipped again and fell and cracked her pelvis in two places. Bed rest for 6 weeks and now, due to favoring her "good leg," she is in rehab again, working on healing severely damaged muscles and overcoming her fear of falling, which has not subsided.

I don't know if it as difficult or a different kind of difficulty to care for a elderly woman who does not have dementia or ongoing internal illnesses, one who is extremely busy with civic groups and travel. Her life has been severely restricted to her home and few other places for so long she is mourning her "social demise" as it were.

How does one deal with this as well as the physical part? I don't know. She has an outstanding network of friends who stay in regular contact with her and bring her meals and presents and chuckles, but this is never enough. Consequently, I am working full time and have my own house and I feel that i should move to her home and live there and give up my life for as long as she lives. How can I overcome this? I try hard via counseling, but nothing is working.

Thank you for this site and sharing stories.

Sydney
readstravels@msn.com

5/12/04

I am an American lady with grown children, living in europe. In February 2004, I married a local man whose papa is 90, and has Alzheimer's. We had to move him into assisted living 9 days before the wedding. Ever since last summer, every spare minute has gone to dealing with papa. I am in graduate school, and right now I feel overwhelmed. I feel both guilty and resentful at the same time. I have had elderly parents-in-law before, and it was rough. But this is worse, as I never knew papa when he was reasonably healthy. I am exhausted and I want my life back.

Barbara Bach Berntsen
BarbaraBach128@hotmail.com

4/24/04

I started caring for my mom five years ago. She is now in the middle stages of dementia/Alzheimer's. I am looking for organizations that can help me by way of support groups in my area, or better yet on line. Also, financial support would be great. I am currently working part-time. In the fall, I would like to return to school and finish my degree. I currently have someone coming into my home four hours, four days per week from 6:30 to 10:30, which allows me to work part time. However when I return to school I don't think I will be able to work as much.

My mom is a beautiful person; I love her dearly. It is very sad that she has this awful disease. She does not, nor has she ever wanted to go into a nursing home and I have no desire to put her in one. Every day I pray for patience. I think if I had someone to talk to, perhaps it would help. I do have siblings; however there is not much help there, actually there is no help there.
I would like to do as much as I can for my mom, but five years into this I am feeling quite drained. The four hours four times per week has helped. However I must admit to the fact that I am becoming somewhat of a zombie. I am 43 years old and recently went to my doctor and started taking meds for depression. I love my mother, there are so many emotions inside of me I just keep them contained so that I can take care of her. Any help that anyone could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Vickie
Vesgssh1@aol.com

4/8/04

My mom had a stroke about 7 years ago. She almost died then but she came right back and had to take a lot of different kinds of medicine. Sometimes she is better, but has to sleep a lot and has lost a lot of energy. She is in pain across her back almost all of the time and her legs hurt at the knees. She is also going blind. She is finding it hard to keep up the grueling regime of cooking, cleaning, and washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming every day. Her ribs hurt sometimes, some men who visit smoke around us too much. I am afraid she might die soon and I don't know how to get help for her. Everyone who visits just eats, drops cigarette ashes and puts dishes in the sink and messes up the only bathroom we have. I am 17 years old and don't know what to do in this situation. I don't think she should be doing any work at home. No one even drives her in a car, she has to walk and take the bus. How can I help her?

James Lee Clay
c.claytoldya2@hotmail.com

4/4/04

I am 29 years old and today my 52-year-old mother informed me that she is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. I am scared, mad, hurt, confused and overwhelmed. I have been to several web sites today to begin to educate myself on this disease. I am so unsure as to what to say to my mom at this point. I just told her I loved her and I am here for her and we will go through this together. However, once she left my house I broke down in tears and can't seem to stop crying. I am crying for her. This is the last disease on earth I would expect her to go through. Any guidance from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

Melissa Adams
adams.family2@verizon.net

Home/About/Support/Join/Caregiver Guide/Helpful Links/Donations