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Help!

I'm a caregiver to my elderly parents. My mum is in remission for cancer. I have days when I feel especially moody due to certain problems at work or with friends, and would just sit in a corner and cry, I feel isolated from my friends as many of them are preoccupied with their own lives and I can't really count on them to hear me talk out my problems.

Sometimes, I feel anxious when I have to socialise and eat at public places. I have shared some of my feelings with my counsellor, however, things have not gotten any better. I feel that I am beginning to lose interest in keeping touch with people other than my few close friends.  

As I'm the sole breadwinner, I have not approached a doctor about this as I am apprehensive about my problems affecting my employment opportunities.

Just wondering if anyone else here has had to take care of both their parents alone. And if so, would you be able to share your thoughts with me about how to manage the responsibility?

As my parents are much older than me, I also often feel very afraid that I may lose them.
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144586_tn?1284669764
You ask eternal questions, for which there are no real answers.

You should be extremely proud of yourself for having undertaken the responsibility placed upon you by god, to honor your father and mother. It is fact of life that the people of this world are so involved in themselves you cannot expect them to be interested in your problems, even so-called "social workers" and "physicians" who, seemingly, have some special aptitude in this area.

As for "consulting a doctor", consultation with a psychiatrist may in fact effect your employment opportunities, regardless of what they say. A famous case involved a New Jersey Bank President, a military veteran, who was ordered, on penalty of dismissal, to see a psychiatrist after he was present during a bank robbbery, despite the fact he said he felt no ill effects.

That single visit cost him the right to own a shotgun or firearm in New Jersey, and last I heard the case was still rumbling through the courts.

In the case of the defense industries that visit can cost you your security clearance.

As far as fear of losing the, enjoy and treasure them while you can. You can never tell someone you love them too many times. Never.

Last weekend I said goodbye to a close friend dying in a critical care ward. I hugged him tightly and he died at four A.M. last sunday. Nobody lives forever, and being with someone in the months before they cross the bar, knowing death is coming is one of the most emotioinally trying experiences a human being can undergo.

The moving finger writes, and moves on and all your piety and wit, cannot erase a single word, or cross out a line.

Life can be very lonely, but when all is said and done, a decade from now you will never ever regret one minute of time that you spent with them.

There is no easy "formula" as to how to divide your day/week/year. Every hour spent in an individuals life must be viewed in terms of alternatives sacrificed. There seems to a lot of "how to" suggestions (i.e. "reserve an hour a day for yourself") by the fact is, you have undertaken a tremendous burden and you are performing magnificently in the eyes of god.

Nobody else counts.

I think the important thing when taking care of and interacting with elderly parents is always to keep your word. If you have a dinner appointment with them and promise to be there, be on time and fulfill that obligation. Little things often take on great importance. If they give you a gift, even if it's the wrong size/color, thank them profusely. Bring your mother flowers regularly. And before they pass on make sure you call each to the side and tell them how much you appreciate all they did for you when you were a child. Trust me, you will never ever regret having hads that conversation.

Hug them, and when you are near them keep your hand on their shoulder, or hold their wrists.

If you have a few extra dollars purchase a Sony Play Station or a computer with a high-end graphics card and introduce them to computer games. There are lots of them, and now you don't have to be computer literate to use them. If they are happy for an hour a day playing these games you don't have to worry about taking care of them.

Enroll them in a senior citizens center, where they usually serve a daytime mea, have bus trips, and where they will have a change to meet new friends and chat.

If they yell at you, or criticize you inappropriately, know this is often part of the proces of aging, and don't hold it against them.

In years gone by you could go to a Parish priest, but mine doesn't speak english, and is mostly interested in his own navel. There are a few yahoo groups around that include people who are caregivers.

Nobody is going to understand why you are spending so much of your time with them, so don't expect a new boyfriend/girlfriend to be a shoulder to lean on.

I don't know what the answer is, but when they pass on, and you visit their graves, you will know you will have fulfilled your obligations in every way, and that will provide you with a great deal of comfort.

God be with you.
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thank you for your reply. it means a lot to me, just to know that someone out there (even if it's over the internet) understands.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there Cath, just read your post there and I can relate. It is a very difficult situation to be in and it is very isolating indeed. I look after my elderly mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years ago and left my job to care for her and now I am sorry I did. By the sound of your post you are an only child and all responsiblily is left to you.  I think you should talk to a doctor or social worker or something and get yourself some help if that is possible.  I know that you think it is easier for you to stop socialising etc because all you want to do is talk out your problems but the reality is that the job you are doing is so exhausting and demanding(well I am only guessing here from my own experience) that it can be really depressing. I know you love your parents and don't want to lose them but that does not take from the fact that it is not an easy job. And I know that people are caught up in their own little worlds and their own problems and don't want to hear yours but you have to have someone to listen to you and get things off your chest, just to vent. I think I am writing about myself here but I know where you are coming from and it sounds like you need some help. Go along to your doctor and just tell him/her how you are feeling and the difficulties you are experiencing. I am sure that they will give some positive help. Don't let things get out of control for yourself, you have a life too and you have to live it.  Get all the help that is possibly available to you. Talk talk and walk as much as you can, the exercise helps clear the head so that you don't want to kill anyone(only kidding but you know what I mean) Take care and remember there are thousands in the same position but there's no help there for you if you don't ask
take care
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Avatar_f_tn
belated thanks for ur post. :)
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hi Cath,

As you saw by my previous post I feel your isolation. I am not an only child but my brother and sister to not help in the care of my father so I may as well be an only child.

I also care part time for my elderly mother as my brother and sister have decided that it is "fair" that I do so, regardless that they do not share with my father's care. I assume you live with your parents or they live with you.

There are support groups for caregivers in larger cities. Have you considered joining one of those. There are also home health care services that medicare will often pay for if one or both of your parents qualify.

I encourage you to be physically active when ever possible. It helps me. Go for a walk if you can get away. When you must get groceries go to a large grocery store and take your time walking up and down the isles, looking at new products, even if you don't purchase them. This also helps me.  

I see that you are employed and this should at least provide you some interaction with other adults closer to your age. Some times you need to make the first move to make new friends, even though some times that can be difficult.

I know there are trained professionals out there that do understand and care about what you are experiencing. And as far as seeing a physciatrist it can not effect your employment. There are many laws that prevent your employer of future employer from ever learning about your medical or mental health services. One such law is a federal one and it is called HIPPA.

Yes one day you will lose your parents. We all do. So it is important to make friends and keep them close and value the few close friends that you currently have. They will support you when the time comes. You only need a few close friends. I have a lot of acquaintances but only a few close friends.    

I can relate. I too am caring for my parents. I some times feel isolated and alone in this process. It is a proven fact that caregivers become ill more often, are under more stress than the average person and so on and so on. It is not an easy task. I am sorry that you have to go though this alone. You can chat with me any time.

Don't forget to Take Care of you too,
Tuck
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Avatar_f_tn
hi tuck,

thank you for your kind message. yes, i do need to get some exercise! i don't think there are any laws to prevent work discrimination in my part of the world... but that's alright... things have improved since my first post on this thread. mentally i am still able to cope and the anxiety problem is very slowly going away.

i am just taking it one step at a time. of course the fear of losing my family is always there but i suppose i should be thankful that both my parents are still with me. compared to some of my friends who around my age, but who no longer have one parent with them... i have considered joining a caregivers' community once before, but because the lady who answered the phone sounded rather indifferent, i gave up the idea and decided to focus on working things thru myself by reading books on caregiving as well as anxiety issues.

i have also been trying to get to know new friends... i find that widening my social circle helps... there are some old friends who have been around for me, but inevitably, as some of them become more preoccupied with starting their own families (as they rightly should at this age), i feel that it's become more important for me to seek out new people with whom i can relate...

as far as work is concerned, i just do my best... i don't think it's necessarily the best job for me. but what keeps me going is that one day i will be able to pursue the career that i really want.

i am sorry that your siblings are not more helpful... if they are "delegating" the responsibility of caring for both your parents to you, i hope that at least they provide you with adequate financial support?

i hope that your close friends can be your pillars of strength... you can talk to me any time too via medhelp. :)
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547368_tn?1332173665
No financial support from my siblings!! But I believe what comes around goes around. I will be even more blessed for caring for my parents. And when they are gone I will know that I did all I could, the best I could.

It's too bad one person had to ruin the overall "look" of the support group you contacted. I think seeking new friends is a good idea. It sounds like you are coping well.

My best friend and husband are my strength. They are both wonderful ppl.

So you not live in the USA? What country to you reside?

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547368_tn?1332173665
I just noticed you said "Mum." I bet you live in Australia, Ireland or maybe the UK?
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Avatar_f_tn
Hey Tuck,

I'm glad you think that way. You sound like someone who's really at peace. Actually, I'd thought you were single before, and I'm very happy to know that you have a husband who is standing by you, and a best friend who can be your source of support. Hope all is well with your parents.:)
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547368_tn?1332173665
Oh Cath,

Single!!! I don't know how I'd make it through this world alone although I know there are many ppl that have to do just that. I am so blessed!

Hope you continue to do well.

Tuck
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