Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I decided to not spend too much time thinking this one through.  I had a thought (no, not the "Danger, Will Robinson!" thought I had while typing up One Word Wednesday over on my caregiver website My Sweet Peanut.  A different thought and I've decided to run with it!

Today's word prompt is DANGER and although there can be a lot of DANGER involved with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, I decided to share a different DANGER - the one floating around in my head this week...

The DANGER of becoming overwhelmed.  The DANGER ZONE of caregiver burnout.

I am feeling it this week.  I am certain it's because mom has been in a negative place.  Fighting the things that are best for her.  Fighting the exercise.  Fighting the memory games.  Fighting most activities (except eating - she is still really snack-y!)  And arguing with everything.

And complaining.  Constant complaining. 

She has had arthritis for as long as I can remember.  Since her early 40s.  In her hands and especially in her feet and knees.  She worked on her feet most of her life - in heels, because that's what women did "back in the day".  And it's taken it's toll. 

But lately, since she can't remember anything - even her own past - every ache and pain is brand new and she wants to talk about it.  Ask about it.  Complain about it.  Whine about it.  Moan about it.  And she has taken to making faces and mumbling under her breath...unkind faces and unkind mumbles.  It's exhausting.

And since she is fighting with everything I can think of that might help her feel better....stretching, using heat and ice, doing her therapy exercises, walking and wiggling hands and feet, drinking lots of water, sitting up a little bit straighter, moving around from place to place and seat to seat.  It's left me at my wit's end.

It's been over a year since mom moved in.  There have been a lot of challenges.  But this new 'victim mentality' is threatening my ability to be a positive carer.  And as I was telling a story to my son, during our 3-hour Mina Break today, I realized it was something my very own mother taught me early, early on.  Not just taught me - drilled into my head!

SHE is the one who had zero patience for people who acted as victims.  For people who pushed all ownership and responsibility off their own shoulders and blamed others for their lot in life.  MOM who used to lecture me for anything that even looked like laziness or complaining or whining.  I can still hear her saying "If you've got time and energy to complain about it, you've got time and energy to do something about it!" 

And I've decided that's why it's bothering me so much.  That's why I can't get past it.  That's why I am grinding my teeth more than usual and biting my tongue and counting to 10 and yoga breathing and taking a quick walk into the backyard to "take out the trash" for a breath of fresh air.  Why the mirror and pickles and all the other tricks aren't working as well as they usually do.

And although I've said and typed and written it time and time again - it is really hard to get used to the person who in body is your mom, NOT BEING your mom anymore in spirit and soul and attitude and actions.

Perhaps writing once again has helped me avert the DANGER ZONE of caregiver burnout.  It really does help to put it all down.  But I am tired.  And tired is a very DANGERous place for me to be.  It shortens the fuse.  Shreds the filter.  Hardens the tone.

Prayers would be appreciated as I work through this.  Because, like so many things with Alzheimer's - this negativity could be our new normal.  It may never go away.  Or it may stop tomorrow. 

Regardless - I made a commitment to my mom to take care of her and that doesn't mean just going through the motions.  She deserves my kindness and my patience and my love and respect and energy.  So I will try and move myself out of the DANGER ZONE every day so I can fulfill my commitment.  Wish me luck!


  1. my prayers and thoughts are with you constantly. Isn't it funny...that our mothers...who were not the greatest mothers in the world have managed to raise daughters who feel completely responsible for them and their happiness. I don't get it. My sister, who was my mother's pride and joy, does not feel the same responsibility as I and I dare to say that had you had siblings it would still fall upon you.

    1. I am certain of it! But at least she was a pal - and someone I could count on - and laugh with - and go on adventures with - and someone who had a very clear set of morals, goals, beliefs...this new thing still has the bitterness and not much of the fun. I wouldn't change who I am for anything.

  2. Lisa I am praying for you. I pray you find the strength to take care of your mom and have no regrets. I pray that you realize it is not your mom who is inside your mom's body. I know where you are. Every morning when I got up, with Richard, I prayed that God help me get through one more day and then I would decide if I could keep going. I thank God today that he helped me to the end....

    1. Thanks Paula - I need the prayers right go along with all the ones I am praying. It just seems harder this week - maybe it's back-to-school, maybe it's pure exhaustion, maybe it's my inability to be as kind to myself as I am to my mom...maybe... One day at a time is great advice - and when I stick to it, I am able to do anything...but when I look down the long road...whew! I am so glad I have friends like you who 100% get it.

  3. That would be the hardest part. I really wish they'd come up with a cure. It's a disease that cuts at the heart of who a person is and that's really tough for that person's loved ones.