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GalaGirl

Well-known member
ELDER CAREGIVER BURN OUT (VENT)

OMG elders.

I got emails and calls from two of them today and I dealt with them with kindness, patience, and a smile.

But OMG elders. Two loop-de-loo dementia ones. After a teen angst all nighter? OMG. I so want to be DONE with this phase of life. It gets easier but I recognize the burn out in me.

Go away birdies, leave the nest! Go away elders! Die already.

A poly friend and I had a great phone conversation about poly being a PITA. Yes, it's fun because it's more. And it's also a PITA because it's more. Like nobody seems to talk about the other side to long term poly living. It's all about the opening up part, just starting to date part.

My friend and I are both smack in midlife now and we've know each other since our teens. He's juggling extra children around in his poly network. Not just from his poly partners but dealing with divorced+still coparenting. Not just his divorce, but his poly partners doing that divorced show. That sucks up his time. The kids. And these extra people to deal with -- all the exes. Who are still around because co-parenting.

I honestly don't know how he does it. Dealing with his polycule/familycule thing.

Me? There's kids but OMG elders. They've hogged up my last 8 years! Just with mine and DH's multi set (from divorces and remarriages) I've been bogged down and overloaded with seniors and their health issues. There is less of them now so I feel less crazy than I did when I joined this board.

Honestly, the more I bury them as they finally die off from illness? The less tears I have. I've run out.

Like finish dying already, and give me relief.

Not being mean, just honestly SO. DOG. TIRED. I was alarmed when one of the remaining healthy ones got sick. I will confess I was RELIEVED when that elder went to live with one of DH's siblings rather than come over here. I like that elder a lot -- he's the least PITA of the bunch. But over here is FULL.

The very idea of poly dating at my age now and piling on other people's children, grandkids, elders into my circle of care and concern? UGH!

And further out still... The pain of burying a partner... that's tough once. Going for multiple partner deaths? I am in awe of an older church friend. She's not poly, but she's on husband 3. She's buried two already. Do I have the resources within to poly date again, get attached deep again, maybe even do that like her? Bury more than 1 partner?

I have to spend some time having talks AGAIN with my DH. Because for a phase of my life I was solo poly. He arrived in my life back then. I wanted NO commitments because I was dedicated to getting my degree. Then for a phase of my life I was up for kitchen table poly. If I'm going for another poly run in the near future? The model that most appeals in this time of my life is "Separate poly" because I just don't have the spoons to attend to other family branches.

I feel like "Fuck the lot of ya!" I just want to hang with my DH and get to know him again. Catch up with my friends finally. Be ALONE for a while doing my alone things. Heal from the eldercare wackadoo first. When mentally and emotionally healthier me is here again? Maybe poly date again and maybe have one more special person in my life again, but no entanglements. That would be plenty.

Love in abstract may be infinite. But in daily life? I can only love and attend to so many people at one time and do it WELL, including attending to my own self as I move through the phases of my life.

I'm gonna get old too -- that's going to affect my time/energy resources too.

My poly friend and I chatted about all that and laughed together. Like "Oooh, how sexy this poly talk is. Old kids, old people, dead people, retirement planning problems, updating/making wills problems. Yeah. Fun poly, because MORE. But PITA poly, because ugh.... MORE. "

Galagirl
 
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Petunia

Member
O.M.G. I can relate to all of this! There are only so many spoons in the drawer and as I get older the less I want to manage those spoons. As far as elders go, I think I'm ready for a few less of them (or all). And then the kids, I have three grown kids and they are plenty of work, and between my two partners there are five kids that are not out of the house. It's exhaustive.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Hang in there with it, Petunia!

It does get exhaustive.

With graduation season here again, I was doing cards.

And it was like "Yay, WTG kid! You graduated!" plus some "Yay! I can knock you off my list now, young adult person. Cuz I only do the gift cards for the kiddies."

Plus a smidge of "Not that you ever wrote me a thank you card and only once in a very great while from your parents."

And a dash of "But I don't do it for YOU really... I do it for spouse" and another scoop of "Yay! I can be done with you."

I am ready for less people sucking up my spoons, and less obligations. Like I'm not angry about it. I made promises and commitments and I CHOSE to take on these obligations. I feel happy to have served and I feel happy to be wrapping some of these up.

Part of me does secret little dances of inner GLEE thinking about retirement, my next chapter.

And NOT having to do for people any more.

Galagirl
 
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mf1438

New member
Please be kind

"Go away birdies, leave the nest! Go away elders! Die already."

Am I an elder? I'm 67 yo African American man. Please don't wish my early demise. I still have a few good years left and would like to spend them in fun and frolic. Sex is one of the few things I have left to look forward to. LOL
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Nope. You are not my elder.

I'm also not really wishing anyone's demise or rushing kids out of here faster than they can go.

I am expressing my own feelings of super tired of doing caregiver duties in this phase of my life for too long.

The duties that usually fall on the spouse and adult children of the dementia person. Sometimes even with caregiver support groups, I get really tired.

Galagirl
 
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mf1438

New member
oic

oic, I feel for you. I've done caregiver duties before. It can be demanding. I'm a caregiver now for my 87 yo Dad. He just got married a couple of years ago and his new wife is declining with dementia. They both need constant help.

I'm fortunate though. I have 4 siblings and one sister lives with them as primary caregiver. My brother lives in the same house too. So we split up the duties and we each do our part. It brings us closer together as a family.

What do you do to recharge your batteries? I like to hang out online and meet new people.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
mf1438 -- you hang in there too then. Sounds like you have your own batch of elders to look after and you deal in dementia things with them as well.

Glad you have siblings around to help spread the load out some. I don't have any here.

I imagine you already do, but remember to check in with the sister and brother than live with them. The primary caregivers field a lot of of stuff and sometimes need a kind word or a break so they don't burn out.

Recharge my batteries? I don't know right now. Pandemic has added extra jobs to my life. Sigh.

GG
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
MORE LOOP-DE-LOO

I just got off the phone. I spent 3 hours calming my Alzheimer dad down. He's on a rip today.

And part of it was calming my mom down. She's all caregiver defensive. SHOUTING at me on the phone.

M: What can you do with a person who won't let you help?!

Me: Why are you yelling at me? What did I do to you?

M: (still mad, but not yelling as loud.) What can you do with a person who won't let you help?

Me: You stop trying. Don't help.

M: Well, then!

I dislike the days where they want me to "referee" between them in their marriage. This pandemic thing with them cooped up together not getting to do their senior activities... ugh. It's a bomb waiting to blow.

Really it all lies on my mom handling the situation. She could handle it. He just can't. His mental faculties are not there for that. So it is on HER to manage herself and her emotions first. Then manage the patient. I get it's hard. He's not an easy patient! He is one ornery, cantakerous ol' guy! Super provoking!

She knows what to do. Disengage. DON'T help him then. Does she do that? Nope. She keeps on pestering him and gets all upset and hurt when he rants and raves and whooshes at her. STOP trying to help, because your style of helping actually pushes his buttons! She ADDS to his upset rather than taking away. Poke the bear? Can't be surprised he growls!

I get his frustration too. The world has become hard and super challenging for him with this illness.

But she has difficulty stepping back. If Dad is on a roll shouting and doing whatever tantrum because he simply got too full of stimulus today?

She just has to step back or literally leave the room. Let him rant and rave on his own. A boiling pot taken off the burner will cool off all by itself. But if she's sitting there asking him actual questions? I know she is trying to help him. But asking him questions like that when he's already having a cow is MORE STIMULUS that he cannot take. She keeps him on the burner. No, you cannot say things like "Do you remember where you left the glasses?" because he CANNOT REMEMBER. Why? Cuz Alzheimer. It just pisses him off if you ask him things like that. If he COULD remember, why would he be looking for them or asking you to help him look?

He hates that. Questions he has no answers for FEEL like "word bullets" to him. So then of course he acts out because it's like she's attacking him.
What he actually needs is useful help, redirection or just SILENCE.

Of course he's not reasonable when he's busy having a cow. Of course he talks all wacky loop-de-loo. Of course some days are bad days. He got TOO FULL of stimulus. What part of Alzheimer does she not GET after doing this for 9 years? Attending Alzheimer classes for the caregiver with me? Doing all this STUFF?

Sigh.

Just been one of those days. With pandemic I can't go over there to help like before. So I hung out with my dad on the phone for several hours letting him rant and rave without asking any actual questions. Just making prompts to help him tell his upsetting story like "Oh, you were at the store. And then what happened next?" or "Oh, I see. __ happened so you did ___." Just simple mirroring.

Then when he calmed down because he got to air out his upset, I got him to talk about things he likes so his mood would improve. Talked about the pets, his tv shows, and funny things on YouTube, and some pleasant memory lane things, the grandkids doing silly, etc.

Hopefully since he was busy on the phone with me she could go take a nap or garden or have a break from him in some fashion.

My brain is tired. I am fried. I have my own problems at my house without the elders erupting and whooshing at me over the phone.

I got some sleep. And I woke up still tired, but better. I am not sure how much sleep I would need to get past this feeling of FATIGUE.

Because normal tired? You get some sleep and wake up refreshed. If dealing in fatigue, you rest but wake up still tired. It's a more long term kind of tired that needs more than just one day of rest. But it's not happening any time soon. Because here come more elder calls needing help, support, care giver stuff. And so it goes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

For NINE YEARS. And counting.

I haven't even called back the other dementia elder in my life. I am too full from my parents today. I'll have to call her tomorrow.

Galagirl
 
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mf1438

New member
Elders

Wow! I feel for you. Hours on the phone must be a challenge. I hope you get some sleep and some self care time. You deserve it!:)
 

MeeraReed

Active member
Is there a plan to transition your dad to a nursing care facility at some point? I know those are the most dangerous places to be with the virus, of course, but it sounds like your mom can't handle caring for your dad much longer.

My grandma is 103, and she lived with aunt until just before she turned 102. My aunt spent OVER 15 YEARS getting increasingly stressed and exhausted by caring for her, but also REFUSING to entertain the idea of moving her to a home.

And we didn't really want to put Grandma in a home. Sharing a room with a stranger, being away from her house and things? Getting worse food and care than from my aunt? It sounded awful. But the situation grew more and more difficult for my aunt as my grandma got weaker and weaker. My mom did relief care to help, but my mom lived an hour away and worked full time so it was tough.

Finally Grandma had a mild stroke that weakened her left side so much she really can't move herself at all. (Her mental faculties are still pretty good). So there was no choice but to put her in a home--we could not lift her on our own.

And--surprisingly--she's thriving there. She likes being around the people, talking to the nurses, doing the activities. She got used to having a roommate. She's more stimulated than she was sitting at home in front of the TV for years and talking to no one but my aunt.

Now with COVID we haven't been able to visit her for months, only FaceTime facilitated by a nurse. Yet she's still doing well. And we're lucky--her nursing home had everyone tested and there were no cases. Now they are partially opening up to outdoor social-distanced masked visits of 15 minutes for one person at a time. My aunt was able to see her yesterday and she's doing quite fine.

I hear you on the exhaustion. I just want to remind you that care doesn't have to be in the home forever. We imagined that a nursing home would be the worse thing in the world--instead it's been pretty great. The nurses are wonderful.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Thanks for asking, Meera. Yes, there's a plan. Mom's checked into an assisted living facility with a dementia/memory care unit on the campus. Just takes time to get there. In the meanwhile we just try to make him as comfortable as we can at home.

Galagirl
 
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Magdlyn

Well-known member
Thanks for asking, Meera. Yes, there's a plan. Mom's checked into an assisted living facility with a dementia/memory care unit on the campus. Just takes time to get there. In the meanwhile we just try to make him as comfortable as we can at home.

Galagirl

Please get him into memory care! Push for it. I can tell from how you post on here, your huge well-thought-out posts, that you do too much. And now, 3 hours doing memory care with your dad? You Are So Burnt Out. It's not healthy, GG.

My sister did long term care, and did overmuch, for her adult son, who has some autism and big OCD, for her difficult husband, who has a lesser degree of OCD and suffered a deep 18 month depression when he semi retired, and for our father, who, although in care now, she did "too much" for, before and after we got him into care. Years and years and years. I saw how she did too much, more than was needed or actually healthy (for them!), for these men. She is such a martyr. I talked to her daily online to do what I could to support her, but these were her choices.

So... she looked forward to retirement. And she had to retire early, at just 63, last December, because she came down with a malignant brain tumor. It's terminal. She's been hanging in there. Now her h and her son, who she always overdid for, are caring for HER, stuck in a hospital bed in her bedroom. She can't walk and she's lost most of her short term memory.

I could go on, but I hope you get my point. You can't depend on the future in which to rest and care for yourself, and ENJOY life. You only have now.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Yes. Thanks, Mag. Fully aware of the fact that I am (and have been) burnt out for a LONG time with all of it.

You can't depend on the future in which to rest and care for yourself, and ENJOY life. You only have now.

I have told my mother that many times. She's only dealing with Dad. I do him and in laws and I started before with grandparents-in-law. I've seen how the caregiver thing burns people out. I see how it burns ME out.

Getting him to memory care is def the goal, but without going too into his private health/money details on the internet... it's just going to take a bit to sort out to get him there.

Galagirl
 
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LovingRadiance

Active member
Galagirl-
Lots of empathy. My stepfather just passed this summer (peacefully in his sleep with his dog at his side). It's been a rollercoaster for my mom as his primary care giver (he had Parkinsons and dementia). She is also the caregiver for my grandmother who has dementia.
I am the person who is far away and so I listen while she vents her frustration and exhaustion and the "sounds terrible but this shit is hard" things that she feels because it's all so overwhelming.
She can't talk to many people because they don't understand.
People were shocked when my stepdad died and she was relieved and went out to dinner several times and on a couple short road trips. They thought she had gone right off her rocker. I kept telling everyone-leave her be-she is taking a much needed break. Their anniversary was this month and as I predicted when he passed a few months ago-the grief is now able to be faced by her. At the time he died she had been burnt out for so long with no break in sight that she couldn't even think about the missing him or loss. She was just relieved to have a little time to breathe and think about her ownself.

I had popped on here just to say that I find myself even now, all these years having passed while I was too busy to even look at the polyboard-quoting you. Some of your quotes have become well known phrases in the family and I hear the kids use them periodically. So, in those overwhelming moments-remind yourself that you have accomplished positive change across the world even with virtual strangers lol.
Examples:
"Hot Ethics"
& explaining the preference for a Jedi and not the muppets in a relationship.
Also the flying a polyship analogy.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
All is Quiet With the Seniors and Kids, HOORAY!

Nice to hear from you on my blog thread, LR! Glad to know some of those things stuck with you. Hot ethics! Those still turn me on so. :)

I am sorry to hear of his passing. I can understand her wanting to take off for some personal time, some R&R on her own to recharge her batteries a bit first. Before moving on to the business of grief and processing that load.

I don't think people who haven't yet worn the caregiver shoes realize how taxing it is. It hard, it necessary, and it's loving work. But it doesn't mean it doesn't fry your nerves sometimes too.

------

This week my Dad went to ride his bike around the block and Mom called to ask me if he called my cel and hung up. Because her cel got a call and hung up. I asked her if it was a butt dial? Because he's kinda sitting on his wallet and phone when riding on his bike. She wasn't sure. I told her to just go find him then if she's worried. How far can he go on a bike? Not far in pandemic -- because he'd rather be home than out there with "the people." He just takes a spin around the block for exercise. She later emailed he was fine and it was a butt dial.

(Wish she'd just let me chip his shoes or put a tracker on the phone. Sooner or later he's going to ride his bike and get lost. I can only thank the stars he's not driving a car. )

Dad's busy sending me pictures of house paint chips because he wants to paint a room in the house a new color. I'm glad he has a project he likes. Better than him being off on a rip raising hell. That's for sure!

I also went to take some plants to one of the other elders. She was surprised to see me on her porch even though I JUST called to tell her I was coming over. She forgot she wanted the plants so was it was a happy surprise to get them. She told me she forgets and to help her know which is which. I told her "This is rosemary and this one is parsley. You can smell the rosemary more." She paused feeling the leaves, and sniffed them. Then said she thought she could remember that long enough to go inside make a label.

I kicked myself for not labeling it myself in my head but out loud I told her, "I will bring you some basil once they are bigger. I know you like cooking with fresh herbs." I'll also bring some tape and a Sharpie marker and check to make sure all the plants have labels. I let her chat at me for a while. She wanted to talk about past ancestors and family stories so I let her tell me whatever she wanted even though I've been listening to these on a loop for a little while now. It brings her pleasure.

She drives me batty sometimes calling all the time forgetting all the things. And then wanting me to divine where the things are when I don't live in her house and I didn't see where she put them. But she's a sweet one as she does down the dementia path. As a patient, she doesn't act out or get angry. She's more the "I'm sorry, I forgot. I need help with..." Or the "Let me tell you about..." and spins a long yarn.

Which honestly is the easier type of patient to deal in.

No teens are freaking about about anything either. Woot!

Spouse and I are quietly celebrating our anniversary. We are tending to the garden out back and he was showing me some flowers that bloomed.
He's usually not a gardener but in pandemic has joined me and is doing weird experiments with growing whatever strikes his fancy.

I made the right choice in choosing him for a life companion.

Galagirl
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
On Old Relationship Energy

I was playing video games with spouse to relax after kids went to sleep. He was sitting on the floor while I was on the couch. I was looking at his hair. The bright blond youth I met decades ago is slowly going that ashy blonde color. He likes touching mine. My go bright silver. It's funny our hair is like us. He's subtle where I'm bold.

All day I'd been super aware of him in the house.

He brings me the mail to my desk while singing "Bringing the people mail!" rather than just leaving it on the kitchen counter.

He waters my plants if they look dry when he goes to water his.

He picks up random things that are out of place.

While working from home in pandemic, he still texts me flirty things. Only now he also walks through here and randomly kisses me.

He deals with children problems, elder problems, changing the blown lightbulb in the hall.

Reminds me of Westley saying "As you wish" all the time in the Princess Bride.

Grandpa: That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying "As you wish," what he meant was, "I love you." And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.

After so many decades, I don't remember the day I first realized I loved him. Probably because I was uncomfortable with it and pushed it away. I'd broken up and wasn't ready to start dating again so soon. I didn't want it to be happening and I wasn't ready to own it.

I do remember other days when I re-realized it. Many, many times over the years.

The ebb and flow of old relationship energy is like that. It waxes and wanes. But never waxes too tight it suffocates or wanes so much that we grow apart. We keep spinning something together that I still very much want to be a part of.

Galagirl
 
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