Health & Wellness

Caregiver stress. Apparently I have it...

[OP]
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Dec 4, 2010
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Caregiver stress. Apparently I have it...

Apparently I’ve had it for a while and never knew the terminology.

I’ve been taking care of an aging parent for longer than I can remember and the symptoms below all describe me fairly well.

Signs of caregiver stress

Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried.
Feeling tired often.
Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep.
Gaining or losing weight.
Becoming easily irritated or angry.
Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy.
Feeling sad.
Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
.

I’m especially very susceptible to becoming angry and irritated with them as I look at them as a source of my unhappiness and burden in life to a point where I understand and rationalize why seniors get neglected and abused in homes. I have siblings and I Don’t get much help if any because they have families of their own yet they are the loudest opponents when it comes to retirement homes, stories of rampant mistreatment surfacing due to COVID notwithstanding.

Just an hour ago they nearly caused a fire by scorching a kettle and filled the home with probably toxic odours it woke me up and immediate caused my eyes and throat to burn, like I’ve never felt before. I’ve tried electric kettles but they keep destroying it by overfilling it and always have this irrational tendency to boil even when they don’t intend to use it, it’s like a tick. I’ve gone through probably 5-6 electric kettles in the last 2 years. It’s usually the base that goes out from the spillage shorting the contact point. Just writing about it makes me angry and feel utterly hopeless.
16 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 29, 2012
2453 posts
737 upvotes
GTA
I went through this for 7 years caring for 2 disabled parents at home (yes, after the assault on my Father at the nursing home). Please do not substitute "caregiving" for "caring". Sometimes the elderly know their time is short, so they want attention just so they can be with you - not that you keep doing things for them. Holding their hands and listening to old repeated stories is more precious to them than cooking perfect meals and ensuring the kitchen is spotless. Try to slowly replace every small appliance with one that switches off automatically. Hands off on stove and oven. Get an Instapot, microwave, airfryer and put red tape on all the buttons not to press (also time saving for you). I kept 4 full Thermos full of boiled water daily in the kitchen, little boxes of sandwiches, cut-up fruit, cheese, crackers for snacking, little chocolates and cookies.

You have what is called compassion fatigue and need sleep, healthy food, and a way to chill out even if binging on Netflix while they're in the same room chattering away. My parents are now gone, and I miss them so much I would gladly go through the stress, sleepless nights, diapers, dementia again just to be with them. Remember the years they invested in you, at least 10, from the time you were born - stress, diapers, sleepless nights, touching and eating dirty things, not being able to walk - it's the cycle of life when you return their care for you. For stress, take Gaba at night and Theanine during the day to calm you down (chewable tablets) and be grateful that through your love, they have been able to survive and not be abused, beaten and starved to death in a long term care home. In the future, these memories will warm your heart and you will know you are also valuable because nothing is as lonely as realising that no one needs you (I had to get over that).
[OP]
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Dec 4, 2010
19529 posts
2242 upvotes
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Catnippy wrote: I went through this for 7 years caring for 2 disabled parents at home (yes, after the assault on my Father at the nursing home). Please do not substitute "caregiving" for "caring". Sometimes the elderly know their time is short, so they want attention just so they can be with you - not that you keep doing things for them. Holding their hands and listening to old repeated stories is more precious to them than cooking perfect meals and ensuring the kitchen is spotless. Try to slowly replace every small appliance with one that switches off automatically. Hands off on stove and oven. Get an Instapot, microwave, airfryer and put red tape on all the buttons not to press (also time saving for you). I kept 4 full Thermos full of boiled water daily in the kitchen, little boxes of sandwiches, cut-up fruit, cheese, crackers for snacking, little chocolates and cookies.

You have what is called compassion fatigue and need sleep, healthy food, and a way to chill out even if binging on Netflix while they're in the same room chattering away. My parents are now gone, and I miss them so much I would gladly go through the stress, sleepless nights, diapers, dementia again just to be with them. Remember the years they invested in you, at least 10, from the time you were born - stress, diapers, sleepless nights, touching and eating dirty things, not being able to walk - it's the cycle of life when you return their care for you. For stress, take Gaba at night and Theanine during the day to calm you down (chewable tablets) and be grateful that through your love, they have been able to survive and not be abused, beaten and starved to death in a long term care home. In the future, these memories will warm your heart and you will know you are also valuable because nothing is as lonely as realising that no one needs you (I had to get over that).
You’re right. I always feel a tremendous load of remorse every time I allow my emotions to get the better of me. Whether we grow up in different parts of the world, different economical or social tiers, the stories of humility and humanity are always very much the same.

I sincerely appreciate your comment as it touched me on a different level partly because I think we share some commonalities than say some other members and I thank you. Good tips on the prepared foods. I’ll reread this to remind myself the next time When I feel I need it.
Deal Guru
Mar 14, 2005
13811 posts
2504 upvotes
The thing about stress is that there r real consequences if u don't learn how to deal with it. So, the no-brainer way to make urself more resilient is to develop good habits as a coping strategy. These habits include eating healthy, exercising, maintaining social bonds, getting a good amount of sleep regularly, going to bed and waking up at set times, keeping curious, having gratitude, being mindful, etc. If u don't make it a priority to develop and maintain these healthy habits, not only u, but the people around u will suffer.

My philosophy about life is that our job is to accummulate tools in our tool box. So, an analogy would be that u r playing a video game (life). In order to get to the next level, u need to figure out the way (tool) to solve the problem and advance onward. Every successive level has different kinds obstacles, so ur job is to figure out how to get past them. Once u figured out how to solve getting past the obstacle, u will always know how to deal with that kind of issue. These r "tools".

With regard to feelings of anger, remorse, guilt, etc., these r not pleasant emotions. You r responsible for your emotions and your actions. No one can control how you react to things, how u think about things. You r responsible for these. I am a big advocate for personal responsibility. People love to blame other people, circumstances, the govts, etc for the misery that they feel. Remember that blaming does not produce results. Ask urself what u can do to deal with the situation without resorting to blaming or "why me", because u want to develop an inward locus of control.

A lot of things are described as, "It is what it is." Be wary of "magical thinking". Make sure u r firmly rooted in reality, not denial. Recognize that dealing with certain life situations is a process. If u r having a difficult day, just put one foot in front of the other.

When some ppl r put in stressful situations, it may lead to depression. There is a link between stress triggering depression in some cases, so keep that in mind. U gotta take care of yourself before u can take care of others.

Always remember that there is always a silver lining to things. You can find benefit from going thru hardship if u look hard enuf.

We all have a limited time on earth. U don't want to spend that time being bitter, angry, and stuck in repetitious thought-blaming.
[OP]
Deal Expert
Dec 4, 2010
19529 posts
2242 upvotes
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Becks wrote: Supercooled, have u considered getting a hot water dispenser? It is a convienient appliance, IIRC. e.g. https://www.amazon.ca/ZOJI-Zojirushi-CD ... B01M04LR6P
I’m sad to say being Asian I didn’t think of this because it’s a staple appliance in many Asian places, Jones, businesses, etc. I actually went scouring amazon right after for an electric kettle and it dawned finally dawned on me.

It should be here tomorrow. I’ve also ordered one for my mom who lives at a different residence. Alas we learn from our mistakes.

So far I’ve had to resort to cruel methods until I can adapt and develop processes like catnippys suggestions. I’ve had to take the knobs off of the stove top and be was none too pleased about it.

One of the obstacles I’m still struggling with is he doesn’t seem to enjoy my cooking and ends up making instant noodle for himself all the time. I’ve tried asking him and his doctor but there isn’t much progress on that frontal. He will eat what I’ve Cooked for us when he’s hungry though so at least he’s not going hungry any more than he needs to be.

Thanks for all the support guys.
[OP]
Deal Expert
Dec 4, 2010
19529 posts
2242 upvotes
Quarantine Bubble
Becks wrote: The thing about stress is that there r real consequences if u don't learn how to deal with it. So, the no-brainer way to make urself more resilient is to develop good habits as a coping strategy. These habits include eating healthy, exercising, maintaining social bonds, getting a good amount of sleep regularly, going to bed and waking up at set times, keeping curious, having gratitude, being mindful, etc. If u don't make it a priority to develop and maintain these healthy habits, not only u, but the people around u will suffer.

My philosophy about life is that our job is to accummulate tools in our tool box. So, an analogy would be that u r playing a video game (life). In order to get to the next level, u need to figure out the way (tool) to solve the problem and advance onward. Every successive level has different kinds obstacles, so ur job is to figure out how to get past them. Once u figured out how to solve getting past the obstacle, u will always know how to deal with that kind of issue. These r "tools".

With regard to feelings of anger, remorse, guilt, etc., these r not pleasant emotions. You r responsible for your emotions and your actions. No one can control how you react to things, how u think about things. You r responsible for these. I am a big advocate for personal responsibility. People love to blame other people, circumstances, the govts, etc for the misery that they feel. Remember that blaming does not produce results. Ask urself what u can do to deal with the situation without resorting to blaming or "why me", because u want to develop an inward locus of control.

A lot of things are described as, "It is what it is." Be wary of "magical thinking". Make sure u r firmly rooted in reality, not denial. Recognize that dealing with certain life situations is a process. If u r having a difficult day, just put one foot in front of the other.

When some ppl r put in stressful situations, it may lead to depression. There is a link between stress triggering depression in some cases, so keep that in mind. U gotta take care of yourself before u can take care of others.

Always remember that there is always a silver lining to things. You can find benefit from going thru hardship if u look hard enuf.

We all have a limited time on earth. U don't want to spend that time being bitter, angry, and stuck in repetitious thought-blaming.
Well said.

My mom is the polar opposite of my dad who encompasses all those traits you’ve listed. She has endured a lot in her life and still manages to keep going. Growing up I never spent much time with her because she was always a work horse and pretty much the family bread winner. My dad by contrast was a free loader and didn’t help much around the house but he did pay special attention to me being the youngest so I’m quite cognizant if that and have really been by his side for much of our life together.

To be quite honest I don’t feel like he is the reason I’ve not accomplished more in life, I don’t hold that against him and it only became relevant when speaking with one of my sister who brought it up saying she and everyone in the family is grateful I’m doing it but I never viewed that as a kind of obligation it has just been a way of life. I have no regrets in that regard.

The mantra as of late has been I need to be of sound mind if I’m going to be any help to anyone especially a senior citizen who depends on me. I’ve been taking steps to rectify that and try to be healthier so I can be an effective support aid for him. These words of encouragement has helped a lot for sure which reaffirms my long standing belief that while family is important it’s also important to not have negativity either inwards or but also outwards. Life’s full of surprises and we just need to embrace those challenges instead of opine about the what if’s.
Deal Addict
Dec 29, 2012
2453 posts
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Regarding food, elderly people have trouble (1) tasting the food (2) chewing the food (3) swallowing it and (4) digesting it. This means that food needs to be extra salty or sweet, soft, the same consistency and easily digestible. They will not eat it if it doesn't suit them but won't tell you why, just say that they're not hungry. So it may be worthwhile buying an electric steamer for heating up food (microwave dries it out), Instantpot for congees and stews, and blender for tougher veggies. Cut lettuce and veggies into small pieces and cook well (less crispy). Healthy soups are good, but texture needs to be consistent so all ingredients can be chewed and swallowed. No hard fish or meatballs and less deep fried. I used to grind chicken and lean beef to steam or add as balls to a hotpot type soup. Soft spaghetti alfredo, chicken ala king and other saucy foods like mashed up salmon in white sauce, Costco's shepherds pie and lasagne with a bit of added water, moist omelettes with ham and peas, you get the idea ...
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
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Edmonton
Supercooled wrote: Apparently I’ve had it for a while and never knew the terminology.

I’ve been taking care of an aging parent for longer than I can remember and the symptoms below all describe me fairly well.


.

I’m especially very susceptible to becoming angry and irritated with them as I look at them as a source of my unhappiness and burden in life to a point where I understand and rationalize why seniors get neglected and abused in homes. I have siblings and I Don’t get much help if any because they have families of their own yet they are the loudest opponents when it comes to retirement homes, stories of rampant mistreatment surfacing due to COVID notwithstanding.

Just an hour ago they nearly caused a fire by scorching a kettle and filled the home with probably toxic odours it woke me up and immediate caused my eyes and throat to burn, like I’ve never felt before. I’ve tried electric kettles but they keep destroying it by overfilling it and always have this irrational tendency to boil even when they don’t intend to use it, it’s like a tick. I’ve gone through probably 5-6 electric kettles in the last 2 years. It’s usually the base that goes out from the spillage shorting the contact point. Just writing about it makes me angry and feel utterly hopeless.
If I remember correctly, you've posted in the past a few times about difficulties in handling stress. Did you ever seek help after getting input from here? If not, consider it. Having someone that you can talk to confidentially and non-judgmentally (and non-biased) can help a lot. And you may get some valuable insight on how to handle things differently.

Obviously, the added stress during the current situation won't help at all... It's too bad your siblings aren't more supportive.

C
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Apr 8, 2013
10205 posts
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Catnippy wrote: I went through this for 7 years caring for 2 disabled parents at home (yes, after the assault on my Father at the nursing home). Please do not substitute "caregiving" for "caring". Sometimes the elderly know their time is short, so they want attention just so they can be with you - not that you keep doing things for them. Holding their hands and listening to old repeated stories is more precious to them than cooking perfect meals and ensuring the kitchen is spotless. Try to slowly replace every small appliance with one that switches off automatically. Hands off on stove and oven. Get an Instapot, microwave, airfryer and put red tape on all the buttons not to press (also time saving for you). I kept 4 full Thermos full of boiled water daily in the kitchen, little boxes of sandwiches, cut-up fruit, cheese, crackers for snacking, little chocolates and cookies.

You have what is called compassion fatigue and need sleep, healthy food, and a way to chill out even if binging on Netflix while they're in the same room chattering away. My parents are now gone, and I miss them so much I would gladly go through the stress, sleepless nights, diapers, dementia again just to be with them. Remember the years they invested in you, at least 10, from the time you were born - stress, diapers, sleepless nights, touching and eating dirty things, not being able to walk - it's the cycle of life when you return their care for you. For stress, take Gaba at night and Theanine during the day to calm you down (chewable tablets) and be grateful that through your love, they have been able to survive and not be abused, beaten and starved to death in a long term care home. In the future, these memories will warm your heart and you will know you are also valuable because nothing is as lonely as realising that no one needs you (I had to get over that).
That is so touching.

Hey OP you are a great son but always remember you need sometime for yourself even for an hour or two.

If you are getting OAS that was supposed to go to your parent. Maybe you can hire a part time caregiver. It might help you take some pressure off.

Check the support available for you.
Deal Addict
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Feb 2, 2010
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Just a thought, but have you considered replacing some of the kitchen outlets with the kind that can only be controlled by an app? That way the appliances couldn't be turned on unless you're aware of it (or they wise up and take it to another outlet). you could also trip the breaker for the stove until you need to use it.

I feel for you and your situation, I lived something similar when my parents were alive, and one thing I can say is that you will never have any regrets when they are no longer here. I know many people who say "I wish I had....when my parents were alive", and this won't be the case for you. I also note that you say you're the youngest, does that mean you have older siblings who could assist in their care but dont (also happened to me)? I can say that in my case, I finally read my siblings the riot act. At one point my mother had to go for radiation therapy at a hospital downtown every day for 30 days and I simply could not do all of them, miraculously I got help from one of them and from that point on it was easier. It does often fall on the youngest to be the primary caregiver when parents are older, but it doesn't HAVE to be that way. Remember that you are a valid human being too, and that you have a right to your own life with a wife (or husband) and children of your own. Sadly, I waited until my parents were gone to move on and THAT was a mistake. It is noble and honourable to take care of your parents the way you do, but you have a right to a life of your own, don't postpone that, you'll never get that time back.
Beep\Bop\Boop
[OP]
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Dec 4, 2010
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kevindurant1 wrote: That is so touching.

Hey OP you are a great son but always remember you need sometime for yourself even for an hour or two.

If you are getting OAS that was supposed to go to your parent. Maybe you can hire a part time caregiver. It might help you take some pressure off.

Check the support available for you.
We had some help once when he came out of the hospital for a urinary infection and he attacked her because he’s a volatile individual. He doesn’t do it to his family at least not physically but I’m afraid to have people in the home with him. He isn’t very physically imposing but doesn’t take a lot to injure someone and then have the law throw him in jail.

Yeah it’s stressful but I’ve talked about it with someone and my general feeling is I just need to be like a sponge and absorb it and ignore it. Aging parents becoming agitated and very demanding is apparently not uncommon so I just have to deal with it and make sure it doesn’t affect me emotionally. He isn’t long for this world sop in just going to make it as enjoyable for him as I can.

About safetifying the house I’ve already taken the stove knobs off, installed sensors on the faucet because he forgets to turn it off and flooded the place once or twice.
[OP]
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Dec 4, 2010
19529 posts
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CNeufeld wrote: If I remember correctly, you've posted in the past a few times about difficulties in handling stress. Did you ever seek help after getting input from here? If not, consider it. Having someone that you can talk to confidentially and non-judgmentally (and non-biased) can help a lot. And you may get some valuable insight on how to handle things differently.

Obviously, the added stress during the current situation won't help at all... It's too bad your siblings aren't more supportive.

C
Spoke to my GP and he thinks I need meds myself. There are support at work but I haven’t really thought about talking about this issue with them. Guess it couldn’t hurt. May be I can even gain a hiatus from work for 6-12 months to recharge my system.
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Mar 23, 2008
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Supercooled wrote: Spoke to my GP and he thinks I need meds myself. There are support at work but I haven’t really thought about talking about this issue with them. Guess it couldn’t hurt. May be I can even gain a hiatus from work for 6-12 months to recharge my system.
"Meds" are one thing, but to me, you'll come out ahead if you learn "non-medical" coping techniques. That's where the counselling comes in.

Good luck!

C

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