"My parents are 88, just four days apart ... I try to observe their situation and always respect their autonomy, so it was very alarming when Daddy asked me to seek professional help yesterday.
"They have both been admitted to the hospital -- and have been put in the same room, thank God, as they are never apart -- after being diagnosed with respiratory stress, pneumonia and acute asthma.
"I shall have to be traveling quite a bit back and forth every day to get to the hospital, bathe my mother (she won't let the nurses do that), etc., and need to be able to pace myself so I personally don't have a relapse. I have been very ill, as well, this last month.
"Basically, I guess I'm just looking for some sound advice as to how I can continue to serve and not feel sorry for myself either, because it is such a chore and I'm the only one available. I'm so tired!" -- O.
"There are rewards and blessings beyond appearances ..." "The best advice for not burning out is to stay focused on the love, on why you are doing this, and why it is important to give back. If you do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of anger and resentment, if you keep yourself healthy and remember that there are more levels here than just what appear, then you know that there are rewards and blessings beyond appearances. These will be part of the gift of caregiving. You are doing something that will stretch your heart and it will probably hurt at times, but know that love always wins ..." -- B.
"This was my most rewarding time with my mother ..." "Because I am a nurse and have seen families burn out, I knew when acting as caregiver for my Mom with senile dementia that it would be very important for me to set boundaries that would allow me to keep myself healthy and happy (that is, non-resentful). So I did exactly that. If my Mom placed a request or demand on me, I assessed it in my mind to see if I would be stressed by filling it, or resentful. If not, I gladly did it and enjoyed the time with her. If not, I gently but firmly told her that it was beyond me and that she would simply have to be content to either do it at my convenience, or have someone else do it (as in the nurses bathing her). She had her choices and I had mine. By sticking to this plan from the start to the finish 2 1/2 years later, I can honestly say that this was the most rewarding time with my mother that I had ever had in my adult life." -- N.
Even the best caregivers face times when they, too, need support. Join the ThirdAgers Caring for Loved Ones discussion to rant, rave, scream and cry. We shall listen without judgment.