Caregivers, Admit It: Sometimes The Stress Is Just Too Much

Caregivers, Admit It: Sometimes the Stress Is Just Too Much

You love your mother, but sometimes as a caregiver, the stress is overwhelming.

You’re a caregiver for your mom, dad, or a relative; but sometimes it’s just too much.  You love this person, but your nerves are often jangled and you cry easily.  Basically you’re exhausted, trying to balance your busy life with the care your loved one needs.  And bottom line, you’re human.

Life is full of we should of or why didn’t we—but here you are.  And the scenarios of your situation are various—there are just too many to list.  But all that matters is how you are handling your particular situation and how you are staying healthy during this challenging time.

I wrote about my mother last May, how her senior facility and I decided to put her on hospice.  This has been a good decision.  Hospice provides not only an RN to assess her health, an aid to come and push her outside in her wheelchair, but also a chaplain to pray with her.  My mother’s mental state improved slightly when an anti-anxiety drug was discontinued.  But if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia you know it’s a disease that progresses slowly.  And even though good blood flow might allow a connection in the morning, that afternoon your mother might not be able to utter a word.  For me, phone calls are rare now.  Sometimes my well-read and intelligent mother can connect with a few words that make sense to me.  Sadly, that’s it.

I am also immersed with helping my husband as he enters a clinical trial for leukemia.

As a daughter, wife, and nurse I really don’t question the roles I need to play right now.   I can’t.  I give as much as I can every day and thanks to the loving and cogent advice of my daughter Christie, I often repeat the words of Christian mystic Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Because my mother wouldn’t move near me, I handle all business issues, communicate with her facility and hospice on all aspects of her physical care and talk frequently with the loving caregiver that sees her on a regular basis.

When I hear a song, book or film that my mother loved or look at photos of her, I often break down.  This is the prolonged mourning that we must experience when someone we dearly love is dying from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

To help you, here are a few suggestions for how I deal with caregiver burnout:

  • Spend time in your cave: whatever that means, go off by yourself and read, write down your thoughts, listen to music, or just sleep.  Make that time all about you.
  • Get a check-up: see your doctor and discuss the stress you are under, making sure you are not neglecting your own health.
  • Talk frequently to someone who gets you: sometimes it’s hard to find a soul mate who truly understands your particular stress and allows you to pour out your feelings of frustration and possibly anger, which you need to do.
  • Set up a schedule: if you are working full or part time and have various duties you perform as a caregiver, try to establish a routine.  Routines can be calming.
  • Try to be prepared: this is the other side of routine as one of the major negatives of caregiving is the unexpected.  The unexpected is part of caring for someone gravely ill or dying.  Deal with wills, trusts, funeral arrangements etc NOW!

And here is a suggestion:  You might know television personality and philanthropist, Leeza Gibbons. Leeza and invite you to Conversations in Caregiving, a webcast to be held on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 8:00 PM EST.

The link to sign up for this conversation is below.  It also lets you enter a question for the presenters if you choose to.

More about Leeza: In 2002 she started The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  The foundation is Leeza’s promise to “tell my mother’s story and make it count.”  Facing her own caregiving challenges, Leeza reached out to others in 2003 by establishing Leeza’s Place for family caregivers.  Leeza’s Place Centers span the country (California, Florida, Illinois) offering a community gathering place and resource center committed to providing free support services, resources and programs for family caregivers as they take care of a loved one with a memory disorder or any chronic and/or progressive illness.  Leeza’s Place philosophy: caregivers are best when they are connected to each other, to support services and to their own strength of spirit.  Because as caregivers we know, sometimes the stress is just too much.


Caregivers, Admit It: Sometimes the Stress Is Just too Much

Leeza Gibbons understands that for caregivers sometimes the stress is just too much.







Photos courtesy of Leesa’s Place and Google Images



8 thoughts on “Caregivers, Admit It: Sometimes The Stress Is Just Too Much

  1. Beth….God bless you for sharing. This is such an important message for those in the same situation as you, to know that they are not alone and to learn from a truly special person has to be invaluable. I was a little disappointed that you didn’t suggest getting a Personal Trainer to who could really take your mind off things for an hour!

    • Hey Joe, thanks so much for reading and for your comment. Yes, I should have mentioned working with a trainer!! The list of how to cope could be a mile long, but you are certainly a strategic part of it. How good it is to move your body and work up a sweat and get away from your thoughts for a while. Thanks again, Beth

  2. Beth,
    This is a wonderful post. My mother is caring for my grandmother right now. She was living with my Nana for about a year but it was extremely stressful. Nana has some serious health issues, one of which is passing out to the point where she falls flat on her face, drops down onto furniture and looks as though she’s been beaten up. We don’t know what causes this but it happened several times over the course of a year. A sudden drop in blood pressure is thought to be the cause but it’s not definite. She has some other issues as well, mini-strokes, heart issues, and kidney problems all of which were not being managed well by her former doctor. The first thing my mother did was assume responsibility of Nana’s health care and changed doctors. The new doctor while not as warm as her former doctor is much better at treating her ailments. He may be more curt or brusque with common conversation BUT he’s phenomenal with treatments, tests, medications, and keeping Nana, who is 93 years old, well! She is doing much better, she’s more alert, some of the ailments that were plaguing her seem to be less intrusive these days. She also hasn’t had a passing episode in well over a year, knock on wood!
    My mother, however, spent the past year suffering from grave depression, living back at her mother’s small, 2 bedroom condo, while still maintaining a home of her own and caring for my disabled sister. During this time my mother, spilled boiling hot soup on her thigh and suffered 2nd to possible 3rd degree burns. That burn then became infected. As the burn infection was so horrific she had to take intravenous antibiotics which then caused a horrible stomach infection. She lost 30 pounds in a few weeks. She could have died from the infection.
    She realized that the spilled soup was a cause of her anxiety and jitters from being sole care giver to my Nana. I don’t want to bore you with too many of the details as I’m sure you know EVERYTHING that is involved in caring for someone, from health issues, doctors, medical decisions to financial responsibility…
    My husband is a technology wizard and he was able to come up with an affordable and excellent solution to the constant ‘watching’ of my Nana. We installed a 24 hour camera that allowed my mother to move back into her own home, a mere 7 minutes from my Nana’s home.
    The camera is wireless and through an internet feed and DNS protocol server transmit to my mother’s home computer. My mother can check in on Nana at time of day or night. The camera is movable and spans the living areas which Nana frequents. Being that Nana has a small condo, it’s easy to see her in any room. The bathroom and bedroom are not hooked up for obvious reasons but there is enough common sense to tell if she hasn’t come out of either room for any period of time. It’s not the perfect solution but we are dealing with limited financial resources and 24 hr. care-giving by someone else is not possible.
    We’ve been doing this for 6 months now and it has worked fabulously. It has given my mother her sense of self back and my Nana still maintains some independence while still being care for. Nana isn’t so bad off that she needs help dressing, eating, using the restroom etc but she has just enough health risks that something was necessary.
    Care giving is not an easy thing to undertake especially if you are also care giving for other family members at the same time.
    Thank you for your post and expressing the importance in still maintaining your sense of self.

    • Dear Natalie,
      Your comments are so loving. I can see how worried you have been about both your mother and your grandmother. The solutions that you have found, the new doctor, the DNS protocol server, certainly have improved life for both of these women that you love. And because of your own health issues, that relieves stress on your behalf.
      We are all so connected and want to reach out and help when we can. But sometimes we have to pull back and realize that in order to hold up others, we also have to hold up ourselves. Some people may call this selfishness, but your mother’s situation illustrates it perfectly. I am so glad she is doing better, back in her condo and having some time for herself.
      Thanks for being the caring loving daughter, granddaughter that you are. We all hope as we age, that there will be someone like you there to love us and help us.

  3. Hi Beth. I can really relate to “As a daughter, wife, and nurse I really don’t question the roles I need to play right now. I can’t. I give as much as I can every day …” I remember when caring for Kris there was a hard stop when it came to where my thoughts would go. A profound focus came into my life. For you it’s probably even more so with having to be thinking of both your mother and husband. How you do all that, write and handle your job is just nothing short of astonishing to me. I can’t say “God bless you” because you obviously already are.

    • I just came in from walking on a beautiful sunlit day, listening to music on my Ipod and periodically breaking down and softly crying behind my sunglasses. And then I come home to write some thoughts down and there is you so kind comment. I teared up again.

      Yes, I think I am blessed. My husband is strong and funny and dealing with this in an amazing way. He says he’s a peace with it, no matter what happens, but I am fiercely holding on to beginning the clinical trial, getting his bone marrow in order, so that he can live and live and we can be together. But I know you went through all of this–so, your support, your understanding of where I am underlines that I am blessed.
      Thank you, IJ, for getting me. It helps, it truly does. Beth

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