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Aug 6

How can I handle the frustration?

2 comments

I hate to say this but my mother's mental health has gotten worse over the last few months and it has gotten to the point where I am becoming very frustrated. I snapped at her the other day and now I feel awful. She doesn't really even remember what happened but she was in tears over the ordeal. I feel a constant pressure to remember things for her while trying to remember my own things and my own children's things. I feel as if I have another child on my plate. I don't want to get like this. Is there a way to handle the frustration without taking it out on her? I know this is not her fault.

Stacy - I am so sorry to hear about your situation - one that is very common among caregivers. You are not the first family member to lose their cool and snap at a loved one when things escalate. This is all a part of the chronic stress which affects caregivers and often indicates caregiver burnout. 60% of caregivers die before the patient - this is the reason I became involved in caregiver support groups over 15 years ago. You MUST take care of yourself in order to care for your mother.

 

Finding an outlet for your emotions, taking breaks from the duties of caregiving, going to lunch or coffee with a friend, asking friends or family to give you a weekend off each month or one night a week, and allowing others to support you can all help. It is important to be intentional about making time for yourself, and not just expecting it to occur naturally. Caregiver support groups are a great way to share with others these kinds of challenges. You may be surprised at just how much it helps to listen to someone else say that they too have behaved in ways they wish they could take back.

 

Often I suggest caregivers take a stack of post-it notes and write single tasks with which they need help on a note, and place the note on the refrigerator. These can be like - Change the AC filters, Dust the spare room, take mom to lunch, ect. When friends or family ask, "If there is anything I can do, just let me know." Then suggest they go to your fridge and find a task of their choice to complete. Most people do well with a single request for help, and when they can pick the one which suits them, even better. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

 

And, counseling for yourself can be a way to gain perspective and let off some steam! - rg

Aug 15

Thank you for your kind and understanding response. I have had others call me a monster. I think you are right, it is just stress building up. It does not help that I am sleeping very little most days and other days I am in bed until my kids get home from school.

 

I will give the post-it notes a try. I think if I just get some of the other stresses in life off my plate, my mother won't be the one who gets the brunt of my frustration.

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