That is word I think we are all personally familiar with. Plink, Seba, Diane Marie, Melinda, Miriam ... and to all the caregivers who post here, know how it can affect us emotionally and physically. Burnout can be just as deadly as any disease our care-recievers are suffering from. And, I also believe, that the effects can linger indefinitely long after our loved ones have passed on.
We are constantly being encouraged to take care of ourselves, but it is so much easier said than done. My social worker is very supportive and has said that I must be my own advocate. Personal pep talks are pretty difficult to have when your whole world seems to be crushing down on you. I've been giving myself pep talks for more years than I can remember, and I've pretty much run out of pep.
My mom doesn't have Alzheimers, but she does have end-stage COPD. Her brain is not getting enough oxygen, so she has mild dementia, but she is often confused and gets very frustrated and agitated because she has trouble remembering fairly simple things. And, like your mom, Miriam, mine was definitely not a nice person. It's really only been since February and our entering hospice, that she has changed. And, like you, I am doing everything I can to lovingly care for the person she is now and not dwell on the person she once was.
I have been my mom's caregiver for many years .. she has lived with us for 20, and has steadily gone downhill with COPD for the past 8 or so years. It has been a challenge and a struggle. We were, and in a sense still are, raising a family. And, I have also been working fulltime for all of those 20 years.
So, even though I am getting some help and some support at home, I still have the enormous stress of my job ... which is getting harder and harder, day by day, and sometimes, minute by minute. The problem there is, I'm not getting the help and support at work. Our area is critically understaffed and the administration turns a blind eye. When I asked my boss to please let me bring some work home, he denied me. He knows I've been suffering from serious anxiety attacks due to the workload and the daily hostility of I endure from phone calls. Yet, he denied me the opportunity to do at least a little something to help relieve the stress. When I asked him why not, he said that being behind was the only ammunition we had to get help! Then, I asked him what does it take! For me to end up in the hospital from a stroke or heart attack! That's when I realized that's exactly what it would take. He's already had several heart attacks and has 4 stints. He's popping meds continuously for all the health problems he now has. So even though his health is bad, he is willing to sacrifice what's left of mine.
He's fine when I need to leave for Mom. But, he's not fine when it comes to me. So, I made a doctor's appointment ... it's not until June ... hope I last that long. If I can't get the support I need from my boss, I guess I'll have to give in and get help from meds.
Burnout, you betcha. I have no one else to take Mom in and letting hospice transport her to a facility for 5 days respite for me would hurt her more than I could bear. And I can't quit my job and go somewhere else ... only 5 years to retirement. I am very grateful to my husband and my daughters who really do try to help. I am soooooo thankful for hospice and that Mom isn't too difficult (yet) to care for.
So, everyday, I just tell myself that I'm one day closer to no longer being a caregiver; I am one day closer to retirement; and, I am probably one day closer to having a heart attack or a stroke.
Thanks for listening and God bless all of you. As was said so many times before, only a caregiver knows what a caregiver goes through.
Love to all,