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I just read Dee's post about burnout. My sympathies to all of you who work and take care of a loved one when you come home. My situation is different. I am lucky enough to have been able to retire early. While this sounds so much easier than what Dee is experiencing, it has its downside. My husband, like Dee's mother, has COPD. His thinking has begun to suffer. I now have the responsibility of taking care of finances, the house, etc. His health has deteriorated to the point where we are not able to go anywhere. We rarely see other people. Lately, I find that my self-esteem, like my husband's mental abilities, is rapidly deteriorating. In comparison to other men and women my age, I have no life and nothing of interest to offer anyone in a conversation. When I was working, my self-worth was much higher. Now I feel like the only thing I'm good for is to keep someone alive who sits and watches television all day long. If my husband dies before I die -- and I'm not so sure he will -- I don't think I'll be able to regain the self-confidence I once had.

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No one caregiver's experience is harder or easier than anothers. They are "different." Yes, I have alot of stress because of work and home. The only time I have to shift gears is the travel time between. And then, traffic can really get me at times. But, being a full-time, stay-at-home caregiver can be extremely damaging to the mental and physical health of the caregiver.

I honestly don't know a single caregiver who hasn't felt the feeling of loss of self and low self-esteem. We sometimes feel as if all we are here for to take care of other people. My husband (68) also has COPD and is having problems too, but he's fighting it. Thank God for that.

I noticed on your profile that you didn't list any interests. Surely, you must have some .. maybe they are suppressed. Do you like to read, sew, do needlework? Do you like to draw or write? Journaling is a wonderful outlet and a great way to express yourself.

Does your husband have any interests that he is capable of doing? Mine took up woodworking. He started out with very simple things, but eventually took on more complicated projects. He'd probably be totally "gone" now if he didn't have that to keep his mind active.

Is your husband able to get out at all or does he need 24/7 care now? As most people on the boards already know, I am a strong supporter of hospice and home health care. They both can help provide respite for you so you can get out for a few hours. It is paramount that you have time for yourself. It is paramount that you make time to be with other people.

I find it very hard to believe that you have nothing to offer in a conversation. You have so much to offer ... it just depends on who you are conversing with and what the topic is! Once you can arrange for some respite, perhaps you can seek out local support groups or activities.

I have gotten soooooo mad at my husband sometimes because I'll come home from work and he'll be watching re-runs of Rambo or Walking Tall for the zillionth time. All my mom does is watch TV and I know what a brain killer it can be! So, I have been known to snatch the remote, turn off the TV, turn on some music and sometimes just plain stare him down. Now, he turns off the TV and digs out the cribbage board! It has served two purposes: 1, keeping score gets the brain juices flowing (even if you do it wrong), and 2, it's quality time for just us.

Sometimes we just talk about past funnies, and other times we talk about what we'd do if we won the lottery. It's healthy to dream.

Anyway, my friend, I do hope you reach out for help. Try to reach deep inside of yourself and rediscover the things you like or the things you would like to do or learn to do. We are all here for you.

Thanks Dee for responding. It's always nice to get a pep talk, especially from someone who's walked some of the same miles.

You advised me to dig deep and find my interests. I've had plent of time to pursue my interest in writing. It has been a way to take me outside of myself, but writing is also a solitary activity and there comes a time when a person just wants to be with others and share in fun social activities. Doing things gives a person something real to talk about.

One of the reasons I feel bad about myself is because I can't accept my fate with grace. I'm old and each year I'm losing more and more abilities. I always thought I'd have a little fun before I became incapacitated. It doesn't look like that's going to happen. I feel like a shallow person because instead of being grateful for all of my past blessings, I'm whining about not being able to enjoy more of life.

My husband has no hobbies and never has had. He was always a hard worker on the job, and at home he liked to watch television. That's all he likes to do. I've tried for 40 years to convince him to find a hobby. Besides TV, talking to me is his only amusement. He still makes some sense when he talks, but he is losing the ability to think logically.

I agree with you that dreaming is good. It has sustained me in the past, but more and more dreaming seems hopeless to me.


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