Just joining this site. Have been caring for my 91-year-old aunt since last May. Moved her from Berkeley to Albuquerque, NM, because her senior residence said she could no longer live there independently due to her condition. She lived in my apt. building for 5 months. I was already dealing with stress and when my boyfriend died, I had a nervous breakdown. At that point, I had to move her into independent living.
I love my aunt - we are very close - but I find that I am so concerned about her that I appear to be adopting some of her dementia-related behaviors. It is really scary. So scary, in fact, that I got myself tested for cognitive decline. (The determination was that I was suffering from extreme anxiety and not dementia.) What scares me is that she is often clearer about what is going on than I am. This makes it really hard to do all the things I must do. This list will sound very familiar to most of you, so skip it if you want to:
Make sure she her meds are refilled
Make, keep track of, and take her to all her doctors' appointments
Check in twice daily to make sure she is taking her meds
Check daily to remind her to wear her hearing aids (which she rarely does anyway)
Visit with her at least once every two days to make sure what she is telling me is accurate as regards her meds, etc. (It usually isn't.)
Take her out at least three times a week
Fix her computer and/or TV every couple of days because she pushes the wrong buttons
Manage her finances
Find money to pay for what she can't afford
Continue to research how my brother and I - both semi-retired and with minimal savings- will be able to help her when she needs to move into assisted living. And then what do we do when we are in this position in a decade or so?
Basically I am her full-time medical, financial, technology and social manager. If my brother hadn't sent some money to help out, I don't know what I would have done and I have no idea how I will manage in the future.
So basically what I am hoping to get from this site is some information that will reduce my stress by telling me that my empathy/co-dependent/borderless relationship with my aunt is fairly common and nothing to worry about, that there are resources beyond those provided by government (to which we do not have access due to her 'above poverty level' social security payment), and any other info that might make this job less exhausting and stressful.
Thanks in advance for any advice. I hope that at some point I will be able to be of help to someone as well.
Dear Jane, thank you so much for your informative, empathetic and generous response to my question.
I already see a psychotherapist and I am on medication and have been for a long time for anxiety and depression – thankfully!
There is no one in the family who can help me other than my brother and he can only do so for a limited amount. The brutal situation is that once the money he provided runs out, which will surely be within the next six months, there will be no money for my aunt unless I am willing to eat into my paultry savings, and I don't want to do that because then I will have to turn around and depends on my daughter, probably within the next decade,which I absolutely do not want to do to her. So your advice about nursing homes is really helpful and I will look into that.
Also, I agree that spending some money hiring someone to advise me on how to handle the situation is probably a good investment.
Thanks again for your help I really really appreciate it
Oh my word. Yes, a caregiver support group will help you. But, you need a lot more help than that.
Can you offload any of this ? To the brother, any other relatives? It is not fair for you to do it all, no matter how close you are. Cast a wider net, expand the caregiving circle, share the tasks. Even if you get help and can delegate, how about hiring a geriatric care manager? www.caremanager.org. They vary in cost, but i was one, once, and i did all of those things you describe. I even moved several of my clients from one level of care to another. I wrote out checks that they would sign. I'd go grocery shopping (online for delivery) or take them with me. I'd take them to the doctor and write down the important info, get the prescriptions filled or manage them online. I'd email the relatives or guardian with updates. I hired their home health aides. You can pay someone to do aspects of all the tasks you've listed. And if her 'over income' social security check isn't enough, then find money so that you can hire someone. Care managers are great for the complicated stuff. You can also hire a companion for much less money who could do other aspects of what she needs.
Your aunt may balk, but virtually every client i hired help for eventually came to adore and deeply depend on their aide/companion/driver/helper.
Which brings me to the eldercare attorney. She needs one to plan ahead for the heavier care she's going to need in the future. She'll need to apply for long term care medicaid to pay for a nursing home. hopefully she won't need that anytime soon. but an attorney will help you lay the foundation.
She was asked to leave an independent living place and now she's in one again. Often folks in 'independent' hire aides to stay there when they are not so 'independent.' So if this new place starts making noise, hire her some help. It's such a pain, and an ordeal, to move. You might have already figured out that assisted living is mostly not covered by medicaid, which she is over income for any way. only nursing home care is covered. an attorney is essential, though super expensive.
i'm also thinking that if i were you, i would benefit from a psychotherapist. You've lost your boyfriend. You're caring for this aunt whom you love. You are experiencing physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety. You do not need to martyr yourself. Find someone. Please.
What do you think? Please write more. What a generous person you are. Please take care of yourself, starting yesterday!
@MMorado - Been there, done that; my elderly aunt lived with me for 2-1/2 years, then had to go into a nursing home. See if you can find a caregivers support group in your area; sometimes they're sponsored by a senior center, and are facilitated by an eldercare social worker, who has a lot of helpful information. It's a good way to vent your frustrations, in a safe place where you won't be judged, and may learn some good tips from other caregivers & the facilitator!