Wednesday 5 June 2024


 A lot has happened here since my last post in February.

Mom was admitted to a long-term care home (nursing home) last Friday.

It's hard for her, and she is still in the adjustment period.

Before that, it was hard for me. I'm exhausted mentally and physically. I feel like I need a year to recover from the stress of the last four years, of supporting my husband through cancer, losing him, and then becoming my mother's caregiver.

And I am finding that the mom-related stress hasn't stopped, it has just changed.

Instead of worrying constantly about whether she is off on a walk, or if she can find the food I left for her, or if she has fallen and can't get up, what I can make for meals that will appeal to her, and how I will get through the mind-numbing time spent listening to her repeat and repeat and repeat herself, now I am worrying about whether she is going to ever be contented at the nursing home. I am worrying about whether it was the right thing, and then feeling helpless because it was the ONLY thing I could do when she wasn't able to take care of herself but wouldn't accept any help except mine.

But for this week, at least, I am trying to take time off. It was recommended that I not visit my mother until further notice. So I am at home, not doing anything unless I feel like it. I am reading a book a day. I am looking after my elderly cats and eating what I feel like eating and sleeping when I want to sleep. I am trying to rest my mind and body.

I don't know if I have the energy to dip back into the past months to try to describe the life I had to lead, or whether I need to just leave it all behind.

I think there is value in writing about it, and hopefully value in reading about it, because many folks haven't had to deal with it yet, and the reality is grim and should be talked about more. The statistics suggest that many of us will have to face being caregivers. Knowledge can help prepare us for that..

But it is tiring to go into the details. (I tried, today, and gave up.)

For now, this is where I am. 

I'm still here. My life has changed again. I'm still trying to fit together the pieces that were left when my husband died. Now I am also trying to figure out what my life will be like without my mother's care as a central focus. I feel adrift and sad and worn out. 

But I'm optimistic that time will help, and the supports I have tried to put in place in my life will help.

One of those supports was the blogging world, and I would like to get back to reading and writing.

I'll take it one step at a time.


jabblog said...

Oh, Jenny, how I feel for you.
Guilt is awful and trips us up all the time, even when we know we've done the best we can.
Believe everyone who tells you you have done the right thing for your mother.
She cannot appreciate what you've done for her, but you have battled through it and made the right decisions, as hard as they were.
Now you must continue to take time for yourself, to recover and put everything in context.
Take care. Eat well and know you are a loving daughter.

Boud said...

I think what you're doing now is exactly right. Writing can wait till you're not exhausted from the last few years. Right now, just take care of yourself.

dinthebeast said...

This is so good. She will learn to live there, and it will take a while. With the resources at hand to meet her needs, her stress levels will most likely recede, giving her the chance to find things she likes about living there.
And you can live your own life again. You damn well deserve it.
It's good to hear from you again, I was wondering how things were going.
Take care of yourself.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

kylie said...

You've had a terrible time, just gut wrenchingly long and hard.
Rest is good and you can start to rebuild in the style and timing you choose.
Welcome back

Elephant's Child said...

Your final picture says a lot. Sometimes that one step at a time feels like a HUGE and uphill battle.
You must be exhausted - in every way.
Look after yourself dear friend. And kick guilt to the curb. It is not your friend.
Much love is flowing your way.

Red said...

Writing is an excellent therapy. Having said that, what you've gone through in the last few years is more than tough. You'll make it. One of my friends told me that her husband with dementia was extremely crafty and she really had to be careful what she said.

Andrew said...

Yes, to what you want, when you want. In time you'll get a better perspective. Remember that professionals are caring for your mother, and they will have seen it all before and hopefully know how to get her settled. She may not express it, but maybe she is feeling some inner relief.

Infidel753 said...

I hope you will take that time to recover from the stress. It can be devastating. But now that she is in the care facility, things should be easier for you.

If your mother's trajectory is like mine, she will never feel entirely contented in the care facility, and may even be quite indignant about it for a while. But eventually she will get used to it. That will likely be a matter of a couple of months.

Be prepared for her to become very clingy when you visit. My mother sometimes actually grabbed me when I was about to leave and tried to physically stop me, and I was visiting her every day, so it's not as if the visits were rare events. But once you adjust to the change, I think you'll find that things really are easier for you, now that the facility staff are taking care of so many of the things you used to deal with by yourself.

You definitely are owed as much time as you can afford just not doing anything unless you feel like it. Nobody is capable of coping with unlimited stress.

John M said...

It's very hard. I wish you the best.

Joanne Noragon said...

Welcome back, Jenny-O. Take your time, we're probably not going away. In the meantime, take it easy.

River said...

I think you are doing well, eating and sleeping what and when you want are good things until your body and mind demand routine again.
I hope to remember enough of what you write that I won't be a guilt burden for my own kids when I get older.

gz said...

One step at a time is exactly what it must be.
You had no steadily heal yourself xx

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Oh I am happy to hear your news. I think the advice to not visit her until further notice is the best I ever heard. You need time to re-adjust, to be you, to just be.

Guilt is an evil thing, like the German says it eats the soul. The professionals are way better at caring for your mum, for one they have seen it all before, they have been taught the how tos and whys and most important they are not emotionally involved.

Take your time, but not too long ;) lest you should forget how to blog and write. I'll be waiting patiently, and hope to learn and draw wisdom from your journey, as mine lays mostly still ahead.

That stair is steep, yet so beautiful.

Marie Smith said...

You need time to be…to find out who you are now. Take care. We’ll see you later.

Janie Junebug said...

It's good that you're resting, darling donkey. Your mom might not ever be content where she is, but she didn't seem content at home, either. Our lives change so much as we age and develop illnesses and memory loss. I'm afraid that if you had continued to try to take care of her on your own that it might have meant the end of your life.


messymimi said...

I've been thinking of you and wondering how it was going. I'm glad you did what was best for your mother even though it's also what's hardest.

If you need to write about it, it will come out when it's time. Meanwhile, I think you are doing exactly the right thing.

Mike said...

If you're on Facebook here's another place to go to vent some frustrations...

Susan said...

A huge transition for you. Coincidentally my 98yr father went into care a month ago, he had been stubbornly fighting it until the end. By the time you see your mother her life at the home will have become her normal. Don't be surprised if she seems more confused than usual. She has to adjust to knew surroundings, new people and new routines. As a nurse I was expecting it with Dad but it still gave me a wobble of guilt and remorse until I told myself to wait it out. Now he is happily settled and back to his pre admission level of cognition. Now you have to create your new normal and I think it will be exciting, picking what you do and don't want to do. A year of recuperating sounds reasonable. I went through two hellish periods in my life and although after a year I was in a good place it was the two yr mark when I realized I really did have my mojo back. Don't set any deadlines for yourself and don't get scared if you feel like you are not moving forward, you will when your mind and body are ready. I beat myself up many times for not being where I thought I should be or where other people thought I should be so please take my hardworn advice on this one and at least something good will have come out of it. Hugs.

DB Stewart said...

You're "not doing anything"? I'd reframe that as beginning to recover. As much as you can, I'd politely suggest that you keep "doing nothing."

baili said...

i can imagine how you feel dear Jenny ,the life you have led until now was mostly about taking care of others and now suddenly you are feeling out of job after your mother moved to nursing home .it is quite natural my friend and i agree that it is just a phase which will pass eventually .

it was so obvious that your mom wasn't able to take care of herself and her demand to accept care only from you wasn't possible because of the job and all other stuff you have to deal with .there nothing seems wrong with decision to move her into nursing home .we know aging isn't easy and is final destination for each of us .we too will have to face such time in future whether sooner or later so please try to work gently over the feeling of guilt because it makes heart heavy and mind unable to focus on other necessary things that are essential to move on .
you never skipped from my mind not for single day .in my thoughts and prays always!higs abd best wishes

37paddington said...

Lovely to see you here, my birthday twin. And I second what DB Stewart said--you are doing real work right now, in recovering from everything that you've been through these last four hard years. Your mother WILL get used to her new home, I promise you. Soon, the days there will become a comforting routine, with people around her, which can only be a good thing. Humans need society. I know you are sad, but remind yourself you are doing everything you can for your mom, you are a good daughter, and now you need to do everything you can for yourself as well. Sending love.

Steve Reed said...

I can absolutely see how you would feel unmoored after having made your husband and then you mom the focus of your life for the last several years. You DID do the right thing for her, I'm sure, even if it doesn't feel like it yet. And she's among professionals who understand something about what she's going through and how to help her along. On a positive note, the cats must be glad to have you around more! And we'll certainly be glad to see more of you in blogland. :)

jenny_o said...

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and reassurance and advice. I'm sorry not to have the mental energy to reply individually. But I've read and re-read your comments and they have helped me to try to fully believe I did the right thing even when it looks like it's absolutely wrong for Mom based on her reaction. I think it's going to take longer than usual for her to settle in. Maybe she never will, and I have to be prepared for that.

Diane Henders said...

You really have been through the mill! No wonder you're feeling exhausted and depressed. I hope you are able to take one day at a time, and allow yourself to "be where you are right now". This upheaval will be hard on both you and your mother, but it's absolutely the right thing for both of you.

For what it's worth, I've watched friends and family members deal with loved ones with dementia, and the first few weeks after moving them to a care facility are heart-breaking. But in ALL the cases, the person living in the care facility became much happier and more relaxed after a few weeks/months. Soon they came to see the facility as "home", to the point where after an outing (even to their former dwelling), they'd ask to "go home"... meaning the care facility.

Wishing you well - fingers crossed that your mother settles in soon!

Patricia (in England) said...

I was astonished at how quickly my Mother settled into her care home. It's something her old self would never have wanted but I had to learn that, as she'd changed, her needs had changed too. She had several happy years there. I hope you have a similar experience.

Mr. Shife said...

One step at a time is all you can do, jenny_o. And be kind to yourself. You have gone through a lot and it is going to take time. Listen to your feelings and trust your instincts. We miss you but we will be here we are ready to get back at it. Take care and good to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

I've recently been there. The caregiving destroyed me. Withdraw rest recover and feel no guilt no matter the outcome. Trust me on this. It's a loss either way and not a battle any child can win.