I am the sole caregiver for my 92-year-old mother. I am an only child with no husband or children. My mother's surviving siblings are all older as well and have their own problems. It's all up to me. I have no "circle" of help. My mother suffers from severe arthritis and can no longer walk, so I have to "transfer" her from chair to car, etc. I am a small person, and I have a bad back, so it isn't easy.
We are lifelong church members, and I take my mother to church every week. But my church members, especially my pastor, would be no help to us, so I don't understand why someone would suggest that.
Until you have taken care of a person full-time by yourself, you will never ever understand. Most caregivers I know have someone to relieve them now and then. Not me.
I do all kinds of things I enjoy. I love my TV and computer. I play piano, quilt, do embroidery, exercise, read -- and, yes, meditate. I like myself just fine, so getting in touch with my mind and spirit isn't the problem.
I can leave my mother alone long enough to go to the grocery store and choir practice, but if I wanted to go out for the evening or -- heaven forbid -- on a day outing, forget it. I have to take her along or stay at home. I do take her places, but she gets very tired and starts to hurt if she has to sit in her wheelchair for more than an hour or so.
The person who said some people are not cut out to be caregivers was absolutely correct. I never ever would have invisioned myself doing the jobs I do every day. I am constantly told that I'm doing a good job, and I always say, "No, I'm not." To me, this is a dreadful way to live, if you can call it that.
Trapped? Prison? House arrest? Yes, that pretty much describes it. Sometimes it gets to me very badly.
I am a retired teacher, and most of my life I was very busy and creative. I need to be around people on a regular basis. My mother is a sweet lady and we get along great, but for my own well-being, I need to do something outside my home. I am only 60 years old, but I look much younger and am in excellent health. I am wasting away here when I should be doing all the things I worked so hard for and dreamed of doing at this age.
I don't have any answers for you. If I did, I'd have them for myself as well.
But I will say that I am offended by people who tell me how "blessed" I am to have the opportunity to care for my mother the way she cared for me. It's not the same thing AT ALL, and they don't have a clue what they're talking about.
Edited to add:
Yes, I have consulted an attorney. Yes, I have met with doctors. Yes, I have taken classes. Yes, I have read books on the subject. No, I am not angry or resentful, and I am just fine with God. I was merely giving the asker of the question support in knowing that she was not alone. Sometimes there are no answers. You just have to take it a day at a time. Caregiving is not easy.
And I might add that in every book, article, or TV segment I have encountered regarding caregiving (including a Fearless Caregiver's conference I attending in 2005), the number one rule always stated is "take care of yourself first." If the caregiver is broken down, sick, depressed, stressed out, discouraged, or unhappy, he/she cannot give proper care to anyone. Everyone suffers. And that's not whining, my friend. That's just stating a fact.