Never underestimate the extreme mental and physical effort that goes into caregiving. Don’t ignore your depression and exhaustion because you feel ashamed that you are even thinking about yourself, when what they are going through is so much worse. Caregivers often bottle up their feelings and put on a brave face. Commendable, but it can add to the feelings of depression and isolation. Many caregivers say they feel very alone and apart from the world. Caregiver depression is real, common, and dangerous.

Caregiving does not cause depression, nor will everyone who provides care experience the negative feelings that go with depression. But in an effort to provide the best possible care for a family member or friend, caregivers often sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs, and the emotional and physical experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. The resulting feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, exhaustion—and then guilt for having these feelings—can exact a heavy toll.

Unfortunately, feelings of depression are sometimes seen as a sign of weakness rather than a sign that something is out of balance. Comments such as “get over it” or “it’s all in your head” are not helpful, and reflect a belief that mental health concerns are not real. Ignoring or denying your feelings will not make them go away.

Researchers have found that a person who provides care for someone with dementia is twice as likely to suffer from depression as a person providing care for someone without dementia. The more severe the case of dementia, such as that caused by Alzheimer’s disease, the more likely the caregiver is to experience depression. It is critical for caregivers, especially in these situations, to receive consistent and dependable support.

Statistics indicate that one in four U.S. households provide care for aging loved ones, and some studies indicate as many as half of these caregivers experience some degree of depression.

Depression occurs among caregivers about 10 times more often than in the general population. About 60 percent of caregivers present with some symptoms of depression, and 30 to 40 percent of them are considered to have major depression.

The following are the nine classic symptoms a physician looks for when considering a diagnosis of depression. A major depressive episode is present if five or more of the following nine symptoms are present during the same two-week period. At least one of the five symptoms must be either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

  • Persistent sadness or unhappiness
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Sudden change in appetite or weight
  • Disruption of normal sleep pattern
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

In addition to the personal anguish that depressed individuals experience, high rates of depressive symptoms put people at serious risk with their physical health as well. Depression is a significant risk factor for chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. One study found that older caregiving spouses who reported strain due to caregiving experience a 63 percent higher mortality rate than older spouses who were not caregivers.

Depression is the second highest risk factor for death among heart patients, second only to a weak ejection fraction. Thirty to 50 percent of heart patients suffer from depression, and they are six times more likely to die than heart disease patients who are not depressed.

Patients who are being cared for by depressed individuals are also at risk. They may not be given medications regularly, and they are more likely to be placed in nursing homes and other institutionalized settings, which costs society an estimated $200 billion each year.

Research has shown us that certain patient characteristics increase the caregiver’s risk of depression. Those who care for people younger than 65 years old who suffer from multiple medical problems resulting in their inability to perform two or more activities of daily living such as feeding themselves or personal hygiene are at the greatest risk. Additional risk factors include angry or aggressive behavior on the part of the patient.

The good news is that effective treatment is available. Counseling and/or medication is effective in treating 90 percent of those suffering depression, but early intervention is important. The longer and more severe the depression, the greater the health risk to the individual and the less likely they will recover. “Family members should be alert to signs of depression among the caregivers in their families and urge people to seek treatment as soon as possible”

Oftentimes, caregivers don’t seek help for their depression because they assume it is a natural consequence of caring for chronically ill loved ones and can’t be helped. Family members should be alert to signs of depression among the caregivers in their families and urge people to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Respite programs that give family members a break from their caregiving responsibilities helps as well. Families should come up with a plan to regularly relieve caregivers so they have time to take care of themselves and enjoy other activities. Research has found that caregivers who use adult day care services decreased their own care-related stress and depressive symptoms significantly.

There are also several national programs directed at supporting those who care for patients at home. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded a demonstration project in three states that issues monthly cash allowances for Medicaid recipients to hire their own caregivers, including members of their families and friends.

Older caregivers are often difficult to diagnose because they may not present with these typical symptoms of depression. They may visit their doctor with complaints of backaches or headaches and general fatigue. Experts estimate primary care physicians miss between 30 and 50 percent of the cases of depression among their aging caregiver patients.

According to Teresa Deshields, PhD, director of psycho-oncology services at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, women seem to be more programmed to be caregivers than men. Because of this programming, women are more reluctant to ask for help, believing that they should be able to do it all. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and depression can set in.

Women, primarily wives and daughters, provide the majority of caregiving, although the number of male caregivers has risen sharply and continues to grow. Men who are caregivers deal with depression differently. Men are less likely to admit to depression and doctors are less likely to diagnose depression in men. Men will more often “self treat” their depressive symptoms of anger, irritability or powerlessness with alcohol or overwork. Although male caregivers tend to be more willing than female caregivers to hire outside help for assistance with home care duties, they tend to have fewer friends to confide in or positive activities outside the home. The assumption that depressive symptoms are a sign of weakness can make it especially difficult for men to seek help.

Whether an ill relative has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, or a stroke, male caregivers often find their new role to be daunting and all-consuming. Most men have grown up in a household — and certainly a culture — in which females have been perceived as the primary family nurturers. Yet often by necessity, more men than ever are rolling up their sleeves and helping an ill loved one with day-to-day tasks such as dressing, toileting, bathing, eating, changing dressings, and managing medications.

Kathleen O’Brien, vice president of program services for the Alzheimer’s Association, says that many men may not have the same comfort or confidence level as women in handling the tasks of caregiving. “Some have a particularly difficult time with the more intimate care, such as a son bathing and dressing his mother,” she says.

To compound the stress in their lives, baby-boomer men may find themselves sandwiched between elder care and child care, and as they juggle work, family, and the needs of an aging parent, their stress and frustration can often turn into anger, despair, exhaustion, and burnout.

In confronting the responsibilities before them, men are more likely than women to delegate some of the caregiving responsibilities to others — either to other family members, or to outside help who they’ve hired to handle many of the home-care duties.

“Some men feel that they don’t have to do it all on their own, and they’re better than women at saying, ‘I need some help with this — you do this part, and I’ll do that part,'” says Carole Cohen, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. “In the work world, they may have become accustomed to this kind of delegating, whereas women of the same generation may be less likely to feel that it’s OK to get help.”

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103 Responses to Stress & Depression

  1. Char says:

    “Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Many caregivers, including myself face stress and depression daily. As we give care each day we also try hard to hold the line between clown and doctor, wife and daughter, housekeeper and cook. The full plate can quickly collapse under the weight of worrying about things that may never occur, so I think it is the simplicity of this quote that really hit home for me. Actually a few minutes of sunlight daily truly does lift the mind and spirit, so here’s to sun filled days, and colorful sunsets.


  2. Carla says:

    Dear DLH,
    I’m guessing this message belongs in this topic (stress), my apologies if it doesn’t. My parents live with my husband and me. My story with them has been on this website previously. Recently, my mother’s health has been much improved and has been discharged from physical therapy in the home due to all the goals being met. Since PT has finished, she has yet to perform any of the exercises on her own and when my dad, husband or I try to get her to do them with us, she gets furious. As a matter of fact, when we attempt to have her do ANYthing for herself, she gets angry.

    For months we’ve periodically had discussions about the reasons why she should be as self-sufficient as possible and she agrees that she should. She says she agrees with the old adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” regarding mobility. Yet she puts her meal order in to my dad and he prepares it, brings it to her as she sits in her lift recliner. This goes on all day, every day, and I am becoming very angry. My mother’s biggest fear in life is having to live in a nursing home, especially without my dad (who is 80, active and fairly healthy). Mother is morbidly obese so if she becomes unable to walk, I will have no choice but to admit her to a facility that can meet her physical needs.

    Summing it up, her choice of inactivity is going to force me to eventually cause her biggest fear to happen. And I am angry and already resentful about it. Just one hour ago, she told my dad she would like 1/2 a sandwich for lunch and I asked why she couldn’t fix that herself. (She says she can’t stand in the kitchen for any length of time so we got her a rollator, a walker with the seat). I pointed out she could sit at the kitchen counter and spread pimento cheese on a slice of bread. The conversation deteriorated quickly and ended with her go-to statement, “You just don’t understand”. I had to bite my tongue and leave the room to keep from saying that I understand that she will be hurt, angry and make me feel terribly guilty when I have to admit her to a facility where people will do for her the things she refuses to do for herself now! Dad and I have repeatedly told her that we encourage her to be as self-sufficient and as mobile as possible so she can continue to live here at home…we’re not trying to be unkind or unhelpful.

    I’m about at the end of my patience with her (yes I will say it) laziness! Dad says he caters to her because “it’s just easier”.
    Any suggestions to deal with this? Thank you in advance!

    • Char says:

      Dear Carla,
      I am completely sure you posted your comment in the right place, stress is definitely what you have. It is unfortunate that your mom refuses to try to help herself. I am wondering did she object to doing the physical therapy at all? Has she been depressed over her situation, has she tried to lose weight, or has she gained more? It sounds like now that she is better and has to face the reality of having to move it or lose it, all the pressure is on her to do it!
      Could there be more to this than meets the eye, do you think you could get her to speak to a therapist? Just thinking out loud,
      and wondering what I would do in your situation,I know I would feel just like you. Have you had a private conversation with your dad concerning her behavior, perhaps he has a better idea on why she is really acting this way, and what she really means when she says “you just don’t understand”.
      I am sorry I can not be of any further assistance, just hoping you get to the root of the problem, before as you said, its too late.
      Thinking of you and hoping for the best.


      • Carla says:

        When my mom was receiving therapy, she participated because she accepted that she had to do it…”if you don’t use it, you lose it” seemed real to her. She didn’t look forward to the therapy days but didn’t grumble while doing it.

        My mom has been very overweight all her life, as well as most of the women in our family. She has lost much weight over the past several years as her health declined. (From approx 350lbs to 260 now). So, in acuality, she’s in better “shape” to be mobile than she has in years. Her COPD, diabetes and hypertension are finally under good control. She had both knees replaced in the late 90’s and has always been afraid of falling so that’s her number 2 excuse for not doing more for herself. Number one is that her back hurts too much to stand for any length of time. She does use the bathroom on her own, asking Dad for help occasionally. I have a lady come in 3 days a week to help her shower and wash her hair. Dad and I fill in between that.

        I’ve explored the aspect of depression and she says the only thing that depresses her is that we don’t understand that she is already doing all she can for herself and expect too much from her. My dad tells me privately that it’s just easier for him to do for her than to try assisting her in the kitchen (getting things from the fridge, etc).. In the beginning, he did all these things because of her debilities, now she expects it. No matter which way I look at it, I end up frustrated. I already know how this is going to end up and I’m trying to prepare myself for the epic guilt trip I’ll be taking.

        I’m very thankful for DLH. Y’all have helped me in the area of taking short trips with my husband, Lee, and not feel guilty about it. I’ve included my brother (only sibling) in participating in their care…that is working well. He also sees that Mother will end up being cared for by a facility one day unless she changes. He has the uncanny ability to avoid Mother’s guilt trips! He says, “I’ll tell her that she did it to herself, when she has to go”. I, on the other hand, will be crushed with guilt. As I type this, I feel as though I have an anvil on my chest.
        Checking with the physical therapist for an evaluation may be a good idea. Thank you for listening, Char!

    • Jean F says:

      Carla, I understand completely. My mother is mostly blind (it’s impossible to tell how much vision she has, and it seems to vary from day to day) from Macular Degeneration and has had a couple of strokes that have affected her balance. She was never one for exercise to begin with, but now she spends all day on the couch “watching” television or listening to books on tape, and at this point she can’t get up or walk by herself.

      She was in physical therapy for a couple of weeks a long time ago, but stopped doing anything on her own as soon as she got home. My sister talks her into doing some floor exercises now and then, but my mother will never initiate it. She has gained weight and lost muscle tone so it takes more and more effort to lift and lower her. Trips to town consist of moving her from her wheelchair to the car to her wheelchair to where ever, and then back again. I bought handles for the toilets and a chair for the shower to help, but it isn’t much. My father is still active and healthy, despite his own occasional health issues, past surgeries, and heart problems. He does the meal preparations, and dinners mostly consist of frozen dinners, usually pasta alfredo. Like your father, mine relents to my mother’s wishes rather than having to spend all day arguing and coaxing. He lets her smoke for the same reason, saying that “it’s one of the few pleasures she has left in life”, even though smoking makes MD and heart issues worse.

      When I’m there I’m the taskmaster, nixing the smoking, making her walk with her walker, and talking her into healthy alternatives to sweets. I have repeatedly told her that this is her last chance, that if she doesn’t do something now, she will be completely reliant on others, but she doesn’t seem to care. And now her dementia is getting pretty bad, which makes it all more pointless.

      I’m the long-distance caregiver, visiting once or twice a year and staying for a couple of months to give my father and sister a break. So I come in fresh, with more energy and patience, but after a month of coercing and convincing, I lose energy too. And it’s not just that I lose energy. I start to feel like if she isn’t willing to fight for her own health and mobility, why should I do it for her? I get angry at her laziness because I watched my husband fight for his life, with much more serious issues to deal with, and he never gave up. I also get mad when I see my father and sister at her beck and call.

      I can’t berate or judge her too harshly though, because I think, what if I develop Macular Degeneration too (it’s hereditary in some families, and my grandmother had it) and find myself ending up just like her? I’d never forgive myself for being so hard on her.

      While I’m venting, it also makes me mad that she smokes because my sister had a heart attack and has a pacemaker and defibrillator and still smokes. She’s tried a number of times to quit, but she goes to my parent’s house a few days a week to help out, and, not strong enough to quit on her own, of course she’ll never be able to quit around my mother. Even my father, who had quit for over 30 years smokes from time to time now. It pisses me off no end that she won’t quit for them (I have tried this guilt tactic, to no avail). But there again, I’ve never been a smoker, so I’ve never been addicted to nicotine and can’t judge any of them.

      As I said, I’m long-distance most of the year and so I don’t have the right to criticize how things are done when I’m not there. When I am there I cook and fill the freezer with healthy home-cooked meals, and walk every afternoon and encourage my father or sister to go with me. I love them all so much, but feel pretty helpless to change the unhealthy behaviors. I’m just commiserating with you, I have absolutely no suggestions or solutions to offer.

      • Carla says:

        Well, vent away, Jean! This is the only place I’ve ever vented these feelings for fear of sounding like a resentful daughter to those who wouldn’t understand. I’m so sorry your family is dealing with these issues. I’m sure you’re grateful that your sister is available to help with your parents. And she’s got her own health problems!She appreciates your visits, cooking and encouragement, without a doubt.

        When my mother was very ill, I understood why my dad cared for her as he did. Lee and I helped as much as possible. Lee always took care of the lawn and yard work while I was the nurse and daughter rolled into one. They moved in with us upon her discharge from a rehab facility after 3 weeks of therapy. Now that she is healthier than she has been in 3 years, she’s as dependant as ever on others. I try to encourage her to take pride in independence by talking about how awful I felt for being dependent on others during my cancer treatments & surgeries and then the relief of re-gaining strength and independence afterward. No angle I use seems to make a dent.

        The other frustration is that my mother knows all the “things on my plate”. Besides a full time job, I care for my aunt (mother’s younger sister in the nursing home), and I go to my son’s home nearly every weekend to care for my young grandchildren (he is a single parent). I’ve hired someone to clean our home twice a month…I can manage it in between. Thankfully, my dad’s health is fairly good, considering a history of heart surgery, etc.. He cooks breakfast and lunch for the two of them and takes care of all their laundry. He is cognizant of all my responsibilities so he slips away and does grocery shopping many times. Right now he is dealing with low back pain so I used that as the reason for Mother to make her own sandwich today. To no avail. It seems that I’m the taskmaster every day and it is wearing me down. Lee suggests I simply stop and let it go. How do I do that?

        Jean, you mentioned that your mom has macular degeneration. My aunt, in the nursing home, has been diagnosed with this condition in the past week. Did your mom’s vision deteriorate slowly, quickly, gradually? I’m not sure what to expect and the opthalmologist has yet to return my calls. I had the nursing home transport my aunt to the doctor’s office and I didn’t get to accompany her. (It’s an ordeal to take her anywhere since she is wheel-chair bound and approx. 280 lbs). Physical therapy taught us to use a sliding board to get her from her wheelchair into my car, back into the wheelchair, etc.. Of course, loading and unloading the wheelchair itself is a chore!

        It’s draining to be in this spot but your site helps. Thanks for commiserating.

        • Jean F says:

          Carla, how frustrating for you all, that your mother is actually healthier now but doing less for herself. Perhaps she misses the attention she got when she was sicker? I’m so glad you and Lee got away, you do so much for your family. Re: AMD, it was gradual. Here is a very good page on age-related macular degeneration:

          • Carla says:

            Thank you for the MD info, Jean. My aunt is only 62 but has suffered 3 strokes. I’m not certain her MD is age-related but it could be. If I could just speak with the doc…


      • Marietta says:

        Ahhhhhh – venting is good. It is such a fine line when we have to start parenting our parents. I fought and lost the smoking battle with my Mom. After a certain point it became clear that for her quitting wasn’t going to change or improve her quality of life so she smoked until she wasn’t coherent anymore.

        I love the phrase that Laura posted about not being able to push a chain. What a great visual. It’s such a fine line between caregiving and enabling – We all have to make the choices that fit our individual situations. I do understand how it is sometimes easier to just “do” things rather than engage in battle. Some folks are hard wired to be survivors and others are more prone to burying their heads in the sand hoping the storm will pass.

        One thing I do know is sharing and venting like we’re doing here is healthy and can make a huge difference for those that are on the proverbial battlefield vs having fought the war and lived to tell about it. Hang in there everybody – one day at a time is all we can do. Thank you Jean and Char for keeping this site together for all of us.
        <3 Marietta

        • Carla says:

          Marietta, I don’t know where I could vent my frustrations if it were not for DLH. There were people that came to Lee and me before my parents moved in warning us that we were making a huge mistake, how we would regret it, etc.. And, true enough, the past year hasn’t always been a picnic but it was the right decision for our family and situation. My dilemma is knowing when to draw back, accept the fact that I cannot change my mother and not feel guilty if her condition causes her living situation to change.

          You nailed me…”some folks are hard wired to be survivors and others are prone to burying their heads in the sand…” I’m the former and my mother is the latter. We are total opposites to begin with and now we are trying to co-exist. I must accept that it’s very unlikely that she will change. So I need to just get over it. :-)

          Thanks for helping, Marietta!

      • nathalie richardson says:

        Wow Jean, just came across this and the similarities between your situation and my mom’s is uncanny. My mom was a closet smoker for years, doing a lot of laundry in the basement so she could blow the smoke out of the window that was above the washer and dryer. Daddy was relentless in his efforts to get her to stop but it didn’t help. I’ll never forget the time he made a surprise visit to her office and she was blowing smoke out of the window in there. He hit the roof! Yikes! After he passed away, there was no getting through to her. She had talked about wanting to paint again, travel etc. but she just shut down. Fired Home Health but wouldn’t do much to help herself. My brothers and I tried, but her depression was debilitating , even with the meds. How I miss them both and still wish I could have done more. One thing that will always haunt me is I wasn’t with her when she passed. I had just come home from the hospital, three hours away, when my brother called and said I needed to get back, she had taken a turn for the worse. It was a dark stormy fall night and I was racing back when I got the call that she was gone. I was heartbroken. Even so, she knew I loved her dearly. Now I am taking care of my dear son and he is on the road to recovery. We have much to be thankful for.

    • Cindy E says:


      I can totally sympathize with your frustration regarding your mom not wanting to help herself.

      My mother had heart disease and circulatory problems. Then she was diagnosed with diabetes which also wreaked havoc on her circulation. And she smoked.

      I remember the day we went to a specialist to have her fitted for special stockings because the circulation in her legs was beginning to deteriorate. The doctor told her that if she didn’t quit smoking she would eventually lose a limb.

      Of course he was right and she did end up having an amputation. I know that she had health issues but the smoking made it all so much worse. I remember taking her to her doctor for “debreedment” of her wound. He would ask her if she quit smoking yet and she would lie and say yes. I would shake my head behind her so the doctor knew she was still smoking. He would implore her to quit. I would beg and bargain but she refused to help herself.

      I sat through surgery after surgery as toes were amputated; then that wouldn’t heal so they took part of her foot. Eventually they took the leg, midthigh. It was well over a year before the incisions from that wound healed. Still she would not quit smoking.
      She would try to force us to bring her cigarettes in the hospital. When we refused she would say not to come see her.

      One day, shortly after she almost died from sepsis, I went to visit her and she begged me to go get her cigarettes. I refused and she made a scene saying I was no longer her daughter and I should never come see her again. I should let her die in peace. I was crying and I couldn’t believe that she would choose smoking over me. As I was walking away I suddenly realized how helpless she was. I always thought of her as strong and larger than life but she really wasn’t. She was completely helpless.

      I wiped my tears and turned around and walked back to where she was sitting in her wheel chair. Friends were around her and probably saying what a terrible daughter I was. She wouldn’t even look at me. I leaned down and kissed her on the cheek and I told her that I loved her and that I didn’t care if she never spoke to me again, I would still love her. But she couldn’t make me help her kill herself. “You can’t stop me from coming to see you, but you also can’t make me buy you cigarettes.” I told her I would be there for her no matter what happened but she would never be allowed to smoke in my car and if she chose to smoke in my presence I would remove myself. Even if I was pushing her wheelchair. I vowed that I would never get her cigarettes again.

      She slowly recovered and she learned to understand my feelings. But she never quit smoking. I learned to accept that in this matter, like your mother’s refusal to get up and get moving, she was fearful and helpless.

      What Jean said about how she’d never be able to forgive herself for being so hard on her mother is so true. But maybe you and your mother can come to a place of acceptance.

      Perhaps she can learn to accept that you are very concerned for her welfare and want her to stay around for a long time. It might not make a difference in her behavior but she may understand why you push her the way you do. And maybe you can accept her limitations and the fact that maybe she is helpless due to fear and depression. The outcome may be the same-she may end up in a nursing home. But at least she will know where you stand and alleviate some of your guilt. I have learned that, in caregiving, when you push the person in your care they push back and nobody gains any ground. Sometimes, quiet and simple acceptance is best.

      Very wordy but I hope it helped. Good luck to you. Try to remember to breathe when the stress level gets high. xoxoxo Cindy E

      • Carla says:

        Cindy, thank you for story and wonderful example! You were very wise to turn around and show unconditional love to your mom when your heart was hurting.

        My husband pretty much advises the same thing…acceptance. How to do that, I do not know. (Of course, that may be because I’m a Type-A person who has difficulty not doing what I see needs doing). It’s so hard seeing my dad wait on my mother, hand and foot, when she can and should do most things herself. I had decided that if she didn’t qualify for more physical therapy, I would become the therapist each day after work, putting her thru the paces. My husband thinks she will resent me, regarding me as her drill sergeant. So, you’re message of acceptance is timely….I just have to learn how. And, as Jean so aptly said, what if I develop more health problems and become like my mother?

        Thanks again, Cindy E! Blessings!

        • Laura says:

          I may be interfering here, but I don’t think you will ever have any luck with your mother as long as your father is “enabling” her in her helplessness. Why should she listen to you when he does what she wants?

          My husband used to say, “you can’t push a chain, only lead it”.

          I had the same sort of problems with my mother-in-law. As long as she was staying with us, she would do really well, but when her daughter took care of her, all the progress we had made went right down the drain because it was just easier for her to give in and let her mother have her way.

          Too bad your dad doesn’t have a “carrot” for her. My dad is caregiver to my mom and he really has her number. She has a lot of health issues including sleeping all the time when she eats certain things. When she gets in one of those moods, he talks to me because I can relate having been a caregiver myself. If we conclude that her behavior is causing the problem, then my dad has a “talk” with her. I don’t know what he says, but part of it is that he will cancel any planned trips in the motor home because she can’t go if she’s sleeping all the time. They don’t go very far because of her health, but suddenly she’s up and awake again. They are coming to my house to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday Wednesday and he told me the other day he keeps reminding my mother that if she starts sleeping all the time they won’t be able to come. So she’s being very good right now.

          Don’t know if this has helped you in any way, but maybe it can spark some idea that you could try with your mom.

          Hang in there and remember you are never alone on DLH!

          • Carla says:

            Laura, you’re never interfering…your message was of great help. I especially like your husband’s saying and I will certainly remember it when I think about pushing.

            I’m going to ponder on the “carrot” notion. My mother sleeps alot in her chair during the day then complains the next morning that she slept poorly the previous night. I’m wondering what carrot I could dangle to change her daily sleeping habit. The hope of taking a trip to see her great-grandchildren may do the trick!

            Thank you, Laura!

        • Cindy E says:

          Carla, I too am type A and always want to be pro-active in what I can do for the person in my care. It has taken me a long time to come to this place.
          Don’t get me wrong, I still pushed a little. But I found everything smoother and easier when I was more accepting. Unfortunately, I found myself trying to fight a battle that wasn’t mine to fight.
          My father was quite the enabler as well and I found myself arguing with both of them. But that wears you down fast when you realize neither of them are going to budge.

          You are in a tough situation and I pray that you will find peace in your heart as you continue to be your mother’s champion.

          xoxo Cindy E

          • Carla says:

            Hi Cindy!

            Your message of fighting a battle that isn’t mine to fight is echoing in my mind. In thinking of acceptance of the situation and backing off, I realize alot of my frustration is due to how end result will affect me (nursing home and guilt trip). So, I think I need to focus my energy on doing what I can and if & when the day comes that Mother must live in a nursing home, I will know that I did all I could.

            Thank you!

        • Laura says:

          I’ve been thinking about the exercises and something that worked with my mother-in-law. My daughter suggested that we exercise together. Well, I complained before anyone else could so my mother-in-law said that if she had to do them, so did I. So we did and I spent the whole time making a big deal about how hard they were and the three of us had a good time laughing and cutting up while we all exercised. (I found I could sympathize with my MIL at that point because I came to hate those exercises too!)

          It worked, though. It could have just been that our personalities meshed well enough to make it work, but her daughter had an outsider come there to “make” her mother exercise and she was a real drill sergeant and my mother-in-law did what she said, but hated her for it.

          My mom and dad took walks together.

          Now, I am not a type-A personality. I avoid confrontation whenever I can and don’t mess in other’s business and don’t want them messing in mine. So I have always used persuasion whenever I can to get my way and don’t mind adding a little trickery and manipulation to the mix.

          Again, I don’t know if this will help you any, but, you never know what will work.

          My prayers are with you and your family that things will work themselves out for the best.


          • Carla says:

            Laura, you were wise and sneaky with your MIL…sometimes a great combination! Persuasion, trickery and manipulation, why didn’t I think of that?! But seriously, I can see when some of these things may be necessary when dealing with my mother and her lack of motivation. Yesterday, she and my dad jointly cooked dinner and I’ve not stopped praising them and bragging that none of my friends had a home-cooked meal waiting for them after work. I’m hoping she is encouraged to do more things around the house now…positive reinforcement may work.

            I appreciate you taking the time to listen, write and pray. Peace, love and blessings to you!


            • Laura says:

              Oh, Carla, I was so happy when I read your post. I hope your mother is starting on the path to a new and happy life. When my husband was sick (liver failure), everything revolved around his blood work and they weren’t interested in any single test (unless there was a drastic change), but the trend. I only mention this to keep you from getting discouraged if your mother seems to take a step backward now and then.

              You might think about exercising with your mother. It could be a chance for the two of you to have a few “quality” minutes alone together. Your personalities may not allow for that, but if you can find any way to spend a little time with your mother now, it is something you will be able to hold in your heart forever.

              My mother-in-law has been gone for nine years, but she was my best friend and I still smile when I remember the times we did those stupid exercises together!

              Also, I lost my dear husband of 37 years in September, so started looking around online for someone, anyone, who could understand what I was going through. What I did find was DLH where there are those who are going through things I have already experienced, so if any of my ideas or suggestions can ease your burden or make things easier for you, then it gives me great comfort.

              Jean and Char are stellar and always give me a lift when I’m down.

              So…..Don’t Lose Heart!

              • Carla Cox says:

                Dear Laura and all at DLH,

                Nothing like replying nearly a month later but I’ve been a tad under the weather. First, let me say, Laura, that I’m sorry to know of the loss of your husband last fall. 37 years together! What a blessing. I wish I would have that many years with my wonderful Lee but we got a late start in life together. However, I plan to make the most of them!

                Six days after my last post, I neuromuscularly crashed and was in bed for 9 days. Leading up to that was a rather heated discussion with my mother about the topic discussed in my previous posts….her lack of motivation to be as self-sufficient as possible and the effect is has on her and the family. A few days later I had a knock-down-drag-out argument with my son about the grandchildren spending unsupervised time with their drug-addict mother. The NM dr said those stressors were my triggers to the crash, gave me a med and advice to get back on my feet. It’s taken several weeks to get up and running but two good things came of it. My mom went to her dr, got on an anti-depressant and back on physical therapy. My son and I had a cleansing discussion and are on much better terms. I’m thankful that better times may be a’comin’ but, whew, I’m whupped! My mom said she saw first-hand what stress did to me physically and doesn’t want to add any more to my life. We shall see.

                Thanks again for your uplifitng page and, Jean, the new look is great!


                • Laura says:

                  Glad things are going better. Just one question….who took care of YOU those nine days you were ill?

                  • Carla says:


                    Your comment made me literally laugh out loud! That may not have been your intention but I truly needed it. My sweet husband, Lee, looked after me during most of those 9 days. He works shift work so he did the best he could. I’m not bouncing back from this episode as I have in the past so I have an appt with the neuromuscular dr. Tues. morning. Lee has surgery tomorrow morning so we’re going to make a great pair for the next week or so.

                    Mother has had an adverse reaction to the anti-depressant and now doesn’t want to try any others. Ugh! It seems we can’t get ahead where she is concerned. She performs the prescribed exercises for the physical therapist but refuses to do them any other time. My dad has confronted her about it and he caves in when she gets emotional about “doing all she can”. Yesterday was their 60th wedding anniversary…it got me thinking about how I’d react to my mate of that time span. Would I push or enable? In any case, Mother is back to square one…color me surprised.

                    Thanks again, Laura. Reading your post made my day! :-)


                    • char says:

                      It sounds like you are finding strength in the knowledge that the more things change the more they stay the same, as far as you mom goes, and your dad after 6-0 years knows her better than anyone. I am sure he has tried all arguments you have with your mom, on why she should continue with her therapy, and as you said, he just gives in probably from sheer frustration. In the meantime, please try to take care of yourself and heal. Let us know how you and your husband are doing when you can; my thoughts are with you all.

  3. Joan says:

    Susan – you have been on my mind & heart. I hope you are finding answers and peace. Joan

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