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Is it common to feel you are losing your mind when caregiving?


Question: Is it common to feel you are losing your mind when caregiving? I love my mother so much, but up until a year ago, we shopped together, ate out, had fun. My father died and it is like mother died also. She broke her hip right after he died and it has been one medical problem after the other. She has been in my home for nine months. She is now in hospice care with a failure to thrive diagnosis. Her memory is almost gone. I lost my dear aunt a year before my dad, than dad and now mother. I was close to all of them. Although I have a husband, son, and grandchildren nothing seems to replace them. I am not on antidepressants and I really don't want to be, but often I wonder how much more I can take. I feel guilt if I go anywhere besides work, afraid she will die and I won't be there. I have to work or we would all starve. Any suggestions? Thank you

Dr. Amy: You have suffered a lot of loss in a short period of time. It sounds like your mother was a very dear friend to you as well as being your mom. Knowing that she will die soon and waiting for this to pass can absolutely feel unbearable. Now that your aunt and dad are gone, it sounds like you will have lost all of your most important connections to your family’s past, when your mom dies. That’s a loss, too—a loss of living memory and links to family history. And, when the generation before you is all gone, it also becomes more clear that you and your generation are next. So in addition to losing people you loved so dearly, and losing links to your family history, you are also being reminded of your own mortality. It’s a lot to deal with.

I encourage you to reach out for support. Grief counseling, a support group, and therapy are all excellent choices. Respect your feelings. Give yourself time to grieve and deal with your grief in your own way. And if, it feels completely overwhelming, be sure to see your doctor.

You are so lucky to have had such wonderful relationships with these family members. Knowing this today is small comfort, I’m sure. But in time, your happy memories will be stronger in your mind and in your heart than your pain is now. I send you strength, and hope that 2013 will bring you peace and joy.

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