Posted by: Mavis | 2012-11-29

pressure cooker close to exploding

Dear Doc
This is a cry for help message, although it may not be life-threatening. I do hope you''ll have some advice.
I feel as if my life is somewhat getting out of control and I simply don''t know how to handle the stress. Over the past months I''ve become very involved in helping my mom with Alzheimer''s, not only because I''m close to my parents, but my usually very fit dad, has hurt his back and is now pretty much out of action. He is also taking the toll of my mom''s disease. Not only is this situation - of seeing my parents like this - sad to me, but I feel terribly stressed by it. Although they are in a retirement village - which does help - they live alone in a small apartment and my dad feels that he will look after my mom as long as he lives. My one child has been diagnosed with ADD, and although we can now give a name to the difficulties we experienced over the past year, it still remains tough for me to handle everything around this. My other child is entering pre-teens or something, or feels neglected, but she is becoming extremely difficult. My husband passed away 5 years ago, so I''m trying to juggle everything on my own, at the same time being in a professional position which also requires my time and attention. I cannot consider going for counselling, as my child''s assessments,etc depleted my medical aid funds. Looking at other peoples'' problems, mine may look insignificant, but I''m just looking for some way in which to avoid boiling over.

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Our expert says:
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Dear Mavis,
I've had direct personal experience, as well obviously as professional experience, of the enormous strains of caring for a loved one with Alzheimers or other dementia.
Sounds like your parents may be at least in a better situation, if its a good retirement village, with proper frail care facilities and other assistance, than many couples living on their own.
But this is all a lot of separate but troubling challenges for you to face and deal with at the same time - your mom's problem, AND your dad's, AND your troubled child. And it does happen that people like your other child do, even if consciously they would deny it, feel neglected and overlooked while you're trying to juggle all the other responsibilities. With someone of her age, old enough to be useful, it can be worth discussing calmly with her the challenges you and the family face, and how much you wish you could rely on her, because you appreciate her good heart and potential for being really helpful. See if she can perhaps be recruited into playing a small but useful role in HELPING with the problems, becomin g part of the solution, rather than sulking at the edge of things, and becoming part of the problem.
There's nothing insignificant in any way in the problems you are facing, nor anything wrong with finding these challenges, well, challenging.
See if you can recruit your older child into helping and at least in understanding, and make a nice fuss about even little things she does to help, even when she merely shows patience.

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