Burnout from being the caregiver :/

Hi everyone,

How many of you are experiencing burnout due to being the caretaker of a relative? Not only is my mother Diabetic( without my intervention, she cannot control her DIABETES at all…I’m talking about her sugar was in the 400’s and sh*t- TILL i had to have a mental breakdown and then she agreed to taking insulin), she also was recently diagnosed with a severe case of Osteoporosis)- only 60 years of age. She’s had it for a good 10 years and none of her doctors ran a bone density exam till recently. I’ was in the process of applying to Graduate school ( BioPhysics baby) till her health became worse…and since then, I took up the responsibility to do everything in my power to bring her back to good health.

I had to take a break with applying to graduate school and to just focus on her for a while.

But truth is, this is all very mentally exhausting. There are days when she is extremely stubborn and days when she is not. For example, the first few weeks she was on Insulin…she gained 3 lbs…however, she seems to be losing weight again due to her being very picky with what she eats. She lost 30 lbs from uncontrolled glucose levels.

I need help with a couple of things…

  1. Any tips on quick weight gain?

  2. how many carbs should she eat per meal to gain weight?

  3. she is 5’1 and 100 lbs…looks as though she weighs 90 lbs, really

  4. I thought of protein shakes…but I hear they’re very bad for the kidneys?

  5. i make her an omelette of 2 eggs daily…bad- good?

  6. she isn’t a fan of water or milk.

  7. safe snacks/fruits etc?

  8. My fellow caretakers, how do you de- stress? I used to solve math puzzles for fun…that has gone out the window.

  9. I am so very tired. Time to time, she ends up acting like a stubborn TEENAGER! ( won’t eat this or that). what to do do…from taking her to appointments, to being her 3rd eye 24/7, what to eat/not eat etc…when to eat…etc…she has also been exhibiting early signs of memory loss…I’m practically doing everything at this point. I wish things were easier. I should be sleeping but I’m not because, I always check her sugar around 4:30 am.

  10. I love my mother more than anything…the sacrifices she has done for me…I can write a book on them…however, is it wrong of me to feel that I’m missing out on life…due to her being sick? Ah. She’s so awesome, it hurts.

Lastly, thank you all very much for all of your help. Diabetes is absolutely evil and if there is a perfect candidate for the cause of SLEEP DEPRIVATION, D wins!


Has she been tested for celiac disease? That could be contributing to her weight, mood, osteoporosis, blood glucose control, and picky eating issues. Some 10% of TD1s have celiac disease – most are undiagnosed. Even if she has TD2, consider testing.

She is fortunate to have such a loving daughter. Your life is just as important too. Please be sure to take care of yourself!

Easy to say, hard to do, I know . . . but that is the single most important thing you can do. “Don your own oxygen mask before helping someone else.” It applies here too. If you wilt, she goes down with you. You must take care of #1 for her to have a fighting chance.

And remember, as much as you love someone and want to help him/her, you can’t “make” that person do the best thing(s) for his/her health.

I’m not currently a caregiver, but I know only too well about the stress and sleep deprivation! I was a 24/7 caregiver for four years after my late husband had a stroke. He was still cautiously ambulatory, but needed someone else to make virtually all decisions for him, and give him insulin injections. He was much older, though. So sorry to hear your mother is having such problems at the young age of 60.

Are you in the USA? If so I might be able to give you suggestions of some possible assistance.

About gaining weight. I’d lost a lot of weight, too, while my PCP was trying to treat me as a type 2. I got down to 105 pounds. And I’m 5’5". I just kept close track of everything I ate on the FitDay website. (It is basically for people trying to lose weight, but initially I used it just to keep track of carbs and what I was eating.) I discovered that I was averaging between 1800 and 1900 calories per day while I was just maintaining weight. So once I got on insulin and could afford a few more carbs, to gain weight I just aimed for averaging 2100 to 2200 calories a day. Theoretically the extra 300 calories daily should allow one to gain an additional pound about every 12 days. I didn’t feel that any faster than that was do-able, as it would make blood sugar too difficult to control.

I eat two eggs a day and see nothing wrong with it. I use nuts, peanuts and cheese as regular snacks that can add calories pretty easily. Your mother doesn’t like water or milk. How about beer? I have a 10.6 gram carb can of beer most evenings either with or after dinner. People often consider any alcohol a no-no for diabetics, but I think the main concern is with excessive drinking, which can cause hypos. If your mothers liver and kidney function is good, a single beer most days should be okay, but you might want to check with her doctor on that in the event there is something else in her medical situation that warrants caution. With someone only 100 pounds, I’d avoid any more than one a day, though.

You suggested fruits. I personally tend to avoid fruit, since most have so many quick carbs. I do eat strawberries in season, and will occasionally have half a banana or some other small serving of fruit, but it really takes good timing with the rest of one’s meals to avoid spikes. You’ll really just have to see how your mother’s BG tests out with fruit. Maybe if you combined it with an otherwise low carb meal or gave an injection before lunch to cover both the lunch and a later snack, then waited two or three hours after the main lunch to let BG drop before giving her the fruit snack.

Any chance that you are able to take walks with your mom, or are you already doing that? With osteoporosis, I suspect that she has been given instructions to increase weight-bearing exercise. If she is able to move along at a pretty good clip, the extra exercise might help a tad with your own stress. If she can only poke along, you’ll probably need something requiring more energy yourself. When weather is bad, I sometimes just walk around the house, including going up and down the stairs about a dozen times. Maybe you can find something like that to help.

And I well remember when I was totally stressed from caregiving but too tired to exercise, I’d just search out jokes to read on the web. It helped to get my mind off the troubles of the day and allowed me to fall asleep quickly afterward.

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A personal note:
My mother is In the beginning of the third stage of dementia. But I lived thru the other two stages.

The pickiness and the specificity/defiance you have described fit my mother in both stage one and two of dementia. If your mom is showing other signs, it may be helpful to you, to know that the difficult-to-deal-with personality – which may OR may NOT be seen as a progression of your mom’s earlier personality – it may be helpful to know that this is also a sign of dementia.

My mom became increasingly difficult to reason with during stage 1 and stage 2 BECAUSE she was losing her reasoning, and could feel it happening. Like a small child who can experience a whole gamut of emotions, but not be able to express what is happening to her. Yet.

The result was, she clung fiercely to ideas which were not relevant to her bodily care. She refused help until she fell and broke a rib. She clung to her solitary way of life until caregiving round the clock was thrust upon her.

Your situation as the primary caregiver is different from mine in many ways; my mom has hypoglycemia, but no D-diagnosis.

But if you know that part of the dynamic the two of you are experiencing MIGHT be due to dementia, then that gives at least you a different perspective.

I have to say, when my mom was in early stage 1-early stage 2 dementia, I did NOT recognize this pattern, and would get frustrated trying to argue or reason with her, to no avail. It took the accident to thrust upon her change. By that time, mom was duly in stage 2.

I’d like to think I could have done better for my mom had someone told me why we were bickering. I would have tried something different, perhaps.

Things are actually better now in stage 3. Definitely non-linear, but a happy disposition has returned. She greets each day positively, and can be distracted from feedback loops if need be. Sometimes I become her younger sister or her friend from forty years ago (all whom mom has outlived), but that’s ok. Now it does not bother me, and I get to listen to stories of her past which are still vivid to her.

Almost as if there is a reason for dementia / dimension patients living in their pasts: to repeat oral histories so they will be preserved.

Please know you are not alone. Although your mom is young still. she and you may benefit from seeking out a public caseworker to oversee her care, or hiring a private one to visit the two of you and be part of “mom’s team”.

This is what we did for mom in the months before her fall, so everything else could be implemented for her afterwards. She objected, but we countered with “I need some help taking care of you”.

Best of everything. To you and mom.