help navigating conversations about money & projects

k2oly Member Posts: 13
edited May 2018 in Caregivers #1

in a nutshell... i'm the caregiver for my BFF, who is terminal and pretty far gone cognitively. we live on neighboring houses on the same property. that is, we share expenses related to the property. she has no family, so i'm "it" for her. if things were different, i'd have walked away by now because this whole carer thing is driving me batty.

she keeps thinking of new projects that "need" to be done "immediately" (that few clear-thinking people would consider to be urgent). they tend to be expensive to undertake, and she reinvents the wheel so as it gets started i can see how expensive it'll be for me to undo when she's gone. i *wish* i could just let her do her thing without getting involved. but i'm poor and am getting a bit freaked out by the thought of spending lots of money to fix problems that she creates. there are already lots of projects she started & never finished (typical, i know) that are already a waste of the money & effort because they're falling apart already. living in a place where there are so many expensive, unfinished, strange projects around that *i* will be stuck dealing with... ugh!

any advice on how to broach the subject with her? or, rather, what to say when she broaches the subject with me? i don't bring this up. i've been screamed at too many times for that in the past. but she keeps trying to ask me about things and i want to get out of that conversation! my real goal is to get her to stop creating new or working on existing projects. PERIOD. just STOP. but that's not possible.

sometimes it helps for me to shift her focus to a different project that is urgent & that we already made decisions about or started or need to hire experts to do. but it's getting to the point where that no longer works. partly because she decides to rethink everything and her mental processing is sooooo different than mine. she thinks she's reasoning her way through a brilliant idea but someone thinking clearly sees it different. if i try to shift focus to something that i think is innocuous, i end up being proven wrong. her brain will somehow find it's way to re-inventing the wheel and spending a fortune to do so. (by the way, all the while, she talks about how poor she is.)

i almost always put the blame on myself as a way of avoiding an attack by her. i want to give NO ammunition to someone who thinks i'm saying she is/has a problem. for example, i often say "i'm getting overwhelmed by the thought of starting another new project when we have so many unfinished projects going". that worked with 2 VERY expensive-to-redo-later projects this spring. but it's not working now. another example is that i usually say things like "well, *I* can't afford to chip in for this project, so if you have $400 burning a hole in your pocket that you want to spend on this..." but that's not working now either. i recently reminded her that for years we've kept a list of projects we want to do and costs associated with the projects. we've ranked/prioritized these projects. i recently asked if she has the spare $$ for projects around the property, can we please add her newly conceived project to that list because i get less overwhelmed and less confused when i see all project ideas at once. that way, i can rest assured that the $$ in hand at the moment is being spent on the projects that are most urgent / highest priorities. this created a new problem: revisiting old discussions about every single project. -sigh- of course, her view of what's urgent is different than mine.

i used to be able to ask questions to lead her to come to the same conclusion as me. "can we do just this one part of the project now & leave the rest for later" or "how urgent is this" or etc. but now any question i ask about anything tends to be met with hostility.

i just want this to stop. i spend so much time thinking "i can't take this anymore" but there is no option. -sigh- i just want this to end. i feel like i'm living in the Land of Burnout all the time now. i have an awesome support network yet i'm still burned out. i don't know what i'd do if i didn't have my own support network.

i hate cancer. just sayin'.


  • JerzyGrrl
    JerzyGrrl Member Posts: 760 Member
    Urgency and mental processing that's sooo different...

    Wow. I'm totally with you on the urgency thing. Been there. Done that. Wanted to run out of the house, screaming (Wait. Actually, I did walk out of the house, got in the car, drove a block away, screamed, then came back... at least once or twice).

    The list thing sounds really good, even if it means revisiting the previous not-very-productive "discussions." Sorry. Active listening that's not quite so affirming might help ("Hmmm," "Oh," with ambiguous gestures and non-committal head-nodding), including restating what she's said. Also, being ridiculously meticulous in taking notes about projects she's insisting on doing will drag things out, including asking scads of questions regarding the how, what, where, and who of getting the new-and-improved projects going. As to the "why" or the co$t? Don't. Go. There. Just keep writing stuff down.  Oh, and having to run to the other room (or your house) to get the notebook is a plus, too.

    Speaking of which, "having" to run to the bathroom was helpful for me, but of course you can only use that so often. LOCK the door, though.

    I also had times when "the pod people got him/her" thinking (a la "Invasion of the Body Snatchers") got me through difficult situations. Plus, you can become a scientist, watching things play out on your very own CCTV holographic monitor. It certainly can't hurt. After all, you can only try to explain how gravity works, that you're "listening" (i.e. stalling and/or trying to figure out what the heck they're saying), or why a 200 foot extension cord snaking all over the house isn't the best idea, etc [Note: We ended up with an extension cord that was at least 100 feet long, provided by another family member. Not my idea, but it ended that tirade, even if we all kept getting tangled in it.] 

    The good (?) news is, this will pass. One day, you'll have to concentrate really hard to remember what it felt like to be burned out. 

    Hang in there, keep us posted (and thank God, the Universe, or whomever / whatever for your support system) --

  • Catholic
    Catholic Member Posts: 86
    Burn out happens.  But you

    Burn out happens.  But you will go absolutely nuts if you don't get the burn out under control (and you
    sound like your starting to lose your patience)!

    Trust me when I say this, my wife would win an award for all the stuff she put me through.  I can write out a similar
    sad story.  My main point is, I totally stopped getting angry, I ate extremely healthy food, I get a good nights sleep
    and I got a membership at a local gym which I visit 4-5 times a week.  That helped me deal with daily hostility; I was able to
    deflect all of her anger.  I also just talk to friends and family which helped tremendously.  You have to find a goal(s) outside
    and away from caregiving that you can work on and keep talking with friends and family regularly. 

    I viewed taking care of my wife as running a marathan and I train for it every day.  If I eat healthy and exercise often
    and sleep, she can yell, call the police on me, come up with a new expensive and time-consuming project Im supposed
    to work on, and it doesnt bother me.  I let it roll.  And I havent gotten angry for years. You have to find something/anything
    outside of caregiving to work on.


  • k2oly
    k2oly Member Posts: 13
    lists & notes - great ideas, Catholic!

    thanks, Catholic. you're spot-on with so many things. you "get" this situation i'm in. including burnout. :-}

    i had to laugh about you distancing yourself a bit by thinking of this as watching your own "the pod people got her" series. i'm very much a cat person (i'm a pro cat sitter and also do fostering and adopt only cats with special needs) and just yesterday i told someone that my doctor once asked if it would help me to have more compassion if i thought of my BFF as a cat instead of as a human primate. (yeah, my primary care MD doctor who is holistic.) IT DOES work for me! if a cat lashes out at me, i'm very understanding and patient because it's nothing personal - it's all in his head. if a cat does something i don't understand, i don't get mad at the kitty. so i do sometimes shift my viewpoint. i definitely have lots of moments of wonder about how remarkable the human brain is. i mean, if 2 people can stand together looking at the same thing, how can we come up with such vastly different views of reality?! truly amazing, that brain.

    you're right about avoiding questions about the cost or the "why" of certain projects. those are crazy-making & just make me want to scream. but asking scads of questions (in ways she might not take offense) might be a good way to go. i try to redirect attention, as is recommended for those talking with people who have dementia. sometimes that works well. but sometimes it backfires. i guess that's part of the "fun" of this situation is that what works in one instant, might not work in the next.

    i know what you mean about this being a marathon, not a sprint. i expected a sprint based on the original prognosis of just a few months - about 18 months ago. i feel guilty for saying this, but after months of thinking "we're near the end now, just hang in there a few more weeks", i'm "worried" that we're not just a few weeks from the end. i know others have expressed this sorta feeling before and the awful push and pull of wanting it to end and feeling bad about the only possible way it'll end (with our loved one's death).