It slowly sneaks up on you. Or maybe it doesn’t! The “how” of someone needing assistance could be many reasons; the fact is… you’re a Caregiver.
The care you are giving is good, be it for your spouse, parent, other relative or even a friend or neighbor. Inasmuch as you are providing help, sometimes Caregivers forget to care for themselves. Over time, being a Caregiver can feel overwhelming. You feel torn. Sometimes, you feel alone (despite anyone being around you). You’re not alone! Here are some stories found on the internet:
Husband caring for wife.
My wife just 60 years old is terminally ill. I am her sole caregiver. I am feeling overwhelmed and guilty at same time. Overwhelmed because from morning to night always tending to her or the house or the dogs. Guilty cause I have no reason feeling sorry for myself when she is battling to live each day.
Adult caring for their mother.
I care for my 88-year-old mother who recently had a heart attack and has high blood pressure and several other medical conditions. Her health is declining and as time goes on, she goes from lying in bed watching TV to sitting on the rocking chair watching TV. I try to get her to go out to social situations but that is becoming more and more difficult. I need more time to myself because my anxiety and stress levels are higher. I find myself getting angry with her when she wants something and interrupts what I am doing. I feel guilty about this and regret it immediately.
Depressed wife caring for husband.
I am sole caregiver for my husband for going on about six years now. My husband has become partially disabled, then a few years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Through all this, my depression is deepening as well as my frustration at having 95% of all duties and responsibilities on my shoulders — which I have been capable of doing throughout all of our marriage (20 years) and having all responsibility on my shoulders.
While ultimately, I know I’m responsible for my own health I really do not know where to turn to get that help. My world revolves around him and his needs, but I can’t take care of my own needs without adding more medication which is not the healthy solution for me.
I am caregiver to my wife. As she has lost her independence (driving, going somewhere by herself, getting food, walking between rooms, etc.), she has become understandably upset. I am the target of much of the blame because I am the one who is in charge of meds, food, doctor appts, helping her walk, etc., and she feels I am making things worse because I am the one stealing her independence. I can see exactly how she feels, and I would probably feel the same. I want her to have her independence, but at the same time can see that without my caregiving she would be helpless and waste away. I accept the charge of “hovering” because I have had to rescue her from falls, etc., and I find it hard to switch gears between rescuing her and letting her do things that could lead to a fall.
Burned Out with Guilt; “Sandwich” Generation
My mom moved in with my family of five and myself seven years ago. I have two siblings who do not help with Mom; they are MIA! She is bipolar, negative, physically disabled, diabetic, thyroid issues, bigger woman, and very much needy. However, to me she is my sweet mom and I love her; but I am tired, grumpy and feel underappreciated. Not only do I do all mom’s caregiving, I also have two children. I am so angry that my siblings think it’s OK to leave it all on me! I am resenting my mom sometimes because I can’t get a break! Whenever I try to get my sister to help with OUR mom there is always an excuse not to help me. When I try to get out of the house, my mom gets angry and treats me horribly. I am the only one here for her 24/7 and I am treated the worst! Then she plays a guilt trip on me! I love my mom so much, but my kids and my life matter, too! I will always be here for her, but I simply need to breathe. I can do this if I had more breaks and more time to be with my kids without being told that I am a horrible person for wanting to go out. I am lost, sad, angry, guilty, but I love my kids and my mom!
Help is available
Sometimes, you may just need someone to talk to and/or to brainstorm ideas as to what may be the best help for you, as a caregiver, and the person for whom you’re caring. There are many resources, including support services for people dealing with chronic health conditions, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Access to information and referral resources, such as meals, adult care, respite, programs, legal and financial services, and more are available by contacting your local Council on Aging /Senior Center, including the Tri-Town area: Mattapoisett 508-758-4110 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Marion 508-748-3570; Rochester 508-763-8723. Also, the local Area Agency on Aging, Coastline Services, provides many programs and direct services. They can be reached at 508-999-6400. The care you are giving to someone is noble; but the care for yourself is just as important. Thank you for caring!
by Jacqueline Coucci, Director,
Mattapoisett Council on Aging