The Caregiver Struggle


In the pursuit to do the sensible thing, I have bitten off a lot more than I expected.

In the journey to assist my aging parents, I quickly realized that I am no longer the assistant but the sole caregiver of their every simple to important needs.

Before my parents accepted my offer to move closer to me, I assumed they were managing their finances, health, medical and day-to-day life fine. I assumed they may need occasional ‘let me help you’ services from me. However, the reality of life is, when you are around people daily, you start to see everything clearly. They needed much more.

ASSISTANT TO CAREGIVER

I am concerned

It did not take me too long to see that my ‘independent’ parents were not really efficiently independent and they need more than meets the eye – expired medications, neglected bills, mental cloudiness, nutritional and medical concerns.

History: When my parents finally made the decision to move from their residence and state in which they lived for over 20 years, siblings questioned whether that was the right thing.

To be honest, they had good reasons to be concerned; however, the siblings did not see the tiny cracks that I had noticed. Even though it has been a few weeks since their crazy and stressful transition (many people are not aware of the behind the scenes running around and phone calls I had to do over a four month period), those micro-cracks are showing gaping craters.

In short, my parents need more help and monitoring than what they were getting or doing. However, people tend to hide their deficits so well which convince others that things are ‘alright’ or ‘going somewhat smoothly.’

Frankly, I do not think my parents recognize that things are really not ‘alright.’ In the last month, I have been running two households and mine is slowly falling into neglect.

SELF-NEGLECT

I am not shy to talk about my additional stress coming from the new caregiver role. While I don’t announce it to the world (except here on my blog ๐Ÿ™‚ , I share with friends and family.

I have no intentions to pretend that everything is great and under control because that is stupid and damaging.

While 1-2 people offer to help, I am appreciative but realistic in knowing that some things have to be done by me. However, I am open to invitations to social activities which help as an escape.

I was given compliments for becoming my parents’ caregiver which I am very reticent to accept. I grew up in a family and at the time, a culture that took care of their elderly (there were no old folks homes – it’s either family care or neglect). My mother and aunt cared for my grandparents until their death. I saw this an expectation since I was a child.

Someone pointed out that I was the youngest of all the siblings. In my simple mind, youngest, middle or oldest birth order does not matter in the care of your parents.

Does anyone ever compliment a parent for taking care of a special needs adult child/ren or a wo/man caring for a disabled spouse? Then how is it such a novelty to care for your aging parents? After all, if you had a decent relationship with your parents, then is it such a stretch to believe that you are obligated for their care?

As they become first priority during this long transition, I become last.
*I joked that I leave my first job to go to my second job.
*I have left clothes in my dryer for a week because the only energy left is to go to bed.
*I have loss a little body fat (which I have been trying to lose- a negative that is a positive)
*My regular routines are very irregular
*I was ordering lunch and dinner because I did not have time to cook
*My weekly exercise routine had gaping holds in the schedule
*I felt tired all the time
*I was not keeping up with regular friends because I got home too late to talk. I was neglecting my friendships but they understood when explained the situation.
*I had put off weekend excursions because things needed to get done for them
*I wasn’t going on dates anymore (oh wait! that’s normal ๐Ÿ™‚ )

LEARNING AS I GO

1. After making phone calls to the same places 3-4x, I am learning the lingo and the questions to ask in order to get them their care

2. I am systematically dropping the burden of things and people who serve no purpose to me.

3. The importance to maintain connections with the friends and family who provide emotional support.

4. Avoid becoming too absorbed into my stuff and shutting out others who also need my support. Making sure my conversations are not all about me. “So tell me what’s going with…”

5. Setting boundaries with my parents and taking time off for me.

6. Finding efficient professional help who will take over day to day things such as monitoring their meds, home care, and escorting them to drs’ appointments.

7. Prayer often and praise & worship music. Some mornings as I get ready for work, my brain is so busy that I need music to calm the overactive planning and worrying beast.

8. Continue to do. Sure some plans may have to change but not deleted just delayed.

9. Don’t lose my sense of self and humour.

For you caregivers, any words of wisdom or resources?

11 thoughts on “The Caregiver Struggle

  1. It’s a tough job to take on. U r humble and very caring to do this. Dont 4get about urself. U must make time to take care of U. As the leader now u must stay strong. People r relying on u now. Make a timetable for ur fridge with days and approximate times to do things. Eventually u will know what happens on Thursdays and which day of the month to pick up meds…etc. And try to be prepared for changes that could happen suddenly. Get siblings involved so u can have respite. Love urself and keep smiling sister๐Ÿ’œ๐ŸŒป

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you SpiritedSoul ๐ŸŒบ
      Getting a set schedule going is a work in progress.
      I am learning to take steps back and trying to do some me time as well. However, most often, I do notice that I am still not quite getting it right because I am using that time to catch up on my parents.
      The necessary things in life is not always the easiest.

      Like

  2. My head aches just trying to wrap it around all of this. I see it coming in my own family, and I am unprepared. Your life now sounds like the Sims I struggle to maintain. Work on top of relationships on top of caring for family, to meet expectations/goals and satisfy some ruling system of progress/economy. You are becoming a tool in a box that merely sustains your parents until they pass. And, when the bomb finally drops, you’re left with the fallout, trying to figure out how to live your previous life, again, wondering why your hair is dusty or just aged gray.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For the record, I love my grey hairs ๐Ÿ˜.
      Prepared or not, itโ€™s happening and I have to learn to take it one step at a time. Like Nike, you just do it. The stress increase is still there but coming down as things are getting settled ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ .
      I am relying on friends to help me balance emotionally but itโ€™s not easy being the sole dependent.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you can rock gray or silvery white hair like Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren, rock on. They just got better with age.

        Well, without those friends, I’m up a creek.

        You are the only child?…or I may have forgotten you writing about siblings who just didn’t want any part of this. [I am responding without checking all that right now.]

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I am the youngest but I made the decision to take over. However, no one else was offering and they are still not offering to assist.

          A friend of mine said I need to speak up and ask instead of waiting for them to do something.

          I think I look great with my grays ๐Ÿ˜. It is less fuss worrying about roots showing and colouring every month.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ya might want to see if you can’t get the sibs to pitch in before it’s too late; at least, confirm they are useless or not. You may have to kick…er, knock a few doors down.

            Your friend just said what I did. What a coinkeedink.

            I can’t imagine coloring every month, either. If you feel good about the gray, great. Be the silver fox.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. You CAN’T do it by yourself, and you don’t even have a family to take care of also.

    That is a big part of why Connie pulled the trigger October 22, 1997, because she was trying to be her mother’s solo-caregiver, a mother and a wife, and she wasn’t doing a very good job of anything, let alone everything, and she knew it. She couldn’t even “cuddle” with me at night without mentioning MOM. She couldn’t “disengage” from her mother because there wasn’t anyone else to care for her.

    At least I had the good-sense to keep from being railroaded into moving in with her mother. Imagine seven people, three adults and four children, in a small, two-bedroom house, with only one bathroom. NOT!!!

    I don’t know what to tell you, but you need to be careful before there is no “YOU” left.

    Blessings!

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The drained feeling is definitely telling me that I do need help. Once you start down the caregiver road, itโ€™s hard to pull back because you see all the things to fix.

      I have given myself a deadline to get my parents sorted and to return to some personal structure and self-care.
      Thanks Steve

      Like

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