Caregiver = Angel

Approximately one year ago I learned what it was really like to be a caregiver and the receiver of care. In December of 2007 I had ankle surgery and was told by the Doctor that I couldn’t put weight on the ankle for six weeks. As a result I was confined to a wheelchair and a walker ( I had a terrible time using crutches) I needed help taking a shower, getting into the bathroom, couldn’t negotiate stairs and generally had a difficult time taking care of myself.

I was home and away from work for over a month. During that period of time my wife had the primary responsibility of taking care of me.  I learned how frustrating it was to be relatively helpless. But more important than that I realized the pressure I put on my wife to take care of me. Every time I needed something I expected her to be immediately available to get it for me. I often found myself calling out her name ( sometimes yelling it) and waiting for her to arrive to fulfill my request. One time when she was in the basement washing clothes I yelled her name for a good twenty minutes. I thought she had left the house and gone somewhere,  I panicked.  I found that I often became irritable and grumpy when it took her more than a few minutes to respond.

Our caregiving experience only lasted about 30 days. I  imagined what it would be like if Mary had needed to take care of me for months and even years. Then I thought of some of my client families with one spouse debilitated by a stroke, Parkinson’s Disease or dementia.  And of course you know who the caregiver is 90% of the time. It is a wife, daughter or daughter in law. How many of us men would have the stamina and patience to take care of a spouse or our parents?

These women are angels. They take better care of their parents and husbands than themselves. But unfortunately this takes a toll. They often have to leave the workplace to take care of a family member. As a result they often lose income, retirement benefits and seniority inside their company. But worse than that they often suffer physically from being a caregiver. Stress and physical exhaustion takes it’s toll, often making them sicker than those they take care of.

We must take care of these angels, our wives, daughters and daughters in law. Because we know that they would take care of us.

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8 thoughts on “Caregiver = Angel

  1. Hello,

    I enjoyed your blog and your writings on the senior issues I work for a company called LifeStation (a senior medical alert provider). We receive tons of testimonials from our customers on a daily basis telling us how the medical alert service helps them regain that peace of mind knowing that their elderly parents can get help when home alone with a simple push of a button. I personally would love to contribute to an article about medical alerts if you feel that it will help your blog readers. There are many companies in this field and there is a lot of fraud going on from some “basement” companies that people should be cautious about. We even wrote an article on how to choose the right company … http://www.lifestation.com/how_choose.php

    Even though we are interested in “publicity” we are glad to give our input without any recognition simply because this is a great product/service that has given millions of caregivers peace of mind.

    • Igor,

      I would appreciate very much your providing me with a post or any info you can on the Lifestation program. This type of alert program is very important for protecting our parents and giving us peace of mind.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. There’s nothing like “walking in another’s shoes” to fully understand what a caregiver/family member goes through.

    I was my mother’s full-time caregiver for over two years while still juggling family responsibilities (mom to 3 daughters and a wife). And along with your praise for the women in your life, I volley back to you that I couldn’t have made it without my husband’s strength, patience, and encouragement. He watched my mom for me, held me when I was crabby and exhausted, and helped out around the house and with the girls (who also helped) in numerous ways.

    Caring for my mom taught all of us how very important family is.

    ~Carol O’Dell
    Author, Motheirng Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
    available on Amazon
    http://www.mothering-mother.com

    • Carol,

      Thank you so much for your comment. You bring up a very good point. It is very important for the family of a caregiver to support her in whatever way they can. They certainly cannot replace the caregiver in her role as primary contact with a parent bu they can do a lot to help her. It is clear that your husband understood the importance of supporting you.

  3. iI HAVE BEEN TAKING CARE OF MY MOTHER FOR GOING ON 15 YEARS NOW AND I HAVE NOT HAD ONE DOLLAR GIVEN TO ME OR ANY PROGRAM MENTIONED TO ME AS TO WHAT I CAN DO TO GET THE SOMETHING EXTRA TO MAKE UP FOR WHAT I HAVE NOT GOTTEN BY NOT BEING ABLE TO LEAVE MY MOM TO GO TO WORK SOMEWHERE AND MAKE THE MONEY NEEDED TO GET BY. IF THERE IS A PROGRAM OUT THERE I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE THE KNOWLEDGE TO GET SOME KIND OF MONEY TO ALEVEATE MY FINANCIAL BURDENS. MOM DOES NOT WANT TO BE IN A NURSING HOME AND SHE IS THE WIDOW OF A WAR VETERAN. WE LIVE IN TENNESSEE AND MOM HAS LIVED IN OUR HOME HERE FOR THE PAST 6 YEARS AND I HAVE TO PROVIDE CONSTANT CARE FOR HER ROUND THE CLOCK. MY HUSBAND IS ALSO IN BAD SHAPE AND I CARE FOR HIM AS WELL. HE TOO WAS IN THE MILITARY AND THEN WENT ON TO BE A DIESEL MACHANIC AND RETIRED AND NOW IN BAD SHAPE TOO . IT HAS BEEN HARD ON BOTH OF US ” MY HUSBAND AND MYSELF” BUT FOR ME TAKING CARE OF THEM BOTH IS TAKING ITS TOLL ON ME. IF YOU CAN HELP OR KNOW OF SOME ORGANIZATION THAT CAN PROVIDE ME WITH SOME KIND OF FUNDS PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND GOD BLESS YOU FOR IT.
    THANKS SO MUCH AND GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS
    CYNTHIA HOLLOWAY
    113 FROST ROAD
    ROGERSVILLE TN. 37857

    • Cynthia,

      If your father was on active duty for at least 90 days during a war, your mother can apply for a Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefit worth approximately $900 per month. You need to contact the Veteran’s Administration office in your area or call the National Care Planning Council (800-989-8137) and they will refer you to someone in your state who can help you. I know your job is a very difficult one and one you never expected would happen. Many women like you find themselves caught in the same role. God bless you. You are truly an angel.

  4. i truly thank you so much for the information on this matter. The call will be made tommorrow and I will let you know what the outcome is because it may help someone else in my same position. I did not know any other way to find out the information I needed and it is truly a blessing. Have a great day and God Bless You .
    Thanks Again
    Cynthia Holloway
    113 Frost Road
    Rogersville, Tn. 37857

  5. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MAY BE IN MY SAME SITUATION WELL I HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS FOR YOU. I DID CONTACT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION AND THEY WILL APROVE ME FOR THE BENIFITS FOR TAKING CARE OF MY MOM IN MY HOME ON A 24/7 BASIS. I DO WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS INFORMATION AS IT WILL HELP A LOT. IT WILL TAKE ME A MONTH TO GET THE BENIFITS BUT AT LEAST I SEE A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. IF EVER I CAN BE OF HELP TO ANYONE PLEASE LET ME KNOW,. E-MAIL ME AT CINDY7752@AOL.COM AND I WILL DO ALL I CAN TO HELP.
    THANKS AGAIN AND GOD BLESS YOU AND OUR TROOPS,.
    CYNTHIA

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