Question: I started taking care of my parents part-time in 2001. In 2005 it became full time and we bought a house together. In 2009 my father passed and my brother, who is partially disabled, moved in. I now work six days a week and take care of my mother, who is house bound, and my brother. I am the youngest of four boys and I get no help from my other brothers. I get so tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and depressed at times and then feel guilty afterwards. Is this normal? I have no one to talk to. Are there online support groups? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Dr. Amy: What an incredible service you are providing to your family. You truly are one of our unsung heroes. You are carrying a lot on your shoulders, so it’s no wonder you feel tired and overwhelmed from time to time.
You need some help. If you can’t get it from your brothers, can you afford home care a few days a week? Are there any services in your community that can help out with some of your caregiving tasks? I recommend that you talk to someone in your community—call a caregiving organization like Home Instead Senior Care to explore all of the possibilities. If you are a member of a faith community, speak with the leader to ask about what services are available. People like this have a good view to all the services in your area.
In terms of online support, the Caregiver Alliance offers a few support groups. You can read more at: http://lists.caregiver.org/mailman/listinfo/caregiver-online_lists.caregiver.org. Many support groups are organized by disease. If your mother is house bound because she has a heart condition, for example, check out the Heart ad Stroke Foundation web site.
Finally, are you sure your brothers are unwilling to help? Often, family members assume the primary caregiver has everything under control. It’s amazing, I know, but true. Perhaps you can write a family email . Outline all the tasks that need doing and then ask your brothers if they would be willing to help in any way. Good luck!
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