Question: My husband has had a terrible disease for 10 years. I have been his sole caretaker all this time. We have six children and they have to work. I can't get any help. I guess my question is where can I get help? Everywhere I have tried I get turned down. My health is so bad now I can hardly look after myself!
Dr. Amy: I am sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time. Ten years is a long time to be the only caregiver to someone who is really ill. If you have already called your local Department of Social Services (DSS) and have been turned down, I think it might be a good idea for your family to hire a geriatric care manager to help you find the right help. If cost is a barrier, perhaps your children can share in the cost of a consultation. A geriatric care manager will be able to assess your situation and arrange for help. They have an excellent understanding of where all the resources are in or near your community. They are also very creative and can figure out ways to make things work. They can also lead a family meeting to talk about your situation. You can't do everything yourself.
Things to explore are: disability programs, other government assistance, community services like Meals on Wheels, support that might be available through the church or other faith organizations. At the same time, organizations that have to do with specific disease states (Cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and so on) may also be a good source of information and assistance.
I encourage you not to give up. With your failing health, you clearly need some outside help. Good luck!
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