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Sharing is Caring:

The Unique Caregiver

 

I receive emails from family caregivers every day. I have read so many emails, comments and Facebook posts, and listened to so many voicemails that I now know how the story is going to go before I ever get to the end.

Usually it ends with a burned-out caregiver. Somewhere in the middle is family strife and financial troubles along with isolation. Occasionally there is hoarding, abuse, or stubbornness. Frequently, the caregiver has medical issues of their own.

I bet you could pick out your story somewhere in there. I can see my own story in there somewhere. Most caregivers can.

I got into this rut of lumping caregivers into one big umbrella until a friend of mine reminded me that even though all leopards have spots, they all have different spots.

It was a reminder to step back and turn off my autopilot, to stop pretending I was The Great Carnac.

We may have similar stories as caregivers, but our story is always our own. No one has the same memories, the same sorrows, the same frustrations or challenges. No one has your history, or your relationships. No one has your same story. They may be similar, but they are not the same.

The uniqueness of our stories is powerful and should be celebrated, but it should never make us feel alone.

No caregiver should ever feel alone or misunderstood. But to make that possible, we have to share our stories and celebrate.

We should all celebrate our unique journey. We should celebrate the fact that we have been chosen (or some of us drafted) to be a caregiver for someone we love. We should celebrate each time we make it through another day, cross something off our growing to-do list, finally get Mom to bathe without an incident, or just make it through a cup of coffee without interruption.

We should tell the world about our achievements, no matter how small we think they are. We should share our stories so we can empower other caregivers and breakdown the isolating walls that come with this title.

We should celebrate our unique spots, but continue to find comfort in our herd of other caregivers.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 26, 2013 at 8:31 am | Posted by Scott S.

    Hello. Good to find a site such as this. My wife and I have been married for 13 years. For about the last 5 years, she has suffered from various crippling and pain-causing ailments, which keep her in bed most of the time. Thus all the income-earning and work around the house falls to me. She is utterly dependent on me and has few other people to turn to. I feel as if I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Recently some online friends have scheduled a weekend get-together in a city a few hours away and I desperately want to join them, just to get a break. I have to tell my wife soon about this, but I don't want her to be upset that I want to take a couple days for myself. I do everything I can for her but I am feeling just about at the end of my (sanity) rope. Just wanted to get other folks' thoughts on this. It shouldn't be this stressful to talk to my wife about this, but unfortunately it is. Thanks!!

    Reply

    • September 3, 2013 at 9:08 am | Posted by Cat Koehler

      Scott - I am sure your wife understands your need to interact with friends and have a break. Every caregiver deserves a break. Line up some help, and let your wife know that you love her very much, and that is why you are taking a break. You need to take care of yourself so you can be the best caregiver to her. I think she'll be surprised at what a weekend getaway will do for the both of you! Cat Koehler

      Reply

  2. August 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Posted by paulette savage

    How do you explain something when they dont understand.

    Reply

    • August 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Posted by Cat Koehler

      You don't always have to - especially if it isn't vital. Live in their world. If its medication, or living arrangements, perhaps you just say, "this is what the doctor recommended."

      Reply

  3. August 14, 2013 at 10:21 am | Posted by Paulette Savage

    Thankyou I am looking forward to reading more of experiences and suggestions

    Reply

  4. August 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Posted by Paulette Savage

    Need some support

    Reply

    • August 13, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Posted by Cat Koehler

      You aren't alone, Paulette. Every caregiver no matter how long they've been providing care, no matter how "good" of a situation they have, needs support. I encourage you to look for local groups at either an association for your loved one's illness or your church. I'd also like to offer you to join us at our Facebook page where caregivers share their stories and experiences as well as offer tips and support. You can find it at www.facebook.com/caregiverstressrelief.com. Take Care, Cat Koehler

      Reply

  5. August 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Posted by Patsy Cook

    Sometime the value is lost in the efforts of long term care. This is especially true after giving care to someone with a long lingering illness. The wear and tear of providing care can be so overwhelming that the loved one becomes burden that dominates everyone's lives. I loved my husband but the care became so dominate that I had no time to stop and think about how much I loved him. No one told me this was normal, so I developed a great deal of guilt over my lack of feelings for him. When he died I did not feel anything. Finally I discovered that grief following a long term illness can be delayed. Its not you don't love them its you are exhausted. I had no more emotions to give. It took me a long time to realize what he really meant to me. Thought this might help someone along the journey of caregiving. Wished I would have had it in the beginning.

    Reply

    • August 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Posted by Cat Koehler

      Thank you for sharing your story, Patsy! It will help other caregivers and I believe serves as a reminder that every caregiver needs help. Finding someone who can come and help with tasks of caregiving allows you to focus on your relationship. It sounds as though you were a marvelous wife and caregiver - kudos to you! Cat Koehler

      Reply

    • August 16, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Posted by Jill

      Thank you Patsy. I am finding this to be true for me too at the moment. Dad is in ICU for almost 2 months and will soon be gone but Mom has dementia so I am juggling both. I am grieving for dad but I have fewer and fewer feelings for mom since she is feeling like a weight around my neck and is stubborn and often unreasonable. It feels terrible to have this feeling toward her but I have no friends here and no life of my own.

      Reply

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