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Caregiver Stress

Caregiver stress

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You just received the big promotion you've always dreamed of and, as the youngest and as Mom's presumed favorite, you have taken over the job of her care since she fell. You're struggling with depression and resentment because your brothers and sisters won't step up to help. What do you do?

Caregiver stress can have serious ramifications for the lives of family caregivers. According to a survey conducted for the Home Instead® network, 42% of family caregivers say they spend more than 30 hours a week providing care. That's the equivalent of a second job. This sounds like the situation you are in.

Sometimes siblings have a different view of what constitutes help. Some siblings may not agree with the form of help the primary caregiver thinks is necessary. There may be a disagreement about what the parents need, what they're able to do or the best course of action. Those siblings who won't help are saying, "I won't help on your terms." Or they may think the primary caregiver is offering too much help. These perspectives may also be the result of what's happening in a sibling's life or their relationship with their parents. For example, one sibling may be having problems in their marriage that the family doesn't know about. It's not always as simple as, "My sibling is refusing to help."

You can't do it all, though, and caregiver stress could lead to serious trouble for you and your job. According to the February 2010 MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, employees providing eldercare were more likely to report fair or poor health in general.

Call a meeting with all of your siblings and find out if they are willing to discuss the situation. Why not approach siblings with specific requests for advice, input and assistance? A primary caregiver allocating chores may be unpopular. A group putting their minds to the tasks can come up with better solutions. Have a sense of shared situation and responsibility. And talk to your parents. Make sure that they are not telling your siblings that they don't need help.

Investigate community support options (in-home services, respite care) and use them. Consider hiring paid help if needed. Like all major life transitions, a parent's need for care is challenging, but is a challenge that can be met.

Please download the guide: 50/50 Rule® Brochure (PDF, 950 KB).

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Last revised: December 29, 2010

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Posted by Nadalie

    Sal, I don't know if I can be any help other then to say I understand your situation, and I'm so sorry for your struggle. I am a mom of three, a nine year old, six year old and four year old and we are expecting our fourth in a couple weeks. My grandma who has dementia came to live with us in July of 2013. We gave her our master bedroom and bathroom so she wouldn't get lost wondering the house looking for a bathroom. Plus it was the only bedroom on the main floor. We were told when we brought her into our home we would be financially compensated by the family and we have been. That I cannot complain about. But we were also told we would have one weekend a month without her to be a family unit. In the last year we have only had 5 nights for a camping vacation a month ago to be without her. Other then that we have had to go to outside resources. She has three kids. One has come to relieve us for four hours max at a time maybe four times this last year. Another has come twice this last year for four our each and the third was the one that came for the five nights so we could do a family vacation. No one wants to put her in a home because she detests it and becomes so angry. My husband and I are getting really frustrated. We would keep her here longer if we were receiving more help but that isn't happening. I understand the frustration completely. I finally said with two weeks from my due date that something HAS to change. She is progressing and getting more demanding and I will be having another child to care for. I have come to the conclusion I need to find a more home orientated environment for her to go to or someone that can come here on a very regular basis. But our family can no longer take the stress of this on the way we do. When I look at your situation I know that you did not mention your mom having any mental issues so I can imagine her resistance to going in a home. Maybe hiring someone to do companion care would be the way to go for you? If she has someone checking on her daily and spending time with her taking her to appointments etc. you wouldn't have to worry she isn't receiving the care and when you go to see her you could enjoy your time visiting with her instead. I am really hoping that we can find a facility that will work for my grandma so we can have the freedom to be a family again. Caring for a loved one is so very hard. Especially when you feel you are carrying 95% of the burden. Nadalie


  2. July 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Posted by Sal

    This sounds so nice and easy on paper. I have 4 siblings who all live within a 40 minute drive from my mom who moved next door to me 3 years ago. Mom has severe COPD and emphysema, she is on oxygen 24/7. She never drove it made friends, she did everything with my father till he died 4 years ago. One sibling comes to see mom about once every 2 months to take her to the lung doc and out to eat. She thinks this is sharing the load. In the past I asked for meetings, tried to make schedules, begged, groveled, cried, got angry and got nothing but grief in return. These siblings think because mom lives next to me it's easy for me to care for her. I am getting a but burnt out and gave health issues of my own. There is nothing left to do except do everything myself. Mom also refused any strangers to come help her and she won't go to senior centers. I'm all out of ideas and hope.


    • August 24, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Posted by Nadalie

      Sal, wasn't sure how you receive an update on someone replying to your story so I thought I would let you know I submitted some thoughts to your story. I hope they help. Sometimes just hearing you're not alone or someone understands helps. Nadalie


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