Caregiver Confessions: When No One Will Help
Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there
The burden of caregiving, unfortunately, seems to fall more heavily on some shoulders than others. Being the primary caregiver when nobody seems to help you sets up a "perfect storm" of stress, resentment, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
"With my mother's decline, my brother coped by going into denial, my sister got depressed, and I got busy and frantic trying to fix things," says TV-radio personality Leeza Gibbons, founder of Leeza's Place communities for caregivers. "Everyone copes with aging and disease in different ways."
Recognize that everyone has different coping styles. Sometimes what seems like lack of help is just an alternate way of approaching the problem at hand. Talking openly helps avoid family conflicts.
Ask, ask, ask. Sometimes you need to be the squeaky wheel and let others know what kind of help is needed. Hands-on siblings sometimes know more intimately what needs doing than long-distance ones, for example.
Don't beat your head against a brick wall. If you get no response for months on end, you're only wasting your energy to keep stewing and railing about it. Instead, focus on finding alternate sources of help.
Guard against burnout. Caregivers who don't get help are at risk for not being able to continue being there for their loved one over the long haul. Don't let this happen to you.