You're there for them. We're here for you.
Maybe you chose the role of family caregiver. Or maybe it chose you. Maybe you found yourself here overnight, courtesy of a heart attack, a hip broken in a fall, a cancer diagnosis. Or maybe this new role shuffled into your life on aging feet, as dementia slowly stole your husband's ability to pay the bills or poor vision made it harder for your mom to live alone.
More than 40 million other family caregivers have faced similar "oh, no" moments and are feeling their way, day by day, just like you.
So many questions and decisions: When to back off and when to butt in? How to pay? What should I know about talking to doctors, drawing up legal papers, resolving family conflicts, touring care facilities, turning to hospice, planning a funeral?
So many demons: stress, guilt, resentment, anger, fatigue, worry, fear. Exasperation can reach near-comic levels, like when your frail and failing mom, after listening to all your carefully researched ideas to get her some help, tells you, "I'll be sure to do that, dear -- [long pause] -- just as soon as hell freezes over."
Caring -- for all it asks of you, for all its drama -- rarely rewards you with a classic happy ending. Yet the plot can be full of grace notes: an agreement to disagree after a lifetime of bickering. A grateful smile after a sponge bath. Childhood stories you never heard before. A bedside family reunion.
We hope you find some relief in knowing you're not the only one at this difficult crossroads. Helpers need help. We need our hands held (in the form of checklists and specific advice and a simple calculator that finally explains what Medicare covers). We need shoulders to lean on (whether they belong to local experts or to distant kindred spirits). We need hugs (real and virtual). A pat on the back from a sibling or the person you're caring for wouldn't hurt, either, but we know you may not be holding your breath for that one.
Support, from near and far, makes caring possible. We need one another -- sharing the lessons each of us has learned along the way, the insights we've gathered, our collective wisdom.