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."

Watch Leeza's advice for coping with a lack of family help.

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More tips:

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.

Tap into local resources. There may be more help available for meals, transportation, companionship, or respite care than you think.

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.

See also:

When You're Feeling Guilt

When You Don't Feel Appreciated

When You're Sleeping Poorly

When You're in Over Your Head

When You Lose Your Temper

Family Is Being Torn Apart

When You're Just Not Eating Right

When You Rarely See Friends

When You Resent Being a Caregiver

When No One Will Help

Feeling Anticipatory Grief

After Caregiving Ends

about 1 year ago, said...

I have been caring for my mother, step-father(alzeimers), his sister(95) and now my sister (cerebral palsey) for 6 years now. My stepfather and his sister have passed away recently. I have an older brother and a younger sister who have done nothing at all in that time. My biggest resentment is that it seems ok with my mother that I do everything. In her will finances will be split evenly. Am I wrong?

about 2 years ago, said...

Good advice only if we caregivers follow it. That's what is hard. I care for my 28yo son with cerebral palsy who needs transfers for everything, help bathing, dressing, but other than that is pretty easy. Now my 86yo father just came home from a rehab facility and needs 24/7 care. My 90yo mom is now in the rehab facility after falling while visiting my dad. We all live together which is good. Dealing with an independent son-of-gun father will be okay as long as he asks for help or I am with him all the time. If/when my mom comes home, I envision living in their bedroom so I can be available when they need help. My brother lives 150 miles away and thinks I can't handle all this. Of course, now he has a job in LA...500 miles away. He rarely visits but voices his opinion of how he thinks I am doing......which isn't positive. I am thoroughly and experience. He wants to hire someone else to come in. I will.....when when I want to get out of town.....for grandbaby's birth, etc. But where is he today.???? Hawaii with his wife and first grandbaby. So....yes, we caregivers do take on most of the responsibility. Thank goodness someone comes up to the plate and feels the responsibility to care for these loved ones.....instead of putting them in homes or hiring strangers to care for them. My brother keeps talking about dignity of life for them. Yes, they have dignity and their own home, which is far more dignity than in a rehab or rest home...or even assisted living facility where he wants to put them.

over 3 years ago, said...

O.k. That's nice. A famous person puts their pretty face on the screen and everyone pays attention. Still missing it and havn't got a clue. Taking care of a cancer fighting wife who has been thru hell and is still going through hell (7 years) and I am the sole person she depends on and I am the only person who can take care of everything, is a whole other hell. This is where is hell began after suffering the cancer blow. While going through all this. My employer brought his sons in so they could run the company. The one son was a textbook, abusive, narsacistic, manic, bipolar, bully, android. I was averging 4 hours of sleep, eating one meal a day, being forced to make up hours that I was working 14-16 hour days and the owner/father was allowing it. Of course, my job is being threatened at the same time and all I can think about is I need my health insurance for my wife. I hit my first brick wall from it. In turn, they found a benighn brain tumor. You have got to be kidding me?!?!? So surgery and back to limited work under doctors orders. Nope, not to narsacist boy. He was pushing the long hours, trying to have me work beyand doctors orders and threatening my job. The stress put me in the hospital. Was put on medecine. Though I hate meds, I had no choice. My doctor stoped taking notes on me and started shaking his head is disbeleif as he said. You are under way too much stress. Yep, all while taking care of my wife, So while recovering from my surgery, my pay got cut in half and demoted so the brother/son could have my job. Shortly after that, the narsacist son ran the company into the ground and daddy fired him. The second son, he cut my pay again! Why? because daddy let son run company into the ground and now I have to pay for it. Funny, son who got my possition is making 20-30G's more than I was. Hmmmmm?! Doesn't matter how long I've been with the company. Doesn't matter I saved them nearly $300,000/yr. And through all this, I was constantly having my job threatened and concerned about loosing my health insurance for my wife. Then employer changed my health insurance 60 days prior to notification me. (By law they are supposed to notify me 60 days prior to change) Not a dang thing I can do about it being in a fire at will state and needing health insurance. It was changed to a high deductable that is 2X what I used to pay as well as many things my wife used and needed, not covered any more. More out of pocket. All while in the middle of my wifes reoccurance. Funny thing. The owners and their family got to keep their full insurances. Oh yah. They also let people go and started cutting hours. Have you figured out why yet? You betcha. The son they allowed to run a muck is making the employees pay for it. Nepotism (Legalised descrimination at its best) Ate through our savings so quickly for all the over priced special needs, foods, services. We lost our home, sold off much of our belongings, everything I worked hard for, gone just that fast. It was like it happened overnight. No. I don't think I have recovered from it or from anything. Now for the your friends and help. Ask for help. People want to be compinsated. Your friends, hit the high road. Your so called christian friends,.....if you need anything. Well? You sure notice and comment how I look so spent, how I've lost so much weight, my yard looks over grown. Really?! Serious!? Are you offering to help? So what's your point? After all the people I and my wife have helped. A kick in the nuts. The few people who hardly have anything, have done the most in helping us. Not the quantity. It's the quality. Others who do have plenty, well, wouldn't wanna cramp your style. No, I don't think people know what care givers go through or deal with. The hell of situations and circumstances that affect you mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, psycologicly are hell. From my employment hell and cancer hell. It has been devistating. Myself. A cancer care giver. I have come to the conclusion. All I have is my faith. Otherwise. I don't count, I don't matter, who cares? As my wife reminds me. I am not fighting for my life. I'm not going through chemo and I haven't gone though nowares anything like she has. So no. I don't count and I don't matter. God is my only strength and help. Find time for myself? From when I work a full day at work, I will spend anywheres from an hour to 3 hours running aorund for special needs and gotta haves that when I get home, I have to start dinner. I have to focus on special meals for her and her cancer diet that I don't have time to make anything for me. I'm sorry, I'm so tired and I'm not hungry. When I do manage to find time for myself. I'm so drained and hungover that I can't bring myself to do anything. I used to be a weight lifter and enjoyed weight lifting to detress. Nope. And getting to bed at a decent hour is near impossible. The needs and attention keep me up till 11:30 midnight. I get up at 5:30am for work. I wake up hungover like I've been out drinking all night, sick to my stomache. And I don't drink, smoke, chew or anything. Never have, never will. That's why I got into weight lifting and P90X. Exercising was my drug. Weekends. No drive, no intrest in anything. Not even hungry. Every day. Num, sick, hungover, can't think straight, not hungry, no energy. No, I am no longer the same person. Sorry Miss Lizza Gibbons. You haven't got a clue.

about 4 years ago, said...

My brother and I are the main caregivers for my 100 yr old mother who has severs dementia. He lives nearby; I am 200 miles away. He has a job with very irregular hours; I have a husband with Alzheimer's. We have a sister who could care less, we never hear from her. And a sister who lives 400 miles from my mother. I asked her for help; she says she will. But when it is time for her to "step up to the plate" she has health issues or a vacation planned or some reason why it is bad timing. I have found outside help for a few hours a day...not an agency because my mother will not let them help her. Recently I had my mother at my house for 6 days to give my brother relief. It was very hard on my husband and not all that easy for me, either. My sister is supposed to have my mother at her house for a week or two in a couple of months....however, she said if it was difficult for me having her, she might decide not to have her there. Her husband does not have dementia, by the way. Should I tell her how difficult my Mom's visit was? Or let her do some caregiving for a change and see how difficult it can be with just one person to care for?

almost 5 years ago, said...

I'm caring for my husband since 2005, on life support, vented, needing 24/7 care, & we can only rely on our children & 1 of my sister for help, my husbands family , who he did everything for, completely abandoned him, friends, who he helped & supported over & over again, never call. I have resigned to the fact that they won't change , but what triggers my anger, is the once a year Christmas card, stating how much they love him, & he's always in their prayers! My blood pressure boils, I read it to him, but, want to bite my tongue each word, what I really want to do is, send it back to sender! Any advice?

almost 5 years ago, said...

It's nice to know even someone like Leeza Gibbons with her money, still has problems with care giving like I do.

almost 5 years ago, said...

4:30 Am Dec. 15,2011 My mother passed away a year ago today and I got this e-mail today. If I could say any thing, ever thing you said happend to me, no help! There are 4 of us,and I did the 24/7 It was so hard.I wish I had got this e-mail 2 years ago. I cryed at night (after I put her in bed)when she was at her angry time.I prayed In the hallway at nap time.All things are possible with Jesus Christ.

almost 5 years ago, said...

It is like you took notes on what went on at my house taking care of my mother. She had emphysema and the worse it got the further away the family got. No one would help. Her house had run down after my brother lived there until he was 35 and refused to do anything to keep it up. I was trying to take care of her, fix her house and research to try and find a way of surviving this disease her doctors said was terminal. I ended up finding information from other doctors both from research and books they had written regarding treatment for other diseases which I applied to emphysema. The good news was that after 5 years of taking care of my mother and 17 months after applying these protocols she had gone from end stage emphysema to a complete recovery. More than 2000 people have now followed my protocols and survived emphysema. Visit my web site for additional information:

almost 5 years ago, said...

My sister was the primary caregiver for our mother for about the last 10 years of her life. Mama died at 92. My sister, one of 5 siblings, was retired. I, being the youngest, was still working. I tried as often as I could to help. They lived 300 miles away. I would try to assist my sister by coming over as often as I could to help give her a break. A couple of the children did nothing. I always felt so bad for my sister because that is a difficult job and very stressful. It may sound horrible but, I was relieved (for my sister) when our Mom passed. I felt they she would finally get the rest she deserved. My sister was a wonderful caregiver. My Mom even slept in the same bed because my sis wanted to be aware if there were any problems. She took her everywhere, out to eat, to events, to see relatives, etc. I love her so much for her devotion and kindness (even when she could hardly bear anymore) she kept going. I am a widow with only one child who I had at 40. When I am old enough to need a caregiver, I don't want it to be my daughter. I feel she will still be very young and that isn't what I want for her. I admire those who do this, I just don't want to be on the "flipside" of the equation. Bless Jackie. She certainly will have a place in heaven. What a sweetheart she is.

almost 5 years ago, said...

So many people ask, beg, plead, offer favors for help, if we had a TV show that relied on us making it to work we would get help too. It doesn't matter how beaten down you are, most everybody just wants you to cry for them. You give up feeling sorry for yourself after the first decade, you come to resent those that cry for help because to cry is just a weak way of asking for help when all else fails. You ask the Government for the assistance you became eligible for 30 years ago and get treated like $#!t.

almost 5 years ago, said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, and sharing about your experiences. We appreciate your feedback, and encourage you to visit the Ask & Answer area of our website if you have additional questions that you'd like answered by members of the community, including experts. @raleighlynn Very sorry to hear about the situation with your daughter and grandchildren. If you think the children are in danger, please do follow up with the authorities in your daughter's community, such as Child Protective Services. Here is some information about what you can do to help, including making an anonymous report and/or calling their hotline for additional guidance: You might also consider talking to some family counselors in their area, via the county (which may have free and low-cost mental health services), and/or a social worker or child psychologist at your grandchildren's school who may be able to help make an assessment on the risk of danger to them currently. We hope these suggestions are helpful to you and your family.

almost 5 years ago, said...

My situation is different. I have a mentally ill daughter who has two small children. My daughter also has an anger management problem. I have tried to rescue her so many times, giving her a place to live, helping raise her children, but the moment I can't do something she spins out of control. I am afraid for her children. Right now I am broke and emotionally bankrupt, and have no idea what else to do. She does not live with me now, but instead lives with an abusive boyfriend in a run down shack. The babies are with her. She can be violent but I have not seen any evidence of physical violence on her children. My daughter has burned all her bridges, and I am frightened for her and her children.