How do I keep my spirits high when caregiving in a challenging situation?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Beth1968 asked...

How do I do this? My mom has to have major brain surgery, but it's not clear that it will help; all we know is that she'll get drastically worse if she doesn't have it. I'm at her house 24/7 while my husband and 8 year old daughter are at home. I'm giving up everything I do--directing a choir at church, and also shutting down the non-profit organization I've led for the past several years. With all I can do for my parents, it's simply not enough. I have two sisters--one has a sick husband and the other lives 600 miles away. I'm drowning in tears as I type. Can anybody encourage me?

Expert Answers

You're in a very tough situation, and I hope I can offer some encouragement. There is no question that caregiving is challenging, and it sounds like your situation is made worse by the uncertainty of your mother's condition. It must also be frustrating to be working so hard and making such tremendous sacrifices, and to still feel that you aren't doing enough.

It sounds as if you may need more support. Is it possible for you to get some part time help from a home health worker? If money is an issue, check with your Area Agency on Aging to find out if you qualify for respite care resources. Can your sister who lives out of town come for a weekend -- or longer -- now and then to give you a break? Do your parents have friends or neighbors who could spell you from time to time, or drop by meals or groceries? It's hard to ask for help, but remember that people are often pleased to be asked and happy to help in small ways that will make a big difference to you.

You sound as if you're at high risk for caregiver burn out, so I hope you'll take steps to get some help. It's wonderful that you're doing so much for your parents, and you'll never regret doing so, but it's important to also take care of yourself .You need and deserve to be able to spend time with your husband and daughter, and pursue your other interests. Regular breaks will refresh you, and make caregiving less exhausting and relentless. You might also benefit from joining a caregiver support group, where you'll meet others who are in the same situation who can provide advice and empathy. Joining an online discussion group is also a good way to connect with others.
Best of luck, and keep in touch!