I'm starting to feel abused by being a caregiver. What can I do about it?

Laura-1 asked...
My childhood friend of over 40 years, has become disabled due to a benign tumor on her spine. She has never been married but she has one adult son. She lives with her single sister who goes to school full time and has a brain injury, her sister is 45 years old. She (my best friend) and I are 48 years old. I am married and live less than a mile from her. I help her everyday for several hours a day. It seems that the more I do, the more she asks me to do. Yesterday in an 8 hour time frame I had to bring her the bed pan 22 times. She asks me to give her a bath and I do, but she can wash everything in the front, there is nothing the matter with her upper body, yet she has me wash everything. If I sit down for one second, she immediately asks me to do something else, instead of asking me while I was just up and in front of her. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why she thinks I can just work like a dog all day without a 5 minute break. I feel like she is taking advantage of me, why I do not know. It’s never ending and for the most part unnecessary. I need some advice. Thank you.

Expert Answer

It certainly sounds like you need to shake things up with this friend, in terms of expectations and I can understand how tricky this may be. I think it's time for some tough love. You need to tell your friend straight out that you can't be her primary caregiver, you have all kinds of other things going on in your life. It sounds to me like she needs a paid home caregiver. At 48, she's not a senior yet, but as someone who is sick and disabled she may be eligible for caregiving support. I think the best starting point would be a hospital social worker from the facility where she's receiving treatment. She can also contact her local Medicaid office, which is probably the county. Maybe you can offer to help her find help, in a session or two of phone calling, while making it very clear you can't provide ongoing assistance. I'd include her family members in this dicscussion, as best you can. You're not passing the buck; you're simply trying to share or redistribute the load; a sensible approach. Best of the luck with this situation.