Harvey, a male caregiver, living in the Mid West writes in:
I am a full-time male caregiver for my elderly mother. After reading your posts on this site, I realize I may be suffering from caregiver stress and burnout.
Oh, there’s nothing seriously wrong with her. She has never had problems with cancer, stroke, heart disease or diabetes none of the biggies.
Broken a few bones along the way, but that’s about it. She does have a swallowing disorder (which is under control). Mostly she’s just weak, frail, wheelchair-bound, and mildly senile.
But on her own, she’d be helpless, and she has no other living family. Judging from some brief admissions in a skilled care setting, I do not believe she would do well in an institutional setting.
So her continuing to live at home was an easy decision. The decision was easy, but the execution has been difficult, at least for me.
I have sacrificed a lot of freedom, income, and personal health.
Manhandling her is hard on my body. Between moving her from the wheelchair, to the bed, and the potty, it is exacerbating my own physical decline. .
But it keeps her happy. Aging in place yields the best possible quality of life for her. To do otherwise would surely leave me wracked with regrets. I have a hard time dealing with guilt.
Caring for aging parents is a burden and dilemma for millions. We all have to work out our own decisions on this matter. Many have praised me for these sacrifices. I marvel at their amazement at my dedication. After all, this is my mother that we’re talking about. Of course I’m going to do whatever I need to do for her. That’s loyalty. That’s family.
It’s not that she and I have been exceedingly close over the years. On the contrary, we’ve always had a rather distant cordial, caring relationship. Not the sort of idealized lovey-dovey mother-son relationship.
But that doesn’t matter, she is still my Mom, and this is my obligation.
She cooked for me, dressed me, bathed me and changed my diapers when I was a child. It’s only right that I return the favor now that the roles are reversed.
It is not easy. When she finally dies, I will be left with no income, a run-down and crippled body of my own. There is a lot of mental and emotional exhaustion, as well. I am a living, breathing, limping monument to care giver stress.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your post, like so many others, concerns me. You certainly are providing care for your mother, but at what cost? Caregiver Burnout is very real. I am very concerned about your own health. Your “caring” is contributing to burnout.
There are other alternatives that would give your mom some socialization. Adult day care, for example. Take time to explore other community resources. Please contact me and we can discuss some other options further. You are dealing with so many emotions. Grief may be one. Click here to assess if you are grieving.
Thank you for posting Harvey. You have a right to good health and a life. There is life after care giving. You must prepare for it now.