The Face of a Caregiver

The following is written by caregiver blogger, Barbara London

Hidden Face 3Walking along the street – do you see her? Can you tell who she is or what she may be hiding deep inside? Do her inner feelings show; her longings or desires? Do you know what she spends her time doing? She could be almost anyone you see in the park; at the mall; at the grocery store; walking beside you every day. She could be someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister, maybe even grandmother. Actually, “she” could even be a “he”!

The face of a caregiver is that of any other person you may see. They have the same feelings and desires as you or anyone else. They spend their time caring for a loved one who is unable to care for themselves. Sometimes they don’t have any choice in caring for this loved one; and sometimes they aren’t even sure if they even love that loved one anymore!

Many times the caregiver doesn’t even consider themselves a caregiver…which is where I found myself just a few months ago.

“She drew an unsteady breath. Yes, he has problems, and yes, I struggle with my feelings toward him all the time. But he’s not a bad man and I know that part of me will always care for him. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the reason he’s able to function as well as he still does…’

These words from the Nicholas Sparks book “The Best of Me” could be written by me about the journey that I am on with my husband who has vascular dementia. We have been on this journey for quite a long time; yet I have just recently realized that I am a caregiver. And, there have certainly been times when I wished I could walk away from it all!

I questioned the idea of my being a caregiver for several reasons:

  1. My husband is still capable of handling many things on his own: dressing and bathing himself; eating/or feeding himself; warming up leftovers in the microwave; driving and getting where he need to go by himself; various other chores around the apartment.
  2. My husband’s dementia was caused by small strokes that damaged the memory portion of the brain; as far as we know, there have not been any more strokes and he has been somewhat stable since the diagnosis; but he is now getting worse.
  3. We have not had the same doctor for quite a number of years due to changes in insurance coverage and having to switch to different doctors. The doctor who was originally treating my husband is no longer in practice. So, there hasn’t been any consistent follow-up of the diagnosis.
  4. My husband’s personality has sometimes been a little abusive (verbally and mentally) and I was not able, at first, to decide if it was personality or the dementia that was causing these outbursts.

Yet, there are things that my husband is unable to do: cook a decent meal (using the stove rather than the microwave); make a budget and buy nutritious foods and items needed rather than snacks and munchies; handle the checkbook and finances; make doctor’s appointments; order prescription refills and setting up his daily doses of medications.

In addition to the above reasons, my husband is good at hiding his hearing problem – he just nods his head in agreement, or assumes he knows what has been said. And he is even better at covering up his forgetfulness; he just repeats the same questions multiple times if he is unsure or has forgotten. In the beginning, I just didn’t realize he was covering up.

Recently, I participated in the challenge to write on a particular topic for the 31 days of October. I shared the journey with my husband’s dementia using the title “Dementia’s Demands”. During this time I was encouraged and supported by a wonderful group of bloggers who were also participating in the challenge; many, as I later learned by reading their blogs, were also on a journey with dementia, cancer, depression, and many other difficulties. Many were, in one form or another, a caregiver. Yet, looking at their pictures – they didn’t look much different than I or anyone else! As the days of that month continued, I discovered that – yes! – I am a caregiver! I “care for” someone who is unable, in many ways, to care for themselves. This, in itself, makes me a caregiver.

Are you struggling with that identity? Think about it…you may well be one, too!

For more on caregivng from Barbara’s London go here::

Caregiver Cover Web

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

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