Panic attacks, migraine headaches, clumps of my hair clogging the shower drain. These are all things I experienced as a caregiver. Stress was sapping my mental and physical reserves as his conditions worsened. I needed help. People said, “Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough rest.”
Sure, I thought. I’ll get right on that.
Are you kidding me? If I were to be true to my instincts right now this page would be filled with some very strong, unbecoming language describing how useless advice is when it isn’t followed up with the resources to make a difference.
I’ve issued a challenge to Dr. Phil but it is also for family and friends of caregivers everywhere. The people caring for others now will be the ones needing care next. How dire their health issues will be are being greatly influenced by the degree of stress they are experiencing during the weeks, months, and years they are giving so much of themselves. You can make a difference.
If you can give much help, give much. If you can give only a little, give a little. A warm meal, short nap, a visit now and then will be appreciated more than you know. A full night’s rest is a blessing. Time to go to the grocery store and take in the aroma of fresh fruit could be like a vacation for someone who hadn’t been able to do it in months.
More Comments for Dr. Phil in response to the Dr. Phil challenge:
Ann – Comment: I agree. I am a cancer patient and my energy level is very low.
My husband is the caregiver for me and his mom who has dementia. I would love to see some real programs that would help caregivers cope. My husband is a loving caring person but I know at times it seems very overbearing to him.
Tammie Marett – Comment: I take care of my bedridden husband. He has no other family and we live over. 8 hours from mine who couldn’t help much anyway. I would love to take your advice bit its all the same mumbo jumbo. There is no money for caregivers. My husband is a vet. They offer me 2 respite days a month of only 6 hours each time. You offered no solutions just the same tired advice. This problem is going to get larger as the baby boomer generation ages.
Kristi Simmons – Comment: I am living the Oreo life. My husband and I are caregivers for my mother for the last 5 years. I also have a 21 year old a 10 year old and a 6 year old. My husband and I both work 40 hours a week. I have 3 siblings. My oldest brother takes care of my mom’s finances, which creates its own tension sometimes. My other two siblings do nothing to help and often feel like it’s our responsibility to care for mom since we live with her rent free. They don’t understand the mental and physical drain this can be. We’re lucky, my mom is good natured and fairly easy to care for the majority of the time, but it’s hard to be caregiver, mother, teacher and wife 24/7 365. We’ve been lucky enough to have friends that mom is comfortable enough with to stay with her so we caN take short trips with our kids occasionally. Unless you’ve done this you have no clue how exhausting it is
Kathleen Tingler – Comment: I agree with your take on offering advice and not an alternative. I am a full time care taker and have no one that wants to step up and help me find a way to catch a break even for an hour or so a week.
Rhonda Partin-Sharp – Comment: Oh, I agree with this article – gives us caregivers a way to take care of ourselves – when you are going on two hours of sleep a night because that is the ONLY way to get just the priorities done because you are taking care of two elderly parents – don’t tell me to get sufficient sleep. That’s insane. We need to stop telling the caregivers what to do better and need to start telling the lazy family members (every caregiver support group will tell you that it usually ends up being one person doing it all with not only no help from the family but judgment and pressure from the family) what they need to to do help.
Shannon Watstler – Comment: Yes please, caregivers do not always need unsolicited advise, just real quality help ! Many friends & family abandoned, compare their normal every day situations & give excuses “why they can’t help” or “they just want to know how the patient is & then have to go”. It’s a exhausting & never ending job, non-paying & sometimes you truly feel hopeless. If I ever have to go thru this again, I will def do things a little different & ask for more help. many people don’t handle situations of thinking about their own mortality-that’s sad ! How would they like to be in the same situation & hear excuses of why someone can’t help or just abandonment. It’s a lonely journey that no one understands except those that go thru it & are forced to deal with it head on every day even when they’d enjoy a few minutes of time for themselves.
Dawn D. Ames – Comment: This comment was right on. My husband needs 24/7 care. Getting out to get my owe scripts and groceries is extremely difficult. My children and a few friends try to help, but with his needs, the it is not always possible. It has been three years. It would be nice to have a couple of hours for church or to go out with friends in those times when I feel safe enough to leave him. Thanks Bobbi.
To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.