Caregivers Are Beautiful

beautiful woman

Caregivers are unique in every way. It is the caring we do that brings us together and links us in a way that cannot be broken. Know that the Imperfect Caregiver understands how special you are, even when you believe you are failing. Blessed be.

Dr. Phil, Help the Caregivers who need it most. http://www.drphil.com

When You Fall to the Floor and Shatter

shattered

Caregivers and those in their care have been tipped over by the gusts of life.  Many of our loved ones have fallen and broken bones, many more have had memories break away piece by piece creating razor sharp shards of anger and resentment in their place. They lash out at us in their confusion inadvertently causing us to begin to break as well.

Often those around us fail to see the damage these devastating diseases bring about. Too often others see it and choose to “walk around the pieces, lest they cut themselves upon the scatter.”

Today and every day it is my hope that you have someone in your life to glue you back together.  If you are alone in this, know that I understand and I am here for you.

Feel free to reach out to me via the comments section on this blog or privately via email at bcarducci@comcast.net

Caregivers need help. Please join me in continuing the Dr. Phil Challenge and encourage him to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to create a grant to provide real help to caregivers who need it most.  Go http://www.drphil.com and leave a comment on his website supporting my plea.

 

 

Caregivers Three

Cargivers Three 3                                                           Bobbi, Gregor, Erica

When I started The Imperfect Caregiver blog I did it because I had felt so very alone during the time I was caring for Rodger.  There didn’t seem to be anyone I could talk to who could possibly understand how hard it is to do this.  It is also why I decided to write the book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver. It was my hope that in writing about what it’s really like I could send a message to caregivers everywhere that someone does know. I am here and I do understand. I feel the emotions that course through you on the good days and the bad days. And there are so many bad days as the diseases progress and those in our care slip away memory by memory, piece by piece.

As I reach out to people in the caregiving world online and in person, the caregivers and those who write about caregiving, I am blessed to meet some amazing people and learn their stories. The more I hear from you and them, the more I learn and am able to share here and in the books to come.

Last week my husband and I traveled to New York City to see a staged reading of The Accidental Caregiver, a play based on the book by the same name, written by Gregor Collins. His story of caring for Maria Altman is vastly different than my story and, having read the book and seen the play, I imagine it is very different than that of yours as well.  They met as strangers and came to love one another as family, she in her 90s, and he in his 30s.  A unique story for sure.

The trip also provided and opportunity for me to finally meet in person another caregiver who bravely shares her story. I met Erica Herd online during the time I was completing Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver. Erica is a caregiver for her mother who is in a care facility. She is the author and solo performer of the play, Alzheimer’s Blues. Imagine reliving your story in front of audience over and over again. How brave and special that is.

I am grateful to have them as friends and proud to introduce you to them here.

Caregivers, your story is important. Please feel free to share some of your here.  And please, help ,e help you and others by adding your pleas to mine as I challenge Dr. Phil to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to establish grants to help caregivers most in need.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

 

Do Not Believe All The Things You Tell Yourself At Night

sleepless woman

I know the voice of doubt. It comes in the night to question and criticize. It tells us we are not good enough or smart enough to do this.  It may come as a whisper or scream unceasingly. Either way it keeps us awake going over the activities of the day.

“How could you lose your temper you know he’s sick?”

“I can’t believe you said that to him.”

“How could you forget to tell the doctor about that?”

“You think you’re so smart, why is she getting worse every day?

Yes, I know the voice of doubt. I know how we question ourselves all the time. We expect so much of ourselves it’s impossible to live up to our expectations.  When family members do it we know they are full of s**t and we get angry. When we do it to ourselves we start to believe. We lose precious sleep judging ourselves harshly.

I know the voice of doubt. She whispered to me every night. She lied.  I hope by writing this post I will be able to convince you that the voice keeping you awake at night is no better than mine was.

You are a caregiver and you do not have to be perfect to do what is best for the person in your care.  And, sometimes being a little bit crazy is exactly what is needed in the moment.

What are some of the things you say to yourself late at night? Share them here. It may help you and other caregivers silence the voice and allow you to rest when you can.

I continue to plead with Dr. Phil to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to create a grant to provide caregivers with assistance.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

 

 

The Agony of Relief

For seven years I was his constant companion. The one he railed against and accused of trying to poison him. The one he insisted was his best friend on the good days when he was lucid.

“Without her I’d be a gonner,” he would say.

In the beginning I was his chauffer taking him to his many doctor appointments. At first we took the 40 minute drive over the mountain to the VA hospital every three months.  As his various ailments, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease, progressed the appointments came more often.  Dysphagia came next. He could no longer swallow properly. His diet was limited to pureed food and thickened liquids. He had trouble swallowing his saliva. Aspiration pneumonia resulted in several long hospital stays weakening him further and requiring doctor visits once a month.  Then he had a heart attack and a pacemaker was inserted. Blood clots developed in his arm as a result. Frequent blood tests to monitor his clotting ability meant more trips to the hospital. Eventually we were going every week.

He continued to fail and eventually he entered home hospice care and we no longer made the drive.

He was hearing voices again and becoming more delusional as the dementia progressed and the medication he had been taking since his early twenties for schizophrenia began to lose effect.  Still, we prayed for a miracle comeback. He’d done it before. We’d think we were losing him, prepare for the worst and just when we began to lose hope he would gather the inner resources and strength that had defined him all of his life.

He’d gone from farm boy to defiant resister of the Gestapo who had taken over his country. He moved to America as young man to start a new life. He enlisted in the Army to serve his new homeland. It was while in the service he had his first psychotic break.

This brilliant man who spoke seven languages and held advanced degrees in literature and mathematics would never be the same. Electric shock treatments, ice baths, experimental treatments and increasingly strong antipsychotic drugs robbed him of memory and kept him sedated at all times. After thirteen years he was released. He married and raised two sons. He was a hero in so many ways.

As he began to fail I did too. Sleepless nights, constant stress, the guilt that came with knowing I couldn’t save him took its toll. The two of us were barely functioning.

I fed him. Changed his soiled Depends. Wiped his bottom. Bathed him. Dressed him. Sat up all night listening to him breathe.  The night he died Mike and I sat with him, holding his hand, doing everything we could to keep him comfortable.

In the early hours of his 83rd birthday he took his last breath.  This amazing man who had challenged me in so many ways and taught me so much about what real strength of character looks like was gone.

It took a while for the tears to come.

“What’s wrong with me?” I asked my husband.

And then it started. A slow trickle at first, followed by the first stabs of grief. I cried so long I wondered if it would ever stop. When it finally did, I wiped my eyes, blew my nose and started over again and again and again. It was only after I had exhausted my tears and my body that I could face the awful truth. It was not only grief that brought me to my knees. It was the agony of relief. His suffering was over and that meant I was finally free.

Intellectually I know my feelings were normal under the circumstances but there is still a little voice inside that continues to ask, What’s wrong with me?”

I continue to ask for your support and comments in response to the Dr. Phil Challenge to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to establish a grant to offer real help to caregivers most in need.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/  http://www.drphil.com/   @DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

On the Run Today

Thank You For CaregivingIf you are alone in caring for a family member or friend. If you are feeling unappreciated. Please remember that the Imperfect Caregiver is working for change by speaking out. I am very proud to be a caregiver advocate and today I have two wonderful opportunities to speak for caregivers.

This morning I was filmed and interviewed by Voice of America. In May I was a participant in the Human Book Project held at Gum Spring Library in Aldi, VA. My purpose in being there was to  speak to “readers” who checked out Human Books to learn about their unique life experiences.  I spoke about what is closest to my heart, being a caregiver for a seriously ill family member.  Today another “reader” interviewed me and the short video will appear on the Voice of America website in about three weeks. I will post the link once the video goes live. You will also hear from another Human Book, Maimah Karmo  speak about her very different story of strength and service to others.  I am proud have met Maimah  through the Human Book project and now have her as  my friend.

This evening I will be speaking to people at  the Purcellville Baptist Church in Purcellville VA. about caregiving and how they can help caregivers in our community.

We need more advocates and since I have not yet heard from Dr. Phil in response to my Dr. Phil Challenge, I am very interested in speaking with many more church and civic groups.

Last month I spoke with members of  the Dulles South Rotary Club in Aldie, VA  and they are now developing a service project on behalf of caregivers. (More on that soon.)

I am available to speak to groups  in person or via Skype or FaceTime depending on distance and time available. There is never a charge for these events.

All you need to do is contact me via email bcarducci@Comcast.net to arrange a date and time.

Blessed Be Caregivers

 

 

A Much Nicer Way to Say What I Was Thinking

open your mouth only if

Shut … the … hell … up!  That’s what caregivers would like to say. No not say, scream, when family members drop by for a short visit and begin to offer comments like this:

“She looks fine to me. Why do pretend taking care of her is harder than it is?”

“Mom told me her things are disappearing. What’s going on?”

“What do you mean it’s time to look at placing Dad in a nursing home? I promised him I’d never do that.”

“He’s lost a lot of weight. Why aren’t you feeding him enough?”

“I can’t take her. I have a very busy life. You get to stay home all day and watch TV.”

“I should have known better than to invite you! You always have some lame excuse.”

“We can’t make it for his birthday. We’re leaving for vacation in Italy that day.”

Caregivers, I invite you to share some the absurd things family and friends have said to you. Feel free to also add what you would like to have said in return and didn’t. (If responded with a great comeback feel free to share that too.)

Friends and family members – I challenge you memorize and follow the advice in the quote above. Dr. Phil, that goes for you too.

More Caregivers comment on  the Dr. Phil Challenge to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to establish a grant to help the caregivers who need it most.

steven chandler – Comment: At 52 I am now a health care provider for my 91 year old father I’ve gone through all my savings is a constant struggle my sister took all of my father’s money in 2006 he was sick at the time and she convinced him to change his will and he gave her all the money I’m here for my father 24 hours a day and If it wasn’t for me the last year and a half he would be dead. I’ve put my life on hold I put my relationship of 8 years on hold and it’s overwhelming at times

Sherri Diller – Comment: I fully agree!!  Dr.  Phil,  just take a look at the state differences that caregivers go through.  Boils my blood.  All types of government agencies claiming to help.  I have worked in a number of nursing homes and I am a single daughter,  caring for her single mom w/stage 4 alzhiermers,,  both from a dysfunctional background.  I love her dearly.  But I dont trust the system.  Your help is so needed.  My mom deserves so much more.  I am all she has.  When she goes,  I am the only one left.

Christina – Comment: Yes Bobbi, I will share your blog post. It’s so important. For some reason the word ‘respite’ goes unheard by many of those who are not caregivers.  I don’t know how many times I was asked what I wanted and I answered the same thing every time, respite hours for myself so I could catch up on sleep or just sit and do nothing. The answer was always, yes, but what else? I was even recommended to take antidepressants! Thankfully I had learned to speak up and stand up for both myself and my husband by the time that was suggested. They never mentioned it again!

As caregivers, even though we most definitely save the state money we are not looked upon as the assets we are. My conclusion to that crazy reality is that we are actually stopping the money from flowing in a certain direction that may be advantageous to some (greed!). My husband would have been in a nursing home years before his passing if I had let them take him. No rime or reason to that since that would have cost thousands of dollars per month compared to a few respite hours for me. Fortunately he never had to go to a nursing home.

Pat DiCesare – Comment: Dr. Phil, I think your audience would benefit from hearing Bobbi Carducci’s amazing and emotional story of her experience of being a caregiver to her father-in-law.

Beth Anderson – Comment – If only there could be a place to go where, at no cost to the caregiver, they could bring their loved ones to, to be cared for, if only for an hour or two. The caregiver could get a workout in, run a few errands or just sit and have some quiet time. I wish you luck in your efforts to help caregivers, but some family members have no idea what that caregiver does, how they feel, what they need or how they struggle with day to day activities. Thank you again.

****

Every 26 minutes another person in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another from of dementia.  The numbers are growing every day. Help me get help for caregivers.

When I Told You I Was Normal …

normal exaggerated

I love this thought. For people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia their perception is reality. Their normal is different from ours. One moment Rodger would be living with his son and his pesky daughter-in-law who insisted he use his walker and made him eat pureed food when what he really wanted was pita bread and a big juicy orange. “Pita bread is delicious you know.”  The next minute he had gone back in time. He was young and strong living on a farm in Italy. He had no idea who I was or how I got in his house.

Sometimes he’d look up from the TV he watched hour after hour looking lost and confused. I always wondered where he was and what he was seeing when that occurred.

He liked to watch reruns of old television shows. Bonanza was one of his favorites. He said it reminded him of Italy. When Mike asked him why, he looked puzzled for a moment before replying, “The way they cook all the time.” I believe he was thinking of his mother and how she would make polenta before going to church each morning then coming home to prepare meals for the rest of the day.

He liked to look at the Blueridge Mountains from the deck or out the family room windows. “Those are hills,” he insisted. “In Italy we have mountains.”

The days when the voices came were hard for both of us. “They make me confused and suspicious,” he told me. He would never tell anyone what they said to him.  “Nothing good,” his doctors told me.  When I began to recognize the signs that he was hearing them I’d know “the others” were among us. I have to admit they me suspicious too.

All this was part of his normal. It became a new normal for me as well. Normal was never knowing what would happen on any given day. Normal was accepting that things were not as they appeared to be most of the time.  Saying that either one of us was normal was often more than a slight exaggeration.

Dr. Phil, caregivers need help.  Here are more comments from those who hope you will accept the Dr. Phil Challenge and use your influence and the Dr. Phil Foundation to provide grant funds to help caregivers.

Vicki Kleutghen – Comment: As caregiver to my husband of 38 years while he battles primary Plamsa Cell Leukemia ( an extremely rare – 100 US cases per year- and very very rare variant of Myeloma), I don’t want to hear the mantra “eat right, exercise, take time for yourself.” it’s meaningless unless someone else is there to provide support for the caregiver.

Take the advice one at a time:

Eat right.  Would love to, but when spending hours/days/weeks  sitting in waiting rooms, clinics, hospitals, you’re limited to what the vending machines offer. You can’t run out and get something healthier as who knows when your patient will be examined or called in for mess, etc. we all know how timely physician appointments run. At home, You’re often cooking anything and everything that might appeal to your patient. As my husband is receiving chemo, tastes change daily. As caregiver, I’m more concerned with making sure he gets enough nutrition and calories. As he is immune suppressed, fresh fruits and vegetables are off the table unless they carefully, individually washed in a bleach/vinegar solution. So if the smell of baked chicken and green beans makes him sick, it’s on to something else, often ending with protein shakes, soups or whatever else palatable. After trying all that, my meal often ended up as a dish of ice cream! Let alone shopping for food. my husband could not be left alone as a result of orthostatic hypertension so grocery trips consisted of him sitting in the car while I ran in and grabbed whatever was handy.

Exercise – see above! orthostatic hypertension means he would pass out suddenly. After he had two stem cell transplants (yes 2! within 2 1/2 months) he could not be left alone as he could spike a temperature suddenly. Exercise inside would have to squeezed in between routine care giving, routine household chores and, if there was anytime left, dealing with the piles of medical bills, insurance papers, etc.

Take time for yourself – hahaha! The stress and worry of caregiving, finances, etc makes it extremely hard to concentrate on anything other than your loved one. I read several books when I couldn’t fall asleep after a night in the ER , or  a rough day of chemo side effects but today I can’t tell you a thing about them. I did knit while sitting in the back breaking chairs for caregivers – but couldn’t follow a pattern. I ended up with dozens of dishcloths, straight scarves… Totally boring items. Clinics often suggest caregivers run out while their patient is there – but the length of clinic visits vary… Some days 30 minutes, some days 8-10 hours with the possibility of leaving every hour or until the next set of labs come back.

The stress of caregiving takes a serious, unseen toll. Everyone’s concern (including the caregiver’s) is for the patient. As a caregiver, I couldn’t forgive myself if something happened to my husband while I wasn’t there. No one knows what might happen when. What if he went into convulsions while I was getting my haircut? (Which I didn’t do for over 6 months)  what if we accepted one of the many meals offered by friends and neighbors and they hadn’t washed or cooked everything thoroughly and he came down with one of the many food born bacterium that can kill an immunosuppressed person?

Relying on friends and family is often suggested. Unfortunately we live over 1000 miles from any family – which in discussions with other caregivers is more the norm these days. My husband’s treatment required us to move 200 miles from home to a strange city where we knew no one. so much for the help of friends. As for emotional support, I found the most helpful to be other caregivers, in person or over the Internet, who truly understood what you were going through.

Dr. Phil, the platitudes of what a caregiver “should” do for themselves  would be much more effective if practical, common sense solutions could be devised.  Finances are often stretched beyond breaking with the costs of medical care, so indulgences like having food delivered or hiring home health aids are out of reach. Counseling is also a luxury that caregivers forgo in order to be sure that their loved one has everything that THEY need.

A program of Caregiver Assistance Grants would make an incredible difference in the lives of families struggling with the demands of caregivers.  Please don’t make the blithe suggestions again that you did in your show. They are meaningless to anyone actively involved in caregiving and only serve to salve the guilt of others.

Kristina Hopkins  – Comment: as a full time caregiver to my disabled husband, Mom to 2 daughters and help with my father in law, who lives with us, I appreciate advice from people, but please tell me when in my day am I suppose to take time for myself? It’s easy for people to give advice when they do not spend a day in my shoes or the shoes of wives like me.

Amy ganos  – Comment: I would like to see this happen. Caregiving is very time consuming

Chris MacGregor – Comment: I am. 62-yo woman caring for my blind, hard of hearing & now in the end stages of dementia with Alzheimer’s. I’ve been living with her for almost 10 years now, and am sole FT caregiver with limited support from my siblings who mostly live out of state. As the disease has progressed, my mom has become severely anxious, afraid, and depressed. For the last year or so she is terrified to be alone. I can’t leave the house without her, and there are few people she trusts to stay with her. I have little time for myself, and often get an argument from my siblings when I try to take a couple of weeks twice a year. I’d love to take better care of myself, but my mom ALWAYS comes first. What solutions do you have for those of us in my position? I had breast cancer and radiation last summer, suffer from depression & anxiety (for many years), and have lived on Social Security Disability for way too many years.mwhere is the money & support supposed to come from to take care of myself first?

Lucinda Rieschick – Comment: Please get help to us caregivers. Not just u should do this and that. We need help. Not just we but me too.

Joan Holt – Comment: I also challenge Dr. Phil to offer his resources to help caregivers everywhere!  This is so important especially if you’re your family members only support. Then it’s crucial that that person gets some ‘down’ time because if not, then if something happens to that person who will step up to do it?

To Contact Dr. Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/   http://www.drphil.com/ @DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

The Face of a Caregiver

I usually avoid cameras. I prefer the illusion that I look better than whatever shows up after the click or whirr that indicates my image has been recorded digitally or on film. Today I am shedding my vanity to show you what the face of a caregiver came to look like.

caregiving pic Bobbi

Bobbi in 2005 – three years as a caregiver. Four more to go.

When my father-in-law came to live with us I had a full time job. I went to the gym every day. I slept well and I ate right. All the things a caregiver is advised to do. Little by little it all fell away.

First the job went. My boss was understanding. I was even offered the chance to work from home most of the time and go into the office only as needed. We tried it for a while. It didn’t work. I was failing there and at home unable to give either the attention they needed.

Next to go was working out at the gym.  A half hour drive there and back plus an hour workout was too much time away. It wasn’t safe long before he needed constant supervision. He’d forget things on the stove and, for some reason, he liked to dry wet tissues on the light bulb of the lamp in his room. The risk of a fire scared me so much I bought a baby monitor to keep an eye on him.

Eating right was next to go. My diet became much like that of an exhausted mother of a newborn or a temperamental toddler. Feed him and grab what you can. The remains of sandwich here, a few chips there. Every now and then a yogurt cup to convince myself nutrition hadn’t fallen by the wayside entirely.

Getting enough rest became a hope for the future. A future I didn’t dare admit I thought about for it meant he would be gone and to wish for this dreadful disease to be over was wrong, wasn’t it?

For seven years I did the best I could. He did the same. It took a huge toll on me. It took his life away. I miss him. I would do it again if needed.

It’s important that people understand how hard it is. Perhaps by sharing what the face of a caregiver becomes someone, maybe even Dr. Phil, will get it. Caregivers need help. Caregivers need you.

Bobbi now

Bobbi on July 26, 2014 as we honored him on his birthday and shared his story with the public for the first time.   I look years younger and feel it as well. I hope he was smiling along with me.

More voices urging Dr. Phil to help caregivers.

Diane Waterman – Comment: I didn’t see Doctor Phil’s show, but I can tell you from experience, being a caretaker to someone sick or elderly could never pay enough for what these people do. I cared for my sister with help from my children, for the last months of her life. She had Lung Cancer! I have Fibromyalgia myself and was dealing with daily pain. I did everything I could to take care of myself, if it wasn’t for my own adult children, I would not have survived. They gave me breaks night time. The whole year was cruel in many ways, I had to deal with a very dysfunctional family as well! I was relieved when she finally passed on July 10th 2013, not only for her , but for myself!!  RIP Mona, I love you and miss you! Xoxo

Pamela Lynne Kemp  – Comment: Thank you to everyone for sharing your story.  You speak for so many of us.

Beth Anderson – Comment: I am full-time caregiver for my Mom who turns 85 in a couple of weeks. My mom has Alzheimer’s and Dementia as well as numerous other ailments. I have been Mom’s full-time caregiver since 2006 and after a recent fall, I am with Mom 24/7. I split my time at her home and bring her home with me for what she calls ” a mini vacation.” I am not a saint or looking for recognition, I just realize that it take a special person to take on the role of caregiver. I make most of her meals, take her to all of her appointments, set up her medications, bathe her, clean her after messy bathroom visits, take her for walks, take her to the nature center, the pumpkin patch, graduation parties, weddings and if my husband and I take a vacation, Mom goes along. I get occasional breaks, thanks to two of my sisters, but their work schedules are a usually a conflict. My husband has been so supportive through this chapter in Mom’s life as difficult and exhausting it may be. People do not know my story, as I do not know other people’s stories. With that being said, be kind to everyone. Offer assistance whenever you can. Smile, even though you don’t feel you have much to smile about, it could make all the difference in the world. Stay positive! Thank you to all caregivers, I am walking in your shoes! Love you Mom!

Sherri D – Comment: I’ve been caring for my severely disabled son for almost 15 years, with many more to go. Some say it’s my duty as his mother and they may be right, but it’s BC I LOVE HIM I have up my life for him. I’m coming out of a second marriage 😦  I don’t go anywhere with friends or much else. I used to be a dance teacher and dancing was my life. Now I’m a stay at home mom… Lonely and tired. With no relief in sight.

Linnea Hedborn – Comment: I am primary caregiver to my 95 year old mother. Every single day is a battle to be heard by her doctors and my family. I can’t let down for one second…not one. I have to keep so many different balls spinning in the air, no matter what my own financial situation (dire) or mental and physical health is. The latter is going fast. To be told to “take care of myself” is patronizing and unhelpful.

Stacey Belt – Comment: I have quit jobs to care for three family members who have now died.  I now need help and find myself unemployed, homeless and about to fight melanoma for the second time.  Guess what? I have no one to care for me, no one, zip, zilch, zero!  I gave up everything three times to care for family and now the best thing that can happen is I die quickly since I am homeless, jobless, penniless and have no support!! That’s the thanks I get! But hey, God has a special place in heaven for me or so I’m told! What a great thing to look forward to right?!

To contact Dr. Phil directly and ask him to accept my challenge to offer real help to caregivers go to the following links.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

I Prefer to Take Life One Panic Attack at a Time

panic attackPanic 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.

Please help!

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.

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