Thirty Percent of Caregivers Die Before The People They Care For Do

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Rough statistics show that 30% of caregivers die before those they are caring for. Some studies show deaths higher. Illness that doesn't lead to death is rampant, as well - depression and auto-immune diseases are high on the list. Caregivers often don't find time to go to their own doctor appointments. They put them off, because they are too busy, or are just plain sick of sitting in clinics with their loved ones. Then things like breast cancer, which could be caught at an early stage, aren't found until the illness is much worse or even life threatening.


Caregivers are as important as the people they care for. If they abuse their bodies, minds and spirits while caring for others, no one wins. Support for caregivers means we must tell our stories and know we are heard. I hope we'll hear many stories on this site.

110 Comments

I agree with this article. I get out alone to see movies, shop or read a magazine, sit in Starbucks, and other small things to "take me away" mentally. It helps. I find myself sleeping a lot. I felt guilty for a while, but everyone kept telling me to take care of myself, so I decided to start with sleep and taking my mind off things when I can. My most obvious problem is my weight gain. I eat when stressed. That is a hurdle that I need to try to get get over. This will be a challenge.
I agree also. I find myself getting sicker often b/c of the lack off sleep. When I actually have an "off day" I am either busy with laundry that has built up or something else that has gone wrong. I am only 21 and taking care of 1 terminally ill grandparent and a blind grandparent who both raised me and I try harder to make sure they are happy than taking care of myself. I don't know what to do or how to change it.
3930 helpful answers
You are both stuck in areas that are difficult, but at least you are aware that you need to care of yourselves. Eating out of frustration is common and hard to avoid. I always suggest that people stop and take several deep breaths, and really think how badly they want another cookie. Then, if they really want it, eat it. You can't keep feeling deprived, either, and it's human to turn to food for comfort. If you can go online and chat (there are safe, monitored groups), that may take your mind off some of your grief and also keep your hands busy. You do need to get out, if you can, so a trip to Starbucks is a good idea. Keep remembering you are not alone. And to RCramer - what an angel you are to be caring for your grandparents, but you can't do it alone. They wouldn't want you to risk your own health for all of this care. Are you getting help from your local hospice? They will help you with your terminally ill grandparent, and the social workers will have ideas to get you other help. Please call them.

Best to you both,
Carol
I couldn't agree more with the above article. My mother-in-law took care of my husband's grandma for 3yrs until mom got diagnosed with colon cancer until May of this year. My mother-in-law since passed away in July. So now my husband and I take care of grandma. It's been hard at times. We got a private agency to come in a few hours a month to give us a break and to do the things that we used to do before we took on the responsibilty to care for grandma.
My husband is 76 and I am 55. He recently was diagnosed as having two aneurysms and had brain surgery. He was in the hospital for 14 days, rehab 7 days and then home. The home scene is what got to me, because I was being overloaded with information, new schedule at home along with caring for my husband. I found myself getting angry, controling, and the like. I called upon my family, to talk to along with asking them to sit with him while I went to the store or church. I have since found my new schedule, a new husband with new disabilities (and I am able to do things I didn't know that I knew I could do), and a peace that comes from God. I learned it is ok to be angry as long as I don't hang onto it and I must forgive my husband. He didn't do this to me. He is recovering and I am learning caregiving. I will always have help. God is with me and I have family, friends, and church. I am a very active, busy and learning person. I love this site, just can't believe how not-so-often message posting.
3930 helpful answers
You are fortunate that you had family to help and that you have a deep faith. Faith that we are not alone spiritually, as well as physically, can get us through much. You have a magnificient attitude that shines all through your message. Thank you so much for sharing this. The best to you and your family this New Year.

I might add that this is a new site, so spread the word, if you enjoy it. I think we can get a good group going, with time.

Carol Bradley Bursack
Thank you for the encouraging words and affirmation! This helped a great deal to start off the new year! I found online forums, or communities years ago, and found lots of support from strangers. Yet, you have to be careful what you actually listen to, it could be bad news or advice. I first started on this community looking for support, but, instead, replied to others. I love helping others that seem in distress in the same way I have experienced it. When you have been there and done some of that, it helps to understand someone's situation. Granted, everyone's situation is greatly different, but it always helps to hear enc ouragement, and not emphasize the negativeness of the situation. God CAN lead you out of a predicament that you have been led to. He will see you through it!!!!! I have to remind myself not to give up! I will spread the word!
3930 helpful answers
Wonderful! I am a true believer that those who have experienced something first hand are the best fitted to help others going through it. No two situations are identical, but there is enough in common that we can all share.
This topic of Caring for yourself, is what I don't seem to have time for, anymore. For 10 years, I was "3x caregiver", meaning, I not only cared for husband, my mom, and husband's mom, but also worked 30 hrs. per week, outside of the home. Our moms were in nursing homes, and I kept check on them. Sadly, both are now deceased, but it there still doesn't seem to be enough time for me, to care for me in a given day, due to my husband's illness. (recently diagnosed with dementia, and stage 3 alzheimers). Sometimes, I forget my own meds, but remembers to give his. Please Pray for us. brominds
3930 helpful answers
I will pray for you. I know, too well, how easy it is to say that the caregiver must care for her or himself. Doing it is the problem. I didn't do it well, either. I hope you can find some repite care so you can get away, once in awhile. If you contact your state human services, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Every time I write a column mentioning our local resources, the people at SouthEast Human Services tell me their phone rings off the hook with crying people who didn't know services were available.

There is government funding. It's finding the place to call that's hard. And also, making yourself take advantage of it is hard. I always felt I needed to be there, because my elders like the way I did things best. I don't know if I'd be able to follow my own advice now, if I were to do it all over.

But I pray you will try. Maybe even someone from your church would sit with your husband while you get away, at least for an afternoon. Meanwhile - your meds are number ONE. That is something you must do. If you aren't there, who will help your husband?

I'm praying,
Carol

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