Stepping down from caregiving.

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I have been caregiving on and off since 2005 for various family members
(father in law, mother in law, sister, mother, father) in various degrees, but mostly during health crises. Some of these crises lasted a few months, some a several years, and some were happening at the same time for different family members.

In 2013 I had sugery for breast cancer, then my thyroid went hypo in the next few months, and recently I had extremely low blood sugar ( which can be brought on by hypothyroidism).

Today I called my parents and told them that I could no longer be the one
to personally give them care any longer because my own health is not great anymore.

A few years ago, I did some research and had interviewed a few home health agencies, found one I really loved and told Mom and Dad to get signed up with them so that if they need someone to come in right away it could be done. Mom just got the application. I purchased Phillips pendants and health monitor for both Mom and Dad.
I also told them that I would not be the one who would be
able to take them in to give care and live with me because
I no longer have the health to do this.

I wanted to let them know so that they could be mentally and emotionally prepared and not hoping and waiting for me to run in and fix the situation when in reality I might not be able to do that as I used to.

They both agreed and understood. It was reassuring to me after many years of trying to get them to let others involved to help, that they finally agreed.
I feel like I will be able to keep an eye on them, and make sure things are getting done correctly and for their benefit without having to do it all myself.

It took many years to get to this point, and it took me sometime to
accept that I was not going to be able to continue to help them as I had,and that I would not be able to provide a place to live that I could continue to help them. ButI do know there are wonderful people who work as nurses, homemakers, homehealth aides etc, and I know that there are some top notch homes also...they do exist..and my parents will be just fine.

4 Comments

ljdh0709, you made the right choice. How did you approach your parents back in 2013 to let them know you had breast cancer?

I was diagnosed in 2009 but never told my parents why I was going in for surgery, I was afraid the news would turn them back into major helicopter parents or it would damage their health.

The cancer and major surgery set me into a major tailspin, and even to this day I never regained my energy. It's the reason I never could be a hands-on caregiver for my folks. I actually believe the stress of helping my parents had caused the cancer because there were no other markers.... [sigh].

I am happy to hear that your parents have accepted this situation. My parents are still throwing out the guilt whenever I say *no* to driving them somewhere. But I am standing ground and not getting behind the wheel like I use to, I just can't do it anymore.
I minimized everything when telling them about the surgery and the BC and really didn't tell them anything about all the followups afterwards except that I had doctors appointments and that the results were fine.
Now I have a list of health issues besides the ones I mentioned that I have had for several years, and they know that I am no longer available to even go to the family gatherings or holiday dinners often. I think it took this for them to accept that they had to let others begin helping them besides myself.
I know what you mean about the guilt, my mother once refused to go to the doctors unless I drove her, rather than having someone else drive.

If you are still not feeling well, I would make it known to them while you talk on the phone. Everytime you are not feeling well, just let them know so that you have to keep it short because you are tired. Get them used to the fact that you are not always available. My biggest suggestion is to really take care of yourself. You have just been through a major life change and it takes time to heal physically and mentally from it. You matter just as much as they do. Eventually if you get very ill, they will have to let someone else help. Its a difficult situation, I know.
ljdh, you handled the situation so well. Your parents are indeed jewels who seem to care very much about you. It's nice to see mutual family support. I hope it will help you keep your thyroid and blood sugar managed, and that the BC booger doesn't show up ever again.
Thank you jessiebel. I hope so too.

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