Caregivers - with the elder population growing, it is becoming very challenging in coping with providing for our loved one(s). Probably one of the most asked questions is, "How do I handle caring for them while working, taking care of my family, house, then me [if it occurs at all]?"

There are no easy answers. I grew up in a dysfunctional home, but it was not nearly as severe as some people I talk to. So on that note, I thank God for His covering in my life. Now in discussing what do we do? Each situation is so different due to family dynamics, economical status, mental health, local government provisions, working situations, housing, legal, banking, bill paying, etc. It is time to discover what you will and will not do. All of these together can and will consume you if limits are not put in place. It is no wonder statistics for the death of the caregiver is so high.

First, make a list of things your loved one needs assistance with. It can range from dispersing medication to needing 24/7 care. Out of that list, decide what you believe you can reasonably do. If you decide you are going to pay bills, realize it is not an easy task. It is not a matter of writing a few checks. Do your homework for the tasks you believe you are willing to take on. It really is overwhelming.

For me, I am an only child and my life was not prepared for what happened. My parent's refused to "burden me" with such details having my own family, but knew they wanted me to take care of them. After a couple of situations happened, I instantly became their power of attorney, health provider, decision maker, errand runner, financial decision maker, mover, housing specialist, coordinator for friends and family, mail handler, temporary live-in, paperwork to the 10th power, appointments for all the legal and financial including their doctor's appointments, and I'm sure I'm missing a few. Now put all that on top of my present life (thank God no children) and working with lack of my own sleep and organization, it becomes necessary to find limits for yourself pretty instantly. Understand this - it is NOT necessary you do all this by yourself! If you do, you WILL be a caregiver death statistic.

Once you make a list of what you and your family are willing to do, talk to your spouse about it. It is extremely important you discuss this with them. Caregiving can destroy marriages quickly. Agree upon the choices. Once you have that portion of your list done, then see what services are available for what you are not able to do. If this is already sounding like a lot of work, this is only the prep work! Make sure in whatever choices you make, you provide balance, health, family, and exercise for yo. I do not want to see you become one of those statistics mentioned earlier.

If you have been thrown into this like myself, breathe. Take a few steps back and breathe again. I've made sure in my own life that I've waited on God. Admittedly, I've been nervous, impatient, freaked, and angry. Learning to step back and breathe has been my saving grace. May God bless those of you who already on this journey and to those just starting.

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Mitzi, you are so right on with this thread! Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope. I know you'll be able to help many through this difficult journey. Know that you have been helping and encouraging me along the way. God bless you! Thanks :) You have a good handle on this.

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