I am also a full time caregiver to a good friend of mine from high school and my junior prom date. He is now 82 and we are still friends who help each other. That hasn't changed since school bus days. He never married because of caring for a blind diabetic mother since he was 14 yrs. Old. We are closer than family. I loved reading what she had to say about being a caregiver! It has been the story of my life since the beginning of 2015. I like her perspective and sense of humor about her life as a caregiver.
My friend, dick, is also stubborn and strong willed. It is frustrating to me - but I knew that as well as his strong points many years ago. We have great trust in each other. I do have to just smile and leave the room lest I blow up at times - sometime I blow up and then leave the room. One thing I did that I think is helping. I insisted that my friend go into physical therapy. I told him that he will never be the man I know he is - but - if he doesn't keep his muscles strong enough to work for him he will be in a wheelchair. If that happens I will not be able to care for him. I monitor all of his meds and take him to all of his doctor appointments. I am a good cook and both of us enjoy that part. We had a bird garden put in outside our windows and both of us have our morning coffee enjoying the birds. It is his job to fill the feeders and hang them each morning and take them down again at night. Aha! A purpose in life. And he takes them in (because the racoons ravish them nightly) if we don't. Yes, this is taking a toll on me and some of my friends think I am doing the wrong thing to accept this responsibility. I have a more practical viewpoint. If he were to be in a facility for his care - I would go daily - take dirty clothes home and return them clean the next day - I would bring him what he likes to eat and have lunch or dinner with him. That in itself is very time consuming as I did it while he was in re-hab after his release from the hospital in january 2014. I brought him to my home february 20,2014 after his release from there,. In the meantime I have had numerous health problems of my own.
When I have been hospitalized my family makes sure he is ok and brings him meals.They love him as I do. Now the question "Is this ruining my health and my life?" it is certainly taking it's toll but it is a choice I made and am comfortable with - not one that I feel a duty or need to do. I hate the part where I have to be firm with him but I try to not be "Nasty" - instead I expain my reasons - end of discussion. We are friends and we respect each other. I think that is the key - respect for each other. When I have been hospitalized my family brings his meals and checks up on him. With the double burden of caring for him and for myself when I need assistance. He is willing to pay for whatever I need - he does not take me for granted. Perhaps if you are dealing with family this could happen. Now let me talk about my family. I have three sons. I have always been very independant and functioned without a lot of help. I raised my sons to be the individuals they are. I rarely required assistance until I aged. Let me insert here something that I think is important. When they went off to college and returned home in the summer. I told them the new house rules. These are the things I need done every week - you organize within yourselves who and when they will be done.
When I became hospitalized I found a different son in each emergency room I ended up in. They organized a tag team approach to care for mom (now that includes dick) same as the rules I set down when they left home to go to college. Not all familys' have this understanding. Actually I was amazed that I did until I saw it function! So having the support of my children and dick's neighbors since 1942 has made this journey a joint effort. Notice I did not mention dick's remaining sister or nieces and nephews. I perhaps can sum up my experiences with how you have lived your life, what you expect (that is an important one) and the people who have always been supportive . It may not be family - it may be friends and neighbors - but there is someone I am sure. Just ask for help and do not whine and complain. Ignore the critical "Family members" and look for the positive helpers. They are out there and you deserve to find them and that is your responsibility. It is also your responsbility to take care of yourself in the process.