finky5 Asked October 2012

How do caregivers find the time to take care of their own health?


Why do I have a file full of scripts for tests, bloodwork, MRI etc for myself? I go to the doctor but never follow thru. However, mom is up to date on everything! I just ran into a neighbor/caregiver who lost her mom last year. She told me within 3 months of her mom passing away she began having serious health issues. She said she just fell apart. I just can't seem to find time with work, kids, caring for mom.



EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Oct 2012
You are like most of us. You are too busy caring for other to care for yourself. imagine, also, that you are so sick of sitting in doctor's offices you can hardly handle the thought of going for yourself.
Like you, I let my own checkups slide. I was fortunate not to encounter anything horrible, but I did contract an autoimmune situation - very common in caregivers. All any of us can say is that you MUST find time to follow up on your own care. Hire respite care for your mom, take sick leave from work, whatever you must do, you need to take care of yourself. If you don't and you get sick, who will take care of all the people you take care of now?
You are as important as they are. Please follow through on your own healthcare, too, before you have something that will take over your life - and theirs.
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sal2313 Nov 2012
My mom lives next door to me, she's 75yrs old on oxygen 24/7 never drove, worked or had friends. I am one of 5 children and the main care giver. I have one sister who shows up about once a month to take mom to lunch. One sibling a man lives too far away and works crazy hours. Two sisters are out of the picture because they are dysfunctional. I have breast cancer and will start chemo next week for six sessions once every three weeks followed by six weeks of radiation. I have been to so many doctors have had so many test. My mother was just in the hospital for a week with C.O.P.D. issues then in a rehab for a week. I had to deal with all her doctors and paper work. I have practically begged my sister for help and get excuses. Her friends and husbands side of the family think she's a Saint. If they only knew what she was really like. I have a long road ahead of me and can only hope this sister will pitch in, but I doubt it.
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Lori1943 Nov 2012
sal2313: I can really, really relate to your situation. I'm the sole caretaker for my mother, who has dementia issues and is very demanding, and I endured lengthy treatment for breast cancer last year, including chemo, surgery and radiation. I'm fine now, and hope and pray you will be too. But Girl, this is a very, very rough project you have in front of you. You are absolutely going to have to have some help with your mom, at least from time to time, so please be proactive and get some arrangements made up front. The worst chemo side effect is the fatigue. This is not just plain old tired. This is the most tired you have ever been in your entire life, multiplied by 100. It may come and go between chemo treatments, but there are going to be days when you are just not going to be able to keep up, and you absolutely must have a fallback plan in place. The American Cancer Society does a lot of things for cancer patients, including providing free rides to treatment--contact them on the internet. I was fortunate to have received my treatment from a large cancer specialty hospital, and they had psychologists and social workers to help with things like this, so that's another possibility. Ask your doctor for referrals. Also, contact both your Area Agency on Aging (federal program, in the phone book and on line), and the association and ask for help, advice and referrals for both your mom and yourself. If you have any family or friends that may be able to pitch in even occasionally, get them lined up. If you belong to a church or other organization, ask for help there. There is help out there, but you have to be proactive and track it down; and you have to ask. Most people are delighted to have something specific to do to help in a situation like this. Another possibility is to get your mom into temporary nursing or assisted living care while you work on your recovery; you may be able to line up a facility for her that will taker her overnight from time to time when you especially need the relief. The American Cancer Society also has helpful programs for you--including pairing you up with a volunteer who has been through similar cancer treatment and can be there for you to track down help or just to listen. You will make it through this--just try to be as kind and patient with yourself as you possibly can, and take it one day at a time. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Hugs, hugs, hugs, and hugs.
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lefaucon Nov 2012
Dear Finky5,
I too let all my doctors appts and upkeep of my health slide and went downhill. I am still 10 pds underweight. I got sick all of the time, my allergies got worse, I had emotional breakdowns, I never followed up with doctors appts myself. Until..... I had to hire CG to help me out with Mom and Dad not only for upkeep shopping of the house, etc....but so that I can follow up with my own doctors appts. I know that you've probably heard this a million times, but you cannot keep taking care of Mom if you don't take care of yourself. You must MAKE the time to follow up on your doctors appts, not only for your Mom, but for yourself and your children. Your children need you healthy and strong. Think of them if you have difficulty thinking of yourself. You may end up in hospital sooner than Mom if you don't, then where will your children and Mom be without you?
Hire CG for those times that you must see the doctors. Please, please take care of yourself and get to those doctors appts!!
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Braida Nov 2012
I agree with you, Finky. I have my Mom living with me, and I'm so busy doing her stuff constantly, that I don't have a moment to myself. I feel lately like I'm going to smother. I love her dearly, but I have no time for ME! My husband and I can never go away for a couple of days. I can't go to the store, for God's sake, without Mom. I had the shingles several months ago. All through that ordeal, I continued to try to do my Mom things. She is looking for me every 5 minutes, I kid you not. I just had a 48 hr heart monitor, to see if I have heart problems as a result of palpitations. I have IBS, which is killing me right now. I just feel like I'm a ticking time bomb, and yet there seems to be no alternative for me. I resist getting strangers in my home to help w/ Mom. Who knows what they are like. A big question mark! And I have no relatives in my vicinity to help. And, when ppl recommend caregiving help so frequently, which I get all the time from my friends, do they have any clue as to how expensive those places are? Who could afford them? And even if you could afford them, how do you know the quality, integrity, and nuturing capabilities of a stranger? Isn't it just a crap shoot? I find it a huge dilemna. But I just can't put my Mom in Assisted Living or Memory Care. She's really sweet and I love her to death, and she'd be heartbroken, and my guilt from doing that would probably kill me. Sheesh. I'm in a Catch 22. Good luck, Finky. I can so relate to what you're saying.
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Gmadarlin Nov 2012
If you don't begin to take steps even small ones then your health goes out the
window. I have been caring for Mother for close to 9yrs I shut down for one whole month thot I was dieing stayed in the bed, got thru that then went to ER for emergency gallbladder removal had to have Mother go to other family in other city for 2 weeks, she just passed Oct 4 so now I can breathe so relieved but please get help somewhere, there's more help now than ever & PRAY,PRAY,PRAY I am prayin for all you caregivers out there you are making God smile
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ssll66 Nov 2012
My husband was ill for 16 years before he passed away in 2000. There was no caregiving site to explore how to cope and my health broke down completely. I had no idea how to get out of constant demands, let alone running our business and I have an autoimmune disorder. Listen to the advice, even a walk around the block or a nap can make a big difference. Just do one little thing for yourself every day; you can lose yourself in the role and it's hard to come out of it. Now it's my 90 year old mother and this time I'm getting help and I'm exploring the helpful advice of this wonderful forum every day. Take care.
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ptg123 Nov 2013
Caregivers usually experience periods of stress, anxiety, depression, and frustration. Here are a few suggestion to help all caregivers stay stress-free (to some extent).
1. Find support – Don't shy away from asking for support, when needed.
2. Recognize the signs of stress – You set your own limits.
3. Get help.
4. Be kind and patient with yourself.
5. Take care of your body.
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pamzimmrrt Jan 2014
I try to plan some of my apts when I schedule my parents. Dentist, eye dr ,family Dr. Works out well for all of us I know this will not work if you need a specialist, but for routine stuff it is working for us. I also let the CG take mom and dad to routine things
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BarbBrooklyn Nov 24, 2017
Are you in the U.S.? Have you applied for Medicaid on your parent's behalf?
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