I am burned out. What do I do?

I have been caring for my husband for almost 3 years without one day off. He had a stroke in 2013. We have home health care 3 hrs a day, 4 days a week and she takes care of the housework pretty much. I do everything else. My husband can talk and most of the time his mind is sound. He can walk short distances.


I have burned myself out doing for him. Unfortunately I didn't see the "burn-out" signs until I reached the bottom. Now I'm having trouble just functioning. I am physically and emotionally depleted.


Any suggestion on how to get back to where I was?



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Notwonderwoman, your name on the site says it all. None of us are wonder woman, believe me! Many of us have had very low times with much less to handle than you have.

You should not have to be so anchored to your home and your husband's care that you can't do anything for yourself. It’s not sustainable. If you had someone come in everyday for a few hours so that you could go out, that would be wonderful, but it's not likely to happen.

Suggesting a nursing home may seem extreme but if your health breaks down - mental and/or physical - that's what would happen anyway. And then your husband would lose your companionship.

As hard as it is to think about, it seems as if you should try for assisted living (if your husband qualifies physically) or nursing home care for him. To paraphrase sandwich42plus, if you aren't doing all of the physical and emotional work, you can spend a lot of time with your husband with a refreshed body and mind. You are not giving up on him by placing him in care. You are preserving your future together in the best manner that you can.

Burnout can turn into compassion fatigue which is truly an awful place to be. Please consider looking into this move – without guilt! You’ve spent 3 years glued to your husband’s side caring for him and you are breaking down. Anyone would.

You may find this article helpful: https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/compassion-fatigue-caring-too-much-196224.htm

Take care of yourself, my friend. By doing so you are taking care of your husband.
Can you get respite care? By that I mean move him to assisted living or a nursing home for a month? Talk to your insurance company or Medicare or your caseworker if you are Medicaid.
Call your congressman if you have to. Get on a waiting list. Ask for help from the VFW or American Legion. If you make enough noise, they will hear you.
Don't hold your breath for VA intervention.
Respite care is a common need for long term caregivers.

See what your other health insurance will cover. Private, ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, other state level assistance - whatever you've got. It may take a combination approach and steadfast diligence on your part. Exactly what you don't need right now, eh?

At the same time, call around to the area nursing homes to see who has a program and will help you deal with insurance. Your profile doesn't say how old you are, but if you're over 65 your area agency on aging may be able to help you as well.

One short burst of respite isn't going to cure much for long. I strongly encourage you to take a hard look at the complete picture here and figure out how much you can actually do over the long haul. Nobody's getting any younger and none of this is going to spontaneously heal itself.

It's one of the hardest things to deal with in a good marriage when one spouse has a care level that far exceeds what the other intends and is able to provide. Nobody wants to think about being separated. That's not the way it's supposed to be. It feels like giving up. But it's not. You can spend more quality time together as husband & wife if someone else is handling all the hard work & heavy lifting. If you aren't trying to do the work of 15 other people, you may find your time together far more rewarding. It will be weird at first, so don't expect to drive home with a happy heart on day 1. But your health may improve as does his state of being by having more of the right kinds of help.
I'm not convinced that you would be able to get back where you were. Even if you did, you would deplete yourself again very quickly as you continue to care for your husband and yourself.

Caring for a disabled person in the home is extremely challenging. Of course, you know that. I would look at the big picture and try to find him placement. You say that you tried to find placement through VA last year. Have you tried private facilities?

It sounds like he would qualify for Assisted Living due to his disability. I'd check that out. In NC, when I called to check on some assisted living facilities, they always asked if the person was a veteran. They had special offers for veterans. I'm not sure what they were, but I might explore that.

I hope you can find some relief. Respite care would be great, but only for the short term.
You need a break. But sometimes going away on vacation is even more stressful than just staying at home, so consider taking a staycation and being kind to yourself. It is going to take effort on your part to get yourself out of this rut but everyone on this forum is rooting for you!

According to the VA website, respite care services are available for you for up to 30 days each calendar year. You can use the 30 days in different ways like 1 visit of 30 days or have 10 short stays of 3 days each during the year.

Once you get a break, start looking for a sustainable living arrangement for your husband that works for the both of you.

When I hit bottom, all of a sudden I felt dizzy and hit the floor in my kitchen. That was my wakeup call. I got up, looked in the mirror and admitted to myself that I was appalled by what I saw. I felt like my inlaws had sucked me dry and it showed. I felt terrible. I looked sick. I didn't want to die. And I was scared.

Go see your doctor. Tell the doctor all about these last three years. Cry. Let it all out. Ask the doctor to help you get back your health. The stress caregiving puts on the body can last for up to three years after caregiving ends. I'm almost in year three (my inlaws moved into independent living) and have gained back most of the weight/muscle I lost. Had I seen my physician sooner, I would not have gotten so sick in the first place. But there was a silver lining and that was recognizing how important healthy boundaries were to establish in the first place.
Working on that through the VA. I tried last September but they were short staffed and had no bed availability.
So scary to read the above. I am on my third year dealing with my husbands ALZ. He claims never married, No children we have 3 grown, 9 grandchildren. The cost for care in a facility will use up all our income, savings and living expenses in less than 4 years. How awful that I pray he does not live too much longer.
Wow, I wish we could get home health care help! I'm pretty much 24/7, 365 days a year. I do go into town for shopping by myself sometimes, that's about it. I've been a caretaker for over 15 years.
Oh BTW, from what I have heard, the VA does not offer Assisted Living itself. What would happen, apparently, is that all veterans disability payments would go toward paying for AL at a private facility, and then any balance would have to be paid by other funds. Especially problematic if there's a wife who's dependant on those benefits to pay her expenses. There are VA contracted nursing homes, very few, and beds are not always in the state, from what I hear. That would also be the same, I hear, paid for by veterans benefits, plus copayment.

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