As Caregivers, we are often torn in more directions than a compass rose. Between our career, our declining Loved One, our household needs, etc. (and more!) At first, we are happy to help, but after a while, the Caregiver is often left asking the question, “What about ME?!”
In our Facebook group, we get many questions on a weekly basis, one of which went something like this:
I love my Mom and want to help her but what about me? I have a busy job and I’m very concerned. I’ve taken all vacation time, personal time and sick time to be able to help her. I’ve also begged for additional time off, which my boss graciously granted and have traded off time with coworkers. I feel like I’m close to being timed-out. I feel like if I take off any more time I might be replaced with somebody that is not as needy.Sleepless in San Antonio. (name changed to protect the innocent)
In addition, I have a family that I’m seeing very little these days. I’m extremely concerned about my high school and college age children in the midst of this Covid crisis. I feel like I need to be much more present for them but carrying for my Mom is taking up most of my time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mom and want to be able to do everything possible to make sure she gets the best care possible. However, she lives about 50 miles from my house and is unwilling to move.
When I add up the 1 hour every morning and 3 hours at night that I spend at Mom’s, plus almost all weekend time, plus 40 hours at work, plus the time I spent driving back and forth to her house, plus driving to work – it leaves me little time for myself.
I’m sleeping very little and wonder if my spouse and kids even remember me. Any input would help.
Time to take ‘What about ME?!‘ Seriously
It sounds as the superhuman efforts expended by “Sleepless in San Antonio” raises the definition of “overwhelm” to an entirely new level!
Sleepless is squarely in the clutches of Journey Stop #2 where the caregiver spends 4 – 6 hours per day helping their declining parent. If you count driving time and extra time on the weekends, she may even be closing in on Journey Stop #3. What can she do differently? Here are a few ideas.
Determine upfront what you are willing and able to do. (Make sure you ask yourself, “What about ME?”) Since you live at a distance, you may have to rely more heavily upon other family members, non-medical caregivers, and technology to make sure that your Mom continues to get the best possible care at home.
If Mom has no cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s, have a discussion with her. The goal is not to get her to say she needs no help but instead to come up with a workable plan for all.
Do a family assessment. Carefully notice which areas Mom is struggling with. What tasks are difficult for her to do that she could do well even a few months ago? Specifically where does she need help? Concentrate your efforts in these areas.
Determine the extent of her finances. Does she have money to pay for non-medical home care? Does Mom have a power of attorney authorizing someone to act for her when she becomes totally incapacitated?
Ask and Consider
Will Mom allow non-medical home care helpers in her home? If so interview several non-medical care companies until you find someone who is a good fit.
Schedule and Meet
Schedule a Mom Centered Family Meeting. Determine what resources Mom has available; write down an agenda of topics to be discussed at the meeting; discover what tasks that siblings are willing and able to do; develop a plan; and implement the plan.
Despite the fact that Mom has not been willing to move in the past, also discuss this issue at the family meeting. Perhaps arrangements can be made to keep her in the home now, but during the Pivot Planning Process discuss what a future move would look like.
Research and incorporate any and all technology into Mom’s home that can help ensure that she is safe at home.
Don’t forget to come up with a Pivot Plan that lays out what will be done when things change.
“What about ME?!”
Develop a “Quality of Life Improvement Plan” for You.
- What things need to change in your life to regain balance in all areas?
- What can be done to ensure you get good care without sacrificing care for your Mom?
- Do a Mom Centered Family Meeting as soon as possible to craft the best possible plan for Mom. A portion of this plan incorporates what you are available, willing and able to do.
What are YOUR Tips for Sleepless?
The above list contains a few of my thoughts. But since you are a caregiver in the throes of the caregiving process, you probably have other thoughts, comments or suggestions that would be very beneficial. How do you answer ‘What about ME?!’
Please add your tips in the comments below and we will incorporate them in our newsletter and blogs. Also feel free to go to our Facebook page to enter your comments and sign up for the HMHM Support Group. In that private group, you can read, respond, comment and converse with real caregivers on a daily basis.
We want to be friends!
Ok. That might come off a little fast, considering we barely know each other. However, we fully understand the stress and turmoil that you are facing as Family Caregiver. Our own experiences have given us great wisdom and insight that has translated into many a caregiver solution!
In our time as caregivers, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge that we desire to pass on. Likewise, we have met many professional caregivers, as well as other family members who were thrust as Family Caregiver. All caregivers have shared the same advice – Join a community!
We have since created Caregiver Connection. Caregiver Connection is a newsletter that we write personally and send to fellow Caregivers. It is full of tips, tricks, and even professional advice. If you would like to sign up, click the button below.
Thank You for being a Caregiver for Your Loved One – you are making a huge difference in their life!