Caregiver Becomes the Caregivee

helping handI know there is no such word as “caregivee”, but I like the word. As a full-time caregiver, I find that it is strange to have someone take care of me and for me to become the “caregivee.” I ended up in the hospital this week and it just reminded me that I can no longer be a caregiver.

Sadly, due to my own health issues, I have to let go of Mom after over four years of full-time caregiving. It is heartbreaking to know that the only other option at this point (for my mom) is a nursing home. Thankfully, it is a small place in a rural area and is one of the top 100 nursing homes according to U.S. News & World Report. As soon as they have an opening (which will be any day now) one of my family members will fly here to California to take Mom back to Virginia. At least Mom will be closer to more family members. I just hope they take the time to visit her and appreciate her for as long as she is alive (even if she does not know them).

I did not like being the “caregivee” this week. It was a humbling experience. My own health (due to a chronic illness) is deteriorating, so I will need help in the near future. I learned enough about this process (of taking care of Mom) that I do not want my partner or children to take on caring for me (at home) when I am no longer able to care for myself. I would rather be in a facility (probably a Veterans Affairs hospital/home) than have my family members be under so much stress. I know they will argue with me so I have it all written out in my Advanced Health Directive.

Despite my sadness of Mom leaving, I have a sense of relief (and feel guilty as a result). I feel like I need to enjoy some freedom and enjoy life while I can still walk and talk. Sometimes life gives us challenges with no easy answer to a problem. I took care of Mom until I could no longer physically do it. For that I have no regrets. It still does not make it easy. Now it is my turn to be the “caregivee”.

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7 Comments on "Caregiver Becomes the Caregivee"

Profile photo of Il
Jul 5, 2013

This is beautifully written Ellie. It’s so hard to admit we are human when we take care of others. Wishing you well and hope to ‘talk’ to you soon. il

Profile photo of EllysGdaughter
Jul 5, 2013

Oh Ellie, you have done everything you can gracefully! What a gift of understanding fully you’ve been given to be able to make your own choices when the inevitable comes! I wish you well in the transition, taking advantage of the little time you have left now with your mom close by!

Profile photo of ejourneys
Jul 5, 2013

I echo what Il and EG have said. You have taken care in so many ways — of your mom, of yourself, and of your wishes and preparations, with grace and foresight. I wish you the very best in the days ahead.

Profile photo of Denise
Jul 6, 2013

Hi Ellie–I think caregiving is about the experience and not about the location. Although you may at a distance from your mom, you know and understand what she needs. You will still advocate for her and care for her and love her.

I also think you are very, very wise to understand that a change will ensure your mom continues to receive quality care while you do, too. Such a hard decision to make and you’ve just showed us how to make it with courage and grace.

Please keep us posted.

Profile photo of
Jul 6, 2013

Beautiful post.