Depression and Caregiving


Depression and Caregiving

dark-night_w725_h544(Editor's Note: We welcome a new member of our blogging team, Ketzela, who cares for her dad. You can connect with her at her profie: @abackerson.)

I was diagnosed over ten years ago with depression. In all honesty I probably have had depression for close to 35 years. In my teens, I considered suicide and again in college. Ten years ago, I started with treatment. I am on medication and go for therapy twice a week.

My 88-year-old dad has Parkinson's and diabetic neuropathy. He had bypass surgery 17 years ago. He lived in New Jersey and three years ago we moved him near us (my spouse and I) and into an assisted living facility. A year ago we moved him into a nursing home because of how many falls he was having. Since we moved him here, I visit with him six days a week for about two hours a visit. I also make and attend all his doctor appointments and take care of his bills. I purchase various personal items for him. I have a POA for him but since he is quite capable of making decisions I do not use it at this time.

I have an older brother who lives out of town and is useless.

Over the past three years, Dad has declined. The most significant is going from walking with a cane to using a wheelchair for most of his transportation. He does walk with a walker but it depends if he is having a good day or not.

Recently there have been some cognitive changes.

Though taking care of my dad impacts my depression there are a few other factors:

--My spouse had bypass surgery this past fall.

--My cousin  MB (who is like a brother to me) was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer stage 4 in October 2012.

--My daughter who lives overseas has been diagnosed with one neurologic disorder and her doctors believe  she has an underlying autoimmune disease that is causing other neurologic symptoms.

--My  aunt (dad's older sister who 91 and my MB's mom) is declining.

--My  depression has been sinking fast and my therapist recently suggested that I visit Dad every other day to give myself a break but I am reluctant to do so.

Dad tends to be a loner by nature. He has no friends here  and I am his only local family. The  nursing home is good. Dad likes a structured  routine and if it is disrupted he becomes quite aggravated and frustrated. This unfortunately happens more then I would like to count. Often it is that someone has gotten him up late in the morning. He needs help getting out of bed so he can take his meds and let them kick in. If he starts the day like this it will be a bad day. Other days there is nothing to eat as he is a picky eater. Rarely does he have something positive to say. Often I try to visit during meals to try to lessen the  pressure to make conversation.

All Dad wants is to go to sleep and not wake up. He will not take medication for depression.

His world consists of:

--doctor appointments

--going to meals

--my visits

--watching TV

--taking his meds

--speaking with his sisters and my brother

He rarely participates in any activities. He does complain of being tired  and does sleep a large part of the day.

I think I will stop here for now.  I would appreciate support and ideas of coping with my depression. I walk my dog daily, go to yoga twice a week and read lots of books. When it is nice I try to spend time outside. But most days I would rather stay  in bed and pull the covers over my head.

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Ketzela, I am sorry for everything you are going through and dealing with. Kudos to you for your self-care. That is so very important. And Kudos for everything you are doing.\r\n\r\nCutting myself a lot of slack has been the main thing that's helped me. I spent many years feeling responsible for everything, including things that I couldn't control. For a long time my caregiving mantra was, \"What am I missing?\" Because I was sure I was missing something. Sometimes I was overwhelmed by all that pressure.\r\n\r\nDeclines are tough to witness. I agree with Denise -- there is tremendous value in just being there.


Ketzela, have you given serious consideration to your therapist's suggestion to cut your visits back a little? Maybe every other day or maybe only for an hour when you feel he would need you the most? Are there any staff members there who might be able to give you an opinion on this, based on what they observe of his behaviour at different times of the day? Think about at least giving it a try.


Ketzela I just submitted a blog for review and reread this . .\r\nYou are doing so very much for yourself and for your Dad . . .\r\nWow. Your blog has helped me take a baby step to be there for others on this site, and I just joined a couple of days ago. So I hope that helps and BTW I understand the need for Meds to fix it all and the struggle probably of which Med is best for your body! Kudos for yoga.\r\nKeep it up my dear. \r\nIl


Ketzela, I applaud you for sharing your struggle with depression. I also have been diagnosed with depression and it's unbelievably difficult when you don't know which came first, the depression or the caregiving yes? No? Maybe? Yes, Coping with depression is very hard work and so many outsiders don't get it but from what I see there is already support for you and me and all the others working with this challenge that are getting up and even just getting through the day. I like what Denise has said about just being with your Dad. Be easy on yourself and I will try to be easier on myself.\r\nHope your day is wonderful! Just reread your post and I can truly 'understand' not necessarily what you are going through but empathise. I hope this wasn't too much too absorb.\r\n\r\nIl


Denise,\r\n\r\nI like the idea of a blogging schedule. I will give that some thought.\r\n\r\nIt helped to write things out and know that I will not be judged. Most of my friends have not yet been long time caregivers so many do not understand. Also I find that many think that the medication will cure everything. Coping with depression is hard work.\r\n\r\nLetting go of fixing has been a project of mine for a long time. It tends to be instinctive and I have to make a conscience effort.\r\n\r\nThanks for providing a much needed outlet

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