I Am a Stressed-Out Family Caregiver: Meet Amie Mcgraham


I Am a Stressed-Out Family Caregiver: Meet Amie Mcgraham

(Editor’s Note: We’re putting the spotlight on the stress involved in caring for a family member or friend and we’re sharing the stories of stressed-out family caregivers. Today, we introduce you to Amie Mcgraham, who cares for her mom. Our questions and her answers follow.)

Caregiving.com: Tell us about your stress.
Amie: Caregiving for my mother with Alzheimer's over the years has finally taken its toll on me. I use all suggestions but can't seem to get out of the uncertainty of my situation.

Caregiving.com: What have you tried to minimize the stress? Tell us about agencies you've called, organizations you've contacted, individuals you've reached out to for help.
Amie: I participate in online caregiver support groups and discussions. Take short respite breaks. Employ self care suggestions: exercise, writing, journaling, talking to other caregivers, talking to friends, meditating, doing yoga, reading, eating healthy. I have recently started seeing a therapist. I read everything I can on dementia. I have researched and toured care homes for possible future needs. My mother's mental health is declining and I can't seem to find any positivity here.

Caregiving.com: How has your stress affected your family, your career and your health?
Amie: I quit a successful 25 year corporate career three years ago to become a caregiver to my mother. I am an only child and her only remaining relative. Traveling 3000 miles to care for her for a period of 2 to 3 months at a time three times a year is a difficult transition each time but getting harder as she declines faster. My husband is very supportive but I don't see him much. The only job I can fit in with the obligations and schedule is volunteering sporadically at an animal shelter which I love. My own health physically is fine but mentally not so good.

Caregiving.com: What would help you most right now?
Amie: To go home to my husband and to my non caregiving life. To have my mom looked after either still in home (so, a LOT of money would help) or in a dementia care home but only if she would relax and enjoy. To have a full time counselor! And while we're at it, some siblings to pick up the slack.

Caregiving.com: What resource has been most helpful to you?
Amie: These have evolved over time but currently it's a toss up between the paid caregiver who helps my mom when I am home for two months at a time and the face to face counselor I have just started seeing.

Caregiving.com: What's it like to live with caregiving stress?
Amie: Mind-numbing. Anxiety-ridden. Unsettling. Frenzied. An exercise in stretched patience. Feeling guilty over not being able to handle it all, or considering care homes and wanting things to end.

Caregiving.com: Briefly tell us about your caregiving situation.
Amie: I am the only child long distance caregiver to a mother with Alzheimer's whose religion does not allow medicine, physicians, diagnoses, or acknowledgment of disease of any sort. I have no children of my own; have been married for 14 years. I split my time 60/40 between two states 3,000 miles away, hands on caring for my mother then returning home every two to three months for some semblance of normalcy. This schedule does not easily allow a job other than unpaid caregiving and volunteer work on occasion. I am POA and handle all financial and legal matters (bills, budgeting, investments, wills health care proxy) for both my 81-year-old mother and 85-year-old father who are divorced. My father lives two hours from my mother and does not yet need caregiving assistance other than financial/legal.

(We’d love to feature your story–just complete our “I Am a Stressed-Out Family Caregiver” questionnaire. And, be sure to tell us how stressed you are in our simple survey.)

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Amie, Welcome aboard. I know you will find this a supportive and understanding site. I particularly benefit from the chat rooms and the friendships I have developed here with people who \"get it\". I care for my mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's earlier this year. She is in the late early/beginning mid stages and lives with my husband and I. Thank you for sharing your story. The challenges of caregiving are so diverse and so common at the same time. I appreciate how you highlight the challenges..particularly how the disease changes our lives so completely. And the reality of trying all suggestions and having to constantly seek new suggestions to cope. I am glad you are able to see a counselor face to face for the stress. Until one is in a role like this, it is difficult to appreciate the scope of what one deals with. Thank yo for being there for your mother and for sharing your story. It is nice to meet you. Cathy