Loneliness, Depression and Caregiving


Loneliness, Depression and Caregiving

tulip-2080_640Most of my friends have not traveled the path of being a caregiver for a parent. In fact most of my friends still have both their parents. Those who have had a parent that has died, it was their other parent that was the primary caregiver.

My mother was an only child. Her father died from congestive heart failure. She moved my grandmother into our home for a year, and then she came to realize that she could not continue to take care of  her and placed her into a nearby nursing home. My grandmother had dementia and a variety of health issues. In the end she died from pneumonia.

My mom visited her regularly as did I.  Our visits were short because she didn't know who we were and she was always waiting for my grandfather to return from whatever errand she believed he was doing. We always believed that if  she remembered that he had died she would have gone much quicker.

My father's father died when he was in college. And his mother, my grandmother, died when I was a young child. I know that my dad did everything he could to take care of her.

For my spouse, his father took care of his mother until she died. And though we offered to have his father live with us, his father preferred his independence and died relatively quickly.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer my dad took care of her.  I was living in a different state and working as a teacher.  I wanted to come home to help but my mom (also a teacher) wanted me to wait until my winter vacation. She held out until I got their and we did home hospice care for her.  My father and I took turns taking care of her. She died within a week.

So, I  have no example of what it is to take care of a parent who has a degenerative disease. I have made my choices about caring for my dad based on my love for him and how I would want someone to care for me.

Many of  my friends question my choices. "Why visit every day?" "Why visit for hours at a time?" My answers are that he is my only dad. We moved him to where we live, first into assisted living and then into a nursing home. I am the only one who visits him. When my brother does come it is for 24 to 36 hours and visits our Dad for a few hours.

So I am lonely. No one seems to support my choices in taking care of my dad, not even my spouse. I do not want to have any regrets. Even though Dad has Parkinson's he has a history of heart disease and is diabetic. He is a fall risk and I do not know what tomorrow will bring. I do what I believe is right for me and for him.

But this makes for a lonely life. Which feeds into my depression. I know my friends mean well. I know that they are concerned for me. But they don't want to hear how caregiving for my dad is like having a full time job between paying bills, making and attending doctor appointments, taking him for physical therapy, and just being with him.

I do what I can in taking care of myself. I am going away for a week. I go to yoga classes two to three times a week. I eat healthy foods, sleep and do the daily chores of taking care of a home. I teach once a week as a volunteer. But there are days that I feel so alone. That no one really understands.

And then I wonder how much longer will I be taking care of my dad...

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