The Path to Caregiving Stress: No End to the Suffering


The Path to Caregiving Stress: No End to the Suffering

(Editor’s Note: I’m writing about the path to family caregiver stress over the next few weeks. Read the series, The Path to Caregiving Stress.)

It happened again.

In Fairport, N.Y., a 60-year-old man killed his 27-year-old daughter, for whom he and his wife cared, and then himself. This is the fourth incident in as many weeks. In September, a husband, who cared for his wife and his son, tried to kill her with a hammer; a daughter, who cared for her mom, tried to kill her with insulin injections; a father killed his daughter and himself and then yesterday, the father killed his daughter and himself.

During caregiving, we witness and endure pain and suffering we can't seem to end and which doesn't seem to have an end. A survey respondent in our Family Caregiver Stress Survey describe caregiving this way: "this just goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on."

Other survey respondents wrote:

"Even if you are not caregiving at the moment, it's all you can think about. Can't focus at work wondering if they are ok and what they may need. Makes you mentally numb because you can't seem to succeed at anything because you are divided in too many directions. So you are broke from lack of work hours, mentally drained because you are torn in so many directions and your health goes down because you feel like taking care of yourself is selfish and too expensive."

"I'm very lonely and I feel like I can't breath. My caree is legally blind and elderly and incontinent and always has blood in his urine. I'm always cleaning up food, poop and bloody tissues from the floor. I never know what will be awaiting me when I step on the front porch or when I enter the bathroom or anywhere in the house. My long awaited; 5-6yr vacation has been taken from me because my caree was in the hospital so I used up too much of my paid time off. I cried. I need a break. No one is here with us. My brother who used to help died just four months ago from cancer. I love my caree but this is too much for me. I'm almost suicidal."

"Afraid of what the future holds because of what we have been through in the past and presently."

"The hidden, unknown perils of this new planet I live on, where any misstep could lead me to plummet further into a dark abyss with no soft landing."

When the today is overwhelming and the future doesn't seem to hold a better situation, how do you keep the hope to keep going? And, if you care for your child, how do feel hopeful for that child's future that doesn't include you?

Family caregivers in our community need help. Caregiving stress is the overlooked epidemic in our communities. We need to introduce help and support to change the caregiving experience so that it also includes hope.

How You Can Help

We’re working to create awareness so we can end caregiving stress. You can help. Here’s how:

I’ll be sharing more about family caregiver stress at the Second Annual National Caregiving Conference, which happens November 10 and 11 in Chicago. My session, Let’s Kill Caregiving Stress, will be part of the Family Tract on November 10 and will take place at 4 p.m. (Register to join us!) (Are you a company which offers products and services for family caregivers? Support family caregivers by exhibiting and sponsoring our conference.)

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