“I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.”
As my father’s Alzheimer’s disease progressed, I, along with my siblings and our spouses, began to be more involved with Dad’s caregiving in an effort to help our mom. Dad was prone to wandering and wasn’t sleeping through the night, leaving our mother exhausted. We would take turns watching him so she could get a break or go to her own medical appointments. Additionally, I accompanied my parents to Dad’s doctor appointments, because the input and moral support was a benefit to my mother.
I found the role-reversal of this disease emotionally challenging. The day my dad needed me to help him tie his shoes, I quietly wept while fiddling with the laces. I felt like he was bothered, too, by the fact he couldn’t care for himself. It was if the look on his face said, “I used to do this for you,” similar to the feelings expressed in this video.
It was a very stressful time for me, as I was also caring for my teenage son who had sustained a concussion while playing high school football. In addition to helping my mother and running my son to specialists, I was also working. The stress and time away from work began to take its toll, and I left my job as I was spreading myself too thin.
My circumstances were not unique. According to the AARP’s research, 42 million people in the U.S. are caring for an older relative or friend.
Recognizing the role reversal of children caring for parents, the AARP and the Ad Council have launched new public service advertisements that illustrate how the changing roles of parents and children can really impact one’s life. And since most caregivers are also working and managing their own families at the same time, this highly stressful time can put caregivers at risk for depression and anxiety, illness, premature aging, among other things, plus it can cause financial problems. Throw in the upcoming holiday season, and the combination can be extremely overwhelming. Caring for caregivers is necessary.
It is no secret that caregivers need support. Even though I wasn’t caring for my dad 24/7, it still was nice to catch a breather and talk to friends who had been there or were currently in the same position. Just having a network of people where I could vent or cry was immensely helpful.
If you are currently caring for a parent or friend, know that you are not alone. Whether you find encouragement online, over the phone or in person over a cup of coffee, it is imperative to find that support. Self-care is vital when caring for loved ones, no matter the circumstance. From one who has been there, I send you the warmest of wishes. Even though it is a difficult time, my prayer is that you will find joy in the fact that you are making a difference in the life of someone you love.
Have you been a caregiver to a parent? How did you handle the role reversal? Feel free to share in the comment section.
© Lynne Cobb – 2014