It brought back thoughts of Mother’s experience with a temporary feeding tube. Although we had someone to help part-time at home, I could manage it better (especially if it got clogged), once I learned how; yet I don’t remember how I “learned how.” What I do remember is that I could do all the stuff, but the thought (even before the doing) of causing any pain or hurt to someone I cared about, bothered me the most…and of course, still does.
So we learn our limits and our tolerance and our skills, but unless our calling is nursing-related (OK, I did want to be a nurse from ages 5-8), caregiving can involve so much more than we originally anticipate.
The New Old Age column states more than half the respondents undertaking these tasks felt they had no other options–either nobody would do them or insurance didn’t cover this. So caregivers just did it. More than half said they had no training from any source.
“How has doing these medical/nursing tasks affected your quality of life?” is the last survey question mentioned. “57% said “they felt they were making an important contribution;” 45% said “they felt closer to the loved one they were taking care of;” “40% suffered symptoms of depression;” 1/3 said they were “constantly waiting for something to go wrong.” Lastly, 1/3 described their own health as fair or poor.
Going back to the grateful old man with the white hair and kind eyes, takes us to his insurance. Based on the nursing tasks caregivers assume, it would seem caregivers need others to help shoulder some of the responsibilities. And since most lay people aren’t familiar with the details of President Obama’s healthcare plan, we have another responsibility: to learn if it provides ways for family caregivers to get some additional inexpensive help.
For many, caregiving is a part of helping parents age well until the end and we want to do our best. And when we invest a lot of ourself in something it’s difficult to let go. That’s normal. On the other hand, we need to know–and plan–how we can have some respite to keep ourselves healthy–physically and mentally. To quote the flight attendant on the airplane before take-off: “Make certain your oxygen mask is secured, before helping others.” Excellent advice, but perhaps easier said than done for family caregivers.
Related: http://caregiveraction.org/ Formerly Nat’l Family Caregivers Assn.
http://www.strengthforcaring.com/ Good resources here
Photo credits: http://css.lacounty.gov/data/ Family Caregiver Support Program and clearcareonline.com
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New: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities about cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.