Alzheimer’s Assocation Support Group Meeting Renergizes Sedalia’s Caregivers
This might be one of those “personal” type blog posts here. I’m not saying that what I write in other times isn’t so important, but this blog post is about something I hope everyone that needs it will read it. I think we all know who we are.
I’ve always been the person that takes care of other people. It started when I was about 14 years old. My sister and her husband at the time were struggling and just starting out, and needed some help with child care. So I took care of their infant son after school, on weekends, and all summer. Diapers got changed, formula got made, burps were coaxed.
Then later, I took care of most of the household needs and bills and such for several roommates I had in college. If there was a utility, it was almost always in my name because I was the one that could be depended on to get it in on time. Trash needs to go out on Tuesday? Better make sure Behka knows. What’s wrong with the washing machine? Behka, help!
Then, when it was time to come home, it was time to take care of my Mom. Mom had ovarian, lung and brain cancer. I took care of her when I got up at 5:00 a.m. until I went to work that day. Then I’d make sure to check on her after I got home. I even had a baby monitor next to her bed and next to mine to be sure I could hear her if she woke in the night or early in the morning. After work, weekends, whenever, I did it. I dispensed medication, I helped with bathroom visits, baths, food, took her to chemo, whatever I could do. I lived there to help out. Then, as she was sick and couldn’t care for her herself, I helped take care of my maternal Grandmother. I took her to doctors, hairdressers, lunch, walks, whatever a 94 year old woman wants to do, I did it. Part of went along with that was trying to be an impromptu counselor – she suffered from depression, and it didn’t help that her daughter died after a long and slow descent from cancer. I did my best.
So I think I can safely say that I know what it feels like to be a caregiver. It’s more complex than you might think. On the one hand, you feel a sense of pride that you’re helping. But you also can feel a little put out when that help needs to take precedence over what YOU need. Then you feel guilty about feeling put out. Often with that comes frustration. Sometimes that frustration comes because of your own stress, or because you just feel like you can’t do enough. Maybe you can’t help them in every way you want to. Eventually it can start to feel like the person you’re caring for is your whole world. From sun up to sun down, you think about what they need, what they want. After a while you might even forget what “normal” life is like.
That kind of devotion is often admired from afar, but it’s hard to explain it to someone who hasn’t lived it. The fear of what happens when you aren’t there, or what happens after… well, they don’t need you anymore, that’s just as stressful as slicing pain pills into fourths. It takes a toll on the caregiver, somebody that often gets overlooked. The caregiver feels like they have to be strong, they have to be the rock. They have to fix things. They don’t have time to feel anything negative – they’ve got work to do. And that will cause a different, unique stress. It can be a stress that never quite goes away, even when you have a little “time off.” Where can you go, who can you talk to, that will understand that?
The Alzheimer’s Association will have a Caregiver Support Group Meeting. The meeting is an opportunity to find comfort and reassurance about feelings of guilt, frustration, and fear. Learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and other related issues. You can make new friends – friends that know what it’s like, because they’ve been there or ARE there. The meeting will be at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 1322 West Broadway, room 105. They will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 26. For more information, contact Betty Hopkins at 660-281-0822. I hope that if you’re a caregiver, you’ll attend. It might just be the thing that makes the difference. Don’t let yourself go to the wayside.