Saturday, December 25, 2010

Respite Care for family caregivers

"I did not expect to go down like this. I am in a bind now, my wife is not keeping good health and I am not able to take care of her or myself",  Paul (not his real name) was sharing his frustration with me. I met Paul at a nursing home. The nursing home has declared that Paul is ready to go home, even though he cannot even move his own wheel chair for ten feet.

Paul has been taking care of his wife for about 7 years now. His wife, Andrea (not her real name) is a stroke victim and has one side completely paralyzed. Paul has been keeping good health and hence did not consider taking any help. Everything was going fine till recently when after returning from a doctor visit, Paul collapsed. He has been in hospitals and nursing homes for the last few weeks. He is very worried about the wellbeing of his wife and now himself too.

We come across several such instances. As family caregiver, the stress builds up progressively and  cumulatively. The family caregiver often associates guilt, when considering some form of help. They feel guilty and feel it is their  responsibility to provide care. Here is what we would normally tell someone like Paul.

You cannot be the husband, father and caregiver
You have the best intentions. However, you are as human as anyone else is, maybe a better human. However, if you try to do everything, progressively this would affect and ruin your health. Are you prepared for a day when you both will need care-giving? You should continue to be the husband and the dad and should consider getting some care-giving help. Getting some help now can avoid getting a lot of help later on.

Start with Respite Care

Paul, choose a day in the week where your wife can be taken care of by a care giver. Use this day to relax, and get your things done. Go out and do your stuff. Your wife will be well taken care of. Recently we were taking care of Janet for about 45 days when her daughter was away on vacation. Janet sends her daughter away on vacation every year as she has been the primary caregiver for her mom for several years. Janet sent her daughter on a world cruise, while we took care of Janet.

Consider few hours of help in a day
Try getting few hours of help every day. Remember out of the 24 hours in a day, you are still the primary care giver. Care giving services are there only for 20-30% of the time? You are still taking care of your wife for the rest of the time.

No Guilt Please
You should not have s sense of guilt that you are not doing enough. This often is the case. You are doing more than what others would normally do. More importantly, you are not the reason for your wife's poor health.
Hence there should be no reason for you to feel guilty about taking care of your self. In reality this is a pure act of love. You are taking care of yourself to take better care of your wife.

Always remember, stitch in time saves nine. You can contact me if you need help. I am just a phone call away at 626-639-0226

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