The Caregiver Action Network has a theme for this November’s annual Family Caregiver Month. They’re calling it “Caregiving Around the Clock.”
I was a caregiver to my parents and my mother-in-law for more than 15 overlapping years in two different states. Even though I lived just a two-hour car ride away from my mother, and one from my MIL, pulling what I called a “double header” when I would visit them both on the same day, I would be physically and emotionally drained when I got home. And that was once a week, caregiving from afar.
I can’t imagine being on duty 24/7. I was reminded of that fact—and of the long distance vs. live-in family caregiver divide–when I wrote a piece for the AARP Bulletin on managing caregiver emotions.
I discussed my ambiguous feelings that included grief, stress, guilt, resentment, anger, joy, fulfillment and, on dark days, wishing it would all be over. I don’t have to tell you what the “it” is.
I received heartfelt word lashings from readers. One wrote, “Sally Abrahms can take off her crown now!” Another informed me that I was not a caregiver, “but a visitor.” They said I had no clue what it is like to be a ‘round the clock caregiver and how dare I talk about exhaustion. (They’re right, I have no clue.)
My point in writing the piece was not to see who has it worse—those in the trenches are clearly the “winner”—but to share my feelings. (I don’t own a crown.)
During this special month, let’s acknowledge the efforts of ‘round the clock caregivers. And let’s steer them to the best resources, programs, services, referrals, information and advice.
These sites are among my favorites: