FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ A Caregiver's Friends and FAmily Plan
My column in last week’s newsletter about my
friend who moved home to help take care of his
brought a flood of responses. In my friend’s case,
his previously healthy mother died suddenly while
taking care of his father (not an unusual occurrence
for the primary caregiver in any family). I know
how difficult it can be to take a break from the
stress of caregiving, even when we know it is the
best thing we possibly can do for ourselves and the
loved one for whom we care. The obvious answer is
getting our friends and family to help us more, but
that is trickier than it seems.
Florence’s email is a case in point.
I am drowning in stress due to caring for my mother
who has cancer. I am single and an only child, so I
feel that I have no one to talk to about what I am
I am a healthcare professional (nurse) as well,
which makes it worse sometimes because I know all
too well what she is doing wrong when she is
It seems lately that all I do is work and take care
of her. I do not have anyone to go do something fun
with from time to time, which makes it really hard.
I just feel trapped and alone in this situation. I
love my mother very much, but I just need relief
from all of this constant responsibility and care
for her. She does not have the money for me to bring
in a hired person, nor does she really need it as of
yet. She is so finicky that no one but me can do
things right for her. What I would not give for a
sister at this time.
OK, I'm through venting :-). I feel better having
put all this onto you (ha!). I'm actually going to
sit down and watch a TV program all the way through
Thanks for listening,
Your mom is quite lucky to have a daughter like you.
Actually, I think the first best step is reaching
out and just putting your feelings on paper (or a
computer screen). I don’t know where you live
or if your mom has any friends or you have any other
relatives who could step in and lend a hand.
Many times the challenge is that people don’t know
how to help until we give them specific duties.
Please see link below.
The other thing I would recommend is a support group
(I know what you might be thinking), but support
groups become our families of choice and great
friends are made from the time spent together.
I think it would be a great idea to see if your mom
may have any activities that she really enjoys, in
which she can spend some time so you can also get
some time off. As a care
professional, you know that the awful truth is that
if you cannot find a way to create an informal
support team or make some space for you to have some
relief, your mom's best support is at risk—you.
Besides, you certainly do deserve it.
How do you get your friends and family to help you?