Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Worst Thing about Being a Caregiver

Most of the time I love being a caregiver, but there are many days when I hate being a caregiver. It is a tough job. While it is not always physically draining, it is mentally and emotionally exhausting. You celebrate the good days and the funny incidents, but some days you just want to curl up in bed and cry or you want to run away and never come back like most jobs. But what makes caregiving different from other jobs is that like parenting caregiving is a 24/7 job.

It is hard to get away. It is hard to take a break. It is hard to do anything without interruptions. It is hard to take time for you.

And the worst thing about being a caregiver is how easy it is to become isolated from your friends and family.

In the past few years, as the grandmas needs for caregiving have increased, I have found myself increasingly home bound and increasingly isolated.

It is has been extremely easy for me to fall into the trap of isolation. I'm an introvert. I'm an INFJ for those of you interested in the MBTI. I fall easily into my inner world and literally spend days lost in thought about one topic and fade out the world around me.

I love to spend time by myself, and I have a hard time reaching out to others. It is hard for me to connect with others because I'm really a very private person. It is not that I hate people or that I'm not interested in what is happening in other people's lives. I'm curious and frequently wonder what is happening which is one of the reasons that I enjoy Facebook. Facebook gives me a small peek into the worlds of the people I care about.

But Facebook also helps to keep me isolated because it makes it easy to keep in the know without actually keeping connected to my family and friends. I can know who is getting married, who is pregnant, who has a new job, and who went to the Royals game last night and I don't have to talk to a single person to find it out.

To be completely honest, I want to feel like I can call up any of my friends at any time and know that they are willing to drop anything and come to see me.I don't because I don't want to be a bother.

I want to call up my friends and say, "How about meeting for dinner on Tuesday night?" but I can't because I don't have the money to go out to dinner on Tuesday night and I feel bad because they would have to pay.

But being an introvert is not the only reason I've become isolated...and my dear friends and family have to take part of the blame.

When I first started taking care of Grams, I was able to do things like going out to lunch with friends and going to church on Sunday. Then her need for care increased and with all of my family working my time to do those things decreased and as that time decreased so did how often I heard from my friends and family. Now lunch with friends are a thing of the past and church on Sundays just isn't happening. (And before anybody says anything: I have tried going on Sunday nights or at different times, but when you go to fellowship with others and no one does more than greet you, do you really want to continue going there?)

My friends and my family are busy people. I understand that. With babies, marriages, work, children who are involved in many different types of activities, church and a variety of other activities, it is easy to get caught up in what is happening your own lives.

As my friends and family have gotten caught up in their own lives, my own life has been put on hold and I hear less and less from the people that I thought were my friends. Right now I don't hear from anybody unless I contact them first or unless they need something from me. And when I do contact them, all I hear about is how busy they are which just makes me less likely to contact them again because I don't want to be a bother.

Most of my family moves on with their lives giving little (if any) thought to the sacrifices that I'm making in mine so that they don't have to make them in theirs. Most of my friends are so caught up in their own lives that I feel like I have no one to turn to.

And that is the worst thing about being a caregiver is feeling like you're isolated and no one cares.

1 comment:

  1. Misty: It takes a special kind of person to give the care you do. I read your blogs all the time and don't often comment but this one touched me. My mom was widowed by the time her mother needed 24/7 care and although she had a brother and sister in the same town all of the daily care fell to her. Additionally she was still working so Grandma would go to senior day care during the day, and like most Altzheimer's patients, would hardly sleep at night, so my mother would be up half the night attempting to keep her calm. I helped as much as I could but being on the other side of the state kept me from being there most of the time. I was extremely resentful of the fact that my mother, who worked so hard, got very little help from either of her siblings and she was expected to be the caregiver simply because her husband had passed away and she was the only one who was single. It got to the point where even getting a haircut was a struggle and I was concerned that my mother was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She would not ask for help though for whatever reason. You need to take care of yourself. Do not be afraid to ask family members to step up and help you; you are entitled to that help. Also, don't be afraid to ask friends over to visit with you and the grandmas; ageism is prevalent in our society and it is wonderful to watch those with dementia interact with small children. It is just as important for children to be around those who are older. I just want you to know that someone is listening and I know we only know each other through your sister but if I can help or bring my kids over to visit or organize a senior/child tea party; let me know.