This is a wonderful post by Angela Giles.
Sponsored by One2One Network)
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from One2One Network. All opinions are my own.
We all lead busy lives, and yet what happens when a loved one needs caregiving? The impact on families and their abilities to work and continue living can be emotionally, and even financially, devastating. Recently we have had several of our members lose loved ones after going through illnesses and needing their care.
This month of November is National Family Caregivers month, and it reminds me of the extraordinary care that my family performed for my aunt who was confined to a wheelchair and unable to care for herself. It is a story that should be told because it involved extreme self-sacrifice on the part of my uncle and our family in order to care for her full time.
My uncle had to give up his career and any semblance of a personal life in order to become my aunt’s full-time caregiver. She had a rare muscle disease that only gave her a life expectancy of 20 years from the time she was born. Yet, even though the disease progressed, she lived well beyond her “life expectancy” and into her sixties.
Her days involved family members lifting her out of bed, dressing her, feeding her, bathing her, assisting her with bathroom functions, and taking her to needed appointments. Her care was around-the-clock.
The most difficult part for everyone was dealing with her swinging moods. She hated being an invalid and was constantly complaining about even the smallest thing. One year at Christmas I bought her a book at a Christian bookstore that she always wanted to read. When she opened her present the look on her face wasn’t pleasure, it was huge disappointment because she had already read the book. I felt horrible! But as I got older I realized that it wasn’t anything I had done wrong, it was just my aunt dealing with her situation.
The constant caretaking of my aunt resulted in my uncle ruining his back. It got to the point where the family had to insist that she be put into an assisted living facility because he could no longer lift her, and no one else could either on a regular basis. However, because the family finances could not afford the extra expense, the only option was for my aunt and uncle to get divorced in order for my aunt to become a ward of the state. It was so sad and it took a huge toll on both of their emotional states.
Sadly, across the country over 42 million people, primarily women between ages 40 and 60, are faced with the challenge of providing care to their older family members and friends each and every day. Clearly this can be an emotionally devastating experience for both the caregiver and the person receiving the care.
New research from AARP suggests that caregiving can take a tremendous toll on the caregiver’s personal health and overall well-being. And yet, many caregivers do not self-identify as such and can be reluctant to ask for help.
As part of the Caregiver’s Assistant campaign, a number of online platforms have been developed to help recognize caregivers everywhere for the important work they do:
- The ThanksProject
- Ad Council’s Caregiver Assistance campaign
- AARP’s National Family Caregiving Month Pinterest Board
Having been personally involved in the difficult ongoing care of a family member, we encourage our readers to visit the Thanks Project and add your own story of caregiving to the map.
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