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Re: How Do You Ask for Help?

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@PattiD438867 @LicketyG499198 

 

Replying to your post, Patti, and also LicketyG - And I agree iwth LicketyG - it's not a crock at all. We throw ourselves into the role of caregiver and it becomes a huge part of our lives and our identity. It is our primary focus and a the vast amount of our time is spent either providing care or thinking about it, planning, shopping, coordinating care etc. It's totally normal that it is a huge life change when caregiving ends! 

 

I have been a family caregiver my entire adult life in a variety of caregiving roles - for my grandparents, Mom (had a stroke at age 63) and then for both my parents. Mom died 5 years ago at age 87, Daddy just died 6 months ago (he had Alzheimer's and lived with me). It's not only been my professional orientation, it's been my personal mission. So I'm still very fresh in this life phase after caregiving. A few things I can share that may be of help to you:

  • There will always be someone else to care for Smiley Happy I find myself now in a different caregiving role for my aunt and uncle - helping my cousins, providing respite, advise, doing things like putting out all of their Christmas decorations for them (they were THRILLED!). I also have neighbors who need help.  I suspect there will be other people in your life whom you can help. Maybe not in the same intensive and primary caregiver roles you've been playing, but in other roles - which are also very much needed. You can also think about volunteering. Deliver home-delivered meals, volunteer in an adult day care or nursing home, become a friendly visitor to people who can't get out of their homes...you can contact your local area agency on aging (AAA) to ask about volunteer opportunities. Visit www.eldercare.acl.gov and input your zip code or city to find your local AAA. You might also consider volunteering with children. My sister, who was my partner in caring for our Dad for the past 6 years, has taken a job as a nanny - she is finding that taking care of children is a good change and brings joy to her life (she felt that caring for elders would be too close to caring for Daddy - we miss him terribly). 
  • When you've been a caregiver as long as you have, you learn a lot and you have a lot to share - your purpose may change but you still have so much to give. You've gained a huge amount of knowledge and you can share it with millions of other family caregivers who need help. Answering questions and providing comments here on the AARP online community is a great start! You could volunteer to mentor another family caregiver, providing moral support and coaching (contact the AAA to ask about that too). 
  • It's ok to focus more energy on yourself when caregiving is over. I'm honestly very slowly doing this - it's so foreign to me to be able to spend time on myself above and beyond the basic self-care I've prioritized while intensively caregiving. But I'm starting to do things I just want to do - not just the basic things I need to do! You can do that too. It's your turn  - and you can still keep giving to others while ALSO spending more time on things you want to do. 
  • Think about ways you will honor and memorialize those who have passed. I've created a memorial scholarship fund in my parents' name for a children's theater group they founded many years ago. Many caregivers wind up volunteering for the organizations that their loved ones cared about - or that were helpful to their loved ones in fighting a disease or condition (such as the Alzheimer's Association or Heart Association). You might plant a tree, dedicate a bench in the park, volunteer at a cause they cared about (maybe they loved animals and you could volunteer at the humane society!).

These are just a few things that I hope will get you thinking - and give you hope! There IS life after caregiving, and you WILL be ok. You'll also want to rest and allow yourself to grieve - both the loss of your loved ones and the loss of your role as caregiving. I've found it helpful to plan things with people who I know build me up and nurture me as I go through this new phase of life. 

 

I did write a whole chapter in the book I wrote for AARP, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving, about life after caregiving if you are interested in that! 

 

My best wishes to you and know that we are here to support you even when caregiving ends! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

 


@PattiD438867 wrote:

I’m the sole caregiver for my mother who is on Hospice and has terminal metastatic brain cancer. It’s really no problem. I’m an only child. She trys to be as self sufficient as possible. I’m grateful that I’m here. We do live together, so that’s a plus. My daughter and son in law are devoted and close by, so I’m blessed. My husband passed away this past February and I was his caregiver, too, for as long as I could. He had dementia. He was a sweet heart until his last breath. I am so lucky. I feel bad for those whose families won’t help them. Those not sharing the load are losing out. But what do I do when I have no one to give care to? I’ve never been alone. This may sound like a crock to most but it may become an issue for this caregiver. 


 

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Re: How Do You Ask for Help?

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Patti, that doesn't sound like a crock at all. I share 24/7 care with my sister of my mother with vascular dementia. We moved her to memory care this summer and that first week I was devastated by the loss of my focus. I was shocked to find myself deeply depressed without my mother to consume my days. Memory care turned out to be a terrible decision for my mom, so we moved her back home after 5 weeks, but I too have wondered, when this is really all over, when Mom dies, how do I cope then?

 

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Re: How Do You Ask for Help?

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I’m the sole caregiver for my mother who is on Hospice and has terminal metastatic brain cancer. It’s really no problem. I’m an only child. She trys to be as self sufficient as possible. I’m grateful that I’m here. We do live together, so that’s a plus. My daughter and son in law are devoted and close by, so I’m blessed. My husband passed away this past February and I was his caregiver, too, for as long as I could. He had dementia. He was a sweet heart until his last breath. I am so lucky. I feel bad for those whose families won’t help them. Those not sharing the load are losing out. But what do I do when I have no one to give care to? I’ve never been alone. This may sound like a crock to most but it may become an issue for this caregiver. 

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Re: How Do You Ask for Help?

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Thank you for the nice comment. No I am a psychologist who provides therapy to seniors, caregivers and family members.

Best of luck

Dr. Marcy

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One idea i used when i had trouble asking directly is to ask someone else to ask. If i recruit a friend of mine to call and ask for me, then the friend is able to hear the response of the called and absorb the truth -- that they really didn't mean it when they said call if you need anything. The called person feels less guilty and the caller doesn't get her feelings hurt. Spares you the awkwardness!

 

Of course sometimes people will agree to help!

 

I'm all about avoiding awkward situations if i can.

 

Jane

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It is very difficult to ask for help especially when you have always been an independent person. The list provided by AARP is very extensive. Try to follow the recommendations provided. It is also helpful to practice asking for help. This may sound silly but it can actually help. You can also use different ways to seek outside help from others. You can do it verbally or in writing via a note, email or text explaining yourr new life circumstances. Asking for help is a challenging and often overwhelming process. Also try to say to yourself, "What is the worst thing that can happen"" You may answer that you will feel anxious and/or the individual may say "no" . Also consider seeing outside services for help and resources.

best of luck in your caretaking journey

Dr.Marcy

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@d696534z wrote:

Hi my name is Diana Zamora I am my mom caretaker I have a brother and two sisters who don't come and help out it's hard taking care of my mom


Hi Diana. Have you tried asking for a family meeting, or using a time you all get together anyway to ask how your brother and sisters are going to pitch in?  How about packing her up for a day outing and delivering her to your sister's house for a Saturday? That might surprise them into making a way to help... to share the hard stuff.

 

tell us more?

jane

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@m907706g wrote:

I have no brothers or sisters so I basically had to do it on my own.  May I just throw this in.  I got zero help from the catholic church.


what kind of help are you looking for? my parish was able to organize casseroles and transportation for a 41 year old woman who had a stroke. it would be the community, not the priests and nuns, i'd hope for help from.

 

have you checked out what's free? type in your zip code into eldercare.gov and go meet with the agency. being a good caregiving child does not mean being a martyr. 

 

what have you figured out for yourself in your role as caregiver? i know i'm learning all the time from other caregivers...

 

jane

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Hi my name is Diana Zamora I am my mom caretaker I have a brother and two sisters who don't come and help out it's hard taking care of my mom

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@DrMarcy  Great post and information you shared.  Welcome aboard!  Are you a caregiver?

AARPTeri
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