Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Are you a Primary Caregiver? Be Sure to Take Care of Yourself!

I am a primary caregiver to my wife of 58 years who has Parkinson's Disease. I have learned to be patient, more loving and understanding, but there are times when I am so tired and just want to give up. Parkinson's Disease patients have problem with movement, cognitive problems and change of moods and other physical and mental problems ( side effects of medications).

There are times when my wife could hardly walk in the morning. In her good times, she wants to travel and visit relatives. Sometimes, she acts like a ten year old kid and is hard headed. In my frustrations, I will raise my voice and she will plead because her ears hurt from my high pitch voice. I then realized, it is not her fault to be hard headed because she has a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of her brain.

I am lucky that my wife is not suffering from Alzheimer's Disease (AZ) because the care needed by Alzheimer's patients are more extensive than that of a Parkinson Disease patient. In the case of AZ patients professional caregivers are highly needed and recommended besides the immediate relative in the household. I am also lucky that our youngest son lives with us. He works full time but on his day off, he helps me take care of his Mom. He drives us to our social appointments if the drive is at night and takes longer than one hour because of my eyes( needed cataract surgery). Occasionally, he would help me with the shopping and cooking. He maintains our yard and swimming pool.

Are you a primary caregiver? Who are the caregivers? According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29 percent of the adult U.S. adult population involving 31 percent of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.

Estimates also suggest that the majority of caregivers are female. The percentage of family or informal caregivers who are women range from 53 to 68 percent, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. While men also provide assistance, female caregivers tend to spend more time providing care than male caregivers (21.9 versus 17.4 hours per week). Further, women are likely to assist with more difficult caregiving tasks, such as toileting and bathing, while men are more likely to assist with finances or arrange for other care (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2012).

I know of two personal friends who are caregivers. One is a retired nurse who takes good care of her husband suffering from a rare neurological disease. The other friend takes care of her mother who is suffering from Dementia. Lucky for her, she has a husband and a sister taking turns taking care of her Mom.

Here's a video about the burning out of a Caregiver. The caregiver need to take care of herself or himself and really needs a break from his or her responsibility every now and then to prevent burnout.

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