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Caregiving Q&A With Barry Jacobs

Clinical psychologst and family therapist answers your questions about caring for a loved one

Comment From Nadyne: Very reluctantly mom was placed in assisted living "memory" care. She was living with us. There are no support groups in Lehigh Valley, Pa., who meet on a weekly, not monthly, basis. I need other people who are going through this too.

Please check with your Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer's Association chapter for resources in your area. You can also check out AARP's caregiver support group.

Comment From Martha Stettinius: What's the one thing you would recommend to people who are new to caregiving?

Learn the lay of the land by reading about your loved one's illness or disability. Cherish every day but also begin to look down the road to better prepare yourself for increasingly difficult caregiving demands. Use whatever support is available as early as possible in the process. Be creative and nimble about periodically revising your caregiving plan in the face of changing needs. Pat yourself on the back for doing good, loving work.

Comment From Peggy: Is your book electronic, like for a Kindle?

Look for my book in hard copy or electronically on Amazon or at any other bookseller.

Comment From newbie: There are days when I want to just scream, rip out my hair. Nothing I do helps. I take care of my parents but feel like I'm alone in the world. Help for this newbie?

Caregiving is all the more difficult if you feel isolated and alone. But you are not alone. Millions of Americans are in the same boat. Connect to support groups in your area or read the many books available on caregiver resources and support.

Comment From Guest: Dr. Jacobs, I'm 22 years old and my mother suffered a stroke two years ago, at the age of 45. I'm not resentful toward her because it's not as if she asked to get sick. But I often wonder if I'll ever be able to have a normal life outside of caring for her. I'm afraid of the everyday things like finding a husband who understands I have my mom to care for, along with my two little sisters who need a mom. I'm afraid of not being able to have a life of my own. I'm also constantly worried that she'll have another stroke, as the chances are high they've told me, especially since because of the stroke she's also suffering from depression and has extreme lack of interest in caring for her eating habits and exercising, despite advice. She waves it off because when she suffered the stroke they never found the cause of it, so she thinks her eating habits don't matter.

You are handling a tremendous amount. Your family is very lucky to have you. The key for you will be to develop balance between caregiving and pursuing your other life goals. No one should have to sacrifice the entirety of their dreams. Ask other family members to pitch in and allow you to live in a way that you had expected to.

AARP: That will have to be our last question for the day. We would like to thank you all for joining us. We also want to thank Dr. Jacobs for being here today.

For me, I want to wish you all good luck and best of health in vital work you're doing. Thank you.

Barry J. Jacobs is a clinical psychologist, family therapist and the author of the book, The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers - Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent (Guilford, 2006).

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