How to Manage Your Caregiving Responsibilities

Elinor Ginzler answers caregivers' questions

Comment From Valerian: I became my mother's caregiver 14 years ago. My mom was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. None of her other adult children have ever helped my mom. Now my health is failing and I am worried about my mom's welfare if I am no longer able to care for her. I am at my wit's end because I chose not to have a life after I became my mother's caregiver. I am here for my mother 24/7. She refuses all medical help and I am not ready to open my home to outside caregivers. Mom is almost 80. I suggested adult centers for a two- to four-hour break but she stubbornly refused to go. Support groups help sometimes, but it is hard for me to share every thought or feeling with a group or social worker. Besides taking a six-month vacation on Maui — ALONE — could you give me some realistic suggestions? I currently can't afford Maui for even a week. Thank you very much

Elinor Ginzler: Valerian, it sounds like you are dealing with an awful lot. I'm not sure if you can be there for your mother 24/7. Does she have other friends who might be able to help? And perhaps, she needs a professional to let her know she needs to accept some help.

Try talking to the doctor and think about using a geriatric care manager to engage with her.

Comment From Valerian: No. We moved out of state and it's just the two of us.

Elinor Ginzler: The elder care locator can help you find the aging office in your community. They will know about caregiver support programs in your community.

Comment From Amy Winter: My sister has had a series of health issues over a period of 10 years. First, a back operation, then fourth-stage breast cancer, for which she had two surgeries (because of being sent first to a general surgeon vs. oncological). Then she had further back problems and could not walk without pain, and dental problems — very painful due to mistreatment. All now resolved but she has been very upset and angry throughout and seems unable to let of the anger and, at times, hysteria. It has taken its toll on me and I have "cracked" a number of times. We don't live together, but I have been commuting at great expense from New York to Arizona. Compounding this, she married someone from Canada and because of economic circumstances she has had to commute back and forth, which causes further stress and pain. I'm thinking I need a support group; and she needs some post-traumatic stress and anger therapy. Can you comment? Many thanks.

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