I follow a page on Facebook called In Care of Dad. It is a support page for caretakers. Today they asked, "What is your greatest fear when it comes to caregiving?" Their answers did not surprise me, but they did break my heart. While it can be comforting to know you are not alone, it can be painful to know others are also hurting.
Some feared that they would lose their patience and become cruel to their family members. Being "on" 24/7 takes a toll on anyone. But, being on call to a job that requires you to be a babysitter and nurse to someone who can be delusional, paranoid, angry, violent or just demanding would take its toll on anyone.
Others, who had quit jobs to become caretakers, were worried about financial matters. Many caretakers receive no compensation. The bills are paid by the pensions and savings of the family member. The little financial security that they have, ends the day their family member dies. Additionally, most caretakers are older. There is no promise of a job when their service is through. How does a person in their 50s and 60s hope to find a job in this economy? And with their own resources depleted, who will take care of them when they are in need?
Many were upset that the life they had, had moved on without them. The invitations that do arrive are turned down because of the stress and apprehension of taking your loved one to a social function. Eventually, invitations dwindle. Friends move on. And you are alone.
Some were fearful about their own health. Not having a "real" job has left them with no health insurance and no time to focus on their own well-being. The stress of living in this situation can cause health problems. According to Stanford University, "Researchers have discovered
that Alzheimer's caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than
non-caregivers. In fact, 40 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers die from
stress-related disorders before the patient dies." That's something to fear.
Some feel they are seeing their own future. Others feel they are neglecting their own families, marriages, and children. I could go on.
This is a hideous disease full of scary complications. Please, remember that if all of the caretakers of just Alzheimer's were the only residents of a state, it would be the 5th largest state in the US. That is a lot of people and a lot of fears.