March 6, 2012 in Features

Caregiver burden nearly unbearable

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar Kathy Mitchell
 

Dear Annie: My father is 87 years old and has congestive heart failure. I am the youngest of four siblings, two of whom live out of town. For some reason, everything falls on me.

We pay for a caregiver to come in for four hours a day, but she leaves at noon. My brother sometimes takes over until I get home from work, at which point I stay until my husband relieves me. Then I go home to change clothes and return. I have not enjoyed the comfort of my own bed for a while. On weekends, my husband and I take care of Dad together.

When my two out-of-state siblings last came to visit, I told them this is too much for me and I have no time for myself or my family. One told me he didn’t care about my life, that all he cared about was Dad not being alone. I told him to ask the neighbor how many hours I am with Dad. He became angry and said that after Dad dies, he never wants to see me again.

I left my father’s house and decided if that’s the way it’s going to be, I’ll take the night shift and stay with Dad from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day, but no more. If they want additional coverage, they’ll have to do it themselves or pay for it. One of my brothers can fly here anytime he wants.

Dad doesn’t know we argued, and I don’t plan to tell him. I took care of my mother when she was ill and don’t appreciate being treated this way. I think it’s time everyone contributed their fair share. – Hurting in Texas

Dear Hurting: Your siblings are being terribly unfair to you, but that’s not uncommon in these circumstances. Can your other siblings contribute financially to extend the caregiver’s time during the day? Would it make sense to put your father in an assisted-living facility or let him move in with one of you? You might also look into respite care so you and your husband can get a break. Check the National Family Caregivers Association ( thefamilycaregiver.org) for resources and support.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email