Being a caregiver is a big emotional roller coaster. Finding respite services for family caregivers can be challenging, when much of a caregiver’s time is focused on caring for their loved one. The relief a caregiver receives from respite services is of great importance. The story below comes from our client, Jennifer*, who reflects on caregiver relief services and their impact on her well being.
Before my mom got sick, I was a dental assistant, married and a stay at home mom. I volunteered at my kids’ school as a teacher’s assistant. As time passed, and even though I had divorced and the kids were all grown up, I was still very social and loved to work. When mom started getting sick, my siblings decided that I was the best choice to care for her; they said I had the most time. Everyone started to really count on me, and I had to put my life on hold. I had plans to go back to school to be a teacher, but once my mom got sick I didn’t have the energy. If it wasn’t me, who else would take care of my mom?
As you’ll read below, Jennifer’s role as a caregiver began to alter her ability to engage in the same type of lifestyle she had before caring for her mother. At this crucial moment, respite care relief becomes necessary for family caregivers. The importance of respite for caregivers may not be as apparent or even seem like a need to be filled.
I resented my role for a long time – I remember specifically not being able to join my family on group camping trips or if I want to go out for dinner, I needed to do it after my mom had gone to bed. And our relationship changed, too. My mom has always been a very private person, a dignified woman. She never allowed us to see her undone – she always went to another room to change. When she began to get progressively more ill, she needed to be bathed and taken to the bathroom. It was embarrassing for both of us. That was hardest part and I wished I didn’t have to do it. Sometimes I’d get mad at my situation, but I had to really control myself. I wanted to leave so many times.
Being a family caregiver can get overwhelming quickly, especially if taking care of an ailing parent. Respite services for caregivers can be overlook – it’s not the caregiver that is ill, so how can relief services hold so much importance?
As the main caregiver for my mom, I am so grateful when someone is able to take the responsibility off of me. It is so nice to have a Beauty Bus visit and give mom a haircut. It’s not easy to take my mom anywhere because the wheel chair is very heavy and any hot weather is bad for her. Having the professionals and buddies come to the home is so great for us – my mom loves the services! She still wants to feel like a woman – I still dye her hair – and maintain her vanity. That extra touch makes her feel good, not to mention me! Getting my hair done brought me such happiness; I hadn’t had my hair cut it in a year! Looking forward to that made me and my mom feel normal again.
Family caregivers are providing such a special gift and need respite care and relief from the self-sacrificing role they’ve taken on. Caregiver relief services are integral to being an able and loving care provider.
And although it’s been hard, caring for my mother has brought us closer. I have been able to manage, and have realized it’s a blessing to take care of my parent. Her illness has brought our family closer together – everyone comes to house because mom does not want to go out in her wheelchair. We are taking it one day at a time, making each day a good day.
Assist us in continuing to provide respite care services to our clients and their caregivers. Donate today to the Bringing Beauty Home Fund and make an important difference for clients like Jennifer
*Name has been changed to protect our clients. Narrative adapted from interview with Jennifer.