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"I Am an Exhausted Caregiver"

Caregiver Question:

"I am caring for a spouse who is getting worse every day, and it is extremely difficult. I am tired and need care, myself, at times. My husband gets angry whenever I leave him with someone else, so I rarely do. Do you have any recommendations for someone in my situation? Care in the home is so expensive for us that I am unsure whether or not I should spend our money on it."


Caregiver Column Answer:

Your situation is quite common. Many individuals find themselves caring for a spouse at some point in their lives, the logistics of which can become quite difficult. Likely 40-45% of married individuals are caregivers.

Although your husband may not like it, it sounds like you have family or friends who are willing to stay with him while you shop, go to appointments, or just get out. I appreciate your concern regarding your husband's anger; however, it is essential for you to care for yourself right now. Your mental and physical health must come first. Should you neglect these for too long, your personal well-being will be affected. Health issues will arise, and you will risk becoming a more hostile, worn-out caregiver. You must get away. Starting now, schedule respite time for yourself on a regular basis. The key here is “regular”.

You will be forced to deal with your spouse and his anger. Calmly explain to him when he is in his best mood why you need to care for yourself, and then do it. You can be the caregiver, but even caregivers need to refuel. That is what you will be doing, and it is okay to do just that. Let your spouse know that you need care also.

Now let's talk about spending financial assets to care for your husband. I recommend asking your family or friends to look after your husband first. Additionally, talk to several home health providers to find out what is available in your area and at what cost. The cost of a few hours, a couple times a week, can be far less expensive than the cost of full-time placement in a facility. If you break down, the facility may be your only option. Be very careful not to work yourself to the point of exhaustion.

The reward for caregiving comes in small doses and at unexpected times. While the journey may be tough, doing your absolute best to care for your husband matters to him, society and you. The work you are doing is very important. Enjoy some respite time.