This post is for all Caregivers! Taking care of a sick person can be draining. I know. I have been in the role of a caregiver for my dad for two years when he had cardiomyopathy and then 24 years later, I was the patient. There were days when I was sick — to put it nicely, I was a pain in the ass. One time I yelled at my husband for 20 minutes straight for buying the wrong brand of canned potato soup. Sick people can’t help it. They are sick. But caregivers have to take care of themselves first. It doesn’t do anyone any good if both of you are lying in bed too sick to get up.
These days many of us are stretched thin on time and money. Many of us work longer hours, so when a loved one gets seriously ill, that time is even more limited. We do have the Family Leave Act but it is unpaid. Many of us live paycheck-to-paycheck so it’s a nice law and everything but who an afford to take off more than a couple of weeks without pay? Those who wrote the law don’t live in the same world as the rest of us.
When I got sick with cancer, my son came to live with us for 5 months. He was lucky because his job allowed him to work away from the office — all he needed was a laptop and phone. My husband had to continue to go to his job and we did not have enough money saved for him to take time off. His employer does not offer paid vacations.
We also had help from my sister-in-law who flew down to stay with us for a week, and a co-worker friend came by twice a week after work for two hours to give my family a much needed break.
If you are a caregiver, ask for help — from your church, family, friends and there are some non-profits around that can help — see my resource page for links. If you know someone taking care of a sick person — offer to help; fix them some meals they can store in the refrigerator; sit with the sick person and let the caregiver leave the house for a couple of hours to run errands, get a manicure or massage — you get the idea.
We are all in this together and someday you might need help and don’t have the money to hire someone — the average caregiver cost is $22 an hour for an agency to come out to your home. And caregivers — ask for help — people are not mind readers.