This post was originally written on September 14th, 2015 because the message is timeless I’ve decided to run it again in the hopes that one caregiver might be considered as you go about your day. I hope you enjoy this piece and remember a caregiver in your life!
I’ve written a lot about Alzheimer’s disease and being a caregiver to someone who suffers from its incurable grasp, but there are thousands of unpaid family caregivers out there who are struggling through life every-single-day-in-and-day-out. In homes all across America, there are people giving their blood, sweat, and tears to Caregiving trying to do the best job humanly possible. They are trying desperately to navigate full-time jobs, kids, parents, grandchildren, the government, the healthcare system, insurance rules and regulations it can oftentimes become so overwhelming.
In homes all across America, there are people giving their blood, sweat, and tears to caregiving trying to do the best job humanly possible. They are trying desperately to navigate full-time jobs, kids, parents, grandchildren, the government, the healthcare system, insurance rules and regulations it can oftentimes become so overwhelming.
Through reading, I have learned just how much depression is running rampant among this country’s caregivers, who are mostly women. I can also say first hand that its far-reaching tentacles can slither into all areas of your life when you least expect it. The isolation, the sadness, and the constant barrage of different emotions can leave you feeling like you just washed up on shore after a Tsunami.
The statistics are staggering and it’s only going to get worse as our Alzheimer’s population is expected to double over the next 20 years that means depression will become even more widespread. As loved ones continue to lose their mental capacity caregivers sink further into the quagmire of guilt, hurt, and hopelessness.
Living this life day after day is definitely not for the weak. The strength and fortitude that you must procure on a daily basis are unimaginable to most people. It is only that shining love for family that gets a caregiver through some of the darkest hours of their lives.
Thursday, Sept. 10th was National Suicide Prevention day. I’ve decided to dedicate the month of September to “caregiver depression”. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for some terrifying statistics and some great tips for avoiding it.
In the meantime, if you have someone in your family who is a caregiver, a friend who is struggling while taking care of an aging parent, or even if you yourself are the one that fights to get through each and every day. Take a moment, take an hour, or maybe even a day to think about this person in your life and do something special for them today. You will both be happy you did.
I know firsthand how isolating caregiving can become over time. The further our loved ones slip into the abyss the harder it becomes to get out and do the things that were once much-loved activities. Shopping, going to movies, or even out for a nice meal become chores that can put terror into the hearts of even the toughest of caregivers. The thought of heading out the door for anything becomes a horror that we begin to avoid at all costs.
The worse the Alzheimer’s patient gets the worse the isolation becomes. The worse the isolation becomes and the more that depression can take over. Our friends disappear, our families avoid us, and it seems that the rest of the world just forgets about us. Until we can’t see a life any different from the same one we lived yesterday and the day before and so on and so on.
According to the World’s Alzheimer’s Association, there are:
- More than 34 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. caring for a loved one.
- Sixty percent of all of those family caregiver’s suffer from depression.
- One in four family caregivers has considered suicide.
That’s a lot of people out there who are hurting and alone. Please, if you know someone who is a caregiver the most important thing you can do is to LISTEN. Just let them talk and really listen to the words they use, the feelings they feel, and the hurt that is weighing them down.
There is a Facebook group especially for caregivers The Caregiver’s Corner. It’s a place to say what you feel without worrying about who might be listening. It’s that soft place to land when you need it most. You’ll find a link in the sidebar. Come on and join us!