Who Takes Over the Caregiving When I'm Sick?
I'm a part-time caregiver for my father of 90, and I just developed a serious illness. I have no idea how I'll be able to continue doing all the things I do for him while I'm under care and hopefully recovering from my new health condition.
My sister and I are the only two caregivers in the family. I just don't see how she could do more. She already does more than her share of the work and she's quite a bit older than me. We visit him daily, cook his meals, clean his apartment, wash his clothing, and run his errands, plus other things.
This has got to be a common occurrence out there, and I wonder how other people approach the situation. I'm going into the hospital soon for surgery and know that the recovery could be long. Added to the stress of a new diagnosis, surgery, treatment and the future is my concern over how I'm going to hold up my end of the caregiving. I'm so afraid to tell my father and sister.
Please offer some advice.
You are in a caregiver dilemma that's becoming more common as people live longer and their children age into their retirement years. Life is going to happen, and it's understandable that your primary concern right now is your health.
As soon as possible, you need to tell your father and sister what's going on with your health. No more delays. Time is of the essence because some planning needs to take place here.
The tasks you perform for your father are essential to his wellbeing, and someone needs to perform them. Since it's not reasonable for your sister to assume your role in addition to hers, it's time to seek outside support for your father. The sooner you do this, the better, because finding caregivers in our current worker shortage can be challenging. Don't think you will make a call one day, and the next, the care will be readily available. It could happen, but that's not always the case right now.
It's okay to focus on your health at this time and seek outside care for your father. Really, it's the prudent thing to do. If your sister can assume more, that's great, but I caution pushing her to a breaking point. It's not good for her or your father if her health becomes compromised, also. Two of you out of commission is not a good caregiving situation. I have seen way too many caregivers become ill and create a difficult situation from a caregiving perspective. Guard her health as well as your own, and seek help.
Your father may struggle with the change, and that's understandable. It may be temporary or permanent; it's too early to say. All that really matters is that you promptly get on it. All the services you provide can be purchased from a variety of sources. Some ideas are home-delivered meals for the elderly, or a homemaker to keep house and do laundry. I'd avoid just letting it go without a substitute care solution in place. Your father may suggest this, but the situation will deteriorate rapidly.
Throughout life, change is ever present, and we must constantly adapt to new challenges. This is one of those times. I wish you well with your health care journey and the process of seeking an alternate care solution for your father.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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