criticizing caregivers

Self care — it’s easier said than done.

We’re always being told we should take better care of ourselves, but we rarely get the help we need to actually do that. Here’s how caregivers feel when they’re told they should put their oxygen mask on first:

Sometimes it feels like another criticism thrown at us. Yes, self-care. How dreamy that vision is. How easy that is for others to tell us that is what we need when we are already acutely aware of it. What I really think I would love to have and what I really think would be the most “self care” mindset…is having or knowing that someone ELSE is going to take care of me for a few minutes, even maybe take care of a task, or take one of my responsibilities off my hands for a little while. – Cathy S.F.

We all know we need to take care of ourselves. This is not news to us as caregivers yet everyone who offers this advice to us can’t seem to offer how to do that when the choice we have is “take care of me or take care of our loved one”. I’m going to choose my loved one every time. I think most of us are in the position that if it isn’t ME providing the necessary care, it’s NO ONE providing it and that is just not an option for our loved ones who require total care etc. We do our best to care for ourselves but it’s literally impossible to take time away from our loved one to do so…It’s not noble or martyrdom, it’s just reality, a fact of our lives. So we do our best each day, listen to the unhelpful “advice” from people who will never “get it” until they are in the same position, and continue to find moments in our busy days for our little and glorious bits of self care (while still taking the best care possible of our loved ones 24/7). – Kelly D.

Taking care of myself is looking for the best options and making sure my loved one is safe so I can sleep at night. Trusting others to help and care while looking for what other options are out there to help. The closest family is 10 hours away, so no family meetings or help. I don’t have the answers but I will continue to fight and learn. I am not trying to be noble, I just want what is best so I can sleep. – Julie D.

The suggestions are simply not doable for a lot of us – especially when you ARE the only living family member left, when you are already suffering from a debilitating illness yourself, when you can’t even take a walk around the block because there is no one to sit with your bedridden family member who cannot help themself and constantly has emergencies, etc. Way to put more unrealistic pressure on us that we must be doing it all wrong. It is what it is! – Lemia L.

via Facebook

Written by Jonah Okun
Jonah served as our Operations Director for two years. He holds a degree in Comparative Digital Communications and Happiness Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His intrigue in promoting well-being through new digital platforms pairs perfectly with the organizations goal of making online support for caregivers a reality. Prior to his time at The Caregiver Space, he spent seven years as a professional chef, baker and restaurant manager. He now happily resides in Brooklyn, New York.

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249 Comments

  1. I had only been caring for someone with ALS for one month but this was different than my usual residents as I actually developed feelings for him. I was worried out of my mind when I wasn’t there. Was he being ignored? Threatened? Neglected? I cannot imagine what it must be like for a parent or spouse, significant other, whatever. I never thought I’d ever care ABOUT a patient or resident. I was always taught to care FOR them and then go home. This was excruciating. I lost 15 pounds in a month. I didn’t want to take care of myself. I knew I’d get over it but at the time, I really wanted to die right along with him.

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  2. It’s like telling someone they look tired. What they are really saying is you look like crap.

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  3. It is almost impossible to take care of yourself. What a joke. Come walk in my shoes for a week

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  4. I tried to smile and nod whenever anyone blathered on and on about (excessive) self-care. Because not going to jail for punching someone in the jaw is also a form of self care.

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  5. I am blessed to have an amazing daytime caregiver for my mom however weekends and nights are on me – the only child and a widow. My dad died April 24 and my mom came home after 17 weeks of therapy or a broken hip on April 25. I was thrown into grieving and caring all at once. I have a few friends who are constantly telling me to “stick my mom in a home “. It hurts me so much when I am told that. I made the CHOICE to be a stay at home daughter just like that person made a choice in their younger years to be a stay at home mother

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  6. For real! They say to take care of yourself followed by “let me know if there is anything I can do” but then no one actually ever helps.

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  7. Everyone always says you should do this or that but, in reality no one really care or knows the job we do and if they had any inclination they couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. So there words mean nothing

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  8. I have no family to help. People always say it must be so hard, but yet never offer to give me a couple of hours for a break

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  9. I know the feeling. I had a bout with dizziness a few weeks ago. I must have felt bad because I went to see a doctor. I’m doing better, except for when I tilt my head back for an extended period. I still had to handle my responsibilities during that time.

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  10. You hit the nail on the head!!

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  11. It’s SO easy for someone to say, ‘Take care of yourself.’ But how many times does the person saying that actually HELP you take care of yourself by offering help?? My guess is not many. Or IF you ask for help, people are suddenly ‘busy’. Yep, been-there-done-that. It gets to a point where a caregiver says ‘why even ask?’.

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    • YESSSS!!!!!! ^^^^^^

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    • So incredibly true!

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    • Kind of like the “thoughts and prayer” people, do they really go home and pray for you? Some do, most don’t. When I tell someone to take care for me it isn’t literal, more like a wish for you to have good things in your life, to have less pain and and I am thinking of you until the next time I see you, be safe, it’s just a short note to say I care. I’m a caregiver on and off the job, I mean it when I say it.

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  12. I just lost my fiance a week ago, he left a valid Will but now his family has gone crazy. I need some emotional support, I am grieving too. We didn’t marry because of he needed medical insurance for his Cancer more than a piece of paper. I have lost my love and my purpose in life. Since he left them nothing….they were cruel and ignored our requests for help. So now they are punishing me. I have no energy for this battle.

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  13. This is so true. I took care of my father. He just passed away at age 96. I have family that says I neglected myself. Well maybe I did. I might not have if I’d had more offers for help. I loved caring for my father. He was my hero.

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  14. It’s kind of hard to take care of yourself when you barely have time to do your own laundry!

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    • Absolutely true

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  15. Liking this group page might be all I can do! That and LOL as often as possible:)

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  16. This is so true. I think people say this when they feel powerless over helping those of us who are caregivers. This sentence has help me rephrase what I say to others who go through the same thing.

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  17. I get tried of being told I should hire someone, So I can have time to myself. I’m on disability & my husband is on SS. I would like to know where the money would come from.

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  18. My response is always, “You mean I have to do that TOO??!!! And I usually shriek it loudly.

    Or better yet, I say, “Why don’t you come spend a day watching what my day’s like. Then you may understand.”

    But, I do escape three days per week and swim laps at a pool. Helps immensely. I’d go nuts if I couldn’t. Luckily, we can afford for me to hire licensed caregivers to fill in for me while I’m gone. But, even if we couldn’t, I’d lock my husband in his room and go swim anyway.

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  19. Yeah, stop telling me and start helping me!

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  20. Yes!!! Please help me so I can begin to even fathom taking care of myself! What we need is help not advice or judgment.

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  21. Don’t really have time busy with all other things late nights maybe for me time then tired next day HELLO

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  22. Lol, retired 3 months ago, and still have no time to care for myself. Caregiving for my Husbands seems to have tripled!!

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  23. Unless you have done it…don’t even pretend you understand

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  24. It took me about 15 years to learn that rule. I kept my wife home until I could no longer pick her up at 81. I have walked the walk. Faught the battle and held to a draw. I’m still caring for her. Nothing gives me more pleasure that to see the light in her eyes when she recognizes me

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  25. I understand the journey of caregiving. I heard those words many times too. Caregiving is the HARDEST job in my opinion. I was a school teacher for 34 years helping my mother with my daddy his last years. After 2 years of retirement my mother fell, broke her hip, and her journey became more intense.
    She passed away in January leaving a huge gap in my life. My life will NEVER be the same, NEVER. I miss her more than ever and every day I miss her more.
    But my wish is to do for other caregivers. The only way I have helped other caregivers has been to donate a nutritional shakes to my local food bank. I wanted to do more than this but this is all I could think to do.

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  26. When someone says “take care of yourself” to me, I take it as they intended– well meaning, supportive IN WAYS THEY ARE CAPABLE OF, encouraging and caring. I wouldn’t want them to do anything more. I care for myself AND my 91 yr.old mother. I took this on and I will not be a martyr. Do I get tired? You bet. Do I feel frustrated? Absolutely. So what. I think of the many blessings my mom has given to me and I get up the next morning and do it all again. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s about balance, acceptance, and saying no to resentment.

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  27. Then you do and you are condemned for being selfish or lazy when you are trying to take it easy for a bit….Which never lasts, mind you. Hard to explain to those who don’t have a clue or don’t respect your responsibilities. I hear”get a real job a lot too” as well as you need to take care of yourself. Many times, even w/basic care, you take better care of them and can easily forget yourself or be too exhausted for self care. Just taking a shower is high stress even if your loved ones asleep because something might happen and does a lot of times. When they don’t communicate verbally or written is even more of a challenge and you can’t just trust anyone w/them.

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  28. I’m overwhelmed and had a mini meltdown today. Everyone depends on me. I’m tired, foot pain, physical therapy, groceries, making mom eat, take her pills, etc. I’m exhausted!
    Tomorrow’s another day!

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    • I had many a melt down. Prayers for all caretakers!!!! hardest job ever!

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    • I had a meltdown yesterday, too. 🙁

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  29. I try to get regular exercise but I’m just so physically and emotionally exhausted from caring for my mom.

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  30. I went to the doctors an hour early today to sit in the car and read a book. I felt like I was suffocating. . Taken care of my Father in law and my husband. Just needed to get away. .

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  31. Dont forget the , ” Their are classes you can take”

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  32. Come visit for an hour with loved one and hand me a gift card for a pedicure while your there and you have a deal. Otherwise go away. That’s how I feel at this point.

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  33. Yes. Please. Stop telling me what I already know. If someone wants me to “take care of myself” they should drop off dinner one night, do my laundry, or something like that. Stop giving me another thing to do on my already impossible to do list!

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  34. Sometimes it’s adjusting the scope. Drinking a full glass of water to stay hydrated. Taking ten deep breaths before getting up again for the next duty. Preparing a healthy meal. These are all acts of self care that are in reach, when many of the grand or costly or time consuming ones are not. That said, the last dr who said I needed to focus on self care, too- I asked when he would be over to babysit so I could go get that pedicure he suggested. He shut up.

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  35. Exactly!!! My ” friends” say why don’t you go visit this and that. But I HAVE TO TAKE MY HUSBAND WITH ME. I would love to visit my cousin for two or three days , but who takes care of hubby? And taking him with me is the same as being home

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  36. Ithank god I have an angel here on earth she’s my support system i would be lost without her she is leaving with her husband to enjoy life I’m so happy for her I you Elena Daugherty

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  37. I absolutely hate hearing this…. I do the best at caregiving and the best I can for caring for me… But there is only so many hours in a day. And no one to physically help here… So what else am I supposed to do…. Uugghh.

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    • I so wish we lived closer – you know we’d give you a much needed break! Love you – you’re amazing

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  38. Leave me alone. Family members don’t give support pleasess don’t tell me what to do I know I will take care of myaelf, thank you and god bless

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  39. Fortunately my son was able to get most of 6 weeks off work to care for mom until the end. When I wasn’t working or sleeping I took over so he could get a break but then she required both of us for transfers. He was so exhausted by the end because he wasn’t sleeping. He was in bed listening in case she tried to get up.

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  40. Wish I had a $ for every time someone said that and I could purchase “me time” with it. People don’t get that it isn’t that easy.

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  41. And you know what you are taking care of yourself the best that you can. Yes I hate that too when people tell me “you have to take care of yourself.” I feel like responding with “yes you idiot I know that and I do and stop insulting me.”

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  42. Or to be honest does anyone really care? If you speak truth somebody’s panties get in a wad and if they just knew how tough your days and the folks you care for days are, perhaps some humility!? I agree consistent help would be like so awesome!!

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  43. I hate when peple tell me that. Like if i just leave dishes, laundry, bills, etc who is going to do them? It just piles up and i have to work harder.

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  44. It’s almost impossible to do. I have a sitter for my mom while I work, then I’m “it” for the evening, nights, and weekends. I’m weary.

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    • I want to ask just exactly how they think we’re going to do that. My husband has been a marvelous help and supporter but she wants me to do the bathroom duties, etc. Up several times each night, then off to work the next morning. Start over again when I get home.

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    • Connie Willis Jacobs Thank you. I truly appreciate that. I do remind myself often how blessed I am to still have my mother. So many don’t.

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  45. People don’t realize it’s easier said than done. Of course caregivers would like to take care of themselves but when you’re juggling a lot, it is simply not possible and as the author said the person you are caring for comes first.

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  46. And when you do take care of yourself by choosing not to take on 24/7 caregiving again like I did for my son for 25 years….. you get shunned by inlaws for your difficult decision.

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    • PS: I’ve moved on, but shame on them for judging me and for treating me as they have done.

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    • I know this. I’m being shunned and slandered by many right now because I chose to leave.

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    • You know when you’re at your breaking point…only you know in your heart. The naysayers will always be there ‘naying’..mostly because they are petrified of loosing their freedom. Family bonds are no more…they are only out for themselves. It’s a sad change from past generations. Stay strong!!

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  47. Most aggravating comment anyone can make to me! I would love to take an afternoon even once a month to “take care of myself”. The only way I can get that is to pay someone and then I can’t afford to take care of myself because I am taking care of the paid sitter!! Thanks for nothing, folks! Hollow sentiment.

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  48. There is no taking care of yourself when you are a caregiver 24-7!

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    • That’s me too Vickie Black!

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  49. Actually I thought it was kind of sweet. My father was an ogre, so no one but me was going to care for him or help anyway. Taking care of myself reminded me to take a shower, then back to the salt mine.

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  50. Sure I’ll take care of my self when You offer to take over a task…..

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  51. People keep telling me to take care of myself but no one tells me how

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  52. Yeah it’s probably the most common and most annoying sentiment yet so true!

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  53. Is it or is it not a coincidence those who tell us this are more often than not the same people capable of making it easier for us to do so??

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  54. I love this! Very validating. Thank you for sharing it!!!

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  55. Yeah. Awright awready. We know this. Stop with the platitudes. Caregiving is HARD work, and it IS work. And it is draining. And yes, we DO want to runaway away. Sometimes. But we’re doing this because these people are important to us. Just bring me dinner. And a break.

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  56. A good motto is: Do at least one thing a day that makes you happy! Small amounts of time are important!

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  57. This happened to me last night! It makes me feel so aggravated when someone thinks they can just step into my life and know what I should do for myself.

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  58. People who aren’t caregivers are clueless. Instead of telling me to take care of myself, how about helping out a little!

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  59. Taking time for yourself does not mean neglect or stop caring for your loved one. Sometimes it means take a nap when they are
    Sleep or chilling in front of the tv or stealing a few moments to read a book. It can also mean spending a little longer in the shower. Self care is very important and requires some creativity. As a hospice social worker I’ve actually seen caregivers die years before the patients. I remind all of my caregivers to take time for themselves. Spend time doing what you love. Take family and friends up on their offers to help. If you know you are all they have to depend on taking care of yourself is taking care of your loved one.

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  60. Instead I want to hear …let me help you care

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  61. I so agree! We do what we can for ourselves and we know the importance of doing so. Stop telling us!

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  62. I feel as if I’m at a break point, I work a fulltime job, and I’m a caregiver. I’m mentally spent

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  63. We don’t need articles we need groups to form to lobby our government. We also need to stop with the stereotyping. Many sole givers need help or 24/7 care alternatives without losing everything they have. Instead their forced into silence by all the saints who drive the person into further guilt and feeling inadequacy. All the time spent posting or articles could be spent join together with a voice for change

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  64. People tell me to take care of myself but they don’t tell me how.

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  65. I hear it on a regular basis, but if you take the work seriously & are dedicated, it is easier said than done.

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  66. No one cares how you feel, they don’t believe you. They just keep pushing to do more.

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  67. Oh my goodness, I hear this all the time! People just don’t understand that sometimes it’s literally impossible to “take care of ourselves” all the time! Especially when you have so many responsibilities that have to be prioritize first! I truly know most people who say it are saying it with a kind heart… So I just try not to roll my eyes and let them know that I’m trying to!!! Trust me!

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  68. Danielle Troth Anabelle F. Cabrera if I had a nickel….

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  69. Matthew 5:7,10
    Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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  70. I totally relate. I have been a caregiver to both my parents

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  71. My short term memory is suffering. I asked our family doctor, who is also a personal friend, about it. He said, “You could be coming down with Alzheimers, but I suspect you are just under way too much stress and that is affecting your mental processes.” I care for my husband who has advanced Parkinsons with virtually no help.

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    • Our doc told me that one-third of caregivers are outlived by their patients. I don’t know if his odds are exact, but it makes sense.

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    • My husband also has advanced Parkinsons it is very difficult.

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  72. My family knows that I need knee replacement, and I have put it off for two years, and hear that all the time. But not one has said, make your arrangements and we will take care of Dad. Nope, that won’t happen.

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    • I need eye surgery and have the same problem. Ive put off the surgery for 3 years now. Noone seems to understand let alone care about my health .

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  73. Something else i want to add, its hard to take care of myself when i have no help….

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  74. Being a caregiver really takes a lot out of us and our own immune systems take a beating. I am currently trying to eat better and taking vitamin C, Probiotics, garlic. It all helps a bit but still so tired…..acke all over, as i have my own problems too… Praying for all of us….

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  75. Telling a caregiver this, is meant well, but truly, at times, is very frustrating. Oh..ok. I’ll do that, but when do you suggest that I get the time for that?? Ha Went to the dentist for the first time in 7 years, last week. lol Even when you’re not with them, your mind is thinking about them. Your “taking care of yourself,” is when you are in the shower, letting the warm water wash over you, and you try to relax your muscles, and your mind. That is when you are taking care of yourself. Not self pitty..just a fact.

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  76. And… Stop telling me, ” Well, your parents took care of you, now it’s your turn to take care of them.” You have no damn clue. I’ve shown more mercy than anyone will ever know.

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    • I have made that comment, when anyone has been kind, and told me that I take good care of my Dad. I might shoot fire from my eyes, if someone said that to me tho. Lol

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    • It is even more tough to answer honestly when people say that and you ALWAYS had to take care of your parent. My mom loved us but had drinking problems, depression….best I describe is a “toddler in a adult body…”. No one wants to know the truth….

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  77. Sooo agree..how can you do this when no one else is helping!

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  78. Very few people actually step in to help. It’s just easier for everyone to say take care of yourself. I’ve said it myself though, when I dont know what else to say. I think, maybe it’s because they don’t realize how hard it is for us to walk away. We need somebody like a mom, to step in and say I’ve got this, go do what you need to do for a bit. That never happens. Paying somebody is just an added burden.

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  79. I hear ya. And no one listens to me anymore

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  80. Ghee, take care of myself?? Now WHY didn’t I think of that?! hahahahahahahahahahahahhaha I’ll be sure an do that, in my “spare time.” lol

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  81. When you have no back up I have to ” take care of your” ..between my husband and I we have been caregivers since 1985 taking care of my grandmother and has just escalated to this one being our 7 th. We are tired.. so much paper work dealing with nursing homes trying to keep in touch and make sure everyone is doing there job, it is so tiring to our bodies..I am sure you all know all about it, I guess God has called us to this ministry. I know He will give us the strength to follow through but Lord I need it now…..

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  82. It’s a joke!
    We know what we have to do. Taking care of someone who can’t usually comes first.
    In 3 years I lost my agility, I have aged and I am more depressed now than ever.
    I have Faith, I had help, I am a Reiki practioner. Even then I am falling apart. Imagine if I didn’t have all that going for me. So, it just happens to kill the caregiver faster than the disease kills the loved one we’re caring for.

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    • Yes, I have to laugh sometimes when we have appointment now for recurrence of the cancer at places where brother had the cancer surgery to take out his lung. The staff there always seem shocked my brother is still alive. It has been 5 years this month – they come over to say how wonderful he looks (no one tells ME that… ha ha, one nurse even asked my brother why his sister such a mess when I was out of the room, he at least said it was because I “do everything”)

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    • Diane Laadyhawk Bobinski Yes and I too am an RM!

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  83. Ronda Ricks…I’m sorry we keep telling you to take care of yourself…

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  84. Sitting here with a nasty upper respiratory infection. Still have a special needs grandson and ailing mother to care for. No one to step in when I am sick, so I must go on.

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  85. I agree. I used to get really upset when I heard it. Now, I just think to myself “whatever” and move on. It’s insulting but I don’t have time for arguments either.

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  86. If you’re angry because someone tells you to take care you MUST be a caregiver…

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    • hahahahahaha Isn’t that the truth?! Only something a caregiver understands.

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    • I’ll take care of myself, after a 10 hour job, then off to care for Dad, for a couple hours, and then back home, to try to make sure that my marriage isn’t hurting from all if this. Then it’s bedtime. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to sleep for 5 hours tonight, if I’m lucky. Lol

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    • James Ladley ,,,,,, if you let your colored hair grow out to solid gray because there’s no time to re-color it, you MUST be a caregiver. And if you don’t brush your teeth everyday because there is no time, you MUST be a caregiver. And if it’s March and you still haven’t sent out Christmas cards, you MUST be a caregiver. But if there are still last summer’s flowers In your yard, dead on the vine, and neighbors are complaining, you KNOW you are a caregiver!

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  87. well, how many hours do you (does anyone) have in a day….? any extra, ever ?

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  88. Maybe better we say, We care about you, than asking you to take..

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  89. I agree. can’t find a care giver (

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  90. Feel like I have fibromyalgia but wonder if it is something caretakers get in their bodies (achy all over, hard to move, get up) when they feel their lives are super restricted. Any others get those symptoms?

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    • Yes. I’d get stiff all over like tight skinned and kinda tingly itchy. I thought it was stress and worry about my mom and things. I cared for her for 6 years she passed away on the 13 th of this month.

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    • Sorry for your loss, I hope the physical symptoms pass as well as any other stresses.

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    • PTSD, Stress can give you these aches. I have it also. Being sedentary watching over someone does is too.

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    • Yes. I have definitely wondered the same. But then just figure, it’s from stress, menopause symptoms, or, just getting older.

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    • Shelly Bates Heggen Yes, have been putting it off as all of those including arthritis, and I am way too sedentary during the winter months, not able to push brother in his wheelchair around the neighborhood in the cold and snow.

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    • Yes, I get those symptoms, especially when feeling overwhelmed, and having no help.

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    • I agree with you. A type of ptsd…that we get
      “Cgtsd.”

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    • Thank you Paula for the word restricted. I’ve been looking for the right word and that is it!

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    • wow, I get that too, thought arthritis was in every joint…It comes and goes. My Mom refuses outside help. Whe I try to talk about it she tells me she wants to die. She says either I take care of her or she will take care of herself. She can not take care of herself even for a whole day so the pressure is on.

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    • Melanie Pilkington At my age (65) I’m sure I have some arthritis (both parents had it) but this is more than the joints, but the muscles too, and it does come and go.

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  91. It is really almost laughable. Have had pneumonia, so over done could hardly sleep from body aches from the rigorous days and so much more. I do not think anyone unless they are in a very similar position can understand what it is like to go on even when you should not. SO STOP TELLING ME THAT!!!!!

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  92. This morning, I have terrible sinus infection. As only child, I need to visit mom and go to Urgent Care.

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  93. And you know they have NO CLUE what they are talking about, which just makes it worse.

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  94. Cargiver for 30+ years. I have heard this soooo many times. Others simply do not understand. I do realize how important it is to take care of myself. I squeeze time in for myself when I can. It is the best I can do. My life revolves around what my injured family member needs. There is simply NO CHOICE!

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  95. I recall a hospice nurse telling me that I was killing myself caring for my mother! She had advanced dementia, a 24/7 job…

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  96. I know, even if you know you should take care of yourself, it is very hard to find any time….sometimes , just to take a walk or sleep.

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    • Amen sister

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  97. As a former caregiver, I completely disagree with this. As irritating as it may feel to hear, taking care of oneself is a necessity, if for no other reason than so you can continue to provide the best care to your loved one. Once I stepped away from believing that I am the “only one” who can take care of my mother, magically other people suddenly stepped up. Sometimes we have no help because we look like we’ve got it. Other times it’s simply because we don’t ask. Or, often in my case, I didn’t plan for it.

    Reply
  98. Or when we do something for ourselves, we feel guilty…before, during and after.

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  99. One of the most prevelant struggles of caregiving is thinking, “This is my choice and my responsibiliy. It would be wrong to involve others in helping me”…especially when the one you are caring for is a spouse and you made that committment to be there for them no matter what. Perhaps the spouse feels uncomfortable having others care for their needs. I do not like to hear, “You need to take care of yourself” I know that and I do as well as I can in that area. Knowing Jesus as my Lord is the best thing I can do for myself, spending time with Him is my joy. I remind myself that caring for others is a high calling…few people are able to deny themselves for the sake of someone else. Jesus did this extremely well. With His help I am able.

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  100. Yes, I always thought it ironic to be given this advice without there being the necessary respite, funds, time, etc, to make following that advice possible. My response was, “how?” On the other hand, when things got really bad, I found asking for specific help sometimes got results. At least I found a couple support groups that eased some of the lonely isolation. My mother died 13 weeks ago after my caring for her for over a decade. I miss her and am not sorry I chose to care for her.

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  101. I get this and I don’t totally agree. My experience as a Social Worker supporting at risk seniors and their families showed me the extreme end of this spectrum. An example was the designated caretaker among the children of frail elderly parents. Because of family patterns this person often became at risk. Not allowing help or being able to accept help. This put the elderly parent or parents at risk as well as the caretaker.

    Secondly the instruction on airlines is not suggesting any inadequacy on the part of parents. It is referring to an extreme possibility in which panic is likely.

    Reply
  102. No matter how well intentioned the comment is meant, it still hurts. It’s a constant reminder that my life is not my own anymore and I have to WORK on something else besides the 500 other daily responsibilities that I am required to do. Work, kids, husband, house/finances and then all of my moms stuff too….sure I’ll get right on taking care of myself

    Reply
    • It has always bothered me because it is essentially an empty sympathy card. What you are going through is one of the most isolating, lonely burdens you will every carry and you only have two hands. It is well intentioned, I know, but its like the “wow you really have your hands full” from the frozen onlooker when your opening the door at the market with your foot, pulling a stroller, pushing a full cart with 4 kids talking at the same time.

      Reply
  103. Its now a point that caregiver doesnt care that anyone else cares anything about self. But worse is that the truth about other people is now shown for the left behind parent that no one comes to see and the parent sees this and asks why no one comes to see parent when they came before. Its so so heartbreaking to see this. Pretty sure when this parent passes I will disappear from this so called family.

    Reply
  104. No one cared about the caregiver…

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  105. I agree. I think I take care of myself pretty well

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  106. We all get tired of hearing this one. How many vitamins, supplements, anti-anxiety and/or antidepressants, massages, mani/pedi, does it take to “take care” of ourselves? There aren’t enough! How about taking us out for a meal and some pleasant company? Or visit with our loved one and give us a break!?

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  107. Oui! I screamed “that phrase” on the inside many times and thankfully a beautiful feeling of love washed right over each scream as it began…the true and caring love that comes from those who utter “that phrase” as a wish for their loved ones to not have to suffer through devastating loss…heartfelt gratitude for those wishes…

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  108. I know all too well what it’s like to hear this. I was my mom’s caregiver for 18 1/2yrs (from the time I was 16yrs old). When the time came for my mom to go home to heaven, the doctors sat down with my brothers and me. Instead of telling me the same thing I always heard, They said “When she’s gone you need to take care of yourself. We know that you’ve taken really good care of her for many years and she came first. Now it will be your time to take care of you.” They let me know that I needed to take care of me to prevent myself from ending up so I’ll like my mother was. I took their message to heart and went from a size 20 (with quite a few health conditions) to and size 8/10 now <3 I know now that it's the best thing I could have done 🙂 I feel so much better! <3 I'm now doing marathons, which I could have never done before 🙂 Praying for those who are in the front lines caring for their family <3

    Reply
  109. what total caregivers have time to add self care to their list? Not me, i’ve been the total care giver to my Son for 31 yrs in May. It is all i can do to make the hour drive (half hour each way) to get groceries once a week. lol getting food is the only self care i can get in

    Reply
  110. I know someone who is looking for work. She was a caretaker in my home for years and comes highly qualified. She is always on time and goes 150% for caring for your loved one. She’s even willing to do 24/7 if someone needed respite or just everyday help. Live in the Phila/Mont county/Bucks County area. Just write back and I’ll have her contact you. Believe me I had a sick husband for 14 yrs with alzheimer’s and a mom who lived to 100. She’s trustworthy and believe me that’s sometimes hard to find.

    Reply
  111. So very very very true! I’ve had a prescription for a shoulder x-ray sitting on the table for a month… I have a probable torn rotator cuff, but no time to get care for it because I can’t leave my mom (who has Parkinson’s and dementia).., I just continue to lift and carry her….. because I’m the only one here to do it!!

    Reply
    • Tammy, I can relate. I was in a car accident back in April (I was on my way to the hospital where my mom was being taken). I have a torn rotator cuff as well and have been putting off surgery because my mom just suffered her second heart attack and is home under hospice care. The longer we wait the bigger the tear gets. Tired of being in pain.

      Reply
    • Exactly, because we can’t afford to take the time off to get ourselves fixed – we are too busy taking care of our loved one! It’s a no-win situation, because we always put ourselves on the back burner! xx

      Reply
  112. Don’t tell me to take care of myself. Bring food. The end.

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  113. Boy, I hear you all. I have to have some phsical therapy and the therapist says I should ice my back 20 minutes 3 times a day. That’s an hour. And where do I find that hour I wanted to ask. I am caregiver for my husband who has Azlheimers. I just get so frustrated.

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  114. I was told by a doctor, a doctor with no children, that I needed a break while spending 3 months in a hospital with my then 19 year old daughter who was awaiting a heart transplant. My response to them was yes, yes I do need a break but so does my daughter. So when she gets a break, I will get a break. It was never brought up again. That was 3 years ago and yes my daughter did get her transplant and she is doing well. As parents, no matter what age the child is, that is your child and it kills to watch your flesh and blood go through horrible things. Don’t tell me what I need. I know what I need. I need my child to flourish and thrive. Then I will take a break.

    Reply
  115. It’s so very hard to care of yourself when you take care of a loved one

    Reply
    • And you do a brilliant job carol xx

      Reply
  116. There is never a “new” idea – sources all say the same things. If it were possible to do those things, I would already be doing them!

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  117. What I hear when people say this to me is either 1) don’t take so much care of your Mom because I/we need you to take care of the rest of us OR 2) take care of yourself because we sure as hell don’t want to have to take care of YOU. Its heartless. Its right up there with shitty things people say at funerals.

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  118. Easier said than done ! I am Just exhusted all the time mentally & physically. “Thank you all for kind words but we must do what is before us to do.” Which is care for loved ones that just cannot do even the simplilist task.

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  119. I always remind people to take care of the caregiver!

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  120. When I was taking care of my mom I got so tired of people telling me how much I needed to take care of myself, without offering and help from them. smh

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  121. I don’t think they know what to say so that’s what is said. Don’t let it bother you, I was also one for years, just smile and ignore them.

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  122. — It works better than doctors, other than rare times of first aid for me,,, my healing consciousness as a caregiver for over 23 years has been also taking good care of my material self for over 87 years,,, in the realization that all healing comes from existential valid thoughts we reflect and radiate,,, that are associated with whatever is healthy, enhances life, is healing, clarifying and benevolent to our own being, others and to the universe. And, sufficient strength is given. <3

    Reply
  123. I don’t want to hear “take care of yourself,” unless you’re here to relieve me for a few hours.

    Reply
  124. Everybody likes to give advice but nobody wants to actually help….and they certainly don’t mind adding to your plate and making you feel guilty when you say no. Compassionate friends and family are a rarity when you’re a full time caregiver. I’m left with frightening adrenal and heart issues and my daughter is only 27….I’ve got a lifetime of caregiving to go.

    Reply
    • Took the words out of my mouth! Thank you

      Reply
  125. One of the most frustrating things people can say to me !

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  126. Totally agree, when you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s you are also an external memory thinking and planning and watching that they dont fall over, repetition upon repetition Im so greatful that my brother and sister-in-law have stepped in and given me the space to care for mom and not have to worry about household duties. Because of them I am able to relax a bit. But……… on duty 24/7……….

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  127. SELF CARE MEANS SOMEONE HELPING OUT SO THERE IS ALMOST, NONE.

    Reply
  128. Stop telling me to do it and help me figure out how.

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  129. Accountability Over self pity.

    One major thing is, We must not look for external heroes, because in actuality it is already within us.

    For Alooong time I felt hopeless and trapped in auto pilot, then suddenly I ***decided*** to cope with my situation differently than I had before, and it started with my behaviours and thought patterns first, then what went on around me (outside) started to change (look different) and I was able to feel EMPOWERED instead, really gained a confidence, although it still was hard, my *coping mechanism vices* aided me.

    Adjusting diet habits alittle, improving sleep patterns (strictly 9:30 pm), calm soothing music, drawing or writing. STUFF I COULD DO FOR ME, THAT WAS MINE.

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  130. I’ve read dozens of caregiving books and articles and they all say caregivers need to take care of themselves. What really annoys me is it’s always followed with, “You can’t take care of your loved one if you don’t take care of yourself first.” The reason that statement feels heartless is it feels like we’re being told that the only reason we exist is to take care of our loved ones. We caregivers go to hundreds of doctor appointments and are constantly told how we need to do more. Telling us to take care of ourselves just because we need to take care of someone else makes us feel like we’ll never measure up. We matter as human beings all by ourselves.

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  131. That is bullshit. The only way I could take care of myself is by running away

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  132. It gets so old. Then when I do I get interrupted to take care of someone else!

    Reply
  133. I got so tired of hearing “you really need to take care of yourself” during my late husbands illness and even after he passed away. I knew I needed to do it, I was just a bit preoccupied & doing the best I could.

    Reply
  134. Even if it is said from love and care. Let the caregiver decide what self-care looks like, even if it’s just 5min of solitude or a 15min catnap. We already know we need to take care of ourselves.

    Reply
  135. It’s said out of love and caring.

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  136. Self care is a way to “empower” ourselves, rather than being victims. What I’ve learned in hindsight almost three years “post” fulltime responsibilities.

    Reply
    • True, although that “someone” could be us. Out hero is always within.

      Reply
    • Trice White that is such a bunch of crap. When you have someone who cannot be left alone, and you don’t have someone to step in and be with that person so that you can take a break it doesn’t work

      Reply
    • Mustering up strength within yourself doesn’t work???

      Self development/Self care isn’t crap at all, I understand more than anyone, yet that is what kept me going.

      Had to force myself to adopt this mindset and it wasn’t easy at all, it takes proactive and consistent PRACTICE and dedication to “Ourselves” aswell. Trust me I know exactly what you mean, I just refuse to allow any caregiver to fall into self neglect or self pity, because THAT DOESN’T WORK.

      Reply
    • THIS WORKS. You are important.

      That’s was my concept and concern within this post.

      Reply
  137. To take care of myself, what I need is time alone and time with my husband in the evenings. I have always been a person needing time to myself to think through issues and to process emotions. Also, after our son married and moved 800 miles away for work, my husband and I had 12 years alone. This time was priceless in how close we became.

    My mother has been here for 10 months. Unfortunately, she is negative, critical and puts her nose in our business often. It is unbelievable to me how she has handled being here, when we have gone out of our way to accommodate her needs. I get very little help from my brothers and have handled 99 percent of mom’s health and financial business for the past six years.

    I really don’t know how I can “take care of myself” when what I need … I never or rarely receive. Plus, mom refuses to work with me in handling various situations and problems (ex: hiring a shower aide for once a week). I am concerned that in not getting my needs met, I will reach a point of making a tough decision to place mom in a nursing home.

    Reply
    • I am so agreement, on the brink of no return
      Instead of asking us to take care of ourshelves, how about asking and meaning “how about I take over for a few hours while you take a breather?” Or what can I do that would be most helpful to You? Time is something that from my experience is something no one wants to sacrifice. .

      Reply
  138. 24/7 care is exhausting(42years for my son)I have battled for caregivers and medical care facility help!!I thank GOD every day that I was able to secure extra help!I searched for6 years before I finally got help.Funds were cut and we thought he would lose all these. I took it to court and he still has his care! WE are their advocates and it’s our job to secure WHATEVER is needed for them and for US(as the full time caregiver!! I always say=GOD first,ME second or I couldn’t be here to do the24/7 care!

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  139. I can’t even reap the benefits of marriage because my husband and I are going through being the only ones caring for our mothers. He has four sisters and I have two sisters but they are too busy enjoying their lives, to hell with ours! His mother is living with him and I am living thirty miles from him with my mother. I don’t really care to go any where much but a day or two to myself or with my husband would be great!

    Reply
  140. Even though I have just found your website, I wholeheartedly agree with those who are caregivers that keep getting “you need to take care of yourself first”. I am my husbands caretaker with just a daughter that is close, but she has kids of her own and works full time, so she has little time to help. I do have an aide that comes in 3 times a week to give him a bath, but that is not enough! He has VA benefits, but does not cover everything. He can be very verbally abusive! I did get to go see my mother and family for a week before Thanksgiving, I really enjoyed it, but was not enough. I do not have any close friends that live close, we are out in the boonies. I really need time away from him but it really is not feasible. No one really understands the stress caretakers are under when they offer advise. Thank you for letting me vent.

    Reply
  141. @Joy, I wonder if there are caregivers who facing being housebound and have no family or much support system. Then it it tough to care of yourself. Thanks for being aware that full time care givers may received limited support.

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  142. People mean well but clearly there are many who are full-time caregivers with no support system, and finding time to “take care of self” is virtually impossible.

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  143. This gave me a sarcastic chuckle this morning, thanks, I needed that. Here is the reality – Yes, I am very aware that I need to take care of me first. And as all human beings, I do the best I can. But my first duty is to ensure my daughter is taken care of. All the “Advice” and lip service from others, although well meaning, does nothing but remind me there are no current viable options. And yes, I look for options constantly, so just stop, it comes across as self righteous judgement. So, in the spirit of the holidays, reach out to a family with special needs and offer your time to do a task, make a store run, invite them over for a gathering, or simply visit and share a laugh or two. Peace!

    Reply
  144. You put into words what so many (all?) caregivers feel. When you are struggling to find your own oxygen, it doesn’t help to be coached to breath deeper. As if that is a cure.
    Even if you do manage to get a little “break,” a walk around the block does not give you your life back, which is what you really long for.
    What really surprised me was that even doctors don’t seem to get it. As a whole, they are dismissive and do little to address the stress of the caregiver.

    Reply
  145. Lauren: I’m so sorry you don’t have anybody to care for you after surgery. Have you thought about asking a local Church for volunteers? If I didn’t have my sister to help me out after surgery I wouldn’t have had anybody either. I’ve had 5 surgeries. My sister (she lives in another state) has been able to be with me to help me out; even though my husband “could” have done it. May God provide some people to be there for you!!!

    Reply
  146. Well said! Self-care should not just be another item on our overcrowded “to-do” list.

    I’m part of an online community of anti-violence activists who are trying to prioritize self-care: join us on Facebook if you like, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Selfcareforadvocates/. Be ready to let admins know what kind of advocacy you do, if it’s not already obvious on your profile.

    Again, thanks for the helpful article!

    Reply
  147. Thank you for saying what I want to scream ! I have had to postpone a surgery for myself ( that really is needed ) for the 2nd time. Why? Because we can not afford to pay someone to come and help my husband while I heal. No bending or lifting for 3 weeks after surgery. Hubby is in a wheelchair 24/7 , except when I put in bed and out in the am. If I hear one more person say ” Oh doesn’t your insurance cover that? ” NO IT DOES NOT! And after that the next question which I think makes me even more upset is ” Well doesn’t your county or social services offer some sort of program or support ?” YES it does, but we make to much money to qualify for anything. On paper we do, but each week we are deeper in the hole.So if one more person says ” you need to take care of you” You might see me on the evening news that night, lol.

    Reply

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