What It’s Like to Be a Caregiver?
Being a caregiver takes over your life in some ways. It has a way of impacting your money, your family, your job, your marriage, your health, your day, your home, your over-all well-being.
Being a caregiver to my father with prostate cancer
My father was diagnosed with throat cancer about 30 years ago. He was a heavy smoker; quit immediately. 20 years went by and he was diagnosed again with prostate cancer. He is in remission from both cancers right now. He just turned 84 on March 6. He is a very strong person who feels that a man works to take care of his household and he still works. He’s on limited income and wants to take care of himself.
I don’t crowd him, but I am there 24/7; working behind the scenes.
As his caregiver, I offer support and care. He doesn’t have to worry about anything. He has someone to take him to doctor appointments, run errands and make sure he takes his medicine on time. He also still drives, so he feels independent. I had “Meals On Wheels” taking him food, but he said that wasn’t for him.
Caregiving challenges? Make a plan
Caregiving is a lot of work, especially if you have health problems yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re a loved one or in the medical field, it’s exhausting. But I have found it to be very rewarding to be able to give back to the person who took care of me and made sure I never missed a meal in my life.
Some things I feel you should think about being a caregiver:
- Education is key. Learn as much about the disease as possible.
- It’s ok to talk about it. Become an advocate for health care.
- Know that you can get the disease at any age; old or young.
- You have options; join a support group for help.
- Stick to a routine, especially if caring for the elderly. They like structure.
- Have a Plan A and Plan B for someone to step in immediately in case of illness or emergencies.
I have the support of a husband and sister who step in when I just need some alone time to just take care of me. Sometimes it does take a village. My husband tells me all the time he doesn’t know how I manage to do all that I do, but I do a good job of keeping the family “whole”. It feels good to be appreciated and I ask for help when I need it.
Care for the caregivers
My advice to other caregivers who have significant others is to spend time together. Take a walk, go see a movie or just sit and talk. You will need that down time to relax.
There are days that I am mentally and physically drained, but when I see my father all I see is the trust he has in me. If I was on my dying bed and he needed me; I would be there with no hesitation. One day he will be gone, but I know I did the best while he was here to take care of him.
I have always been respectful and patient. I have found that we all need to have trust in ourselves. Like I said earlier; my father is very independent and sometimes stubborn and feels he can do anything. This is the time I have to step away (but stay close) and take a deep breath. I will never give up on myself or my loved one.
I will always carry my father around. It’s not as hard as it used to be. I have never been burdened by this role that I choose. I don’t have to do the things I do; I want to do them.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?