A few weeks ago we were talking about how we became caregivers on the Facebook page. I was surprised by how many professional caregivers said they didn’t have a choice in the matter, it just happened. I was also surprised by how many parents and spouses said they chose to be caregivers when there was an unexpected healthcare emergency.

The biggest thing that stood out for me was how many of the people in our community have both provided paid care for work and unpaid care to a friend or family member.

So, how did you become a caregiver? Did you have a choice in the matter, or was it something you just had to do?


I became a caregiver when I realized no one else was going to be able to fill the need.

I taught full-time in a tenure-track teaching position at a prestigious university. As I prepared my dossier to go up for tenure, my dad called to tell me that he had been in the hospital. He had had a TIA or “mini” stroke, but was ok. Meanwhile, my mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing faster than expected. A week later, was spring break at the university, so went “home” to see the folks. As I walked around their house and saw how poorly they were managing, I knew I had to make a difficult choice.

I walked away from my career and put my life “on hold” as it were to care for my folks. It was a choice, but it was also true that choosing not to help them was not an option.

Andrea


Not a choice an obligation to the ones we love

Maggie


I became a caregiver for my Mother out of choice. Plus it was also a necessity. I was the only family member in the area and just sort of “fell into” the job.  It was never a “job” as I had promised Mom to take care of her.  I was able to do so as I am disabled so was not working.

The Caregiver Space was such a huge support for me, I received so much encouragement and generalized help.  The course the VA sent me through was also a huge help.

Since Mom’s passing, I have become a part time caregiver for my neighbor who had a paralyzing stroke. It is great to be able to help them as they were always there for me when I needed them.

JeanAnn


I became a caregiver for my widowed Father 4 years ago when he was 91. Although I have 4 siblings… no one stepped up and he was not doing well on his own. I was checking on him daily but when we moved out of state for a couple of years we had no choice but to have him come with us… 4 yrs later he is still here. We have moved back to our home state.

Dementia is getting worse and it is a lot harder to care for him. He is getting combative. Everything has to be planned around his needs. My poor husband is really over it. He is retired now and we can not enjoy our retirement. We can not just go out for the day or take a spontaneous trip to see our grandchildren and my siblings still have not stepped up. He does not have a lot of money so hiring help is out of the question… we are paying a CNA to come 3 days a week to bathe him now as he has refused to bathe but says he already did.

Barbara


I started caregiving in 2008. I went to work for a company that cared for folks with developmental​ disabilities. It is a rough field but managed stay for a year and a half. I decided to leave there when I realized my own physical capabilities. I was 57 at the time.

I started caring for mostly for my mom and my dad as his health declined. I made a major move to Colorado for them. My Dad passed away October 2013. I continue to care for my mom today. She is 84 and has physical
disabilities and so far I am able. We lived in my brother’s house and he took care of us. In July of 2014 he had medical issues going on and I cared for him too. He passed away in November 2015. He was the baby of our
family. After helping her settle things there, I moved my mom and I back to New Mexico. Closer to my daughter.

I think sometimes about how much I want to live my life but she would alone and where? I allow myself to feel the anger, resentments​, try to stay positive and do for me what I can. I don’t have the answers. I have a couple good friends in similar situations that are good support. I get up every day and put one foot in front of the other. None of us knows what life brings so it’s best to enjoy something in each day. Life is an adventure.

Thanks for reading and reaching out.

Kathy


I became a caregiver when my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

There was no choice in the matter, I did what a husband is suppose to do.

Duane


I didn’t have a choice at being a caregiver. My sister was married with her own family. Since I was single, the duty fell on me to help my dad with mother and now, I take care of him.

Peggy


In my paper (delivered at the Alzheimer’s Association and American Society on Aging) the topic of the “Moral Dilemma of Caregiving” is discussed. The ethical dilemma comes when the caregiver is forced to choose between 2 wrongs. For instance, giving up a source of income to become an unpaid, full-time caregiver.

For myself, caregiving meant moving to our new retirement home and bringing Mother with us, instead of putting her in an excellent facility where I had worked.  I’m still paying for that decision in the lack that social support I have been able to nurture for myself in the new location.

Then Mother died, and my husband was given a terminal diagnosis.  In the space of a year I had lost my jobs, proximity to family, my tribe, my Mother, as well as my identity as an esteemed organist and a geriatric social worker with credentials in assessment and national presentations.  Gone. Now I lead hikes…and read emails on “caregiving”.

Marj


11 year ago my wife had a liver transplant, now we’re told she​ has cancer, plus heart problems. I didn’t ask to be a care giver, it just happened to me. Holding down a job and care giving.

Douglas


Death made me a family caregiver twice. After my father died, my mother struggled, became unsafe, and I moved her to Rochester, Minnesota. My twin grandchldren’s parents died in separate car crashes, and the court appointed my husband and me as heir guardians. We did this for seven years.

In 2013 my husband’s aorta dissected and he had three emergency operations. During the third one, my husband suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his legs. I’ve been his primary caregiver for nine years. Sometimes I think I need a caregiver myself.

Harriet


When I got married I made a choice that I would always care for wife no matter what. Diabetes was newly diagnosed a month before our marriage. Over the years, the diabetes evolved into more and more issues (renal failure, kidney transplant, major stroke, breast cancer and finally seizures. Not once did I doubt my promise or commitment in the forty seven and a half years that we had together.

Bruce


It was something I had to do. My husband’s Atypical Parkinsonism impairs him but not fully enough to warrant outside help…yet. However, driving, dispensing drugs, some grooming/dressing, use of cell phone, tv remote, and computer all require assistance. Add to that the daily, ‘where did I put this,’ (many times a day) AND, last but not least, vision impairment from coincidental right eye retinal vein occlusion and neurological effects if vision in ‘good’ eye
….and you get spousal caregiving. ?

Melissa


I became a part time caregiver for my mother when she had a stroke in 2003, at that time I was working as a Licensed Vocational Nurse and would bring food to my parents and bathe my mother before I went to work during the week and then would go on weekends to care for her.

My father started having symptoms of Alzheimers disease a few years later and I became his caregiver as well. My father passed in 2010 and I moved my mom into my home and I was forced to resign from my job, as I could not find a qualified caregiver to stay with her while I worked.

That was 7 years ago, I continue to care for my mother and her health has continued to decline. This year she had a UTI in January and was in the hospital for a few days, I took her to her doctors office for a follow up appointment  in February and she got the flu, she became dehydrated and was hospitalized. I opted for her to have a feeding tube, but the doctor had to do a Hiatal Hernia repair first, this was a major surgery for a 95 year old. She came home and a few days later developed a bowel obstruction which required another major abdominal surgery.

She is home now and slowly recovering, she has had some TIA’s which has left her combative and confused. I became a caregiver as my parents did not have long term care insurance and could not afford  to hire quality caregivers. I had worked in a nursing home as a charge nurse and had decided that that was not an option for my parents.

I am fortunate that I have the training and knowledge to give my parents loving care in the home setting for many years. This has been a strain on every aspect of my life, my marriage my profession and my dream for further education. I am happy that I had the opportunity to provide the care to my parents, but hope and pray that my children do not have to do the same for me.

Theresa


I became a caregiver when my husband became seriously ill. That was 20 years ago and his health has declined dramatically over time with many added health conditions. I continue to be his caregiver and will be forever.

Linda


I became a caregiver when my middle daughter, Amy, was born. She has a chromosome disorder that has affected her physically and developmentally. She is non verbal and functions like a 2-3 year old. Amy is 33years old and lives at home.

When Amy was 4 years old, my husband and I adopted Ashley. Ashley has cerebral palsy, is deaf and nonverbal. She functions like a 9-12 month old. Ashley is 28 years old and lives at home. As my husband and I get older, the caregiving is getting harder and really taking a toll on us. I love my girls with all my heart but it is definitely hard!

Lisa


I had a choice to become my moms caregiver. It was either me or a home. I
chose me. She needs one on one care all day every day and the best way for
her to have that care , was for me to do it.

Carol

About Cori Carl

As Director, Cori develops our comprehensive global communications and development strategy. She’s constantly tweaking our services based on data-driven marketing metrics and feedback from caregivers. She works to grow our community and build the reputation of The Caregiver Space by amplifying the message on social media, cultivating relationships with experts, creating organizational partnerships, and earning media coverage. She’s an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for Caregivers.

Cori joined The Caregiver Space after a decade of serving as a communications consultant for a number of nonprofit organizations and corporations furthering sustainable energy and urban planning solutions.

Cori has an MA in Corporate Communications from Baruch College at CUNY and a BA in Media Studies from Eugene Lang College at the New School University. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Toronto.

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