Wednesday, September 19, 2012

caregiving is hazardous to your health

Recently I have watched the grieving for the death of another long term caregiver as told through posts and comments on the Well Spouse Association Facebook Page.
Well Spouse Association support for spousal caregivers
The pain, the worry, the frustration, the fear and the anger of fellow long term caregivers shout out of my PC screen. Disagreements over why? What’s right? What’s wrong? Yet in the end … all march forward.

For thousands of years, Ecclesiastes has reminded us there is a time for everything and this is a time to remember that 30% of caregivers die before those they are caring for. Some studies show deaths higher”. Yes, years and decades of intense stress diminishes the immune system and multiplies chances of chronic illness, for example my own recent diagnosis of lung cancer after 22 years of long term spousal caregiving.

Caregivers have to ignore their own health or put symptoms on hold to accommodate the person they care for. Often we simply have no time left for our own health needs after hours ‘on hold’ or spent in waiting rooms as a caregiver/advocate.

Depression is reportedly abundant. If someone cannot see or imagine positive outcomes or solutions well they are less apt to care about their personal well being.

Certainly I am preaching to the choir in this blog … improving our own health habits will not make us immortal or even invincible.

At best we can extend the battle into overtime, fighting a fight that cannot be won. The person we care for will not “get better soon” nor will they “die soon”, we care in the real world not the Hallmark version.

My Dad was my Mom’s long term caregiver for over a decade. When he found himself ‘dying soon’ of pancreatic cancer he confessed to me he prayed to God to take her before him so she would not be left unattended.  

... How did that work out? He lived 4 months longer than her.

Long term caregiving is not for everyone. It’s driven, measured and rewarded internally not externally. 

We are unique soooo ... “Hey, let's be careful out there!”

Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. It is definitely easy to overlook your own needs when the needs of others are so great.

  2. Even if you have caregivers covered by your plan from the best long term care insurance companies , these caregivers are still prone to stress and burnout. This is why it is advised that they also find ways to cope with the challenges of their work. Much more for family caregivers. They do not have the proper training so most likely they will have more problems in coping


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