Sources of Stress in My Life as a Caregiver

I participate in three different support groups for caregivers. In virtually every one of the meetings, people talk about the various things they find stressful.

Most of the conversations in the groups with which I am involved deal with the frustrations caused by their loved one’s behavior. One of the most common is repeating the same questions over and over. Another is the loved ones’ denial of the diagnosis and the refusal to cooperate when the time comes to issues like giving up the keys to the car, needing a walker, or willingness to accept a caregiver. The frequency with which the others are mentioned varies a good bit with the individual situations and the stage of the dementia.

At present, I believe my greatest source of stress relates to Kate’s in-home care. I emphasize “present time” because I depend more heavily on paid help now that Kate requires total care. When caregivers are sick or have other personal issues that prevent them from being on the job, it is stressful for me.

These situations have always occurred periodically since I first engaged paid help six years ago in September 2017. In the beginning, this was a minor issue. For the first three years and two months, the caregivers’ responsibility was simply to be a companion for Kate, and we had help only three days a week for four hours a day. If a caregiver was late or unable to come, it was not a big problem.

Life is very different now. For almost three years, Kate has required Total Care. Without help, I can’t get her dressed, out of bed, and into her wheelchair. I need help more than ever.

That leads me to another problem – getting someone who can come regularly. For the past two-and-a-half years, we have been fortunate to have two different people who were with us for eight hours a day Monday through Friday. One of them was with us for a year and a half. The other left after a year. To cover the weekends, We have had two people who alternate weekends. One of those has been with us two years this month, the other person has been with us for close to a year.

Four weeks ago, our latest Monday through Friday caregiver developed a health issue of her own and had to resign. The agency that provides our caregivers has had trouble finding people who would commit to a full 8-hour shift. As a result, they have divided the day into two shifts of 3-5 hours. Since then, we have had 28 new caregivers. On top of that, one of my regular weekend people called two Saturdays ago to say she couldn’t come. Another new person came to take her place. That makes 29 new people in four weeks.

I am working hard to maintain a cool head, but I have to admit that it has been quite stressful.