Well, not everyone knows about the stress of the caregiver until becoming one. True indeed. And stress doubled if you have a variety of household members who required different needs and care.
First of all, going through this is a super stressful one. One needs to deal wit the bad news of the household member being confirmed of whatever the illness is and on another hand, one needs to run parallels on the future care taking arrangements.
I’m sharing this very personal story of my own. My uncle has mental illness since half a century ago and my grandma was diagnosed with dementia few years back. Both of them have been living together with my parents as there is no other caretaker other than my parents who are willing and can cope with the tempers of theirs. Since then my siblings and I grew up to having to cope to react to my uncle’s outbreaks over times and my grandma’s temper and her transition to being more aware and sound to the diagnosis of dementia. All of them have other underlying conditions.
We grew up poor financially but rich in our bonds and I am amazed for my parents’ determination despite the fact that my father is the sole breadwinner and my mum is a full time caretaker of the family.
Due to the medical conditions, my uncle is not able to find jobs thus he is an urban recycler aka karung guni for the longest and his frugality and helping my father with the household spending is something that I will be grateful for.
Did I mention that my siblings and I grew up in a hoarding environment due to the nature of their tempers and jobs and there were times that I do not understand when I’m younger — why do I need to go through this? However such environment built up a strong character in me and the determination to break through the current and also helped us to conquer fears for all insects and creepy crawlies.
Okay, I deviated too much. What I want to say in this post is — I was amazed with my mum’s grit in this circumstances. As cliche as it sounds, we did ask her if she tried to walk out or break through this situation, she says she did not thought of it as a traditional woman, you can only give your best to your husband and his family once you are married into the family.
Although there is so much that I disagree with her but looking through how she took care of the family including the grandchildren, there is only max appreciation and gratitude for her.
During the recent weeks, I have also evolved to a full time caretaker for my grandma/ parents due to the COVID-19 situation back home. Everyone is going in and out of the hospital and in and out of the community care facilities and luck was never on my side as I have not really cleared a week free from quarantine and the necessary stress from all the policy changes and new rules. And because of this experience, I have realised the stress that my mum has been going through.
That level of ensuring that everyone takes the medicine, trying to keep them within the safe space and environment and the debate of getting them to fulfil menial tasks seems to be a challenged. Not forgetting the fact that she needs to constant remind and conduct the decluttering progress and accidents do happen.
E.g. My grandma accidentally threw away some of my uncle’s items and fused a heated argument as they are both mentally incapable to exercise a sound judgement. The incontinence that my grandma experiences on a daily basis and her refusal to wear diapers and etc. Despite all these, one still need to stay calm and resolve/ deconflict the tension on an immediate basis.
I felt that sense of 24/7 standby and tension almost every single seconds and everyone will have a bad day yet the caregiver cannot show too much of such negative emotions as it will affect the household members. Imagine that.
All I want to say, all caregivers deserves appreciation and also if one can render help, please do.
Many asked why won’t we hire a helper. Firstly the older generation does not prefer having a stranger around in the house and they are quite stubborn with their diehard habits. And all the siblings, the 4 of us chipped in to assist. So yeap, please care for the mental health and well being of all caregivers every moment possible instead of just because October is the month that supports mental wellness. 🙂
And these period with all the work stress, I decide to forgo to climb the corporate ladder but do more of the pay-it-forward stuff and build a better mental well being for the family.
Special shoutouts to the organizations, people who went in the extra mile to help us during our younger days and I will definitely pay it forward through piggyback and every methods possible.