We’re celebrating National Caregiver Month – and you.

National Caregiver Month

You help a family member or a friend who’s on a health journey. You’re a caregiver.  And for that, all of November is dedicated to you.

If National Caregivers Month is something you never asked for, or it seems like a bit too much of a tribute, it’s not — not by a long shot.

You Deserve More Than a Month

There are over 65 million of you out there. You’re “boots on the ground” every day, mowing lawns, shopping for groceries, unsnarling paperwork, making meals, managing finances, refilling prescriptions, massaging feet and more. Sometimes just talking, just listening, just dropping by.

You don’t ask for anything in return, not even gas money. But the value of all that informal, unpaid care has been estimated at an annual $450 billion. That’s more than WalMart sells in a year, more than Medicaid spends, more than the entire cost of paid in-home and nursing home care in America. (Sources: FCA, AARP. 2011 figures)

What Really Amazes us About You

Caregivers like you spend an average of 21 hours a week taking care of someone – often along with your own 40-hour job, family, and personal to-do list.

You can admit it – it’s tough sometimes. There are lots of things you’d rather be doing, but instead you choose to step up for someone you love. All of us at CaringBridge think that’s awesome. In fact, we’re thinking about you right now, and we’ve come to the conclusion that November should have 60 days, at least.

Our Question is, Why do You do What you Do

What drives you? What’s your motivation? What’s inside you?

Only you really know, so we want your opinion on the topic, “What makes a good caregiver?”

Please share your insights, caregiver tips and caregiver advice with us – and with all the other people like you. We’d love to hear what makes you tick and what ideas you have that might help other caregivers.

Please enter your comment below

Sona Mehring is the founder of CaringBridge, the nonprofit organization created in 1997 so people experiencing a health journey can rally their community during a time of need. People invite close family and friends to read about their journey through their own personal CaringBridge website. In return, family and friends can show their love and support by posting encouraging messages. Follow Sona on Twitter – <a href=””>@gogosona</a>.

Comments (52)

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Auth Jan 14, 2013 6:24pm
I could not agree with you more, Mary!! Our daughter (7 mhtnos when we first met) was certainly agreeable during the first few days, but she struggled mightily with longterm attachment. Her sleeping habits were erratic for over a year, she freaked out if a stranger (even the friendly variety) talked to her or looked at her too long, and she would have nothing to do with us leaving her with anyone (even when her 4 older siblings, that she was very well attached to, were with her). If I was not a stay-at-home Mom already, I would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to be with my fragile new daughter.On the bright side; she is seriously coming into her own. She is 2 1/2 now, and is comfortable in most situations. She loves her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. There was a day that we all wondered if that would ever happen. She just stayed for two nights with my parents (and her 4 siblings) while my husband and I went away, and had no issues at all. It might have taken a while to get here, but the results are well worth the effort we put in.Keep fighting for the cause of attachment, my friend!!
Bebesotha Jan 14, 2013 12:34pm
Would just like to commend you on your praogrm the story came today and touched my heart in such a way that is so close to home. This past week on monday my father in law passed on at the age of 95 with a failing heart at the same time my husband is going through terminal liver cancer since last year he was given a diagnoses as only having 3 months to live by grace he celebrated his 60 birthday today I only wish that my father in law could of had contact with such a wonder source as you have offered unfortunetly my sister in law was his care taker but for years has had substance problem and my father in law was a widower after many years my sister in law lived at my father in laws for many years so took over after my mother in law died .You may ask why I didn't try to intervine my father in law was a hard man to change and also deal with I have no one else except my 26 son and my brother in law who has been handling things who just retired this year so now he had to deal with this along with now what his brother my husband is having happen. I didnt mean for this to get out of hand on my comment but, my main purpose would again to commend you on your award along with your wonderful service Thank You for listening to me someday in the future maybe I can offer my service to you Thank You again claudia
mike Nov 16, 2012 10:31am
Love and strength make A great caregiver, A special love and strength that is rare nowadays, that is why caregivers are so special and important in the often thankless service they constantly give us. thier gratefull recipiants..It truly takes A unique pirson to be A caregiver.
mike Nov 16, 2012 10:11am
I have parkinsons and as A result of deep brain stimulation that went horribly wrong I suffered brain hemmoraging, and A stroke my wife, and caregiver alwayd stuck by my side,even as she was diag nosed with breast cancer she always made sure I had everything I needed putting my needs om priority over her own. Today I can happily say we are both thriving and looking forward to whst the future holds for us.
Peg williams Nov 16, 2012 2:24am
Caregiving is one of the most rewarding and stressful situations a person can go through. The intense love for the person you are helping supersedes anything else in your life. You think of only one thing: helping the person with a serious health problem get through the diagnosis, sickness, and treatment and wishing many more years in their life. Both my mother and husband were diagnosed with blood cancers within 6 months of each other. My husband went through a stem cell transplant and is still struggling with the after affects. My mother passed away 3 weeks ago. The loss is overwhelming, but I was able ( hopefully) to make her last days more comfortable. I never thought I would be this person who knows so much about health and well being , but I feel confident that I can be relied on and help in the worst of times. After all, for better or for worse and in sickness and health are the vows my husband and I took 36 years ago. Even though those words were for our marriage, it applied to my wonderful mother too. God bless all caregivers!
Faye Eckert Nov 15, 2012 4:16pm
My mother got cancer in 2007 and did radiation and some chemo then it went into remission for only about 6 to 8 months and came back and I took care of her at my home as long as I possibly could along with my grandchildren. She was especially close to all the grandchildren and she was a part of all of our lives so her daily care included all of us. The time came when she had to be put in the hospital because she developed pneumonia and after that she went to Hospice. I stayed with her 24/7 in Hospice till the day she passed from this earth to God's open doors in Heaven in November 2009. I had a little breather and in August of 2010 my brother was in an automobile accident and since then has had his arm operated on 3 times and I have had to take care of him because he has other health issues. He has a 2 year old that I kept from the time he was10 months old till now and he will be 2 in a couple of weeks. I do not regret for one moment any of my decisions for taking care of family members. Yes, I get tired and grow weary but God sustains me and fills me up with love and compassion for my family and my loved ones. I believe we were put here on earth to help one another and love one another and if we don't love our family first how are we going to love and help others as we are suppose to do. If people would just read the Bible and get back to the basics of living we would have a much better world. Love one another, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. God will surely bless us if we follow His directions from His love letter (the Bible) to us. May God Bless all those that give freely of themselves to help others, you are greatly appreciated.
Bonnie Akers Nov 15, 2012 3:29pm
I take care of my Mom who is 87 and has the beginings of Dementia, she is on 2 types of medication, and lives with us, my husband & myself. I have my husband to lean on and to help when he is not working, and he too tries to think of fun things we can all do together, I am very blessed. My Mom has lived with us for the past 8 years, since my Dad died with cancer and she took care of him. I try to treat my Mom with the dignity and respect that she deserves, it is not her fault that she has this disease. This is a special time that we have together to laugh and to share, do fun stuff together. It sure beats the alternative. God works with me everyday to be sure I am doing a good job and he never gives you more than you can handle. Yes, I believe and I believe in Angels that walk amoungst us.
Mona Robinson Nov 15, 2012 7:51am
A good caregiver is one who does what needs to be done with love, compassion and selflessness, yet is not a martyr. Caregivers recognise the need to also take care of themselves and make time for this, so that they can give without regrets. Taking care of self includes being able to ask for help or for someone else to take over for a while. Great caregivers are people whose hearts have been softened by the Holy Spirit.
Kathy Nov 14, 2012 11:37pm
I and my husband have both my mother and his. Both are 92. I always knew that I would care for my mom. I could not allow her to be in a Nursing Home. My mom came with us 30 months ago, and his mother about 18 months. My mother needs much care, and help with everything. Being a caretaker is often a very stressful and difficult job, but is worth it to have the last days with my mom. She sacrificed for myself and my brothers, and deserves to be honored now.
Judy Leiser Nov 14, 2012 5:20pm
What makes a good caretaker? The word itself explains a lot. Taking care of--- That is what caretakers do. They take care of others but often forget to take care of themselves. How often does someone offer to take care of the caretaker? Perhaps we need to think about them more often. Aunt Alice who never left the house because uncle Joe had cancer, Georgie across the street who takes care of her disabled son. The list goes on and on and always will. Perhaps you will be able to help a relative or neighbor who is a caretaker. Offer to run errands, help them with household chores, sometimes all they need is a shoulder to lean on or a listening ear to hear their frustration. There are many ways to help these wonderful people called "caretakers". My thoughts and love go out to everyone of them.
LaCinda Nov 14, 2012 3:38pm
I am caretaker for two of my granddaughters that have Cystic Fibrosis and CFRD (cystic fibrosis related diabetes.) They are 15 and 13 years of age and the lights of my life. I have been with them since birth and I could truly write a book on CF, what it does do the patient, the family and life as we know it. I can't imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else as my mind is always filled with meds, next treatment, next Dr. appointment, insulin, carb counting, eating high calories food (CF patients need many calories) and I love it. I would love to see them healthy and happy like other children their age but we truly make the best of everyday and love each other so much. They are truly my heroes and I have the best job in the world!
Marie Spencer Nov 14, 2012 1:48pm
You ask why....Why do we do anything that takes our precious time out of life. Let's see, when we wake up in the morning and we know everything is alright with our own lives, is a start. We can get out of bed on our own, we can dress our self, put on our shoes, walk to the kitchen and get our own breakfast with no problem. That's just the start of the put yourself in my husband shoes. He is 64 and has Alzheimer, he cannot choose his own clothes to wear that day, he can make himself a bowl of cereal, but if there is no milk or someone has moved it. Whatever is on that draw in the shelf is what he will pour over his cereal. Now let's talk about silver ware, what does he eat with..a fork, a knife or a spoon....or maybe all three. Have you ever tried to eat cereal with a knife or fork, well he will try, because he has lost that ability in his mind. Now for the walk to get the newspaper outside, do he put socks on, shoes, does he need a jacket or is it warm enough to wear nothing.......again another decision in life Alzheimer has taken away from his mind. He fetches the newspaper, but no longer get read it, everything in his mind is jumbled up in his head...words I mean. They no longer make sense to him when he reads them. The same with television or movies, setting still is no longer a thing that his mind lets him do. Out of honor to him, I won't talk about bathroom habits or lack of. Next comes lunch, we go out once in while and ask him what he wants....pact answer is "You know what I like." Even the simple choose between beef or chicken, no answer, it confuses him to make that simple choose. Oh, if it's hot, he has no idea how to cool it down any more, and if you are not watching him....he burns himself. Also, Alzheimer has taken away his ability to know how to cut something up, again decision on which silverware to use for what item. Conversation has come to a almost complete stop, he can no longer tell you what is hurting, if he needs anything, or if he is unhappy or glad. Food has come down to something to feel the void of hunger. Supper time......repeat, at home or out. Confusing if at someplace different in life, where is the bathroom, how to get out of the area, or which way is out. Showers, shaving, cleansing himself is a day gone by in the past. Must be reminded of what to do, all because of Alzheimer. The sad part is most people think of this disease as a person that forgets a lot, but it's more. Alzheimer kills the brain piece by little takes all of the above and more. It will eventually take away his walking ability, his swallowing of food and drink, and the last is his ability to know how to breathe....Alzheimer will kill him, because his brain will die from the disease. Now ask me why again why I am his caretaker....because not only I love him....but he really needs someone to do the things that come natural to us everyday we put out feet on the ground. In honor of my you, will keep you safe from harm, and will allow you to die with as much honor as a human deserves. Your loving wife, Marie
John (Jack) Wagner Nov 14, 2012 1:09pm
I am a Caregiver for my wife, she has dementia. She is my Wife..... she is my Life. I have been doing this for 3 years and two months, around the clock, 24/7. I do not have help, I am the sole provider. I had to stop working to effectively take on this responsibility. I liked working and had a very interesting occupation that included sales, leadership, engineering and travel that produced a good income. My position as a Caregiver is the most important job I have ever had. I have faced several life threatening experiences and this is the worst and hardest thing I have ever done in life mentally, physically and spiritually. I spent many years big game hunting and playing many sports of which 24 years were dedicated to football as an offensive lineman. I always considered myself as a rough tough strong bulletproof football player that normally dominated the game. Believe me, being a Caregiver for my wife makes all the previous activities seem like childs play. It is taking it's toll on me also. The [at home] Caregiver goes down with the patient;however, I will not yield! I watch the sand run out of the hour glass week-by-week and I cannot beat this monster. I am in a non-defensible position and fighting a battle that I/we can never win. People ask me, "Jack, how do you do this day after day? You cannot continue doing this without a break." My answer is, "nobody else is stepping up to assist me, so I must stand the wall alone." To my Wife, I am the center of the Universe, world without end. You do what you have to do and reach down and find the strength. I say a prayer every day and ask the Lord to give me health, strength and patience to take care of my Wife. She does not deserve to have this hellish disease............ no one deserves to suffer this torturous disease. I forse myself to be tougher today then I was yesterday in order to cope with what must be done. God Bless all Caregivers and those that are in their trust.
Tina Nov 14, 2012 12:58pm
I do it because I love my Mom. I feel that nursing homes are not really the kind of place I would place my dog. They really are not caring the way your own family members can be. There are 7 of us and 4 live over 45 minutes away so it really is hard for them. Then there are 2 that live close and have a hard time finding time to spend with Mom. They don't work. Some people would say "REALLY" but I just keep remembering that she will only be here w while longer. And I really do want to spend it hearing her stories and letting her here ours. My children tell her things all the time they sing, dance and just act goofy because they Love their Gma. We live with Mom and that is good because my husband keeps getting laid off from his job because work is slow. He has been looking but its really hard to find a job that pays 15.00 an hour for a 50 year old man. He has health issues as well as I do I am on SSI. It's not much but we do ok. Bills are hard to pay at times but the three of us do ok. I would never put my Mom in a nursing home. I love her to much and I feel she took care of me all my life its my turn to show her what she taught me and take care of her.
Bruce Lindquist Nov 14, 2012 11:53am
I care for my wife of 43 years who is in the servere stages of alsheimers disease. She was diagnosed over 13 years ago and has required 24/7 care for the last 18 months. I do this while running a business other chores.
Pat Melton Nov 14, 2012 11:00am
I have a double whamy. I am a caregiver for my handicapped husband (numerous problems, epilepsy, COPD, heart issues, cirroisis of the liver, diabetes, blood clots) and for my elderly mother (who is 75 and I believe has alzheimers. We are trying to get her diagnoised now). I have to admit its really tough sometimes. Just the other day I sat in my truck and just screamed I CAN"T TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE. I don't take enough time to take care of myself most of the time. I have so many folks who tell me to do that but there just isn't enough time in the day to get to me. If I do get any me time I spend it crocheting. Its my stress buster. So my advice for those of you who need you time. Do what I do get a hobby and try to do it at least once a day. It calms me sometimes so much I fall asleep with it in my lap and the hook still in my hand.
Edie Nov 14, 2012 10:40am
When I was 18 years old I worked at a small nursing home. I instantly fell in love with all the residents there. I seen each one as if they were a member of my family and always made sure they were treated that way. 27 years later I find myself not working in the medical field but I do volunteer as a Compassionate Companion for the NODA (No One Dies Alone) program in my town. Several years ago my husband and I had an elderly friend that had been evicted from his home, we took him in. His relatives all lived on the other side of the US so I took it upon myself to do his care and take him to his appointments. A year later in November he was hospitalized with kidney failure due to his diabetes. He was in the hospital over a month and decided he just wanted to come home. I was with him, holding his hand on Christmas Eve when he passed on. From that moment I just couldn't get out of my mind how many people in the world die alone and it breaks my heart. Then I read an article in the local newspapers about NODA and they needed volunteers in my area. I was on the phone making an appointment that same day. It is very rewarding to be able to be there for those who are in there final days, just to hold their hand and let them know you care. And I have learned that the families are so appreciative just to have a person there helping them through such a rough time. Caregivers are just that givers, we never ask for anything in return. The smiles and hugs are the best payment of all. Bless all caregivers and their warm hearts.
" D" Nov 14, 2012 10:04am
I was asked that question a few days ago Why do I do what I do? the ansswer is because when I take care of someone either in a hospital area or privite home I connect with that person on a human level. I listen to them and find something in my life that relates and share it with that person , one it shows I understand and second it helps me to share my life with that person. I feel everyone wants to be treated with respect even when we lose our thoughts, our ablity to do simple tasks and if we all can remember that one day we too will have someone care for us , and we will want the same respect.
Eugenia Nov 14, 2012 9:29am
Having been caregivers for 39 plus years, it's hard to 'say' succinctly what I think makes a good caregiver. All caregivers are special whether for a 'short' duration or years, as is our case. It takes being willing to do what has to be done and to do it with a willing, loving heart and not harboring 'why me?' thoughts that drag you down instead of lift you or the patient up. We are blessed to be able to 'walk alongside' the Cystic Fibrosis battle fought by our son for 39 and one half years and still going. God is our strength and shield, a never failing help and He provides and enables us day by day, breath by breath. Thankfully, the battle belongs to God, not us. We are blessed more than stressed but yes, it is stressful. Working and keeping up with normal life and dealing with a 24/7 illness is mind bogglingly demanding. Making time to get rest is crucial for the caregiver/s.. Sometimes during crisis periods that does have to push to the back burner but knowing you have to re-charge is crucial. God bless all caregivers. I pray that each will come to know that you can turn your burden over to the Lord for He cares for you. He wants to be our Savior and Lord first and foremost and all the rest is added to all of life and living and coping and enjoying this great life given to each of us, no matter what experiences we encounter. He has a purpose for each of us and watching Him work it out in us is quite a ride! Thank you Lord for who you are and for your gift of life!
Pari Safai Nov 14, 2012 9:02am
Because you deeply care about the person and you think about if you were in the same situation or is was your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother and the list goes on and on. Imagine what it must feel like to be "robbed" of your independence of not being able to drive, to cook for yourself, to care for yourself. make decisions for yourself, go to the doctor, lab work, blood work, make appointments, shop, a simple task, etc.... In someways when someone is mentally incapacitated it is even more difficult as the appear to be "okay" by others. However, they have good days and bad days and their good days are really good and their bad days are really bad. They kinda go in and out. What is even more draining is you do your best to engage in conversation with them but not much makes sense and the repetitiveness of the conversation can be draining at times. They have very little short term memory and the losing and misplacing of things on a daily basis i.e., money, wallet, keys, jewelry, phone so much of your time is spent looking for it. You are so immersed in their well being that you forget about yourself and your own priorities and you find yourself forgetting things that you normally wouldn't but because of all the time consumed caring for them you overlook your own needs or what needs to get done. It can be very draining especially if you try to carry on your life as usual as you have in the past. Before the word caregiver was just a word and had no meaning to me whatsoever BUT now it has taken on such a deep meaning. There are times when you try to explain to other family members and they interpret it as complaining but you are only trying to apprise them of the situation. The most important thing is even a caregiver needs a break once in a while or it will affect their health. Caregivers have to have a lot of patience, love, caring, empathy, compassion, tolerance or they won't make it. God Bless all caregivers!
Linda Brendle Nov 14, 2012 8:48am
I took care of my parents, both of whom had dementia, for 15 years before they went home to be with the Lord. I checked on them in their own home as long as they could live independently, and then I took them into my home for 6 years. When their physical needs outgrew my abilities, they moved into assisted living, Dad for about 5 months and Mom for a year longer. I felt it was an honor and privilege to care for the two people who gave me life, but it was the hardest thing I've ever done. There are too many tips to give here, but the most important are: 1) Put your own oxygen mask on first. If you don't take care of yourself and burn out, who will care for your loved ones. 2) Don't lose your sense of humor. Yours is sometimes a heart--wrenching job, but there are always moments of joy and laughter that will keep you going. 3) Don't hesitate to ask for help - from family, friends, organizations and most importantly from God. Blessings, Linda
Lena Nov 14, 2012 8:10am
My mother cared for so very many of her loved ones for 85 years. Now, it is time for someone to care for her after her stroke 2 years ago. Christ desires for us to honor our parents and also to serve others. I am blessed that my husband still can work at providing for us so I could quit my paying job to do this humbling task of caring for my mother. It means staying home many days when I want to go out. I pray for the Lord's strength each day and thank Him for His many, many blessings to us.
Michael Bloom Nov 14, 2012 8:04am
A good caregiver is one who provides dedicated and loving support to their loved while fully living their own life. For three years, I had the most challenging and soul-fulfilling journey of my life. I served as the primary live-in caregiver for my parents. In August of 2009, my then 82- year-old father suffered catastrophic heart failure. Prior to that event, he served as my mother’s primary caregiver after her survival from Stage 4B Hodgkin’s disease left her frail and in need of his physical support. My father’s heart failure led to vascular dementia and the need for his own 24-hour care, so I stepped in to support them both. Both of my parents have now passed on and I am honoring their legacy by supporting fellow caregivers during their journeys of care. I just published tips for caregivers to avod burnout in honor of National Family Caregivers Month. The tips have been picked up on a number of media sites. One link is Sending many blessings along with lots of energy and love to my fellow caregivers! You are so inspiring and deserve abundance and joy in your own lives.
Susanne Nov 14, 2012 7:24am
Love, Sweet Love!!!
Ptrica Nov 14, 2012 6:52am
I am so moved by all the responses of love & God in our hearts. It sure is a trying time. But only @ times, we do have good times along with the bad, not so fun @ all times. I've known cancer with a sister, my father, & both of my in laws. Alzheimer's with my mother. It is hard to know what to do & when to let things go as they may. It is the hardest to know what to do, or even if to do. Somehow things all work out in the end. I do have regrets of not being able to have my mother live with us, but it just wouldn't have worked out. She was taken care of & I want to think of to the best of the caregivers ability, but I have to admit, I know not all the time in a care center. When a person is hard to handle & don't want to be where they are is hard as well. I should have been with my mother more than I was able to. We had her in a center about an hour away from where I live, & the money was tight while having kids @ home yet, so I didn't get up to see her like I should have. It's been a little over a year now since she has been in heaven with her Lord & Savior! Now I can rest assured she is being well taken care of & that makes me feel so good! So I guess my advice would be to let it be in God's hands, he has the plan & try & listen to your heart, with lots of love in it! God's blessings to all caregivers. Definitely take care of yourself is the biggest advice I can think of though.
Donnarose Nov 14, 2012 12:20am
I know that when I feel unwell, it's hard for me to smile. So I always try to care for a loved one's physical and other practical needs, but just as importantly, I have enough of a sense of humor, that I'll keep on trying until I make them laugh out loud. Caring for the sick is tiring, often thankless, and always hard. Sometimes, it's the best of times we ever share together. Every one of us has known sickness. We've all been hurt. We've all had terrible headaches, fevers, thrown up and have even known incontinence, if only just briefly. We are all the same. So when someone I know needs help, without the need to be asked, I turn my attention to them, and hopefully someday, someone will turn to me, and make me smile.
Dennis Debe Nov 14, 2012 12:03am
I believe that what makes a "good caregiver" is the ability to step away from or out of yourself and focus on another person. Caregiving is about providing the person to whom you are giving care what they most want or need-or,better yet, assisting them so they can attain their care as independently as possible.Paying attention is important, as is vigilance, when advocating for the person and when providing specific cares to/for them. It is always about them, and should be, as all beings seem to need to feel some degree of power (in their lives, settings, and particularly, their deaths), a measure of control, a modicum of understanding, and respect, along with esteem, and affection. A good caregiver is "at-ease" helping to foster these things as much as possible in any setting or situation. And a good caregiver needs to understand that the universe is not a perfect place and that they are imperfect too. But then, "Perfection is the process of making things better" and good caregiver is always striving to make things better!
Kay Zinn Nov 13, 2012 8:14pm
I have taken care of my husband for eight years with different medical issues from colon cancer to dvt, kidney failure , blockage in his stomach and small intestine and dialysis three times a week. But you do it for a loved one.
Dianne Finnegan Nov 13, 2012 5:20pm
I am a caregiver to my husband who has stage 4 lung cancer. We found out less than 6 months ago just before we celebrated our first anniversary. Scott is the man I waited for my whole life. To watch him suffer breaks my heart. To know he will die, makes me want to spend ever waking (and sleeping) second with him (yes, I snuggle and sleep with him in his hospital bed he wants me there and that is where I want to be). Funny thing, when he was in the hospital the nurses told me that they never had anyone sleep by their loved ones bedside in a chair every single night they were in the hospital. I was shocked, because if you love someone, you want to be with them, especially when they are ill. When we were told that there would be no more chemo because he is so weak, and we were sent home with hospice, it broke my heart knowing that time is of the essence to do things we wanted to do. Now, the greatest days are when he can get up out of bed and get into the car to go for a ride while I run errands. The one thing I can share is to make time for yourself, I know that it is sometimes easier said than done, sometimes you feel guilty leaving the one you love when they are so sick, but if you don't take time for yourself and take care of yourself you will be no good to the one you love. Case in point, I got a cold while staying with my Scott in the hospital, took lots of cold meds and when we finally got home Scott had to almost FORCE me to call my Dr. for an appointment. Turned out, I had bronchitis. If I hadn't gone to the Dr. when I did, with my asthma it could have easily turned into pneumonia. Sometimes, Scott turns into MY caregiver, and although I feel guilty about it, I think it is something he needs to do just as much as I need to be there for him. Most of all, the one lesson I have learned is that when they get mad at you, it's not them being mad, most of the time it's the fact that they can't control their illness and it's the illness being mad. Nothing hurt more than Scott telling me I couldn't take care of him properly. When you dedicate every waking moment to being there for them and working as much as you can to do whatever you can to make them comfortable it's like a knife to the heart. The Hospice nurses told me that there is nothing I can do that is wrong when I am taking care of Scott. Everything I do is because I love him, and when you love someone it makes the road they travel easier because the one THEY love is there for them. I wouldn't trade the bad days for anything in the world, and I know they will get worse, much worse, but I do it because Scott is the love of my life and he is on a journey that will eventually end all his pain and suffering and I need to be on that journey with him because when I am in pain, I can look back and think of all he goes through and know that he is in a better place. If HE can suffer through the pain of dying from cancer, I can live on and do what I need to do to take care of myself and my family. The thought of going on without him, scares me to death, I wonder how I will do the simple day to day things he always does for me, but he has told me he will be watching over me and knowing that gives me strength to get through each day and only love him more. . .
jacob Nov 13, 2012 5:19pm
jack has been the most wonderful caregiver anyone can have. an angel from heaven. gIVES his time doing everything and asking nothing in return. hE is so tired in the evening he falls out in exhaution. I am a strke survivor IF it wasn't for JACK i woluld not be alive today. WE are together 25 years.
Iris G. Nov 13, 2012 4:24pm
When my parents sold their apt the logical thing to do was to have them move in with me. We were waiting for my apt to sell and they didn't want to move far without me. Our apt is very large and relatively empty with all the kids doing their own thing away from home. It was a great improvement because it was much easier to manage my mother's health care (Alzheimers) on a daily basis without having to go 5 blocks to check it out. And I could watch the other helpers more closely. It was a job that grew as she became more ill and tho sometimes the lack of privacy was daunting, most of the time it was really the only way to manage the illness and keep my father company. I did have other helpers doing physical work with my mother, so I did not have to do it all by myself. Even so, it is a big load to carry. When people would tell me that I was doing something great I appreciated their comments but I always felt like it was a natural progression; I didn't ever see any other choice as a real option. I didn't feel like a martyr, just like a caring person helping my parents in their time of need. It also allowed me extra time with my mother until she passed away. Though I miss her mostly from when she was well, I even miss her in her wheelchair. Life is strange indeed. As a caregiver I guess the thing is to make sure you take care of yourself and try to do fun things in your off time so you don't get too frustrated by the things you have to do or you will burn out. And just take it one day at a time.
Hazel Nov 13, 2012 3:59pm
I have worked as a paid nurse in a Hospital/PCH setting for 30 years. Now I am on disability/retired because of weakness and pain in arms & legs. However I look after my parents, both in their 90's and another man with dementia who is only 73. He used to be my Grade 10 Math teacher in high school. He was an absolute whiz at Math & I was dreadful. But now he is unable to figure out how to make change for a $20.00 bill. So sad. And I am in charge of his finances! Unreal! What motivates me? I think I would say mostly it is God's love. Everyone needs love & deserves to be loved & treated with respect, even if their mind is partially gone. Someday I want someone to look after me. I just enjoy doing what I can to make others around me happy. God bless all care givers.
Pam Nov 13, 2012 2:28pm
My dad has lived with our family of 6 (including 3 children aged 6-13) for over 4 years now. After having a massive heart attack and a terminal prognosis, he is on his feet and thriving BECAUSE he is being loved and nurtured by his family. Everyone plays a role, including the children. They have learned the value and reward in being a giver and have learned patience, selflessness and having the choice of a positive attitude. We have had several bumps in the road because we don't have many outside family members that help. In addition, my father never had much of a social life so there weren't a whole lot of people anxious to hang out with him. One of the best things I recently started doing was making sure there was open communication. Letting my dad know how important it was that his feelings were not being compromised when we took time for ourselves (sometimes he would be home alone, feeling sorry for himself). I started making sure that I talked to him more and let him express his opinions and ideas, no matter how much I disagreed with them. To be able to offer our own perspective is vital to maintaining healthy relationships, even when we don't see things the way others do. We have eliminated several 'pet peeves' openly and have worked 'together' to sort out differences. I've learned mostly that my dad desires to feel needed and that he wants to be valued. We let him contribute and invite the opportunities whenever possible. Those being cared for need, more than anything, that they can contribute in some way. In addition, spirituality has been the foundation for our whole family to be able to live joyfully and abundantly. Christ has been our example and it is because of Him that we are able to see things through His eyes. We also find ANY excuse to laugh. It is truly the best medicine. I'm 41 and these have been the best years of my life
Gabriel Bailey Nov 13, 2012 1:42pm
I believe it as inborn gift to be a good caregiver because we sure don't do it for the money.No one could pay us what we are worth to those we take of.Mostly I do it because I care about how people are treated and I know I treat people with dignity and and respect.There are thousands of neglected senior and DD folks that get forgotten and abused because they "don't contribute to society" when in fact they do.They teach us so much about ourselves and how to really care about human life.
Terrie Wood Nov 13, 2012 1:33pm
I am a full time 24/7 caregiver to my brother. He was born with cerebral Palsey, he has phychotic episodes, seizures and is mentally challenged. What drives me is the fact that he is my brother. Family....should take take care of family. That's how I was raised and I will carry on this belief as long as I am alive. I can only hope that soneone would be there for me if I needed the care. If you know a caregiver, give them a break once in a while and let the caregiver get out away for awhile. A short break makes a big difference to a caregiver. It's all about love, love, love and being a good person.
Vera Hanson Nov 13, 2012 1:30pm
I hae always been a caregiver. I just feel it is my calling. I took care of both my parents until they passed. I was married almost 23 years to Gary he was a wonderful man and out of those 23 years I was his caregiver for 18 years. 2 of those years he was under Hospice care at home. I also worked a full time job as a manager and also we moved 4 times during his illness becauseof that promotions and medical insurance. I was extremely lucky because he was such an easy person to take care of and really appreciated everything that was done for him. I was holding his hand at home when he took his last breath and thank God for all he went through it was an easy last breath. Then I was lucky enough to move back by my older sister and she had a lot of health problems and I was her caregiver and then we got her in an assisted living quarters and she is doing so well. I then 6 years ago married my highschool sweetheart we were married around a year and I was helping take care of his mom and he became ill and now I am his caregiver. It is a full time job and yes I do have some hard days but I wouldn't change it for the world. I consider us so much luckier than a lot of people. We are still able to go out and do somethings together. If we have to walk a lot then I take a wheelchair to get him around in. Last year we took a trip to Cozemel. That was his dream and it was tough but we had a wonderful time. This year with my sons and there families suggestion we moved from Iowa to upstate NY to be closer to them so they would be a ble to help some seeing I am also getting older. We took a trip in April to find a house here and then the house we lived in I had to sell., 3 garage sales and get everything ready to be moved. Fine new doctors and care centers and we made it. I would not n=know what else to do if I didn't have someone to take care of. I also worked as a CNA in my first few years out of highschool. I wish I had the time to volunteer for Hospice and the VA facility close to us and maybe some day I will have the time. I take care of all the money and bills, Help dress, give baths and just about anything he needs that he can't do. I am just so gald we found each other and got married because if we hadn't he could of never lived alone after he got sick and he would of had to go into a nrsing facility and that would of been horrible.
Mary Ann Ely Nov 13, 2012 1:30pm
I am a caregiver for my mom. She is 90 years old and is almost blind. I have been her caregiver for 3 years now and I wouldn't have it anyother way. At times it can be very trying.Mom took care of me for many years when I was young and now it's my turn to take care of her.I have to do everything for my mom that has to do with seeing. I do her laundry, cook her meals, take her to Dr's appointments , give her insulin shots and much more.I sit with my mom and talk with her to keep her company. It takes a lot of patients at times. But I LOVE my mom and she comes first in my life.
megan Nov 13, 2012 12:40pm
my dad passed away earlier this year i was a part time caregiver my step-mom had a really hard time at it and often stoped trying but i would always swoop in and help as much as possible my dad was my drive he was amazing and always new how to brighten the hard moments that came with that responsibility i knew that either he would get well and i would take it as a lesson to know not everything lasts forever or he wouldn't make it i still would've learned that lesson and i did my best to know how much i loved him because i was by his side every time i had the chance
Leeya James Nov 13, 2012 12:40pm
Love makes a good caregiver.
Linda Byce Nov 13, 2012 11:58am
This is our story I am Praying that I somehow get a Night's sleep this month. I have had 40 nights of sleep in 6 YEARS. A Caregiver should have a lot of patience. A Caregiver should be Loving. A Caregiver should put others first Self Second. A Caregiver needs a ton of energy.
MarieAnne M. Ruffolo Nov 13, 2012 11:49am
For me it boils down to being humbled doing Gods work on earth. The greatest gift is to care and love someone through their health struggles. The giving and not the recieving of support is what makes me feel alive and authentic. Just the smile and helping the reciever is payment in full. Will never regret my choice to care. REST IN PEACE beloved Dad, you gave me the greatest gift my brother Joe, the coolest guy on earth
Rev. Susan Henley Nov 13, 2012 11:08am
If you had only been around several years ago while my son was suffering from cancer. This is the very best way to let people know of the progress of a person who is afflicted with a disease. Thank you so much for what you do. It saves so much time and energy for trying to explain the process, condition and updating everyone. I was exhausted after every phone call. You alleviate that, which allows caregivers to spend that energy on taking care of the person or themselves. God bless you! Rev. Susan Henley
Donna Nov 13, 2012 10:23am
I have been writing journal entries on Caring Bridge for some very dear friends. He has two forms of leukemia and has been fighting them for a number of months. His wife and caretaker has been there day in and day out as his partner through the journey. His needs are always first, and she is determined that she will be there for him in every conceivable way. Not only is their faith sustaining them, but also a great love for one another. Faith, love, family, and friends have always been integral parts of their lives, and, as I see it, are what has provided them the strength to persevere with grace. My hat is off to my caretaker friend!
David Vaughn Nov 13, 2012 9:46am
Being a Care Giver (Note it in caps) is a expression of endless love. (and tough as h--l when your 87). Pat's Alzheimer's engrosses her mind and is aware of the world only in each moment of existence. And then it's gone. True inspiration comes from Jolene Brackey book Moments of Joy. It has the script every Alzheimer's Care Giver should follow to the letter. It is my Bible.
Patricia Schneider Nov 13, 2012 9:40am
Wish I had known of this wonderful organization years ago. My hubby, Gary, and I first took in his Mom to live with us when she wasn't able to care for herself several years ago. We did have a support system through nurses and counselors, which we were grateful for. Three years after that, my Mom came to live with us. So, for a short while there, Gary & I had our hands full, to say the least, with both Moms living with us! Yes, I thought I'd go batty, but didn't, thanks mostly to my hubby, Gary. (Even though Gary had a full-time job, he would pitch in after work to help me. His calm, easy-going ways rubbed off on me, he was truly my Rock of Gibraltar!) Both Moms have passed on, but I cherish the memories of their living here, even the bad, awkward moments. I believe the experience made me a better person. God bless all Caregivers!
Sarah Nov 13, 2012 9:23am
Love makes a caregiver. Love for your family member, friends or the people in your church or community. My love for my husband and the belief that God has given us talents to help others is what drives me. My husband has been sick for 17 years and it has been a long, difficult, overwhelming job but God gives us the strength to endure and carry on. If you are struggling taking care of someone whether it be finances, patience, or just simply being exhausted just know that there is a great reward for being there for your loved one. Sometimes that reward is as simple as a smile. God bless each of you caregivers!
Nancy Ryan Nov 13, 2012 8:33am
What makes a good caregiver? Love. Love for the person who is on their health journey, and/or the person(s) closest to the recipient. It's your gift, given freely and without expectation of reward. It's having a "willingness" and a "desire" to make a difference, to provide comfort to those most affected by the illness, and to "be there" regardless of time, distance or personal responsibility. Your life stops (or alters greatly) for awhile so that theirs may transition with ease. Finally, it's a decision you'll never regret. In fact, you may even feel honored and humbled to have been invited to share in this most personal of times. RIP Matt, beloved brother-in-law Died: August 30, 2012
Melanie Fox Carvallo Nov 13, 2012 8:09am
I had the privilege to be the mother of an exceptionally brave and joyous little boy. He was a laughing warrior I could do no less than walk by his side every day and help him have a happy normal life despite his illness. A tip find something totally apart from being a caregiver 2 go to -I started playing soccer again which I hadn't done in 20 yrs I now play indoor and outdoor at least twice a week
Deborah Nov 13, 2012 7:47am
I care for my husband full-time. He came down with primary-progressive MS ten years ago. Prior to that he was a very healthy and athletic man. We have been married 37 years. As you can imagine, we have had to make many adjustments through these last ten years. He is paralyzed and requires help with all his needs. My husband loves the outdoors; so we try to get out once a day. This involves much effort; but worth it. We have learned the true meaning of taking one day at a time. We are thankful for each day. Our strength is in our faith in the Lord.
Laura Nov 13, 2012 7:32am
Great, a month where we 'celebrate' caregivers. Frankly, I'd rather have a day off or someone cook me a meal or better yet, leave me alone than have anyone pat me on the back. So please, keep your month of thanks and give someone a hand, even if it's just bringing in the mail. We're tired.
Linda Mussari Nov 13, 2012 6:18am
I have been asked to write about what makes a good caregiver. My husband and I have been married for 42 years and when he was told he had a rare form of cancer our lives were changed forever. We had to put all our trust in his Doctor's to do what needed to be done to give him a good quality of life. I took this mission to heart and decided to learn all I could about his condition and treatment. His treatment has been going on for the last 7 months and at times his care has been overwhelming for me. If it wasn't for family and friends stepping in at a moments notice to help me with his care I wouldn't have been able to keep up the pace. Like the time I ended up in the hospital for a week and my brother in law at a moments notice took over for me with his care having traveling 4 hours to get to our house. How do I repay his support and kindness Our Son came home from California and stayed with us for 2 months helping with his Father's care to give me some relief, Our Daughter, my husbands Sister all have stepped up to help out with his care. I have to look at the glass as being half full not half empty and take one treatment at a time and get through that treatment and then on to the next, So far my husband has been through 6 rounds of chem over a period of 4 months, a blood stem cell transplant which he used his own blood stem cells and was in the hospital for a month. Then 100 days after transplant he will need to receive 5 weeks of Radiation 5 days a week. I continue to put all my trust in the Lord and ask for prayers of healing for our family. With a website on caringbridge I can continue to keep everyone informed about his progress and they in turn continue to leave messages of prayers and support for him.It also helps to know that so many family and friends are there to help share in his support of his recovery. I pray everyday for strength to get me through this journey of a lifetime.
Sonia Nov 09, 2012 2:07pm
I worked as a CNA for 6 years and volinteir on the ambulance from time to time. I also make sure my dads needs are met. He is 75 and has had alzimers for two years. I get through it all by having a ton of love for others. Thats all you need and to gain knowlage as you good. Good job to all care givers.