I am feeling overwhelmed. I have multiple sclerosis & thankfully am still mobile, but I never know when a bad flare may occur & I suffer from fatigue all of the time. My Dad lives about 30 minutes away & is needing more full-time caregiving. (Mom died when I was young.)
I am not sure what to do. Just the drive alone is getting to be too much, & am I selfish to not want to give up all my weekends? He has no money except the house he is living in & he wants to live on his own as long as possible. The Bible says to honor my father & I want to. I just don’t know what is best for my own health too. What are my options? -Jill
Overwhelmed is a feeling you’re more than justified in experiencing. My guess, from your description of your situation, is that you’re also feeling guilt & isolation along with fatigue & frustration.
Let me answer your key question first, NO! You’re not selfish. Just the fact you’re struggling with this & working through God’s comm& to honor your father demonstrates a selflessness. Clearly, you’re willing to put yourself on the line, if that’s what God requires of you. And that’s huge.
But, even though it doesn’t sound like there are other family members who can help you (if there are—your first task is to ask them for help), you’re not alone.
Here are a few quotes from my book, The Overwhelmed Woman’s Guide to … Caring for Aging Parents (Moody, 2008), that just might be helpful:
I found a line in a “Helping Yourself” brochure written by Charles A. Corr, Ph.D.:
“Caregivers must avoid becoming overburdened. If you do, you will be unable to take care of your loved one or yourself. . . . The aim should be to do all that we can—not more than we can—to take care of those we love.”
Not more than we can! (from Introduction)
Jill, for you that means seeing that your own health isn’t compromised as you seek the best for your dad’s care.
For the believer in Christ, this season of change in a family carries added weight because of a desire to honor our parents. In childhood honor usually meant obey. In young adulthood, it meant respect. But now as they age, how are we to honor them while balancing their needs with our other obligations? We can take a cue from the verb’s synonyms: to prize, to value, to hold precious, to revere. … [I]f we hold our parents as precious (despite their foibles), [we will] find ways to invest our limited emotional, physical, & financial resources in their care? (from Chapter 1)
Jill, here’s an important key: Caring for & honoring our parents doesn’t always require us to do the care ourselves, just to see that it is done—like an overseer or manager.
There are [many] options for in-home care. Some services offer paid helpers to come into a senior’s home for an hour or two, once or twice a week. … Nurses & other trained medical professionals can visit to monitor vital signs, administer medications, & provide wound care. Many of the services [visiting doctors or nurses] offer, if deemed medically necessary, are covered by a patient’s private insurance or Medicare/Medicaid plans, making it a viable option for many. (from Chapter 9)
There are services – often paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, & other insurance, or offered by a community organization – that can assist your dad in staying in his home safely. They may come in & provide vital service—shopping, skilled nurse care, medication dispensing, etc. Your task may be to help find services in his area (the Internet is a great source, as is a local senior center) & to see that he is linked with them.
Well, that’s the tip of the iceberg regarding some of the issues you raise. In my book, you’ll find more on all of these, as well as a list of sources where you can go to find help specific to your challenges.
My best counsel for you is:
- Don’t compromise your own health as you honor God by helping your father locate the right care;
- Ask for help from family, the community, the church, the medical team caring for your dad.
Blessings to you,
Julie-Allyson Ieron is author of eight books, including her latest: The Overwhelmed Woman’s Guide to … Caring for Aging Parents (Moody Publishers, 2008). Visit Julie’s website at: www.womencareforagingparents.com to read more on the subject.