“Advice for caregivers from the front lines” (SJMN, 6-9-13)

This article in today’s San Jose Mercury News is by a woman who provided care to her husband who suffered a stroke a few years ago.  Then he broke his hip and had hip replacement surgery.  He fell twice more.  He also required dental surgery.  We are told in an editor’s note that her husband passed away; they were married almost 47 years.

At some point along the way, she realized that she had a new job as caregiver.  She writes:

“To my dismay, I was short-tempered and irritable as I wiped up or washed spilled food and urine on the floor and on his clothes.  Worst of all was the loss of my companion and friend for nearly 48 years.”

Despite her husband’s objections to having a stranger in the house, she eventually hired a home care agency to provide aides.

She offers advice to fellow caregivers:  “Remember, you can’t help if you are worn out and exhausted, which could lead to your own illness.”  She encourages others to “Do what you can without jeopardizing your safety and sanity.”

Along these lines, she offers many suggestions including:

  • Get sufficient sleep.
  • Join a caregiver support group that fits your specific needs.
  • Take time to exercise every day (walking, swimming) to breathe fresh air and look at nature.
  • If friends offer help, say “yes.” Have a list prepared of what small jobs someone else could do for you such as deliver a meal, visit your spouse, research a necessary but unfamiliar something that you need to buy, etc.
  • Find a few people with whom you can talk honestly, so you don’t blurt out your sorrow to the startled bank clerk, who simply asked “How are you today?”
  • Look ahead and research housing options for respite and possibly the future. Visit them.

She also recommends two books:

“When the Man You Love Is Ill: Doing Your Best for Your Partner Without Losing Yourself” by Dorree Lynn and Florence Isaacs (Marlowe, 2007.)

“Mainstay: For the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill” by Maggie Strong. (Bradford Books, 1997.)

Here’s a link to the article:


Advice for caregivers from the front lines
San Jose Mercury News
By Joanna H. Kraus
Bay Area News Group Correspondent
Posted 06/09/2013

Thanks to local support group member Karen for passing this article on to me.