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June 24, 2006

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Paula Martinac

Mona - Thanks for this important post. My sister, who is my co-caretaker, and I struggle to watch our own health because of the potential danger to our immune systems. I have read many horror stories of women in their 40s and 50s who are caring for a parent and end up in the hospital themselves... After a long bout (4 nonstop months) of "crisis management" with our folks, we're both better able to keep up with daily health maintenance.

One problem for me in getting care for myself - and that I'm sure affects other caregivers as well - has been health insurance. I have suffered from periods of deep depression during my caretaking time, but because I'm self-employed, I have rudimentary health coverage that doesn't include psychotherapy. So I've compensated by (1) blogging (!) and (2) talking to friends who have been through the same or similar situations. So far, that's helped, but I know that at some point, I may need to pay for therapy myself.

peter vitaliano

Paula - thanks for the important comments. Ironically, when illnesses progress and uninsured persons are hospitalized, the government ends up paying anyway. So, why not eliminate all the heartache and just provide health care for all Americans whether they are unemployed or self-employed. The problems for society are even further exacerbated when caregivers are left to fend for themselves, because when they get sick who will take care of them, and who will take care of their loved ones? I am going to Italy in October to give some lectures and to meet with officials there who have a universal government program that actually pays caregivers who take care of their loved ones in their homes. I hope to learn enough so that I can write about it when I come back. Thanks for your great comments.

Deb Peterson

Mona--I was talking to a co-worker today who is also caring for her elderly parents, and after we compared notes about the pace of our lives now that we have so much responsibility, we talked a bit about what we will then have to face once our parents die. Aside from the expected grief, we will probably also have to face a very abrupt change in focus, and may have to re-learn our old lives! I've been living "temporarily" with my mother for a year and a half now, and occasionally I return to my own home for a spell--but I can't relax. I have to be either in her world or mine, and travel between the two is not easy!

I've had very similar experiences to Paula's and have just now started therapy for myself. And it goes without saying that being able to talk to you and Paula and Gail is a crucial part of my coping.

Mona Johnson

Deb,

I'm almost feeling guilty that I'm not a caregiver! I hope that by asking what causes dementia (if not finding any quick answers) I can help you, Paula, Gail Rae and others make some sense of what you're going through.

I went to a writer's conference recently, and noticed that there were a lot of women there who had been caregivers until a short time ago. I think that somehow they're using writing to assess their former lives and find paths to new lives. Maybe that's how we're all using our blogs.

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