Caregiver Stories

Read Fellow Caregiver's Stories, Submit Your Own . . .

Welcome to FCA's online story-telling corner. We've invited caregivers around the world to tell us their caregiving stories. What better way to learn about caring for our loved ones if not from those who have done it before us, or are doing it with us? If you'd care to submit your own caregiving story, use our form to answer "How or Why Did You Become a Caregiver?".

“Hello, I must be going …” read the note addressed to me and taped to the door of Allan Reiff's office in the Philosophy/Humanities Department at our local community college. The year was 1983, and little did I know then, the dark truth hidden in those seemingly light-hearted words; the man I would eventually marry would be taken from me all too soon by the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Our family equation for caregiving developed slowly, over five rigorous years following our father's death. Two sisters and I divide the year into three, with each caregiving our 85 year-old mother four months. Mom spends summer on Kauai.  My first summer with Mom was clumsy. Not clumsy like, "Oops, I tripped over a crack . . ." clumsy like a caffeinated circus performer juggling 14 greased kittens─ridiculous, slightly hazardous, and horrifying to observers.
My name is Julie Pacheco, I'm 47 years old and I take care of my step father Jack who is 90 years old. He suffers from dementia. When I was 26 my mother married this man and he became a part of our crazy, dysfunctional family. By dysfunctional  I mean mainly myself, who at that time, was a single mother sufferring from the disease of addiction.
For the past 15 years my mother and I have been under the tutelage of Alzheimer’s Disease, a malevolent force which has actually been with her much longer than that but I was too obtuse, and she was too confused, to comprehend. She will turn 101 this November, still a strikingly beautiful woman. Our family is just the two of us and our fat cat, Velcro, who cares for us both.
I have multiple illnesses and receive only SSI, though I did try to work some freelance after getting disability. I am currently living with, and trying to look after two parents. They are in their late 80s/early 90s and very luckily have only mild dementia. I attribute some of this to the fact that I am there and, being a person who is interested in many things, create a stimulating environment.
For 3 years, it was forgetting just little things. He never thought anything about it as his job was very stressful. He had a mandatory work meeting down state which he went to. But he called me on the phone saying that he was lost, and that’s when I knew there was something wrong. I found him on the side of the road; I had told him to park and stay in his car. We went home and he seemed fine for a while.
I had a strained relationship with hope before my wife was diagnosed with cancer.  To me, hope was a high waiting for a low, a fix with a nasty flipside.  Far from the precious entity exalted by legions of poets and philosophers, hope was just another coordinate on the pain/pleasure cycle existing in infinite balance with its opposite.  In the same way that happiness alternates with sadness, or desire with loss, hope alternates with fear. One requires that the other exist. Hope was for suckers, and I was no sucker.
My name is Lisa. I’m a baby boomer and so was my childhood sweetheart. We met at 15, and dated until we were married in 1966, just turning 20 years old. We were born in August, and chose that month to marry as well. A lot of celebrating for two Leos. Our life began rather simply. Living and working in San Francisco, but wanting to start a family, we decided to buy a home in the burbs.
My husband and I were watching a movie, sitting on couch on a Saturday night. He said he was tired as I got up and went to the kitchen. Then he said "I have a tremendous headache," then held his hand on the left side of his face, saying "my face feels numb, funny" . . . then his head fell back. I tried to talk to him. He was screaming "Oh no!" I called 911.
My husband and I care for my grandma, age 94, with dementia. She moved in with us April 2013. I also go to another lady's home for one hour in the morning to get her showered, dressed and fed and for one hour in the evening for physical therapy and to get her into bed in the evening.
My husband and I have been caring for my 92 year old mother for over five years. It has taken me almost that long to even  admit and verbalize that my mother has dementia. I always would just say that she was forgetful and then as time went on I added the word confused. In the last year she has also become anxious and panicky when we leave her home alone for a short period of time. Tonight, after I ran an errand for less than two hours, I returned to a frantic mother.
It was the beginning of 2013 and my husband and I hit rock bottom. Once again, another medication did not work. This was the 10th medication in 10 years my husband tried to relieve his chronic pain. He was depressed, angry, and began to talk about divorce. I was about to throw in the towel as well because I was experiencing caregiver burnout.
I became a cargiver shortly after my divorce. I had quit my job in an attempt to salvage my marriage . . . not the best thing to do. I moved in with my parents to assist them and I had a place to stay. Then 3 weeks later my dad required a triple bypass. This became a full time job with his recovery, and since he has Parkinson's disease, it was even more difficult.
My son Neil was seventeen when he sustained a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a drunk driver who hit him and his girlfriend Trista as they were walking. Trista was killed. That was ten years ago. Initially helpless in an intensive care unit, he had no choice but to allow his family to take care of him in a way that had not been necessary since he was a small boy. His father carried him to the bathroom. His brother fed him smoothies from a straw. I brushed his unruly curls, massaged his muscles and helped with the exercises his therapist recommended.  
Gerry Sandusky, left, his wife Lee Ann and their two children Katy and Zack, with Gerry's dad, John Sandusky shortly before his passing.
I am 67 years old, married with no children. My mother who now is 89 took care of my handicapped sister for nearly 10 years and is now 66. Both have lived with my husband and I for nearly four years. Some of the happiest years of our lives.
I've been a caregiver for my husband since about 2001 when he began having angina. My caregiving responsibilities have progressively increased and his health has progressively declined since he had triple heart bypass surgery in 2003. After the surgery, he had atrial fibrillation, which stayed. In addition to heart problems, he developed COPD from years of smoking. These are the biggies, but through the years there have been numerous diagnoses added from arthritis to gout and several hospital stays. He's had several strokes as well.
Hello everyone! I am new to this site but not new to caregiving. This may be a little long, but I encourage you to read it. I encourage you because I know that you can relate to everything that I am going to say.....
I am the only daughter (age 46) of my parents (ages 68 and 66, dad and mom), and my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine/cervical cancer out of the blue. She was in the best shape of her life, and she and Dad were about to visit Nepal as they were enjoying their retirement together. My husband and I were living in another part of the country when she got her diagnosis, and my life turned upside down. I had just moved with my husband to take a new job ( for me) in the Northwest after living 20 years in the Midwest.
(above, left) My mother on her 90th birthday, October 3, 2013. (above, right) The entire Foulkes family - My mother (Clemonteese), my late father (Arthur) and me (Roland), taken in Christmas, December, 1987, six months after my father's diagnosis of, and surgery for, Metastatic Colon Cancer and six months prior to Arthur's death on May 18th, 1988. The black & white inset photo is of our family in 1956 when I was six months old.


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