Caregiver Stories

Read fellow caregivers’ stories and share your own . . .

Welcome to FCA's online storytelling section. What better way to learn about family caregiving if not from those who have been there. Please consider submitting your own story. Visit our online form here.

April 2005 my mom was driving to work (age 62 at the time) and we think blacked out or something from her diabetes and creeped into an intersection from a stop sign and was struck by a garbage truck. She ended up in the back passenger seat position, femur impaled in the door, collapsed lung, and many other injuries ... over 90 minutes and two jaws-of-life devices to extract her from the car, helicoptered to the hospital, and miraculously survived through surgeries and physical therapy can walk (with a cane, but can walk).
The reason I ask that is because I currently take care of my disabled amputee (wheechair bound) grandmother; my husband who has suffered four strokes, but still keeps on and pushes, despite losing the peripheral vision on the right side; my mother-in-law who has had a hip replacement and still mourns the loss of my father-in-law; oh yeah, and then there’s me, when I can fit it in.
Autumn, that time of year when there is a chill in the air and the evening sky appears gray with strokes of purple and orange painted through it. A time when the horizon glows with the vivid colors of red, orange and gold much like the colors on an artist’s palate. There is a quietness that comes in the fall as the trees begin to shed their beauty. The air turns colder and there is a silence in the dark nights that whispers to you in its stillness. The landscape of the horizon is much clearer now as the trees stand bare against the winter sky.
After a skin infection surgery, I noticed my husband’s memory loss progressed resulting in the loss of his car (actually mine, given to me as a gift), racking up credit card debts, losing his wallet with all the important information, etc., among others. I am a retired teacher, and was working a second job as an employment counselor in a federally funded program, when I decided recently to stop working so I can take care of him.
As my mother-in-law’s primary caregiver, I spend a minimum of 75 hours a week with her. On the bad weeks it can be as much as 120 hours. She was diagnosed with dementia less than two years ago and has required 24/7 care since January.
Art has fascinated me since childhood, but it was only later in adulthood that art became important as a personal form of expression. I discovered I could sculpt about the same time we discovered my husband, Don, had Alzheimer’s. Sculpting then, for me, became both an escape from his illness and a connection to him. Art, always our strong common bond, became, even in his illness, a welcoming doorway for us both into a wider world of art. It became a way to experience some moments of joy even as we plummeted, tethered together, into the black vortex of his disease.
I have been a live-in caregiver for 20 years. I have been mentioned in my last two long-term jobs as the loving caregiver in the obituaries. To me that equals medals of honor. This current live-in has been three years, 7/24, 168 hours a week, including Xmas and New Year's plus every other holiday. The company I work for has never, not once, thanked me for working every holiday for three years, let alone any bonus, or even a Merry Xmas. I'm obviously not here for the money. I made a promise to the family that I would stay through till the end and I mean that!
My story started in 2005 when I lost all feeling below my armpits. . . . They believe I threw a blood clot to my spine because of something in my clotting system. My husband became my caregiver. I was in the hospital and rehab for six months. While in rehab he went to classes to learn how to take care of me totally. He is wonderful man and over the last 10 years has dedicated himself to me.
It’s been a week since my mother has passed from dementia, I am just numb, don’t even know how to feel, pretty much withdrawn from everyone. It pretty much started getting worse about five years ago when my brother and I were appointed guardianship of my mother (apparently to my brothers and sisters that meant caregiver). No matter how much I tried to keep my mother at home they fought me every step of the way. Thankfully my brother understood the importance of keeping her at home.
I began caregiving for my mother who has Huntington's disease about 2.5 years ago. She had a very serious fall in 2013 and after being hospitalized for a few days her neurologist required her to have 24 hour care. I lived about an hour away from her so I decided I would come down and help with her care to cut down on cost. We handled the scheduling and payment of her caregivers while she lived down in Denver.
2015 was a tumultuous year for our family. I had retired from my job as an RN the previous fall, had spent a delightful winter in the south (as Wisconsin winters were no longer welcome to our bodies or souls!) and returned to our home to be caregivers to our house and gardens. This was going to be a long awaited dream retirement — until July.
My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have been with us since July. Mom is 92, uses a walker, and is mentally sharp. My sister-in-law is in her 50s, overweight, has bad knees, and rheumatoid arthritis. Due to difficulties in our finances, and the “death” of their old single wide mobile home, we all became one BIG FAMILY.
When our caregiving journey first began, it was pleasant and pretty cool. Started commuting from my apartment visiting both of my folks helping with bringing dinner, doing laundry, etc. One day at work, got a phone call saying my mom needed emergency surgery and eventually ended up having to leave work permanently. Her health condition declined off and on from then on for several years.
My parents, in their 80s, have elected through the VA program to have a HHC aide come to their home four days a week. My husband and I live 30 miles away, unfortunately my back problems keep me from helping them more. In late October 2014, they received another aide. (said, one has already stolen from them).
I became a caregiver when my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) in 1999. We had no idea what to expect. We were both working full-time with a son in elementary school. The first few years were pretty easy with no progression and few obvious symptoms. After his father passed away in 2001, the progression began. Part of PD is REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), which is a sleep issue that causes the Person With Parkinson’s (PWP) to act out their nightmares. It’s accompanied by yelling, cursing, thrashing, punching, and any number of other disturbing behaviors.
I have been working as a nurses aide and patient care assistant for aver 30 years, in various healthcare agencies, and nursing homes. I always tried my best to make my patients happy, by giving them best care. I did it as a mission because I like to help people. I know that it's the last love and care that they are receiving; most of them do not have anyone left in their family. I took care of them the same way I would do for my parents.
February 13, 2015 marked the one year anniversary of my grandfather passing away. I am 32 years old, and I cared for him for approximately three years along with other family and VNA services. My husband and I bought his house and moved in with him and his dog for what we thought would be a stress free situation. My husband and I had only been married for one year, and also started a family during this time. My grandfather was an easy going, appreciative 92 year old man who was legally blind and had limited mobility.
I believe that anyone that is a family caregiver, should be properly trained. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and after fighting for two years, he received a bone marrow transplant. He was put up in a hotel suite for recovery. Well, on Easter when I walked into the hotel suite, I noticed that my husband was sweating quite a bit. Had me and his brother had the proper medical training we would have known that his blood pressure was high and that he was on the break of having a heart attack way before he had one. I believe that the proper training could have saved his life.
I took a family leave without pay to take care of a cancer patient. I waited on him until he died. It was about six months. I was told I would be paid, but I never received any money. It was a great experience, but all my bills. I even lost some things in the process. I was told by the hospice social worker and his nurse that I would get paid, but God knows it all. I feel like each county has their picks.  
At 89, my dad was a stubborn force of nature. He had been taking care of my mother at home for some 14 years. Mom was also 89, had been Dad’s wife for 66 years, and she was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In the early years, my father was completely on his own: driving, shopping, cooking, managing the household, and providing intimate, hands-on care for Mom.