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.


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.
I have taken care of my mom all my life as she has had debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis since she was 6 years old. She went through an experimental treatment about 20 years ago, hoping to put the arthritis into remission. The treatment not only didn't help the arthritis, but she contracted Chemical Hepatitis as well.  I'm afraid that treatment along with the medications she has had to take for so many years has worn out her liver . . . due to all the pain and cortisone treatments she has had to take through the years, she is now suffering from non-alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver.
Two and half years ago my then-boyfriend was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). We were determined to deal with this horrible disease  ... and keep him home. I had no idea how hard this job would be!
One day, soon after the November election, my active, adventurous, fearless, 75-years-young partner decided to explore a local cave. I volunteered to go along. He began to climb down a cable ladder to the floor 15 feet below when the rope slipped, and he suddenly toppled head first, his foot caught in the ladder. As he lay at the bottom of the pit, immobile, I knew our lives had changed forever.
I guess I had become a caregiver to my father since my mother became an invalid. My sister had then become her caregiver. At the time we had never heard the term before.
My name is Hattie and in 2003 my mother had a massive stroke which left her paralyzed on her left side. It was by the grace of God that I took my three boys to see her that day―when we got there the boys ran in to see her first and came running out saying she had fallen, because she was on the floor. I ran in to the house and when I rolled her over onto her side I knew right away what had happened because her face was drawn. I called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. That was the worst day of my life.
When I was in the fourth grade, my mom retired from her high-powered position in order to stay home with me. She became a “bake cookies, go to the PTA meeting, host the girl scout meeting” kind of mom who never said no to anyone who needed help.  She was all about others and never about herself.     When I grew up, Mama became my best friend.  She was the one I called to talk to about everything and about nothing. She spoiled our kids rotten and giggled while she did it. She was selfless and her grandchildren were her world.  That’s the mama I remember. 
When my journey began as a primary caregiver for my aunt and parent, it quickly became apparent that with the best intentions as a caregiver, I was maneuvering in an area which was unfamiliar to me and the stakes were high, I couldn't afford to make mistakes or my seniors could pay the price. Reaching out to anyone and everyone for information, opinions and support was essential for success. Always finding the right resource with the right experience and information at the right time didn’t always happen in my required timeframe.
My husband has cancer. The disease and his treatments have dictated the last eleven years of our lives. He was diagnosed in 2002 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, CLL, (a type of nonHodgkin’s lymphoma), usually considered an old man’s cancer. He was 39 at the time and a partner in one of the largest private gastroenterology medical groups in northern California. It was three weeks before our third child was born and a sweet time in our lives. Our other children were ages 4 and 7. After the initial treatments we had two good years with ‘no detectable disease.’
My mother was 81 and living alone. She began to fall frequently, and had other health issues. My husband suggested that she move in with us so she would not be alone, and someone would always be there if she fell—we were worried about the falls. At the time she was able to care for herself and do normal tasks.
Almost eight years ago, I was a divorced woman living in the house I had owned since 1989. However, I had become unemployed about 6 months before my husband left me. I was given alimony for eighteen months, was allowed to keep the house, for which we had already fallen behind in paying the mortgage, and my ex was given all of the bills we had. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer, and all debts and obligations were then turned back to me. . . . In the time I was unemployed I was trying to get a business idea going—in upholstery.

Pages