When I first agreed to be a caregiver for my uncle, I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard stories about other family caregivers getting burned out and overwhelmed with the responsibilities.
I didn’t believe that this is going to happen to me. I’m a strong, independent, and successful individual. The problem was that I had no expectations about providing home care for my uncle, so I didn’t know what was coming.
Within the first week, I realized pretty quickly that the level of care he required was far more than I had anticipated. In that first week, I had heard a loud thump followed by a crash one time that sent me sprinting down the hall to see what happened. He had fallen both times, and the second time he tried to catch his balance by grabbing the top of the dresser in his bedroom but instead dragged all of the items on the doily to the floor next to him.
Fortunately, both times he avoided serious injury and I avoided the wrath my family who had been concerned about this arrangement from the beginning. You see, I had been close to my uncle for years as a child but once I graduated college I didn’t seem to have any time for him anymore. Being his caregiver was something that I felt I could offer him to make up for all those years that have lost touch with them.
After the first week, I began to have nightmares. In those nightmares I was standing and watching my uncle fall and get seriously injured. No matter how close I was to him in those dreams, I wouldn’t do anything. I was simply standing around and watching even though there was more than ample opportunity for me to get involved. The nightmares became more significant as the weeks progressed and even though I helped him avoid serious falls for the most part, there were so many things that could go wrong.
I decided to take steps to help alleviate the nightmares I was having.
1. Educating myself on how to be an in-home care provider.
I went to a couple of different home care agencies and found out what I needed to know to be an ideal caregiver. I took their advice to heart and focused on those aspects of quality care.
2. I put all other cares aside when I arrived at my uncle’s house.
In the first week or two I was often distracted with work, friends, and other issues. I was not devoting my full attention to my uncle and he needed that full attention.
3. I had to acknowledge when being a caregiver was more than I can handle.
At some point I realized that I could offer him support, but that he needed professional assistance. The nightmares have abated which has been pleasant. More importantly though, I know my uncle is getting the best care now.