In Hindsight I wish I had Drawn up a Caregiver Agreement
by Daughter is Trying
I started taking care of my mom 7 years ago. It was not planned out and I wish now I had sat down with my siblings and an elder care specialist in a meeting and gotten things in writing. Try to do this or you may find the following things that happened to me will happen to you.
1. I am completely broke now. After taking care of her for 7 years through crisis after crisis like hospitals, doctor appointments, time spent on her every day sucked away all my time and energy.
I ended up going part-time, then resigning from my job, and then if you can believe it, my brother accused me of "stealing" money when I had to pay bills with my mother's and my joint account. No one who hasn't done it, can possibly know what a nightmare it is living with an irrational cranky old person who demands every drop of life blood you have.
The comments you get are amazing from all sorts of people who are blithely living their lives, free from the burden of carrying around 180 pounds of another person on your back every day.
You hear: you are using this as an excuse not to work, (this is the hardest work Ive ever done, for no pay and no acknowledgement), they are all too busy making money or going on vacations (well I guess my life doesn't matter) forget about any one thinking and offering on their own, they run and hide and you are left alone to cope.
Then, when you are a broken, bedraggled shell of a person, are expected to pick up and get a job competing with young energetic people. The trauma you've been through is nobody's problem but your own.
2. I wish I had taken one of the family caregiver templates from the web and got in writing what I will do, what money will be paid to me for what services, what vacation time I would get when my brothers would
take over the care of my mother, (they have not given up any time out of their lives)
No one thanks you, they just continue with their lives scott free and let the sucker sibling get drained dry. I wish I had valued my time and life more highly, I thought being loving and unselfish was the right thing to do.
But it seems in the end, not looking out for my own interests was just the stupid thing to do. If there was a caregiving agreement in writing, financial arrangements, time off, living arrangements that allow for a private life, who will do all the bills and paperwork, hospital and doctors/nurses, assisted living, nursing home visits, might be able to be planned in advance.
Once you get in the caregiver carousel, it never stops and you cant ever get off. Something in writing in advance would be protection so it doesn't fall unfairly on one person, unequally and to the detriment of the caregivers life.
How it bothers me that my life was taken over by this like a tidal wave, and my brothers have continued their lives the whole time, not knowing how much it takes and actually criticizing and
3. Forget about having a marriage or relationship or even a life with any youthful fun. I have aged before my time. Go to be exhausted at 7:30, talk about nothing else, spend most of my time with old people, am not free to go away.
Boyfriend escaped and hated the whole dysfunctional scene. My mother was and is quite cranky and nasty and chases away my boyfriends.
This is great for her, so she will get all my attention. Suddenly now I am older and still unmarried in a bad position. Perhaps a written agreement, done BEFORE you are a shell shocked person who can think of nothing but your caregiving duties which are overwhelming.
Try to locate as many people as possible to sign up for weekends distributed over the year for taking their turns.