The Lonely Life of a Carer

seeing a lonely life of a carer

Being a Carer is a lonely life So, unless a person who has a chronic illness lives alone and has no visitors, that person has at least one Carer. It is a task which is misunderstood or not understood.

Life as a Carer…

Life as a Carer is not easy, and is often lonely. Many times it involves being a ‘parental’ figure. Often the person being cared for does not have an accurate view of his or her condition. This is a hard part of the Carer’s job. Being the one who assesses what is needed for every hospital appointment, how to travel there safely and what medications might be missed/needed during the time away from home.

But Carers often have the unenviable role of ‘nurse’, and – there’s more…

Carers often have to learn…

carer's life involves learning
  • About the disease, its treatment and management
  • About the medications prescribed including what they are for, any special instructions and potential side effects
    • Sometimes these put the carer into the role of ‘antagonist’ to the person they are trying to support, often the person they love.

In the lonely life of a carer...

He or she needs…

  • Skills to help manage the fatigue, pain, frustration and isolation that people with chronic disease often get – as well as their own.
  • To be able to communicate effectively with health professionals by answering questions accurately, asking your own questions and making sure you understand the information provided to you. (Talk about the information needed with the person you are caring for, if possible, and write the questions down and take them with you.)

One of my huge frustrations, and my late husband’s also, was that the specialist/doctor or whoever, wanted him to answer questions. However, he did not understand the terms they used, and having been a nurse, I did. But, at least to begin with, they did not want to hear my observations on his condition.

I remember attending a workshop for carers… At some point we were given a list of all the roles a carer performed. It was a long list.

A carer needs understanding – or at least acceptance.

With all the stresses of caring for another, and trying to cope with the many demands, it is so easy for the Carer to lose confidence.  The carer may feel alone, may feel like giving up, and that his or her own life does not matter.

If you want to understand how to help… how to pray for the carer and the person being cared for… read up on the condition.  Then you might have an idea of the ‘sandals they walk in.’

There is a section in a previous blog about ‘little things’ – they can hurt or heal.

A note might encourage them a little.

a carer needs encouragement

Alternatively if you know someone who is a Carer – try to ‘cut them some slack.’ One of the first things that happens is they become ‘unreliable.’

  • In the end, they cannot make arrangements to have friends come to visit, or go to visit them. This they have learned from the many times they will have to cancel any arrangements. So, either the friends drop them, or the Carer will withdraw from relationships outside the home rather than face the embarrassment of having to cancel… again.
      • You will have to understand. (Or give up on the person.) It would be kinder to expect nothing and accept that it is a black or white spectrum. There are no shades of grey in this kind of life.

See the lonely life of a carer?

If you decide to care for the Carer… and the person.

  • Be understanding.
  • Accept that arrangements might change without notice, and do not take offence if they do.
  • Be a person they can trust with their feelings.

Being a Carer for a loved one is a very difficult ‘role’, so you need to accept that it is a way of life – their way of life. A life which revolve around medical appointments, tests, medication times, and sometimes hospital admissions.

Sadly, these are the ‘outings’ for the Carer and person being cared for.

A lonely place to be

Being a Carer – or a person needing a carer is a very lonely place to be. Ask any Carer and they will tell you how difficult it is to hide their feelings and struggles from the person they are caring for.
Ask anyone needing care and, depending on their Carer and they will tell you how much it hurts them to see him or her struggling to cope with their care and neglecting their own needs.

Whether the person is a Carer of an adult, a child, or someone in between, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia – in spite of differences in the type of care, they face the same loneliness.
Sometimes the Carer never ‘gets’ their friends back. Without a supportive family or network, isolation sets in and becomes a way of life.

On the outside being isolated near people is a lonely place to be.

Bur they will probably not admit it.

lonely life of a carer

This post is written from experience, and in recognition of the many friends who are currently living the lonely life of a Carer.

It is also for all Carers out there, and for the people needing them.

God bless

Susan

It Takes Courage

courage to face mountains

It takes courage was an interesting comment I received about coping with persecution. It was an excellent observation.

As mentioned in last week’s post, in Hold the Faith the young men in the pre-baptism class were warned of what they might face… death in the arena,  it took courage for them to come back the next time, and to take the risk of being baptized in the river.

It took Benjamin (in Grow in Grace) courage to return to Ephesus after running away, after being overwhelmed by a trial. He was embarrassed and fearful.

Nowadays, we might think of courage as facing the ‘big’ things, like rescuing someone from a burning house, or saving someone from drowning, or a car wreck, there are many small act of courage in everyday lives.

Everyday courage

There are many people who face beginning each day knowing every movement will be painful. A great number of those will not have had much sleep. However, they face each day… and do their best.

The scoliosis pictured below was painful for the sufferer, and there are all too many like him.

moving with scoliosis takes courage
X-ray of spine with scoliosis

Would these people suffering this pain say they were courageous? Probably not.
But they are. Daily.

The strain on parents whose child has a life-threatening illness is horrendous. Yet they carry on. Would they say they are courageous? They probably do not even have time to think about it. One parent was quoted as saying,

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

Sometimes facing the stress of going to work each day to an environment where there is strife takes courage. Even if there is no open bullying there can be such negative ‘vibes’ that make a workplace a source of anxiety. Yet many people have no choice but to face their reluctance and go to work – they need the money.

Courage comes in many guises.

Have you ever thought that the person who is struggling to give up smoking needs a great deal of courage, not only willpower?

And what about people who suffer from agoraphobia? The symptoms can include fear of open spaces, public transport, shopping malls, or simply being outside the home. For someone with this fear, even with help it takes a tremendous amount of courage to venture outside their front door.

shut-in

I have friends who are blind. They go to work, travel on holiday, and go to restaurants… without seeing. For some, it takes courage to trust that they will be safe and not miss a plane.

Yes, there are a great many people showing courage in the simple things in life… things most of us take for granted.

Unless we walk in their shoes we will never know how much courage it takes a person to face each day.

Let us ‘walk softly’ with others.
The mountains shown in the main image represent only a fraction of the challenge many people suffer daily.

They have courage!

Susan