It’s been Mom’s fear for awhile now.  As she is Dad’s 24/7 caregiver, she has a nagging fear … “What will I do with him if I get sick?”

She’s had colds from time to time, but in the nearly five years since his stroke, she hasn’t faced a really scary situation where she just couldn’t provide him the care that he needed.

Until last week.

I don’t know if the ungodly miserable norovirus has taken root in your neck of the woods, but down in the Southeast, it is wreaking havoc.  My family had it last week, my in-laws also had it last week, and my mom was exposed when she was visiting family and friends in Tennessee.

Granted, it’s not the surgery, emergency, or serious illness that she fears would take her completely out of commission for months but it did land her in bed for the better part of the week.

Blessedly, Dad is presently in a skilled nursing facility, recovering from some surgery he had recently.  So she wasn’t responsible for his day-to-day care.  She couldn’t go see him, which made her profoundly sad, and she lives in fear that she has exposed him, but thankfully, she wasn’t at home fighting the virus while simultaneously having to provide round-the-clock care for my father.

The whole situation – plus the fact that I was laid up with the same virus last week and still responsible for the care and comfort of three kids five and under – has me thinking a lot about support systems.  Mom’s got some amazing friends where she lives, and they visited Dad on the days she was too sick to go.

But still, the weight of caring for someone who is incapacitated (or young) exponentially increases when you are under the weather yourself.  And even with the best of support networks, when you’ve got a raging stomach bug, the last thing you want is to expose someone else to that misery.

If you are the primary caregiver to children, spouse, parents or grandparents, how do you cope when you can’t be 100%?  What tips would you offer others similarly situated?

One Response to “The Caregiver Series : When the Caregiver Falls Ill”

  1. on 01 Apr 2013 at 8:46 pmSusan

    I am blessed in that my mom who needs a caregiver in the daytime hours had the foresight to get long term care insurance. That affords us professional help in the daytime hours but there are days when that caregiver is sick or on vacation so I step in. Then there are the times when I call in my siblings and or her friends to help. Those people are invaluable in a crisis situation and you need to feel okay about asking for help. People who love you want to help you! Find a great network of friends where you live …….and be ready to reciprocate at some point in your life. There is always the value of “paying it forward”. You may not be able to help someone today, but you will be one day. You must ask for help and that is really hard for those of us who are type “A” as we think no one can do it as well as we do. Hate to say this but everyone is replaceable…….even if just for a few days or weeks!
    Hang in there you caregivers…… is only for a season and then you will cherish those days of caring for those loved ones.

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