Ever since Lynn became totally disabled, I’ve had lots of encouragement to get some help. I know I need help. My muscles hurt from over use; I get frustrated trying to do everything I need to do; I know that there is a high risk as a caregiver that I will have a shorter lifespan. So why don’t I just get some help?
I’ve heard from several of you the answer to that question because you have already struggled to make that decision and you encourage me to do the right thing for both myself and Lynn. So why don’t I just get some help?
Protection – Just like a mother lion protects her cub, we caregivers protect the person we give care to. There is usually a connection with the person both of emotion and responsibility. As a spouse, I love Lynn and want his every need to be met to his satisfaction, if possible. As his spouse, I promised to love, honor, and obey in sickness and in health, etc. so I also feel a sense of responsibility. Rationally, I know that promise does not mean I have to provide the care but there is a commitment and emotional piece that leads me to want to put his needs first before my own. I also know that I know him better than anyone; what he likes, how he likes it, when he likes it, etc. I know that any caregiver we hired would not likely be as attentive to him as I am. Would that person catch signs of distress or illness soon enough to prevent more harm? Lots of “what ifs?”
Selfishness – This is a bazaar one but selfishly I like being recognized for how well I care for him. Pretty sick, right? I like to hear compliments about how well he’s cared for and to feel appreciation from family members for “my sacrifices.” I also have somewhat of a martyr complex for some sick reason. I find self-worth in sacrificing for others so there is some secondary gain in what I do as well. Plus I rather like working from home in scrubs rather than putting on makeup and going into work (at least some of the time anyway.)
Financial – This is a big one. Lynn gets basic social security benefits–hardly more than he took home every two weeks–so my salary is the primary salary. I make a good salary for the work I do so I’m very blessed in that respect but I’ve run up a lot of credit card bills buying things to make our life easier, medicines, supplies, nutritional supplements, equipment, etc. All that stuff is expensive and I also had children getting married, unemployed and needing help, going to college, etc. All that cost adds up. I don’t have spare money that could cover much in the way of daily care. I know I need to carve out some income in that direction and over the last year, I’ve managed to pay off some of those bills but buying the wheelchair accessible van and saving to build a new house doesn’t leave much to use. Another consideration is that insurance doesn’t pay for home caregiving, plus I live in a very rural area so resources are limited.
Lynn’s insecurities – He’s afraid for me to not be here. He knows that I’ve “saved his life” several times by noticing changes in this condition and getting the help he needed sooner than later. He knows I will find ways to make what he needs happen and quite frankly, the thought of having a stranger around all the time is not a welcome thought. What do you do with a paid caregiver when Lynn doesn’t need anything at the time? Do they sit in the room with him and watch TV? That’s like having a guest around all the time and we’re just not that used to having company.
Then there’s the safety issue. Criminal background checks, how well does the caregiver know their job, do they lift safely, will they be patient and nice or mean and abusing?
So much to consider….It’s not easy to take that step even when you know it’s something you really need to do. I’m getting closer but I’m still not there yet…but it’s only a matter of time. Pray for me that I’ll get there and find a way to make it work. Thanks for all the words of encouragement and support. It really helps.