Friday, July 06, 2007

Caregiver Fatigue

My wife and I love our angelic little daughter very much. But a lot has been said recently about the toll raising a disabled child takes on caregivers. There is a discussion going on right now in the Yahoo! support group about how different mothers deal with this stress. And there are comments from many about just how difficult the task of caring for disabled child really is.

Because I go to work for a large portion of each day, my wife does a huge percentage of the nurturing and caring for our little daughter as well as her three month old little brother. This includes doctor visits, therapy sessions, getting her off to school and all of the day to day things that are so much more difficult for our little girl than the typical child.

I think all of this work often causes a sense of feeling completely trapped. Depending on how much goes on each day that feeling can creep up on my wife very fast. There are some escapes for her but they are few and and too far between. The monthly scrapbook night or an occasional outing with a friend or sibling just aren't enough of a long term escape from the pressures of care giving for my wife.

And by the same token, working fathers in homes where there are disabled children are often painted as detached and not supportive enough. I can see how this happens. Coming to the office each day is a very simple thing compared to the struggles my wife deals with during that same time frame at home. Sometimes, for fathers, the stress of what awaits them at home becomes a temptation not to return as soon as they should or sometimes not to return at all.

So between the stresses of care giving and feeling trapped and alone, life is difficult for my wife. I do what I can to make her life better, but I wonder sometimes, if there is a long term solution for the things she goes through. I don't imagine there's just a magic cure though. I'll keep searching for things that help in the long term, but for now I guess we just take things one day at a time.

This is a difficult topic to bring up, but it's one we as parents of these special individuals all face. I write about it here not to be negative, but to be real. There are amazing days with my daughter but there are also many draining days. I want to make readers aware of the toll those days take on caregivers. Hopefully, by raising awareness of these emotional challenges we can take action early on to prevent serious consequences to our families that can occur over time with these constant drains.

Got ways to recharge? Feel free to post them below. The more techniques to fight of the caregiver fatigue the better. So far I've heard some caregivers recommend massages, shopping trips, vacations and more. What do you do?


Angie said...

Your blog hit home for me. I hope to find a moment soon to give your wife a phone call. I too share the same feelings. I don't get away from the kids much because for me it's hard to find someone willing to have all 4 or I have to split them up. But when I do, I love getting a pedicure and going to lunch by myself! She needs to try it!I'm a working mom and I'll be returning to school in August. My at-home daycare provider will be taking care of my little Alayna. Did anyone comment on how these individuals deal with the fatigue? I'll be in touch soon.
Angie from Illinois

Candle Ends said...

Having spent the last month playing mommy and daddy to my 4 kids, I got a better appreciation for what my wife goes through. Although I took 2 days off a week from work and my mom watched the kids the other days, I spent those days off, evenings and weekends at home with them.

At the end of the month, I was more than ready for my wife to come home and resume her "job". I was worn out.

Especially with our 1p36er, I have tried to be a little more supportive. Whenever she has an activity outside the home with friends or church or family, I am the first to say, "Go!" But I am certainly open to more ideas on how to help her relieve the stress of being a full-time mom.

So, so far on the list of new things to send her to do are: massage, pedicure, lunch by herself or with a friend.