Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What to Do when the Caregiver Falls Ill?

Kristine Rudolph
by Kristine Rudolph

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? 

About Kristine Rudolph

Kristine Rudolph is an AFAA certified group fitness instructor who specializes in prenatal and postpartum fitness. She publishes the blog, "Exploring Wellness. Together" where the article above originally appeared. You might think her blog would be all about exercise, but it also reflects her many other interests, including parenting, cooking and caregiving. I've been subscribing to it for a couple months now and I find her posts entertaining and educational--well worth the time to consistently read. I subscribe to it, and recommend it to others.  --David Bunnell

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