It is not easy for caregiving family members to admit that they can no longer provide care without help. This is especially true for Super-Caregivers or Martyr-Caregivers, whose egos are strongly invested in the success of the caregiving. Eventually, they realize, as we did, that caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is much too difficult to try to continue alone.
After a long summer without a break from caregiving and a growing decline in our family life, we finally came to the realization that we too needed help. Our initial choice had been to try to manage the caregiving by hiring live-in help. We believed that a full-time paid caregiver would give us the respite we needed, and it did occasionally allow us some free time. However, the demands of an active Alzheimer’s patient like Katharine were far too burdensome for one person to handle. While most of the time Katharine was calm and easygoing, we found that she would become difficult and easily upset if any kind of demands were placed on her, including showering, dressing, and going to bed. We learned not to make demands, and allowed her to do whatever she wanted to do. The only problem with that strategy was that it placed extra burdens on the caregiver. We lost several paid caregivers who quickly learned that full-time caregiving for Katharine was one of the most demanding jobs they ever had.