November is National Family Caregivers Month. Many organizations such as AARP have information that is helpful to families who have caregivers. In this week’s blog, I would like to write about children who are caregivers because oftentimes, we do not consider them as caregivers, even though there are many who are, and we do not consider the impact caregiving can have on them at a young age.
My late husband was unable to walk for the last six years of his life, due to a stroke and the slow debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Our two sons assisted me with taking care of him for many years, so I can personally describe the difficulties we endured and how caregiving affected them.
In the beginning, when my husband first became unable to walk on his own, we, as a family, had to learn all about how to assist him with his day to day needs. Of course, the most pressing need was transferring him out of the bed into a wheelchair and then from the wheelchair into a regular chair and then back again. I relied on my sons to learn from the physical therapists and do this. It was not easy for them, but they were able to master the transfer process, as they had to do it many times during the day and night.
It was important to me to continue to take my husband out for lunch or dinner and to different events, to keep him active and social. My sons, of course, were there to assist with whatever we needed.
My sons observed their father go from a successful businessman and active father, to one who was extremely limited physically due to his health challenges. Communicating with them about their father’s decline in health was often difficult, as they too were suffering grief. Their outlets were their friends and playing sports.
I can honestly say that my taking care of their father was made easier with their love and assistance. And, their father certainly enjoyed and appreciated their participation. They showed love and honor to me and their father with their acts of kindness!
To read more about children as caregivers, please click here.