Handling Caregiving Burnout

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Rishawn is the Founder/CEO of Memoryz. He interviewed Courtney as part of our monthly Caregiver Spotlight to highlight the challenges caregivers face on a day to day basis. This week they dove into what it means to be caregiver and handling the burnout it brings with itself.

Below you will find the full interview

Courtney: My name is Courtney and I live in St. Augustine, Florida. I help take care of my father who’s 83 and has dementia. I have been caring for him for 15 years and he lives with me. He usually just lives with my mother. However, we all kind of merged together into one house because moving him into a memory care facility is quite expensive.

Rishawn: Between you and your mom, how does task management work?

Courtney: I work during the day therefore my mother handles during the day interactions. I mostly focus on night duty tasks because he’s semi nocturnal.

Rishawn: Walk me through a typical day in his life

Courtney: Well, every day is different. Sometimes he’s up for three days at a time, like 72 hours straight. Sometimes he sleeps for like two days straight. He repeatedly asks the same questions over and over throughout the day. Sometimes I reach a point that I am ready to pull my hair out. Thankfully, he is not violent but he continuously asks the same questions and he’s not violent. He never knows where he is. He always wants to go home. He’s always looking for his dead sister and dead brother.

He’s looking for his parents. He wants to call his high school girlfriend and forgets where we live. Where do we live? Where am I? Is this your house? He wants to know where my ex-husband is because he thinks we’re still married. He thinks my daughter is his. So, it’s just, it’s like Groundhog’s Day, my mom calls.

Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

Rishawn: What do you think is the most challenging part about being a caregiver?

Courtney: My biggest concern is burnout. My mother was caring for my father for a long time and because of stress, she ended up having a brain hemorrhage. A couple of years ago, she was in the hospital for two months, and I was totally in charge of both of them. I had to take FMLA and then once I went back to work, I had to get him a sitter. It’s just I don’t know, it’s just everything’s challenging, really trying to get him to eat, and to take his medicine. Also being cautious of the way I communicate to my father. But I mean, you know, you’re supposed to be compassionate, but it gets to a point where you’re just beyond frustrated.

Rishawn: So, in terms of advice that you provide to somebody who’s recently becoming a caregiver, what would you share?

Courtney: I would say, make sure that you have a system and you have help because you will totally burnout and you will lose your mind.

Rishawn: Are there tools that you use regularly to support you and your mom?

Courtney: No, no, I don’t know if there are any out there.

Rishawn: Okay, no, totally fair. Any assistance that you think would be able to help you, what are certain are the things that you’re looking for? Or what would you be?

Courtney: It’d be nice to have some sort of tracker so that we can see like, keep track of when he’s up when he’s down. Um, I guess I could just write it on the calendar. But just to kind of be like, Okay, he’s up or he slept for an hour. He’s down. For 13 hours or you know, just to so we can kind of figure out a pattern of it.

If there is one. a pill tracker would be good too because apparently, he is not taking his pills regularly. He’ll put them in his mouth and spit them on the floor because he thinks that we’re poisoning him.

Photo by Laurynas Mereckas on Unsplash

Rishawn: Moving forward, in terms of the care you and your mom are providing, what would you prefer? Would it be having your father continuing to live with y’all? Or perhaps moving to a facility? What would you consider to be the best option for you guys as care providers, and your father?

Courtney: I think a facility would be best, but I mean, it’s like $6,000 a month. And then my mom would go broke. She’s still healthy and now, thankfully. There are about three memory care units in this area. And they’re nice, like, we’ve toured them and everything. I mean, but they’re like $6,000 a month. You know, I mean, that’s like their entire income plus, yeah. Medicare also doesn’t cover anything.

There is absolutely no option unless you do like a home health type thing. And you can get Medicare to reimburse or we have hospice, and they’ll come in but then they only come like once a week for an hour, and then they’ll reevaluate you and see that you’re too high functioning and kick you out. And then the other alternative is hiring someone. But last time, we did that, that cost $3,000 a month and that was just nine to five, and it’s when he’s wild is usually at night.

Rishawn: Does someone come in and assist you with medication management?

Courtney: We have to pay someone to come in twice a week to give him a shower. Okay, um, if he decides to get out of bed today, we would have a podiatrist come in and cut his toenails. So, he rarely leaves the house. But you know, people come to him.

Rishawn: So how if you could take a guess or a gander on how you think your father’s feeling on most days? Is it hard to tell? Is there an emotion that you would place towards him? How would you describe that?

Courtney: He’s pretty upbeat. But like the other day, he kept asking my mom like, what’s wrong? What’s wrong? And then he’s like, what’s wrong with your mother? Is it me, blah, blah, blah. And you could tell he’s kind of down. He’s kind of depressed. Um, you could tell like, when my mom yells at him and stuff, he just kind of like, you know, kind of makes him sad and but generally is an upbeat person, he just gets, you know, kind of depressed,

Rishawn: What are some of your biggest caregiver concerns?

Courtney: I think, I would say it is the financial burden. The cost of moving him into a facility is very expensive. Also, the emotional and mental strain being a caregiver.

Through this conversation, Courtney gave us an inside look on her journey as a caregiver to her father for the past 15 years. Her story is very common, which is why Memoryz has created a platform for caregivers to stay connected and provide relief in managing their day-to-day challenges in caring for a loved one.

Please visit www.memoryz.ca site to get more information on the work we are doing.

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Health Tech aiming to redefine the standard of dementia care. More information at memroyz.co

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Memoryz

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Health Tech aiming to redefine the standard of dementia care. More information at memroyz.co

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