Caregivers Stress Increases When The Caregiver is Also Ill

Caregivers stressI know just how important my husband was to me after I had my stroke and brain tumour. He was a wonderful caregiver. But we seem to fluctuate between being ill and being caregivers, making our caregivers stress greatly heightened.

I was the caregiver to my 90 year old mum who was nearly blind, suffered from dementia and was on a walker as she had a hip replacement and just refused to do exercises. She also had cancer of the uterus and bowel cancer and had lived with me since my father committed suicide 28 years ago.

While Peter was caring for me as I recovered from my brain tumour and stroke, he also had to look after mum. However, Peter suffers from a chronic back condition which keeps him bedridden for days at a time. This occurred on my return home from hospital and I really struggled trying to look after him and mum while I was so weak and suffered from severe nausea for three months (as a result of the brain surgery). But I managed – though I am sure my recovery was delayed because of the situation.

Then things changed again. Within a few months my mum went into a home and only survived for two months. That naturally saddened me greatly. Then my grandson’s mother kicked him out of his home in Queensland and he came to live with me. He had a number of issues and that also put stress on me and Peter as his caregivers. But we coped and my grandson did improve and got himself a job that he really loved.

Peter then had to have a total knee replacement. He started off with a walking stick but ended up in a wheelchair while he waited 90 days for the surgery. Even though Peter was my official caregiver, I was spending more time caring for him than he was for me! I cannot do the shopping as I cannot work out money or read the labels on product (as a consequence of my stroke) so I had to have Peter with me when shopping.

It was exhausting to manage the wheelchair and shopping, packing them both in and out of the car. I would have to rest before I could put the shopping away. But we managed. After Pete’s surgery I needed to help him with showering, dressing and going to physiotherapy as well as getting all his meals etc. It was great when four weeks later he was able to shower by himself for the first time.

Then the back problem happened again. Three days he was in bed with heavy drugs and sleeping most of the time. The pain he was in was awful (both his knee and his back). By being in bed for so long, his knee began to tighten up again. I was so worried as the physiotherapist said that he only had a small window of opportunity to get the movement back in his knee and his exercises were absolutely essential. He seemed to be nearly back to square one again.

It is tough when you are not well or suffer from disabilities and you also have to be a carer for others who are not well either. The caregivers stress that is created by such unusual circumstances makes it imperative for them to take things one day at a time and be thankful each day that they have coped with what they were able to do.

I share how I coped with my stress of my illness and being a caregiver, in my book ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’.

Tips and Hints

When the going gets really tough ask for help. Councils can offer some assistance with home care or even personal care (though there could be a long waiting list). Make sure you use what is available. If relatives or friends can help, let them. Otherwise only do what you have to do and rest between tasks. Keep yourself as fit as you can and don’t fret – you don’t want to end up depressed.

27 thoughts on “Caregivers Stress Increases When The Caregiver is Also Ill

  1. Jane

    Caregivers are often on the receiving end of stress and anxiety. Having to be a carer 24 hours a day can be very demanding. Best to take some out and find someone who is competent to care for your relative to enable you to take some respite.

  2. Jack

    Staying active I found is the key to not getting depressed. Even if the activities are short or not that much doing something anything has really helped me!

  3. Tavia

    Luckily, my caregiver is very healthy. But once we have children, I understand that I’ll have to become a caregiver to an entire family. That’s why I try to stay as healthy as possible.

  4. Debbie Boulier

    If your caregiver get’s ill by all means ask for help. Home nurses, someone that can come by every day to help out is crucial. You cannot and should not be left alone while recovering from a major illness.

  5. Matt

    Family family family. Asking for help from family is hard, but they will always be there for you. Whether you’re a caregiver or the one receiving care, good family will do so much to melt your stress away.

  6. Fred

    Asking for help was difficult and took along time to do. People around you don’t always know what to say or do “for the best” and this can be so frustrating if you just don’t know how to ask.Well done you!!

  7. Nicky Evans

    You have both been through so much, yet every single one of your posts brims with positivity! I cannot liken my situation to yours, as i only suffer with depression/ptsd and am also a carer for my two autistic sons, maybe it is time for me to realise, that it is ok to ask for help when im having a tough time. I can only applaud your attitude and tips and words of wisdom have made me rethink a lot of times now. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  8. Lisa Perkins

    I cannot imagine the struggle of trying to take care of someone else, while battling an illness as well…. I do Truly believe that everyone deserves a generous amount of time to recover frm a health related issue. This goes for the Caregiver as well!!!

  9. Debra Owens

    I also agree with you that sometimes what we think is crisis in our lives actually turn out to be miracles for us. We appreciate like we never had before. Good luck to you my friend!

  10. Kristina

    Asking for help is not a trait of mine, I tend to be very independent in my life and hate asking for help from anyone. But when you are sick and can’t do everything you want for yourself, you have to ask for help. I was depressed because I tried to do everything myself, but since asking for help I have stopped the depressive thoughts.

  11. Heather Jones

    Sometimes it can be hard to admit we need help completing everyday tasks. But after such a dramatic life event its nice to hear that help is there and easy to get.

  12. Dan Reid

    Everyone involved is human and subject to human emotions – stress included. We all have to do our part to be sensitive to each others’ needs. Caregivers and patients alike. Only through this genuine concern for others and awareness of everyone’s situation can we foster and thrive in a healthy environment.

  13. wendy mitchell

    There are resources out there that can help. It just takes some leg work to fine out. Just try to pace yourself as best you can, when caring for another ill person.

  14. Shane

    Thank you this is great advice, I have been a caregiver and can say that this advice would definitely help with coping with stress.

  15. Kimberly D

    It takes a lot out of a person to become a caregiver, but it is also a very rewarding job. I know it can be hard to take care of yourself when you are suppose to be taking care of others, but it has got to be done. Take care!

  16. jeffrey

    It is always good to have many friends and relatives around to lend a hand especially if your caregiver is ill, just permit your friends and family members to extend their helping hand if they offered. Also don’t forget to ask for help if situation is desperate and seek help immediately whenever possible. That is what friends and family members are for when thing get tough, they will always there for you.

  17. Kris H

    This article really hit home. I care for my ill mother and often get run down and stressed which seems to make me more likely to develop colds. I’ll take your advice and reach out to more people and share the care. I’m going to look into nursing as well to see if they can come a few hours a week and help.

  18. Chris W.

    I can remember how stressful it was for my grandfather when my step-grandmother had Alzheimer’s. I can’t agree with you more that sometimes you need outside help to cope. It can help your sanity and relieve your stress. It really helped my grandpa.

  19. Ana B.

    Great post: I like that you’re mentioning how stressful it can be to be a caregiver, especially when you’re also ill. It’s important to take a rest and not over-exert yourself.

  20. Samantha R.

    It really takes a turning point when are caregiver is the one were married to or real close to and are unable to help you due to how their feeling. The most you can do is be supportive for one another unless it gets so bad that the caregiver needs one themselves that would be a complete heartbreaker.

  21. Daniel Ward

    I have experience in this as I look after my grandfather, when I was ill, this duty fell to my partner to look after myself and my grandfather. The stress she was under was unbelievable. Great post!


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