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caregiver stress


john

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from drweil.com

THE STRESS OF CAREGIVING

Being a caregiver may cause stress and impaired health. According to a report in the July 4th issue of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," stress from caring for a spouse with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia resulted in health problems. Researchers studied 223 healthy elders ranging in age from 55 to 89, over six years. Of the participants, the 117 who were caring for a partner who had dementia had markedly higher blood levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a molecule that can weaken the immune system and promote inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, frailty, and certain cancers. The elders who were not caring for an ill spouse had levels of IL-6 that were four times lower.

While IL-6 levels normally go up with age, the difference between the two groups was enough to warrant a closer look. Researchers say the findings suggest that a chronic stressor, such as caring for a debilitated family member, can significantly augment normal age-related increases, resulting in the premature aging of the immune system.

The best way to reduce the stress and health issues that accompany caretaking? Researchers say doing more to relieve the stress of caregivers will help to stop premature aging and subsequent illness.

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Dear John,

Thanks for that info. i often worry about all the stress this has caused my husband. He has done so much, he's so strong and i wonder how long that strength will last. i'm feeling pretty good now, so hopefully we can do some normal things to distract us from this horrible adventure we've been on.

Joanie

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I wholeheartedly agree...My StepMom is a constant companion of DAD...she is terrific..once a week I tell her we have to "escape" the men and go shopping (sometimes it is only for an hour and a half). It gives her a break and a chance to just talk to someone. Caregivers have a rough job..the ultimate in stress...God Bless all the caregivers coming to this site..you are tremendous..

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What is odd about being a caregiver is that you never think your own pain is "worthy" of attention...I mean, really, it's not like YOU are the one with cancer....

so suck it up, keep it inside...look at how strong (insert loved-ones name here) is! THEY are the ones going thru this and suffering and being strong and willing to fight for their lives.....what right do WE have complaining or being sad or feeling bad or stressed?...that's just plain selfish...We can't feel bad for US- there's nothing wrong with us! - WE don't have cancer, so we should be able to be strong 100% of the time and be all places and do all things for all people -all the while carrying on with our daily duties - without complaining, or having emotions - or heck- not even taking a break!!

Sounds completely impossible and just plain stupid doesn't it?

So why do we all feel this way?

Cancer is a double edge sword. Slicing the ones who have it and dicing the ones who love them.

There are no magic words or right or wrong way to deal with it all.

Hope and love get us thru.

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Katie-that's just exactly what I have been telling myself-suck it up!! But last weekend I took for myself and spent a girls night out-dinner and maragaritas and had a slumber party with my sister-in-law and niece. Had a great time and was able to moan and complain a bit and then forget about all this for a while and just have fun. I recommend this to all the caregivers. You must escape for a while, even if just a few hours, and come back refreshed. Do it for your own health!!

Annie

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

I'm having trouble signing in right now so until I get this fixed I will just have to be a guest.

Sometimes I think being a caregiver is harder than being the patient. I feel quilty that Evelyn is sick and I can't help her get better and I can't hold her in my arms and protect her of the awful things that are about to happen to her body. I want to just put her in the car and take off never looking back. Pretending that all this hasn't ever happened. Then I slap myslef in the face and tell myself, she will die for sure if you don't let her get the treatments they are telling us she needs. Damned if you do and damed if you don't.

The only comfort that I have is eating. And even the enjoyment of that is beginning to fade. Don't worry, I keep up this sharade in front of Evelyn to keep her spirits up, but I look at her and sometimes I feel she doesn't have the spirit that she had thru the first cancer she fought. She just is still going thru so much on a daily basis. Having to tend to her feeding tube day in and day out, constantly fooling with it and protecting it so it doesn't clog up and she has to rush in to the hospital toget a new one because it clogged up. She sleeps 1 and 1/2 intervals because of that tube. She is so tired all the time.

Her lung specialist told her that excersise wasn't important but I have to disagree with him. It builds your strength and helps your imune system. Right now I'm more worried of Evelyn dieing of another complication than I am of her dieing of cancer. I'm going in so many directions.

I'm sorry about rambling so much. Hope you don't mind. I don't have anyone to talk to.

Talk later. :?

Pama

peincorp@aol.com

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When Lucie was diagnosed with NSCLC last October, I was just about to have an operation to solve my incontinence problem. I put it off because the timing was not right. I had lived with it for over 6 months at that point and figured I could do another 6 or so. I had learned how to manage the problem. As time wore on, I realized: (1) her crisis could go on for a long time, and there may never be a "good" time for me to take care of myself; and (2) by fixing the problem, it would take added stress off me and I could be a better caregiver. So in May, I had the operation, with the help of family and friends to take care of us both. As you may know, I had to wait 5 weeks to heal and during that time, scar tissue bult up and prevented the apparatus from functioning. Last week, I had to go in again and have scar tissue removed. Again, family and friends rallied around to help. I have to wait until next week to see if it works, and I am looking forward to it. But I am happy I went ahead and took care of myself. We caregivers need to do that and not neglect ourselves in the process. We do ourselves and the carereceiver wrong when we don't take care of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Take heed! Love you all. Don

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Hi,

I found myself ignoring my own health as I was more worried about my husband, after all, he is the one w/the cancer and cancer is much more important than my little aches...WRONG I was. It turns out the cavity I needed a filling on turned into a massive abscess and I almost had to be hospitalized for IV anitbiotics before they could work on that tooth!! I never had pain like that before in my entire life! I have two children and I had natural childbirth w/both - the pain in my abscessed tooth WAS WORSE than labor pains! :o So, I was lucky in that the oral antibiotic worked, I had my root canal, and I get my crown on Thursday.

I also neglected my fibroid issue. I have fibroids and each year I am to have ultrasounds to be sure they are not getting too large. Well, I FINALLY went in just last month - 6 months late - and I got bad news. The one that was the size of a quarter is now the size of a grapefruit and it is causing my bladder to be out of place and incontinence. I also have a very large fibroid inside the wall of my uterus and I need a hysterectomy! :o Well, I am lucky in that I do have a few months...I cannot go in NOW - hospice just started for us TODAY. They say they feel Bob has about a month. :( I heard they are excellent at predicting when the patient will go so the family can be here and we can surround him w/love. I do not want to go now for my surgery, but then again, I won't be in ANY emotional condition to have major surgery when my husband passes so I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. :cry:

I eat well, I take a vitamin a day, I make my crafts and I exercise. I try to get out and do something for myself at least every other day. Yesterday I went shopping and I am going again tomorrow. IT HELPS. I also talk to my friends and they have been WONDERFUL for support. I bought the book, "Final Gifts"...written by two hospice nurses and I have been reading it...and it is comforting.

We sure do need to take care of ourselves here too. We might not have cancer, but we have a human body that has needs. I find myself always tired...as I try to be superwoman and do EVERYTHING perfectly and I keep myself so busy, perhaps in an attempt to not think so much...and I am just always so tired.

Take care,

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