My name is Dawn, and I am a caregiver for my father and late mother. I was blessed with sisters who have taken on roles as co-caregivers with me during this time. My caregiving journey began 10 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia. After my mother’s diagnosis, my father suffered two debilitating strokes. I consider myself a sandwich caregiver as I have a young family as well.
In terms of my caregiving role, I have done everything PSWs do from feeding to cleaning, to household management and financial responsibilities and attending medical appointments. The most rewarding part of my caregiving journey has been the ability to spend time and encourage and support my parents during this vulnerable time. I have been their advocate ensuring that their needs and wants are being considered in their care plans, and that their needs are being met in the community.
The biggest challenge with caregiving has been trying to maintain a work/life balance. Maintaining a job while caring for your parents and family can be a real struggle. I sometimes feel isolated and overwhelmed with tasks I was confronted with. Respite was a big help for me and would give me an opportunity for self-care for a moment. We wanted to provide my mother with the best help she could get so we found a long-term care centre that was specific to her needs and kept her with us while we waited for her spot.
Unfortunately, the wait for a long-term care bed was 6 years and by the time it was available, my mother was in palliative care and has recently passed away. The financial responsibility of private caregiving we had to take on during those years was definitely a challenge for my family.
Caregiving requires a lot of perseverance, patience and support in general. It is so important for you to advocate for the person you are caring for if they cannot speak up for themselves. Caregiving can also be physically and emotionally trying. Caregivers need emotional support and respite, so if you know one in your life, reach out to them to ask if they need any help and if they are ok. We are blessed to have an awesome care team of PSWs, medical professionals, care coordinators, family, friends, and church community that have helped us along this journey. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.