Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Rough Subject

There is an issue out there that I have seen very little discussion on.  This issue is unthinkable.  It's an issue that gets the occasional story in the news, we know it exists, but we don't talk about.  But I will....

Caregiver murder-suicides are real.  And they happen much more than we ever hear about. One study showed that 20% of caregivers fear that they could become violent at some point with the person they care for.  The same article sighted that over 30% of caregivers admitted that they had verbally or physically abused that person they cared for.  Cases of elderly murder-suicides has risen significantly over the last decade.  This often happens when an elderly caregiver is stricken ill and realizes they cannot care for their loved one any longer.

What causes this to happen??  These are people that LOVE their child, or spouse, and would do anything for them!

  • They have not secured adequate services.  Often, caregivers do not know where to go or how to get the support that they need
  • They have not secured adequate services.  No...this is not a typo.  Unfortunately there are those times where adequate services do not exist.  Worst yet, some caregivers seek relief and are turned away
  • Untreated depression.  Many, many caregivers are at risk for anxiety and depression disorders but do not seek help
  • The "nobody else can care for them" syndrome.  Caregivers will believe that without them, the person they give care to will suffer terrible consequences.  I'd love to say that this is totally irrational, but with a lack of available services, it can be a scary reality
  • Negative stigmas.  Without doing research, caregivers can assume that all facilities are dirty, cruel, and unregulated.  While poor facilities do exist, there are many available facilities that provide tremendous support
  • Isolation.  Caregivers that have been pushed to such tragic levels may likely have a feeling of being alone.  They can feel that nobody else understands and that the responsibility has been placed fully on their shoulders
I would be willing to bet that every caregiver with a significantly disabled person has at least wondered if things would end in such a manner.  I know I did.  I was afraid that someday I would become ill and no longer be able to care for Tyler, and that I may be forced to make an unthinkable choice for both of us.  This, as I would come to find out, was an uneducated and hopeless train of thought, perpetuated by a lack of faith.  

HOPELESSNESS is the common thread with most of these incidents.  The caregiver becomes so deep in the woods of depression that they believe there is no answer, no way out.  They feel as though their own lives are gone, never to return.  

There is always hope.  Let me say that again...there is ALWAYS hope.  Even when you cannot see it, there is hope.  But to find that hope, it means reaching out to get help.  The help may come in the form of an agency that can provide services.  The help may come from family who had never been asked before.  The help may certainly come from a support group, or church family.  Afterall, the right church will help restore lost faith.

As hard as it is, we MUST recognize as caregivers that we are at risk.  When we feel that hope is slipping from our fingers, we must find means of support to restore us.  We must always take a proactive approach to ensure that we, and our special loved one, are set up to live comfortably regardless of the outside circumstances.  In other words, we must never allow our lives to become void of support and help.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

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