The eight years my husband and I cared for my parents and his father in our home felt a lot like we were living in a war zone.
Our two twenty-something children lived at home at various points of time during those years. Our son was recovering from a closed-head injury that nearly took his life. Our daughter was recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving on Nias Island in the aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. My father-in-law, who had Parkinson’s disease and a host of other diagnoses, experienced regular spells of mental imbalance so severe that he was at one point pronounced a threat to our safety. My dad experienced regular cardiac episodes that caused him to collapse willy-nilly several times a month. Throw in diabetic comas, seizures, open-heart surgery, hip replacement, dozens of ER trips via ambulance, and the gradual loss of life to congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease, and perhaps you can get a glimpse of the emotional mayhem of our lives.
Not surprisingly, the New York Times reports that caregivers often struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. For caregivers who have looked after someone with Alzheimer’s, cancer, or other debilitating diseases, the suffering they witness can last long beyond the loss of their loved one.
So what symptoms should caregivers be aware of?
In order to deal with the many stresses of our family caregiving situation, we took a number of pro-active steps:
If you are a caregiver and you find yourself struggling with the symptoms of PTSD, learn more about post traumatic stress disorder and consult your doctor or a mental health professional. Talking about the struggle is an important first step in healing.
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