The Job No One Asks For


That is a mock advertisement taken from the Stroke Connection Magazine. The job description fits to a T of care-givers. Most people, friends, relatives and family members included tend to look at the stroke survivor as the ‘victim’ and very few understand that care-givers suffer or experience stress and emotional trauma just as much. This is especially very much so in Asian Culture. Writing from a care-givers’ point of view, I wish to direct our focus away from the stroke survivor and turn our attention to the care-giver who plays a vital role in the stroke recovery process.

Generally one can classify care-givers under three main categories namely:-

A. Those who have aging parents and young children of their own.

B Those in their 50’s or 60’s with aging parents, adult children or perhaps grand-children.

C. The rest in elder care. ( single adult children; spouses etc)

I believe many care-givers can identify themselves under one of the above general categories. I come under category C, and there are only two of us whereas our adult children are living overseas. Those who are in category A and B are also known as The Sandwich Generation for obvious reasons and will have more to say further on.

Someone aptly says that care-giving is “Between a rock and a hard place”. Even under the best of circumstances, money is not an issue, enough space to accommodate a stroke survivor, sufficient insurance coverage, but taking on the day to day management of another person’s life is full of situations where the manager/care-giver can experience stress, emotional turmoil which leads to physical and psychological exhaustion. What more when care-giving rarely happens in the best of situations.

Care-givers invariably experience guilt and stress, a constant component in the job. They rarely feel that they’ve done enough and hence some guilt and when they done too much, leading to exhaustion and stress. For those with family, children’s needs are often compromised and very often having a sense of not in control of the situation.

Although multi-generational living can be meaningful and satisfying, but a care-giver need to balance his or her role between own family needs, personal needs as well as the needs of the parent stroke-survivor. Dr. Herbert Lingren and Jayne Decker of University of Nebraska, Lincoln have the following advice for the Sandwich Generation Care-givers:-

1. Have Weekly Family Meetings.

To encourage open communications, conflict resolutions, updating on the real situation. Also helps to prevent denial problems of family members and establishes healthy attitudes among the members.

2. Clarify House Rules.

Cleaning-up responsibilities, laundry, space issues, when the house need to be quiet, transportation and review rules as changing circumstances justifies it.

3. Prepare Long Range Financial Plans.

Invariably sacrifices must be made and letting your children understand the why’s and how’s prevent resentment or misunderstanding. If children are earning adults the sharing of bills must be clearly defined taking into consideration the member’s personal goals and needs.

4. Use Community Programs And Services

At times you need to get assistance from such community programs so that everyone can have their own personal time. Social contact for the stroke survivor is very important so that the survivor do not feel isolated. However the care-giver must be sensitive to the survivor’s emotions when doing so.

5. Take care of your own family, your marriage and especially take care of yourself.

You do a great disservice to yourself, your spouse and your children if you allow the stress overload to be so great that you burn-out. The following guidelines are good:-

  • Don’t neglect your own family to take care of your parent.
  • Make caring for your parent a responsibility of the whole family; i.e. get everyone involve!
  • Make everyone fully aware of any problems with good explanations.
  • Take time for self renewal, you must continue to have a life.
  • Take time for your marriage, get away together for short period of time.

For further information and resources, please visit The Sandwich Generation by Carol Abaya a Newspaper Columnist and Expert on this topic. Ms. Abaya has been featured in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, and New Choices magazine.

Read Related Posts on Stroke
What is a Stroke?
Facts of Stroke & The Warning Signs.
Stroke Risk Factors.
Understanding Spasticity

Eating & The Stroke Survivor

[tags]stroke, stroke survivor, stroker caregivers[/tags]

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About bokjae

A retiree and full-time home care-giver to my wife a stroke survivor. A graduate in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, working as Project Manager; and was in Senior Management (Executive Director) with a local Telecommunications Company for 22 years till retirement. Upon retirement I was attached to a Church serving as full-time lay leader, lay counsellor as well as in social or community work such as old folks home, drug rehab, orphanage.

4 thoughts on “The Job No One Asks For

  1. Vivienne Quek

    Understood what you were saying with a heavy heart. Used to feel very stressed, frustrated and angry when I had to spent long hours in the hospital to tend to my mum’s need. There’s work at the office; there’s work at home. I wished I have 25 hours a day. Now, I managed to change my mindset. Kept telling myself that it’s fortunate and a blessing to be able to take care of her in her golden years.

  2. bokjae

    Thanks vivienne for your empathy. Yes care-givers are under a lot of stress and my personal experience testifies to it! At the end of the day its Love that sees us through and no question about it being worth it or not.

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