A Caregiver’s Story

When the wife of a chronically ill man called to ask about respite, as there are many similar calls each week, there was decidedly a tone of defeat in her voice; she clearly did not expect any positive outcome but was simply going through the motions of “one more call for help.”

Throughout the intake process, she repeatedly apologized for needing help. She explained that in addition to her husband’s deteriorating condition, she had just undergone a double mastectomy which made caring for him at home near to impossible. While there was someone coming over to help with his personal hygiene a couple times a week, the rest of the care and general everyday activities were on her shoulders. She resignedly muttered, “I don’t know how we are going to get through this. We don’t have any family in the area. My neighbors are nice but I can’t keep asking them over and over for help.” Then the last statement about their situation came out with a dull thud, “Oh, and we are in the process of bankruptcy.”

I explained the application process and provided encouragement as best as possible considering all that she was facing. She stated perhaps her neighbor would be able to help get the paperwork sent in to complete her application. And then, a tiny spark of enthusiasm in her voice did hint at the possibility of hope. The TRC did receive the needed application documentation and we were able to match her with a funding source for respite. The change in her attitude about things was a great inspiration. She began to see light in what had been a long dark tunnel. Not only able to get some help from that same neighbor as a paid respite provider, but even more importantly she began to focus on making some positive decisions about the future. Soon after the respite began, her dear husband did pass away but the respite she was able to use provided her that jump start she needed to begin again.

-From Linda Shiebler, TRC Helpline & Program Coordinator

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